Bank of England History
THE BANK OF ENGLAND.
The Jews and the Lombards—The Goldsmiths the first London Bankers—William Paterson, Founder of the Bank of England—Difficult Parturition, of the Bank Bill—Whig Principles of the Bank of England—The Great Company described by Addison—A Crisis at the Bank—Effects of a Silver Re-coinage—Paterson quits the Bank of England—The Ministry resolves that it shall be enlarged—The Credit of the Bank shaken— The Whigs to the Rescue—Effects of the Sacheverell Riots—The South Sea Company—The Cost of a New Charter—Forged Bank Notes —The Foundation of the "Three per Cent. Consols"—Anecdotes relating to the Bank of England and Bank Notes—Description of the Building—Statue of William III.—Bank Clearing House—Dividend Day at the Bank.
The English Jews, that eminently commercial race, were, as we have shown in our chapter on Old Jewry, our first bankers and usurers. To them, in immediate succession, followed the enterprising Lombards, a term including the merchants and goldsmiths of Genoa, Florence, and Venice. Utterly blind to all sense of true liberty and justice, the strong-handed king seems to have resolved to squeeze and crush them, as he had squeezed and crushed their unfortunate predecessors. They were rich and they were strangers —that was enough for a king who wanted money badly. At one fell swoop Edward seized the Lombards' property and estates. Their debtors naturally approved of the king's summary measure. But the Lombards grew and flourished, like the trampled camomile, and in the fifteenth century advanced a loan to the state on the security of the Customs. The Steelyard merchants also advanced loans to our kings, and were always found to be available for national emergencies, and so were the Merchants of the Staple, the Mercers' Company, the Merchant Adventurers, and the traders of Flanders.