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Entries / Merchants


Categories / Population/Social Classes

MERCHANTS, a social group forming a part of the St. Petersburg population, individuals engaged in trade and industrial activities. In the first half of the 18th century merchants came in among the "planted people." Tsar Peter the Great forcibly sent merchants from Arkhangelsk and other cities: decrees of 1712 and 1714 stipulated the resettlement of more than 300 wealthy merchants to St. Petersburg. The so-called "guests" (by 1716 186 merchants were relocated) came to St. Petersburg and traded hemp, skins, flax, canvas. Among the first merchants were I. Isaev (vice-president of the St. Petersburg City Council), I. Miklyaev, A. Bolotin, I. Veselovsky, I. Dmitrov, M. Evreinov. The Petersburg merchants, as they were all over Russia, were organized into guilds and enjoyed the right of self-government. The City Charter in 1785 replaced the merchants’ capitation tax of paying a percent from their declared income and permitted them to pay in place of government service. In 1786 the 10 most eminent citizens in St. Petersburg and province included merchants and bankers, there were 288 merchants in the first guild, 394 in the second guild, 3,555 in the third guild. In the second half of the 19th century the numbers of merchants declined. In 1869 there were about 22,300 people in the merchant class. (3.3% of the population), in 1897 - 17,400 (1.4%). Of the merchants 77.5% and 80.4% were Russian, 15.4% and 12% - German, 4% and 5% Jewish.

References: Семенова Л. Н. Быт и население Санкт-Петербурга (XVIII в.). М.; СПб., 1998. С. 94-134; Петербургское купечество в XIX веке / Вступ. ст., сост., коммент. А. М. Конечного. СПб., 2003.

A. Y. Chistyakov.

Bolotin A.
Dmitrov I.
Evreinov Matvey Grigorievich
Isaev Ilya
Miklyaev I.
Peter I, Emperor
Veselovsky I.

Семенова Л. Н. Быт и население Санкт-Петербурга (XVIII в.). М.; СПб., 1998

The subject Index
Townspeople (Posadsky)


ARMENIANS, an ethnic community forming a part of the St. Petersburg population. The Armenian language belongs to the Armenian group of Indo-European language family. Believers are mainly Christians (Monofisits)


ASSEMBLIES (from French assemblee, gathering), introduced by Peter the Great as a form of higher society, following the European model. The Decree of 26.11.1718, announced by St. Petersburg general chief of police A.M

Commerce (general)

COMMERCE. Favorably located, St. Petersburg has always played a major role in the country’s foreign trade (see Sea Port). The life of the city itself has been mainly supported by home trade, retail trade above all


JEWS, an ethnic community within the St. Petersburg population. Hebrew is related to the Semitic group of Afrasian languages, Yiddish (was spread throughout the majority of eastern Russia) is related to the Germanic group of Indo-European family of

Townspeople (Posadsky)

TOWNPEOPLE (POSADSKY), name of the taxpayer populations (including St. Petersburg) in the 17th - the early 18th century. From 1721 townspeople were officially named "citizens", divided on regular lines of status - individuals possessing capital