Thomas Hancock




NA/New England region


Anglo-American Atlantic World (1641-1750)









By the early 1730s Hancock had established himself as a merchant. Among other activities he imported manufactured goods for resale at his shop. To pay for these imports he exported rum to fishermen in Newfoundland, whale oil to London, and fish to Spain and Portugal�

As the international situation deteriorated in the late 1730s, Hancock, who had invested a substantial portion of his capital in the overseas trade, began to retrench, fearing that war would disrupt his business. Instead, when the War of Jenkins' Ear erupted in 1740 and the British prepared to attack the Spanish in the Caribbean, Hancock played an important and profitable role in supplying the army and navy. He was also able to tap lucrative markets in the West Indies. He also engaged in illegal trade with Holland. In 1744 the war expanded to include France as an enemy. The entry of the French into what became known as King George's War made Hancock's transatlantic trade with Holland risky but at the same time opened new opportunities in America. The British hoped to defend their position in Nova Scotia while capturing the French bastion at Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island. With the help of Christopher Kilby, his friend and the Massachusetts agent in London, Hancock garnered large and profitable contracts for supplying British forces in Nova Scotia. By the end of the war in 1748, Hancock was clearly one of the richest men in Boston�

In 1758 he was elected to the Massachusetts Council. It was while entering the council chamber six years later that he collapsed and died�

Related Images

external image head0_thomas_hancock_0000.jpg
Image Id: 298
external image desbarres_bostonharbour1778.gif
Image Id: 2002

Related People

Hancock, John

Related Locations

Corpus Christi,

Record ID: 301