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The development of English company law before 1900

Listed author(s):
  • Turner, John D.

This article outlines the development of English company law in the four centuries before 1900. The main focus is on the evolution of the corporate form and the five key legal characteristics of the corporation - separate legal personality, limited liability, transferable joint stock, delegated management, and investor ownership. The article outlines how these features developed in guilds, regulated companies, and the great mercantilist and moneyed companies. I then move on to examine the State's control of incorporation and the attempts by the founders and lawyers of unincorporated business enterprises to craft the legal characteristics of the corporation. Finally, the article analyses the forces behind the liberalisation of incorporation law in the middle of the nineteenth century.

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File URL: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/149911/1/877815712.pdf
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Paper provided by Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History in its series QUCEH Working Paper Series with number 2017-01.

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Date of creation: 2017
Handle: RePEc:zbw:qucehw:201701
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  1. Lamoreaux, Naomi R, 1998. "Partnerships, Corporations, and the Theory of the Firm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 66-71, May.
  2. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
  3. Luboš Pástor & Pietro Veronesi, 2009. "Technological Revolutions and Stock Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1451-1483, September.
  4. Giovanni Giusti & Charles Noussair & Joachim Voth, 2013. "Recreating the South Sea bubble: Lessons from an experiment in financial history," Economics Working Papers 1381, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  5. Frehen, Rik G.P. & Goetzmann, William N. & Geert Rouwenhorst, K., 2013. "New evidence on the first financial bubble," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 585-607.
  6. Acheson, Graeme G. & Campbell, Gareth & Turner, John D., 2016. "Common law and the origin of shareholder protection," QUCEH Working Paper Series 2016-04, Queen's University Belfast, Queen's University Centre for Economic History.
  7. Graeme G. Acheson & Gareth Campbell & John D. Turner & Nadia Vanteeva, 2015. "Corporate ownership and control in Victorian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(3), pages 911-936, 08.
  8. Carlos, Ann M. & Nicholas, Stephen, 1990. "Agency Problems in Early Chartered Companies: The Case of the Hudson’s Bay Company," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(04), pages 853-875, December.
  9. Gareth Campbell & John D. Turner, 2011. "Substitutes for legal protection: corporate governance and dividends in Victorian Britain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 64(2), pages 571-597, May.
  10. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  11. repec:hrv:faseco:30747162 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Cheffins, Brian R, 2001. "Does Law Matter? The Separation of Ownership and Control in the United Kingdom," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 459-484, Part I Ju.
  13. Carr, Jack L & Mathewson, G Frank, 1988. "Unlimited Liability as a Barrier to Entry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 766-784, August.
  14. Lindert, Peter H, 1986. "Unequal English Wealth since 1670," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(6), pages 1127-1162, December.
  15. Brian R. Cheffins & Dmitri K. Koustas & David Chambers, 2013. "Ownership dispersion and the London Stock Exchange's 'two-thirds rule': an empirical test," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(4), pages 670-693, June.
  16. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-De-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 1999. "Corporate Ownership Around the World," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(2), pages 471-517, April.
  17. Ann M. Carlos & Jamie Brown Kruse, 1996. "The decline of the Royal African Company: fringe firms and the role of the charter," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 49(2), pages 291-313, May.
  18. Winton, Andrew, 1993. " Limitation of Liability and the Ownership Structure of the Firm," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 48(2), pages 487-512, June.
  19. Julian Franks & Colin Mayer & Stefano Rossi, 2009. "Ownership: Evolution and Regulation," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 22(10), pages 4009-4056, October.
  20. Aldo Musacchio & John D. Turner, 2013. "Does the law and finance hypothesis pass the test of history?," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(4), pages 524-542, June.
  21. North, Douglass C. & Weingast, Barry R., 1989. "Constitutions and Commitment: The Evolution of Institutions Governing Public Choice in Seventeenth-Century England," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 803-832, December.
  22. Graeme Acheson & Charles Hickson & John Turner, 2011. "Organisational flexibility and governance in a civil-law regime: Scottish partnership banks during the Industrial Revolution," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(4), pages 505-529.
  23. Grossman, Richard S., 2002. "New Indices Of British Equity Prices, 1870 1913," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(01), pages 121-146, March.
  24. Anderson, Gary M. & Tollison, Robert D., 1983. "The myth of the corporation as a creation of the state," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 107-120, December.
  25. Graeme G. Acheson & John D. Turner & Qing Ye, 2012. "The character and denomination of shares in the Victorian equity market," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 65(3), pages 862-886, August.
  26. Acheson, Graeme G. & Turner, John D., 2008. "The death blow to unlimited liability in Victorian Britain: The City of Glasgow failure," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 235-253, July.
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