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Prof Tony Webster


Department: Humanities

Tony WebsterA native of Wigan in the North West of England, Tony Webster is a Professor in History. He was previously Head of History at Edge Hill University, then Head of Humanities at the University of Central Lancashire, and lastly Head of History at Liverpool John Moores University. Before starting his career as an academic, he was a tax inspector with the Inland Revenue.

His research interests are in British imperial and business history, and the history of the co-operative movement. He graduated from the University of Birmingham, who awarded him the Ashley Prize in 1985 for best PhD thesis in the Faculty of Commerce and Social Science. His key publications on the British Empire include Gentlemen Capitalists: British Imperialism in Southeast Asia 1770-1890 (Tauris 1998); The Debate on the Rise of the British Empire (Manchester University Press 2006); The Richest East India Merchant: The Life and Business of John Palmer of Calcutta (Boydell 2007), The Empire in One City: Liverpool’s Inconvenient Past (Manchester University Press 2008 – edited with Nick White and Sheryllynne Haggerty), The Twilight of the East India Company: The Evolution of Anglo-Asian Commerce and Politics 1790-1860 (Boydell 2009),  Commodities, Ports and Asian Maritime Trade since 170 (Palgrave 2015 – edited with Ulbe Bosma) and Mainstreaming Co-operation: An Alternative for the 21st Century (Manchester University Press 2016 – edited with Linda Shaw and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh). He has published in the Economic History Review, The Journal of Imperial & Commonwealth History, The Historical Journal,Modern Asian Studies and Enterprise & Society. In 2005 he was awarded the Newcomen Prize for best article for that year in Enterprise & Society, for his article on John Palmer. With Professor John Wilson (Director of the Newcastle University Business School) and Rachael Vorberg-Rugh (the Co-operative College) he wrote Building Co-operation: A Business History of the Co-operative Group 1863-2013 (Oxford University Press 2013). The book formed the principal historical source used for the Kelly Report into the problems of the Co-operative Bank (2014), and Tony has presented his research at a Bank of England Seminar (2015). The project was supported by the British co-operative movement, with which Tony retains close links. He is a former Governor of the Co-operative College in Manchester, and Chairs the Heritage Advisory Committee of the National Co-operative Archive. Tony is also joint author of the approved  AQA A level history Text book, “The British Empire 1857-1867” (Oxford University Press 2015). He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and member of the Economic History Society. A Common Purpose graduate, he is currently seeking Fellowship status with the RSA.


  • History DPhil December 06 1984
  • Information not provided Royal Historical Society 2013
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2002

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Commerce with a bit of Ethics, or Ethics with a bit of Commerce? The Conundrum of British Consumer Co-operation 1863-1990, Webster, T., Wilson, J., Wong, N. 17 Jul 2020, In: Journal of Management History
  • Co-operation and Globalisation, Webster, T. 19 Mar 2019
  • Singapore, the Straits Settlements & the politics of imperial commerce, 1819–1867, Webster, A. 31 Oct 2019, Singapore, London, Routledge
  • Going Global. The Rise of the cws as an International Commercial and Political Actor, 1863–1950: Scoping an Agenda for Further Research, Webster, T., Wilson, J., Vorberg-Rugh, R. Jul 2017, A Global History of Consumer Co-operation since 1850: Movements and Businesses, Leiden, Brill
  • Introduction, Webster, T., Shaw, L., Vorberg-Rugh, R. Sep 2016, Mainstreaming co-operation: An alternative for the twenty-first century?, Manchester, Manchester University Press
  • Learning to swim against the tide: crises and co-operative credibility - some international and historical examples, Webster, T., Shaw, L., Vorberg-Rugh, R., Wilson, J., Snaith, I. Sep 2016, Mainstreaming co-operation: An alternative for the twenty-first century?, Manchester, Manchester University Press
  • Mainstreaming co-operation: An alternative for the twenty-first century?, Webster, T., Shaw, L., Vorberg-Rugh, R. Sep 2016
  • Oxford AQA History for A Level: The British Empire c1857-1967, Webster, T., Carr, R., Waller, S. 14 Jan 2016
  • The 'third sector', Webster, A. 1 Dec 2016, The Routledge Companion to Business History, Taylor & Francis
  • Building Intra-Asian and Transcontinental Mercantile Networks in the Age of the British East India Company: The Rise and Fall of the House of John Palmer, Webster, T. 12 Oct 2015, Commodities, Ports and Asian Maritime Trade Since 1750, Basingstoke, Macmillan

PGR Supervision

Mark Stoddart Start: 01/10/2016

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