1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Davenant, Charles

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DAVENANT, CHARLES (1656–1714), English economist, eldest son of Sir William Davenant, the poet, was born in London, and educated at Cheam grammar school and Balliol College, Oxford, but left the university without taking a degree. At the age of nineteen he had composed a tragedy, Circe, which met with some success, but he soon turned his attention to law, and having taken the degree of LL.D., he became a member of Doctors’ Commons. He was member of parliament successively for St Ives, Cornwall, and for Great Bedwyn. He held the post of commissioner of excise from 1683 to 1689, and that of inspector-general of exports and imports from 1705 till his death in 1714. He was also secretary to the commission appointed to treat for the union with Scotland. As an economist, he must be classed as a strong supporter of the mercantile theory, and in his economic pamphlets—as distinct from his political writings—he takes up an eclectic position, recommending governmental restrictions on colonial commerce as strongly as he advocates freedom of exchange at home. Of his writings, a complete edition of which was published in London in 1771, the following are the more important:—An Essay on the East India Trade (1697); Two Discourses on the Public Revenues and Trade of England (1698); An Essay on the probable means of making the people gainers in the balance of Trade (1699); A Discourse on Grants and Resumptions and Essays on the Balance of Power (1701).