School of History


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Professor David Ormrod

Emeritus Professor


David Ormrod is a historian who specialises in Early Modern economic and cultural history.

David Ormrod came to Kent via LSE and Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he was a college Research Scholar.  Apart from establishing a continuing interest in Dutch history and culture, his doctoral research with Charles Wilson affirmed his conviction of the centrality of the social sciences to historical research.

David’s research interests lie in the field of early modern English and European economic and cultural history. His most recent book, The Rise of Commercial Empires, entered the American Library Association’s list of outstanding academic books of 2003. He has written widely on early modern commercial history and co-convenes the fortnightly research seminar on The Premodern World at the Institute of Historical Research in London. The collected essays which he edited with Michael North on Art Markets in Europe, 1400-1800, anticipate several of the themes covered in his history of The Origins of the English Art Market, 1650-1815, in progressHe has recently completed an ESRC-funded research project reconstructing urban and agricultural rent movements in London and the South-East since 1580, which will enable scholars to model the growth of the British economy with greater precision: /

The project entered a second phase in 2010, funded by the Rochester Bridge Trust, which will add digitised maps, surveys and architectural drawings  to over 40,000 separate rental observations.

He has acted as guest curator at the Museum of London, and played a leading role in promoting collaborative ventures involving curators and historians while consultant to the Achievement Project (Renaissance Trust) and Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. More recently, this has involved co-organising sessions for the World Economic History Congress devoted to economic history and the arts, in Madrid, Buenos Aires and Helsinki. His contribution to the last Congress in Utrecht opened the session on the early modern shift in the world economy from the North Sea-Baltic region to the Atlantic; please see (session J8) here for more information.

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  • [in progress] Artists, Dealers and Connoisseurs. The Origins of the English Art Market, 1650-1815, 2009-10.
  • The Rise of Commercial Empires. England and the Netherlands in the Age of Mercantilism, 1650-1770, Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • Art Markets in Europe, 1400-1800 (edited, with Michael North, with editors’ introduction), Ashgate, 1998.
  • Traffic and Politics: the Construction and Management of Rochester Bridge, AD43-1993, (with R. H. Britnell and others, ed. N. Yates and J. Gibson, Boydell & Brewer, 1994.
  • English Grain Exports and Agrarian Capitalism, 1700-1760, Hull University Press, 1985.

Articles and Essays

  • ‘City and Countryside Revisited. Comparative rent movements in London and the South-East, 1580-1914’, School of Economics, University of Kent, Studies in Economics, October 2011, KDPE 1117, and RePEc (Research Papers in Economics, idem).
  • Institutions and the Environment: shipping movements in the North Sea-Baltic zone, 1650-1800’, in R. W. Unger (ed.), Shipping Efficiency and Economic Growth, 1350-1800, Brill, 2010
  • ‘Britain’s role in the shift from the North Sea-Baltic world to the Atlantic, 1650-1800’, 2009 World Economic History Conference Proceedings,
  • ‘The Urban Context of Art Production in Britain and the Netherlands, 1550-1800’, in J. Warren and A Turpin (eds.), Auctions, Agents and Dealers: The Mechanisms of the Art Market, 1660-1830, Archeopress/Wallace Collection, Oxford 2007.
  • 'The Rise of the London Art Market, 1660-1760', in S. Cavaciocchi (ed.), Economia e Arte. Secc. XIII-XVIII, Prato, 2002.
  • 'Dealers, Collectors and Connoisseurship in Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century London', pp. 15-23, in M. North (ed.), Kunstsammeln und bürgerlicher Geschmack im 18. Jahrhundert, Cologne & Weimar, 2002.
  • 'Cultural production and import substitution: the fine and decorative arts in London, 1660-1730', in P. K. O'Brien et. al. (eds.), Urban Achievement in Early Modern Europe. Golden Ages in Antwerp, Amsterdam and London, Cambridge University Press , 2001.
  • 'Art and its Markets', Economic History Review, LII (August 1999)
  • 'The Origins of the London Art Market, 1660-1730', in M. North and D. Ormrod (eds.), Art Markets in Europe, 1400-1800, Ashgate, 1998.
  • 'Northern Europe and the expanding world-economy: the transformation of commercial organisation, 1500-1800', in S. Cavaciocchi (ed.), Prodotti e Techniche d'Oltremare nelle Economie Europee. Secc. XIII-XVIII, Prato, 1998.
  • 'The demise of regulated trading in England: the case of the Merchant Adventurers, 1650-1730', in C. Lesger & L. Noordegraaf (eds.),Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship in early modern times. Merchants and industrialists within the orbit of the Dutch staplemarket, Hollandse Historische Reeks, Amsterdam, 1996.
  • 'The Industries of Kent, 1640-1800', chapter for vol VII, ed. W. A. Armstrong, The Economy of Kent, 1640-1914. Boydell & Brewer, 1995.
  • 'Historians, objects and evidence: what objects?', Social History in Museums, (22) 1994

Essays on Religion and Society

  • 'Protestantism and International Capitalism', in S. Cavaciocchi (ed.), Le rôle économique des minorités en Europe, XIII-XVIII siècles, Prato, 2000.
  • 'The Atlantic Economy and the Protestant Capitalist International, 1651-1775', Historical Research (formerly Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Research), 66 (160), 1993.
  • 'Nicaragua: The Theology and Political Economy of Liberation', in D. Cohn-Sherbok (ed.), The Canterbury Papers, Bellew, London 1990.
  • Fellowship, Freedom and Equality. Lectures in memory of R.H. Tawney, (edited, with editor's introduction), Central Books, 1991.
  • 'The Christian Left and the Origins of Christian-Marxist Dialogue in England, 1935-1945', in R. Samuel and J. Obelkevitch (eds.), Disciplines of Faith, Routledge, 1987
  • 'The Churches and the Nuclear Arms Race, 1945-85', in R. Taylor and N. Young (eds.), Campaigns for Peace: British Peace Movements in the Twentieth Century, Manchester University Press, 1987.
  • 'R.H. Tawney and the Origins of Capitalism', History Workshop, 18, Autumn 1984
  • 'Building a Theology of Disarmament in the USSR', in Theology, LXXXVIII, May 1985, 723; and rejoinder, LXXXIX, Nov. 1986, 732 (with Alan Race).
  • 'Puritanism and Patriarchy: the Career and Spiritual Writings of Thomas Papillon, 1623-1702', in A. Detsicas and N. Yates, (eds.), Studies in Modern Kentish History, Kent Archaeological Society, 1983.

Other Contributions

  • Website: ‘City and Region: Urban and Agricultural Rent in England, 1400-1914’,
  • Online database: ‘Urban and agricultural rents in London and the South-East, 1580-1914’, ESRC Grant no. RES-000-22-2185 /
  • The Oxford Encyclopaedia of Economic History, Oxford and New York, 2003. Entries for 'Museums' and 'Trade in Antiquities'
  • Philips Atlas of World History, London 1999. Editor, Part III, The Early Modern World, including editor's Introduction and four sections on 'The European Discovery of the World, 1450-1600', 'The Growth of the Atlantic Economies, 1620-1775', 'The Rise of European Commercial Empires, 1600-1800', and 'European Urbanization, 1500-1800'.
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Last Updated: 15/08/2014