Along with three of my colleagues, I have paper on ownership and control in the Victorian era forthcoming in the Economic History Review. The QUCEH working paper version of the paper is available here. In this paper, we find that corporate ownership was much more diffuse in the Victorian era than previously believed. The paper's abstract is below:
Using ownership and control data for 890 firm-years, this paper examines the concentration of capital and voting rights in British companies in the second half of the nineteenth century. We find that both capital and voting rights were diffuse by modern-day standards. However, this does not necessarily mean that there was a modern-style separation of ownership from control in Victorian Britain. One major implication of our findings is that diffuse ownership was present in the UK much earlier than previously thought, and given that it occurred in an era with weak shareholder protection law, it somewhat undermines the influential law and finance hypothesis. We also find that diffuse ownership is correlated with large boards, a London head office, non-linear voting rights, and shares traded on multiple markets.