By Phin Upham
True to being a spy, not much is known about Sir William Davidson. On paper, he was listed as the 1st Baronet of Curriehill, and records also show that he was a Scottish tradesman based out of Amsterdam. Underneath all that is a man who served as a spy for the King.
Davidson first appears on record in Holland during 1640, but not much is known about where he came from or who his descendants were. He was a trader, dealing throughout the Baltic reason, he was married and he’d stated he was 29 years old. His wife died after 12 years of marriage, and he remarried but his new wife died 6 years later. By then the English Civil War was erupting and Davidson had chosen the Stuarts who supported Charles II.
He was an ardent supporter of Charles, and used his financial means to help put the monarchy back into power. He also supplied the exiled Charles actively, part of network supporting him as the conflict was settled. When Cromwell died, the monarchy got its restoration and Charles returned to power. The transition was swift, in part thanks to information Davidson had obtained through his dealings as a trader. His travels had taken him all through Amsterdam and Stockholm, and he’d had plenty of time to gather information from the merchant’s he’d met along the way. Word travelled well outside of England, it seemed.
Charles made him conservator of the staple in Veere for his loyalty. His life after 1666 is a little muddled. He was known to have traded tobacco in Virginia in 1672, and believed to have settled in Scotland around the year 1678. He died sometime near 1689, and possible in Edinburgh, but Davidson very much vanished back into the merchant trade. Perhaps a glimpse of just how important a role merchants played throughout history.
About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.