Charles Davenant

(1656—1714) government official and political economist

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Davenant, or D’Avenant, was born in London some time in 1656, and died in London on 6 November 1714. His father was the poet and dramatist Sir William D’Avenant, who was rumoured (probably without foundation) to be the illegitimate son of William Shakespeare. Davenant was educated at Cheam grammar school and then entered Balliol College, Oxford in 1671, leaving without taking a degree. At age nineteen he wrote a tragedy, Circe, apparently thinking of following his father's career, but instead decided to study law. He claimed to have an LLD degree, though there is no record of any institution granting this degree. In 1683 he was elected MP for St Ives, and served as commissioner of excise from 1683–9. He lost this post upon the accession of William III, but it seems to have stimulated his interest in economics.


From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Economics.

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