One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A person who conducts trade independently of the restrictions or benefits of protective regulations.
2Specifically. A trader who works independently of a company (as the East India Company, the Hudson Bay Company, etc.). Now historical.
3A ship trading under licence to India independently of the old East India Company's Charter. Now historical.
5An advocate of free trade.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Discourse Enlargement Trade. From free + trader, after free trade.
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