“To live up to the Character of my Profession”: Jonathan Troup’s Enlightenment and the Politics of Reputation in Eighteenth-Century Dominica
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This thesis argues that white professionals in eighteenth-century Dominica lived within a society in which social and moral character and reputation were vital to professional success and social advancement. These ideas about character and reputation drew from broader British Atlantic ideals but they were also shaped by the realities of life in the Caribbean. The members of Dominica’s white professional society stressed the importance of reputation, honour, and moral capital as the measure of someone’s value, both socially and professionally. This thesis explores the set of values associated with good character in Dominica and it examines the social networks, or the social ties and relationships between individuals, that operated in Dominica. It uses Troup’s failure to navigate social networks and local understandings of character and shows how his desire to be both a learned Enlightenment scientist and a doctor led to his social and professional failures as a white emigrant in the Caribbean colonies. The research is based on transcriptions of the Journal of Jonathan Troup, physician, of Aberdeen, Scotland and Dominica, West Indies, a personal journal written during his time on the island of Dominica from 1789 to 1790.