Factor (agent)

Factor (agent)

A factor, from the Latin "he who does" (from Latin facit, to do, parallel to agent, from Latin agens), is a person who professionally acts as the representative of another individual or other legal entity, historically with his seat at a factory (trading post), notably in the following contexts:


Mercantile factor

In a relatively large company, there could be a hierarchy, including several grades of factor, such as

Colonial factor

In territories without any other 'regular' authorities, especially if in need of defense, the company could mandate its factor to perform the functions of a governor, of course theoretically under authority of a higher echelon, including command of a small garrison, notably

  • Bantam, on the Indonesian island of Java, since 1603 an English station established by East India Company; it had the following Chief factors:
    • 1603 - 16.. William Starkey ; in March 1609 the Station officially becomes a Factory.
    • 1613 - 1615 John Jourdain (1st time)
    • 1615 Thomas Elkington
    • 1615 - 1616 John Jourdain (2nd time)
    • 1616 - 1617 George Berkley; next it became the Presidency of Bantam, under British Agents and Presidents (each two periods) till August 1682 when it was lost to the Dutch
  • 16 June 1702 - 2 March 1705 Allen Cathpoole (d. 1705), the only incumbent of the settlement on the island of Pulo Condor off the south coast of Vietnam, founded by the British East India Company (HEIC), but totally destroyed within three years.

The term and its compounds are also used to render equivalent positions in other languages, such as:

  • Chief factor for the Dutch oppercommies, for instance of the Dutch West India Company on the Slave Coast of West Africa.
  • Chief factor for the Dutch opperhoofd (literally 'supreme head'; but also used for a Tribal Chief, as a Sachem of American Indians), e.g. in the Dutch factory (trading post) on Deshima (Dejima, or Latinized Decima) Island.

See also


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  • agent — n 1 *mean, instrument, agency, instrumentality, medium, vehicle, organ, channel Analogous words: actor, operator, worker (see corresponding verbs at ACT): activator, energizer (see corresponding verbs at VITALIZE): performer, executor or… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

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  • Factor — Fac tor, n. [L. factor a doer: cf. F. facteur a factor. See {Fact}.] 1. (Law) One who transacts business for another; an agent; a substitute; especially, a mercantile agent who buys and sells goods and transacts business for others in commission; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English