LEVI, LEONE (1821–1888), British economist and pioneer of chambers of commerce. Levi was born in Ancona, Italy, the son of a merchant. He arrived in Liverpool in 1844 and became a naturalized British subject in 1847. There, Levi worked as a merchant, but his business suffered in the economic downturn of the late 1840s. In 1849, in a Liverpool newspaper and in pamphlets, he floated the idea of a local chamber of commerce, where local businessmen could discuss their common problems and gain advice. Although small-scale chambers of commerce had existed before, none had previously been founded in a large British town. His idea received considerable support and he became secretary of the newly founded Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. Levi used his post to write extensively on international commercial law and on national legal differences in commercial practice, producing Commercial Law in 1850. In 1850, remarkably for a recent migrant with no academic background, Levi was appointed professor of commercial law at King's College, London. He was a significant figure in pioneering the collection of commercial statistics. His History of British Commerce (1872) was also a pioneering work. He produced an autobiography, The Story of My Life: The First Ten Years of My Residence in England, 1845–1855 (1888).
[William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]