British merchant arrived to Chile in August 1817, after a short stay in Buenos Aires. He arrived to Valparaiso as agent of the merchant house Winter Brittain & Co. of Buenos Aires, founded there in 1812 by the British investors James Brittain and Thomas Winter, soon becoming a partner of his employer (from 1823), under the firm name of Brittain, Waddington & Co. They engaged in the import of British manufactures and the export of local produce, having active networks in the British Isles, Argentina and Brazil. Subsequently, in 1834, together with another Briton, Thomas Templeman (agent of Templeman Bergmann & Co. ofLima) and Santiago Ingram, he founded his own merchant house, that of Waddington Templeman & Co. at Valparaiso, having a great economic success, soon becoming one of the most prominent businessmen in Chile, as well as one of the greatest landowners of the country (Llorca-Jaña et al, 2017).
With the profits of his businesses, Waddington bought several haciendas in Valparaiso, Limache, and Huasco (amongst other locations) and also invested in silver and copper mining (Figueroa, 1925; Araya Valenzuela, 2017). He is also well-known for introducing measures destined to modernize the Chilean agricultural sector, in particular the building of a massive canal between Calera and Limache, the greatest of its time in Chile at that time (Araya Valenzuela, 2017). But he greatly diversified his portfolio: he invested in the Santiago-Valparaiso railways, wheat flour making, in joint stock companies (e.g. insurance, being a pioneer in this sort of business organizations in Chile), urban estates (in particular in Valparaiso), shipping, public utilities (e.g. urban gas, water wells), doing also a great deal of charity work.
In the personal side of his life, it is worth mentioning that he never returned to Britain, settling for good in Chile. In 1838, Joshua married a Chilean lady, member of the local aristocracy, Rosario Urrutia, and became greatly involved with Chilean top members of the economic and political elites, including several presidents of the newly independent republic. Indeed, one of his sons, José Guillermo Waddington Urrutia (1821-1882) born in Valparaiso and educated in England, entered politics, becoming Minister of Finance in 1852 under Antonio Varas’s presidency, and taking office as member of the parliament later on as well (Araya Valenzuela & Llorca-Jaña, 2018; Figueroa, 1925). In Valparaiso, the Waddington family owned much of the neighbourhood of Cerro de la Concepción and all of the Cerro Playa Ancha and Cerro Recreo where a palace-style property was built under the name of the ‘Quinta Waddington’. They also donated 80 lots of land to the local municipality to establish there a public garden known as the Jardín Recreo. Joshua Waddington died in Valparaiso in 1876.
Sources: Araya Valenzuela, Roberto (2017). ‘Josué Waddington. De agente consignatario a engranaje modernizador en el Chile tradicional, 1817-1876’. In Manuel Llorca-Jaña & Diego Barría, eds, Empresas y Empresarios en la Historia de Chile, 1810-1930, Editorial Universitaria Santiago de Chile; Araya Valenzuela, Roberto & Manuel Llorca-Jaña. ‘The birth of joint stock companies in Chile, 1849-1875’, Revista de Historia Industrial Nº. 74, 2018, 43-76; Figueroa, Virgilio (1925). Diccionario histórico y biográfico de Chile, 1800-1925. Imprenta y Litrogràfica La Ilustración, Santiago de Chile; Llorca-Jaña, Manuel; Claudio Robles; Juan Navarrete-Montalvo; Roberto Araya Valenzuela, ‘La agricultura y la elite agraria chilena a través de los catastros agrícolas, c.1830-1855′, Historia, Vol. 50-2, 2017, 597-639.
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Author: Manuel Llorca-Jaña.