Moses Stringer: A Chymical Projector taking an Imperial Turn
This paper explores a career of Moses Stringer (fl. 1693-1713). An Oxford-trained chymist, physician, and subsequently Queen Anne's Mineral Master General, Stringer demonstrated 'choicest Secrets and Experiments' to the young Czar, Peter the Great, upon his London visit, provided his elixirs to the Queen, and engaged in naval medicines, mining, metallurgy, poor relief, and colonial settlement.
His underexplored petitions and proposals reveal that his wide ranging intellectual, commercial, charitable and entrepreneurial projects led him to engage with the New, as well as the Old, Worlds during the War of Spanish Succession. Not only did he promote an English settlement of Tobago against competing interests of Spain, France and Courland, his colonial engagements thereby transformed how he conceptualised the projects he pursued within England. In a manner strikingly resembling the East India 'company-state' and its expansive authority, Stringer came in 1709 to revive and refashion the Company of Mines Royal as a direct deputy of the imperial Crown, policing 'hellish Plot[s] against the Royal Prerogative in the Mineral Kingdom throughout the British Empire'. The paper considers how this 'imperial turn' came about, and what his ultimate failure might reveal about the culture of projecting more generally.