Small Books and Pleasant Histories: Popular Fiction and Its Readership in Seventeenth-Century England, by Margaret Spufford (ISBN 0416741509):
The case of William Johnson of Lincoln, who was born in Scotland where his father died insolvent and became a pedlar in England, is an instructive one. He carried a pack of linen as a pedlar and by 1718 was able to take up a small shop in Lincoln where he at first sold hardware, caps, handkerchiefs and other ready-made wear in linen. He became a wholesale linen draper and a freeman of the city and eventually left a fortune of between 8000 and 9000 [pounds]. William Johnson’s successful career from pedlar to freeman and shopkeeper suggests that the nineteenth-century Scottish model of a successful chapman’s career may well hold true for earlier periods.
[meme via Words’ End]