A Character I would Like to Include

A Character I would Like to Include

Last year, I spent a little time in Scotland. While I was there, I learned about the Scottish Tobacco Lords of the 1700s. Ever since, they often pop into my mind.

The Tobacco Lords were a select group of merchants based in Glasgow. Due to ocean currents and trade winds, Glasgow was a better port for importing from the colonies than other ports in the United Kingdom. This gave the Tobacco Lords an advantage, which they used to become the lead buyers of colonial tobacco. They then leveraged the power that gave them into a scheme for putting the tobacco farmers into debt to them, which they in turn used to negotiate very good prices when they purchased colonial tobacco.

It’s all a little more economics than I usually care for, but the long and short is, the Tobacco Lords were actually a big part of why the colonies revolted. It wasn’t just the taxes the British government was levying that sparked the American War of Independence, but also the Scottish Tobacco Lords. For example, George Washington (who wasn’t president yet, obviously) was in debt to the Tobacco Lords for nearly £2,000. Overall, colonial tobacco farmers were in debt to the Tobacco Lords for a staggering £1,000,000. To make matters worse, they’d been tricked and manipulated into that dept and had no good way to get out from under it.

So, what does all of this have to do with Pride and Prejudice inspired writing? Well, the Tobacco Lords of Glasgow were exceedingly wealthy. So much so that they bought their way into the world of the aristocracy. While some of them lost their wealth in the American War of Independence, some did not (those who didn’t, many of them, changed to trading cotton from the British West Indies). This brings me to the character I would like to include.

Undoubtedly, some of these very wealthy nouveau riche Scotsmen had children. Sons and daughters (or, depending on how the time frame is planned out for the book, grandchildren) who could be of marrying age at the same time as our favorite characters. How would Darcy react to a super-wealthy Scottish Tobacco Lord’s son? What sort of sort of strain would that put on his and Bingley’s relationship? Yes, Bingley’s family is touched by trade, but he and is sisters are circumspect about that connection. I have the notion a Scotsman might not be so reticent, and that lack might reveal some of Darcy’s biases. Furthermore, would the wealthy son of a Tobacco Lord have any qualms about the quality of Elizabeth’s relatives? I imagine him as easy going, entertaining, and very interesting to Elizabeth and her sisters.

At this time, Renata and I have no plans for such a character, but one of these days, we’ll find a place for him. All he has to do is show up, and we’ll have a new and interesting adventure. He will, of course, flirt with Elizabeth. In the end, though, I bet he’ll be married to Lydia.

What about you? What character would you like to include, and who would they most dismay?


References:

https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/lost-glasgow-the-tobacco-lords-1-3610853

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tobacco_Lords

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/scottishhistory/enlightenment/features_enlightenment_industry2.shtml

 

16 Responses to A Character I would Like to Include

  1. As a North Carolinian who now lives in Glasgow, i LOVE this idea! I hereby volunteer to help you research! They are currently filming Outlander in the small area of town that was built in the Georgian era and not redeveloped by those pesky Victorians, or Edwardians, or post war modernists. Theres a bit of regency scattered about too.

  2. Thank you for enlightening me on this subject, Summer. Being a non American, I have never heard of the debt incurred by colonial tobacco farmers which caused the American Revolution.

    • We don’t hear about it much, either. We like to make the revolution sound very noble and idealistic. No taxation without representation! While I’m sure there were a great many very noble men who fought for high ideals, there are probably also people who were fighting for economic reasons. That’s the reality of mankind, after all. Plus, the two aren’t really mutually exclusive. Certainly, economics must have weighed the scales on one side or the other for some people.

  3. Perhaps this Scottish son of a Tobacco Lord also has a sister that Wickham may try to compromise so he can get her dowry. I imagine this Scottish brother will not be as lenient as Darcy was regarding Georgiana and Ramsgate. Plus, a rush to the Getna Green/the border would not be conducive to Wickham’s health. Just a thought.

    • That is a great thought! That would be very funny. I’m thinking Wickham has to flee to Ireland or be skewered 🙂

      Or would his sister like Darcy? In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth has the luxury of time to overcome her initial impression of Darcy and realize she misjudged him and loves him. She never has any serious competition for him. He doesn’t like anyone else. Not the woman most vehemently pursuing him, or the one he’s nominally engaged to. What if found the sister intriguing, at least, and he wavered? (I feel like I have to whisper that as it’s so terrible to think of)

  4. Sounds like a great character for sure, but why saddle him with Lydia? Maybe Anne de Bourgh. Now that would be someone who would cause Darcy to react!

    • That is an interesting idea. I was thinking Lydia is the only one he’d find ‘fun’ enough. Maybe he would fall in love with Jane and give Bingley fits!

  5. What an interesting concept! As a “Southern Girl” born and bred in North Carolina tobacco country, I’d love to see this character fleshed out in a P& P book!

    • Interestingly, the wealthy Scotsman and his family would likely be villains in a story about North Carolina in the early 1800s. Of course, maybe he’ll be a villain in Darcy’s story as well!

      • Yes! They definitely would! Would be lovely to see what Darcy would think of them and how they came to be part of the aristocracy there.

    • I think he would be great fun. Not only wealthy, but Scottish. That adds an extra layer of him not caring how an English ‘stiff neck’ (that’s how he would put it, maybe?) feels a gentleman should behave.

    • I’m sure you will eventually. I picture him as like Lydia, really. Lydia if she were wealthy and a man.

  6. This was very interesting. I am more likely to include an actual event or legend than a historical person in my tales. That being said, I have used John Loudon McAdam, Scottish inventor of the macadam road surface that changed roads in the United Kingdom and the world, among others.

    • We’re most likely to include historical places, then events. I’d like to do something about the Luddites, though.

Your thoughts are precious!