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The contribution of women to the economy as investors has an increasing profile, but sources of information on women’s economic activity in the nineteenth century are limited. However, shipping registers provide new avenues for exploring this largely hidden perspective. Women investors in shipping are revealed here to be more consistently active across the century with a close involvement with their investment. They were a significant factor in enabling smaller port communities to remain self-sufficient in their industry funding until the dominance of steam in the 1880s caused the sailing vessel to become increasingly obsolete.