An English Merchant in Ottoman İzmir (Smyrna): William Barker (1731-1825)
Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of History, Ankara/TURKEY
Keywords: Trade, Levant Company, British merchants, Ottoman Empire, İzmir (Smyrna), Franks (Europeans), William Barker
In the eighteenth century, in order to stimulate British trade in the Levant the British Levant Company made such decisions as accepting membership of countrymen. With the benefits of changes in the Company’s rules, William Barker of Derbyshire became a member of the Company and came to İzmir (Smyrna) in 1760 for the purpose of trade and “profit”. Focusing on William Barker’s life, this research examines the rules binding merchants of the Company in Ottoman lands, their relations with both Ottoman subjects and “European” residents in İzmir, the reflections of inter- states competitions and conflict on trade in concerned period and their contacts with Ottoman authorities by analysing documents including Barker’s letters to his family, minutes of the Levant Company, records from the Ottoman archives, traveller accounts, and the letters sent by the traders of the Smyrna Factory to the authorities in London. This study sheds light on how economic, political and social conditions of late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Levant affected European merchants residing in Ottoman lands individually and communally. Not leaving a lucrative trade back in the Ottoman lands where he had started as a merchant without capital and ended up bankrupt, William Barker who resided in İzmir for 65 years until his death left a generation that continued to live in these lands until the middle of the 20th century.