Masters and Servants
The Hudson’s Bay Company and Its North American Workforce, 1668–1786


Cover image (Masters and Servants)

In Masters and Servants, Scott P. Stephen reveals startling truths about Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) workers. Rather than dedicating themselves body and soul to the Company’s interests, these men were hired like domestic servants, joining a “household” with its attendant norms of duty and loyalty. The household system produced a remarkably stable political-economic entity, connecting early North American resource extraction to larger trends in British imperialism. Through painstaking research, Stephen shines welcome light on the lives of these largely overlooked individuals. An essential book for labour historians, Masters and Servants will appeal to scholars of early modern Britain, the North American fur trade, Western social history, business history, and anyone intrigued by the reach of the HBC.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Front cover 1
Title page 4
Copyright page 5
Contents 6
Editorial Note 8
Acknowledgements 10
Introduction 12
Abbreviations 38
1 Early Modern Contexts 42
2 The Hudson’s Bay Company as Enterprise and Employer 72
3 “No Certain Method for Any Thing” 112
4 “Men to Do the Business” 148
5 “Diligent Men” and “Idle Fellowes” 176
6 The Inland Experience 208
7 Master-Servant Relationships 234
8 Tensions within the Household Model 276
Conclusion 314
Appendix 322
Notes 330
Bibliography 406
Index 424
About the Author 449
Other Titles from University of Alberta Press 450