THOMAS SHUTE was born in1835 on a farm in Stour Provost, North Dorset. He was 14 when his father went bankrupt and died in the workhouse. With no money, contacts or education, Shute walked to Liverpool to find work. An adventurer and opportunist, Shute married the daughter of a wealthy Guernsey wine merchant and took her (reluctantly) to the stinking Chincha Islands off the Peruvian Coast to farm guano.
Surviving the Spanish Invasion of Peru 1864, the capture of the Chincha Islands, and the naval battle of Callao in1866, Thomas Shute moved to Callao, and diversified into ship ownership. Having built up a lucrative sailing fleet, he sailed back to Liverpool. When he died in 1908, he was one of the leading ship-owners of the age and worth millions.
Telling the remarkable ‘rags to riches’ story of his great-grandfather, Michael Davis outlines the Agricultural Depression and Labourers Revolt of 1830 that led to Shute’s father’s bankruptcy, and the County Assizes where men were sentenced to hang or transported to Australia.
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