The Bank of England – Part VII

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Part VII of our series on the origins of the Bank of England – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

Read other posts in this series on the Bank of England

Read other posts in the London series

The Bank of England – Part VII

The affairs of the Bank of England are managed by a governor, deputy-governor, and twenty-four directors, who are chosen annually. The duties are not only arduous, but of great responsibility, when it is considered that, independent of their own business in discounts, the interest on a debt of nearly eight hundred millions is paid in the Bank, and that with such regularity, that at the time when the pressure of our finances was the heaviest, not a creditor of the state had to call twice for his dividend, although nearly the whole of Europe was receiving millions from us annually, either as loans or as subsidies.

The interest on bank stock had long been at five per cent, half yearly, but in March [1823], it was reduced to four-and-a-half, which occasioned a fall in the stock from 236 to 210; it has, however, since recovered its former price. At the same time the company entered into an arrangement with the government, to advance a sum of £13,089,419 in order to pay the military and naval pensions, on condition of receiving an annuity of £585,740 for forty-four years. A few months afterwards, the directors determined on advancing money, on mortgages, in sums of not less than £10,000 at four per cent, one of the privileges of this great corporation which has rarely been resorted to, although a short time after it resumed its first charter, a bank was proposed for the purpose, entitled the Land-Bank, but it fell among the visionary projects of the age.

The name of Abraham Newland, a faithful and trusty servant of the Bank of England, for upwards of sixty years, is so connected with it, that the historian of this great establishment would be guilty of a very culpable neglect if he omitted to notice him. Mr. Newland was a striking instance of the success of diligence and integrity. At the age of eighteen, he was appointed a junior clerk; and, it is said, added to his salary the stipend of organist at one of the churches. His appointment at the Bank was about the year 1748, and in [1782], he became chief cashier, an office which he retained until [1807], when he resigned with a splendid fortune, the fruits of honest industry. On his retirement he refused to receive the usual annuity, which is very liberal, as, indeed, are all the transactions of the bank, but the directors prevailed on him to accept a service of plate of the value of 1000 guineas. So attentive was Mr. Newland to his trust, that for a period of twenty-five years he never slept beyond the walls of the Bank of England. Mr. Newland died worth £130,000 principally obtained, says a modern historian, by various successful speculations in the funds. It appears to us rather the accumulation of a liberal and increasing salary during the long period of sixty years. For had Mr. Newland speculated in the funds, he would have violated one of the regulations of the bank, and with that early knowledge which he must ex officio have known of the operations of the government, he might have made more money than he died possessed of, in a single hour.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

The Bank of England on Wikipedia 

The Bank of England Archives