The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Gervaise, Isaac (fl. 1680–1720)

  • Peter Groenewegen
Reference work entry


Merchant and economist of French Huguenot extraction. Gervaise was born in the second half of the 17th century, probably in Paris, and migrated with his family to London in 1681. With his father he was associated with the Royal Lustring Company (1688–1720) engaged in the manufacture of a fine, light, black, glossy silk under patent granted by parliament. Ironically, the year the company lost its charter saw the publication of Gervaise’s 34-page pamphlet, The System or Theory of the Trade of the World with its attack on exclusive companies. Foxwell (1940, p. 167) described it as ‘one of the earliest formal systems of political economy … stating one of the most forcible practical arguments for free trade’. Quite unlike much contemporary writing on trade, Gervaise’s pamphlet is tersely written and especially noted for its peculiar terminology and highly abstract argument. Gervaise is presumed to have died in London by 1739.


Free trade Gervaise, I. Law, J. Specie-flow mechanism 

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  1. Foxwell, H.S. 1940. Comment reproduced in Catalogue of the Kress Library of Business and Economics. Boston: Baker Library, Harvard Graduate School of Business AdministrationGoogle Scholar
  2. Viner, J. 1937. Studies in the theory of international trade. New York: Harper and Brothers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Groenewegen
    • 1
  1. 1.