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William Petty
(English Economist)

Date of Birth:
May 27, 1623

Date of Death:
December 16, 1687


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Sir William Petty was an English economist, scientist and philosopher. He first became prominent serving Oliver Cromwell and Commonwealth in Ireland. He developed efficient methods to survey the land that was to be confiscated and given to Cromwell's soldiers. He also managed to remain prominent under King Charles II and King James II, as did many others who had served Cromwell.

He was Member of the Parliament of England briefly and was also a scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur, and was a charter member of the Royal Society. It is for his theories on economics and his methods of political arithmetic that he is best remembered, however, and he is attributed as having started the philosophy of 'laissez-faire' in relation to government activity. He was knighted in 1661. He was the great-grandfather of William Petty Fitzmaurice, 2nd Earl of Shelburne & 1st Marquess of Landsdowne.

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