SIR MATTHEW DECKER, Bart. (1679-1749), English merchant and writer on trade, was born in Amsterdam in 1679. He came to London in 1702 and established himself there as a merchant. He was remarkably successful in his business life, gaining great wealth and having many honours conferred upon him. He was a director of the East India Company, sat in parliament for four years as member for Bishops Castle, and was high sheriff of Surrey in 1729. He was created a baronet by George I. in 1716. Decker's fame as a writer on trade rests on two tracts. The first, Serious considerations on the several high duties which the Nation in general, as well as Trade in particular, labours under, with a proposal for preventing the removal of goods, discharging the trader from any search, and raising all the Publick Supplies by one single Tax (1743; name affixed to 7th edition, 1756), proposed to do away with customs duties and substitute a tax upon houses. He also suggested taking the duty off tea and putting instead a licence duty on households wishing to consume it. The second, an Essay on the Causes of the Decline of the Foreign Trade, consequently of the value of the lands in Britain, and on the means to restore both (1744), has been attributed to W. Richardson, but internal evidence is strongly in favour of Decker's authorship. He advocates the licence plan in an extended form; urges the repeal of import duties and the abolition of bounties, and, in general, shows himself such a strong supporter of the doctrine of free trade as to rank as one of the most important forerunners of Adam Smith. Decker died on the 18th of March 1749.
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