British Community and Family History
Sugar was a major agricultural product in Madeira for several centuries. From the second half of the 19th century sugar processing came to be dominated by William Hinton and his son, Harry. William Hinton and Sons would finally close in 1976, although the family name lives on as a rum producer.
The Hintons, particularly Harry, proved adept at gaining support from Portugal’s government, from King D. Carlos I to António Salazar. This, combined with its continual technological innovation, enabled William Hinton and Sons to gradually monopolise the Madeiran sugar industry. However, there were many problems along the way, most notably the events in 1910 when the government reversed some decisions of the previous year relating to sugar, following pressure from Harry Hinton. This led to an uproar in Parliament, was a constant topic of discussion in newspapers, fascinated the public and caused considerable embarrassment to the government of the day, after Parliament unanimously voted for a commission of enquiry. The events of 1910 became known as A Questão Hinton.
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