Pollexfen, John (DNB00)

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POLLEXFEN, JOHN (fl. 1697), merchant and economic writer, born about 1638, was younger son of Andrew Pollexfen of Stancombe, in the parish of Sherford, Devonshire, and was brother of Sir Henry Pollexfen [q. v.] He settled in the parish of St. Stephen's, Walbrook, London. A member of the committee of trade and plantations in 1675, and of the board of trade from 1696 to 1705, he exercised much influence. He agitated for withdrawing the privileges of the old East India Company, and establishing a new company on a national basis. In 1697 he published ‘A Discourse of Trade, Coyn, and Paper Credit, and of ways and means to gain and retain riches. To which is added the Argument of a Learned Counsel [Sir Henry Pollexfen] upon an Action of the Case brought by the East India Company against Mr. Sand[y]s, an Interloper,’ London, 8vo. In this important pamphlet Pollexfen treats labour as the sole source of wealth, and points out that national wealth depends on the proportion between ‘those that depend to have their riches and necessaries from the sweat and labour of others,’ and ‘those that labour to provide those things’ (p. 44). Like all free traders of the seventeenth century, he was equally opposed to monopoly and to ‘leaving trade to take its own course,’ but favourable to the state regulation of industry and commerce. His main object, however, was to attack the East India Company, and to urge the claims of the private traders. He discusses at length the ‘interlopers,’ particularly Captain Thomas Sandys, to whose enterprises he, together with other merchants, probably contributed, so that a test case might be submitted to the courts. When the company employed Charles Davenant to write ‘An Essay on the East India Trade,’ Pollexfen replied to him in ‘England and East India inconsistent in their Manufactures,’ &c., London, 1697, 8vo. A reply to this was published, with the title ‘Some Reflections on a Pamphlet, intituled England and East India,’ &c., London, 1696 (sic), 8vo. Pollexfen married, on 10 May 1670, at St. Mary Undershaft, Mary, daughter of Sir John Lawrence.

[Harleian Soc. Publ. xxiii. 178; Cal. of Colonial State Papers (America and West Indies), 1675, p. 498; Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, ii. 693; m'Culloch's Literature of Political Economy, p. 182; Roscher's Political Economy, transl. by Lalor, i. 70; Cunningham's Growth of English Industry and Commerce, ii. 126, 130, 154, 160.]

W. A. S. H.