Abstract: The Organization of British Textile Exports to the River Plate and Chile: The Case of Hodgson & Robinson, an "autonomous free-standing house," c.1817-1843

Manuel Llorca-Jaña


During the first half of the nineteenth century, over 250 British merchant houses operated in the River Plate and/or Chile. Their main economic activity was the import of British textiles in exchange for local produce. This paper describes the organization of the British textile export trade, paying special attention to the relations between merchants in Britain and merchants in the Southern Cone. The special case of Hodgson & Robinson is considered in further detail. This house was what could be called an "autonomous free-standing house": a British merchant based in Buenos Aires who had neither head offices nor parent companies in Britain, and who eventually returned home after a quarter of a century operating in the River Plate, bringing with him the capital thus accumulated.