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Personal profile

Personal Statement

Lecturer in Early Modern Maritime and Scottish History.

My research focuses on the interplay between maritime activity and imperial authority within the context of early modern empires, including the subjects of piracy, trade, slavery, maritime law, and coastal communities. My first book, Suppressing Piracy in the Early Eighteenth Century: Pirates, Merchants, and British Imperial Authority was published by the Boydell Press in 2021 and focuses on British attempts to suppress piracy in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the early eighteenth century.

I am also Co-I on One Ocean Hub, a GCRF-funded transdisiciplinary project focusing on integrated and inclusive oceanic governance. My project focuses on providing an historical perspective on oceanic governance in Ghana and the Solomon Islands between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries. Placing the ocean at the centre of this research, and viewing these regions within the wider framework of empire and colonisation, my work explores how control over coastal regions and local connections with the sea changed as African, European, and Solomon Island polities vied for control over littoral spaces, often for commercial or political gain. I am interested in how oceanic governance was viewed, applied, and contested in localities and how this, in turn, not only influenced and transformed local engagement and attitudes to the sea, but also influenced the approaches of imperial polities towards coastal jurisdiction.

I am a co-founder of The Problem of Piracy Network, a board member of the Centre for Port and Maritime History (University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University, and the Maritime Museum Liverpool), and a co-opted council member of the Economic and Social History Society of Scotland.


  • “Piracy, Patronage and Political Economy: Captain Kidd and the East India Trade,” International Journal of Maritime History, 27:1 (2015): 26-40 (DOI: 10.1177/0843871414566783). 
  • “Protecting Trade by Suppressing Pirates: British Colonial and Metropolitan Responses to Atlantic Piracy, 1716-1726” in David Head (ed.), The Golden Age of Piracy: Readings on the Rise, Fall, and Enduring Popularity of Pirates (University of Georgia Press, Georgia, 2018).
  • “From the Caribbean to Craignish: Imperial Authority and Piratical Voyages in the Early-Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Commons,” Itinerario, 42:3 (2018): 430-460 (DOI: 10.1017/S016511531800061X).
  • Suppressing Piracy in the Early Eighteenth Century: Pirates, Merchants and British Imperial Authority in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans (Boydell Press, 2021).

Twitter: @davidwilsonhist

Research Interests

I am interested in any aspects of early modern empire and maritime activity, including:

  • Atlantic and Indian Ocean history
  • Caribbean history
  • Piracy and privateering
  • Early modern trade and commercial networks
  • Maritime law and jurisdiction
  • Coastal communities and colonisation
  • Slavery and the slave trade
  • Scotland and empire
  • Imperial governance and authority
  • Inter-imperial connections and conflict

Teaching Interests

My teaching focuses on maritime activity, colonisation, and empire-building in the early modern period.

I currently teach the following classes -

  • The ‘Westward Enterprise’: Piracy, Trade, and the Emergence of the British Atlantic Empire, 1500-1730 (Year 3 / Hons)
  • Scotland and the Americas in the Seventeenth Century (Hons)
  • Enemies of All Mankind? The Rise, Fall, and Enduring Legacy of Atlantic Piracy, 1660-1726 (Hons special subject)
  • Plantations by Land and Sea, 1590-1720: British Imperial Projects in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, c. 1590-1720 (MSc/PG Diploma in Historical Studies)
  • Palaeography (MSc/PG Diploma in Historical Studies)


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, University Of Strathclyde

Award Date: 28 Feb 2018

Master in Science, University Of Strathclyde

Award Date: 31 Aug 2013

Bachelor of Arts, University Of Strathclyde

Award Date: 30 Jun 2012


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