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Lloyd’s Coffee House

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We discovered this interesting article on the history of the Lloyd’s Coffee Houses – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

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Lloyd’s Coffee House

It is difficult to decide whether Lloyd’s Coffee-House is more to be admired for its commercial importance, or for the many acts of benevolence with which its name and its subscribers are associated. This coffeehouse, which derives its name from the individual who first kept it, is over the northern piazza of the Royal Exchange; and though presenting none of those attractions which would allure the gentleman who loves “to take his ease at his inn,” is more frequented than all the other coffee-houses in London. It is indeed the centre of British commerce; the point where it concentrates, and whence it diverges over the globe. A bank post-bill does not obtain a readier currency than an article of intelligence from Lloyd’s, and to name this house as an authority is quite decisive  with every person who knows the means of information it possesses, and its accuracy.

Lloyd’s Coffee-House is the great mart for maritime insurance, and in order to obtain correct information it has agents in almost every port in Christendom, who are in regular communication with it, announcing every event that can in the most remote degree affect the political or commercial interests of the country. It was by these means, that during the late war government was often apprized of events, of which they had received no official intelligence, the arrival and sailing of vessels, a list of captures, accidents, and every thing relating to the shipping interests being regularly kept. One room in this coffee-house is appropriated to subscribers, who pay £25 on being admitted, and four guineas a year. No person, however, can be admitted without being recommended by six members, and approved by the committee of management.

The subscribers to Lloyd’s Coffee-House have been as much distinguished for their patriotic benevolence as for the extent of their commercial relations, and it was with this body that the PATRIOTIC FUND originated. This noble charity, the object of which was to provide relief for the widows and orphans of such as die in their country’s service, as well as to remunerate the wounded, was commenced on the 28th July [1803] with a donation of £20,000. three per cents, by the subscribers to Lloyd’s, independently of their contributions as individuals; and so liberally was their example seconded, that in the course of twelve years the fund amounted to £543,450 18s. 11d., out of which eighteen thousand persons had been relieved. Previous to the formation of the Patriotic fond, “Lloyd’s” had been the source and centre of many liberal subscriptions, particularly in [1794] and [1798]; in the former year upwards of £21,000 was raised tor the sufferers in Lord Howe’s victory, and in the latter £32,000 for the widows, orphans, etc. of the battle of the Nile.

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

Lloyds Coffee House on Wikipedia

Lloyds of London

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The London Stock Exchange – 1801

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We had a ‘dig’ around in our library on the history of the London Stock Exchange and discovered this interesting article which we will publish in several parts over the next few days – its from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery.

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The London Stock Exchange – 1801

Of all the means of making a great fortune, there is none so rapid as by speculating in the public funds. Much has often been gained by bonefide purchases and sales of stock, but the speculation is not thus limited. Individuals who never had a shilling in the funds, or the means of purchasing £100 in the three per cents, will speculate in thousands. The risk is, however, small, and the danger still less, for as they are gambling transactions they are not recoverable in law. A jobber purchases or sells a certain quantity of stock to be received or delivered on such a day. When the time comes, he is not called on for any transfer; all that is required is that he shall pay or receive the difference in the price of that particular stock on the day fixed from that on which the bargain was made; if he has lost, and cannot or will not pay the deficiency, he becomes a defaulter, or, to use the jargon of the Stock Brokers, “is a lame duck,” and is not allowed to enter the Stock Exchange again.

By means of speculating in the funds, we have seen persons who began the world in a humble walk of life, amassing fortunes of nearly a million of money in a few years; and there is the instance of Mr. Rothschild, who a few years ago was a dealer in cloth at Manchester, and now deals in millions contracting for and supplying loans to all the powers of Europe. To the honour of this gentleman it must, however, be said, that although a member of that persecuted people, the Jews, he possesses a heart which does honour to human nature, and that to him every increase of wealth is but an additional means of doing good.

The amount of the national debt, which, during the long war with France, rendered new loans continually necessary, increased the business of the funds so much that the house in Change Alley, where it was transacted, became too limited, and in [1801] it was determined to build a more commodious house for the purpose. Capel-court, once the residence of Sir William Capel, lord mayor in 1504, was fixed upon as a convenient situation for the purpose.

The Stock Exchange, the first stone of which was laid on the 18th of May, [1801], was raised by subscription: the plate which has been placed in the first stone bears an inscription, which after ages may consider as a questionable proof of national prosperity, although evidently intended to record it. Of national good faith it is certainly an indisputable memorial. It states that the public funded debt was then upwards of five hundred millions. There is nothing in the building itself to excite particular attention, although it is conveniently and handsomely fitted up; but there is no place in the world where money transactions are carried on to such an extent, an assertion which will scarcely be doubted by those who consider the fluctuations which must occur in a funded property, which, on the 5th of January [1823], amounted to £796,530,144 15s 4d.

Although the number of persons, among whom this sum is subdivided, is varying almost every day, so as to render any calculation uncertain, yet, in a recent investigation, it was found that there were 283,958 persons who had shares of various amounts in the public funds; and that it requires upwards of twentysix millions yearly to pay the dividends. Of the various fundholders more than 90,000 receive a dividend not exceeding £10 a year; nearly 100,000 more a sum not exceeding £100 per annum; and there are 215 persons who receive an annual income of £4000 and upwards from the funds. This statement is exclusive of those persons who have deposited money in the savings’ banks, the number of which is immense.

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 London Stock Exchange on Wikipedia

The London Stock Exchange Website

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

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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

The Bank of England – Part VI

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Part VI 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

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The Bank of England – Part VI

The business of the Bank of England was at first carried on at Grocer’s Hall, and continued to be transacted there until the year 1734, although the increase of the establishment had long rendered larger premises desirable. At length, in 1732, it was determined to erect a new building of sufficient magnitude, and the site chosen, was the house and garden of Sir John Houblon, the first governor of the company, in Threadneedle Street. The original building has since received so many additions, that it becomes more difficult to trace the architectural than the commercial growth of the establishment. The first edifice, which formed but a small portion of the vast fabric which now constitutes the Bank of England, was raised under the direction, and according to the designs, of Mr. George Sampson, and was opened for business on the 1st of June, 1734.

This building was soon found insufficient for the increasing business of the company, and some adjoining houses and ground having been obtained, wings were added under the direction of Sir Robert Taylor. In [1788], Mr. Soane succeeded as architect to the Bank, and to him is the present building indebted for its principal ornaments, particularly the rotunda. Mr.Soane had also the re-constructing of the principal part of the interior, which he has rendered much more commodious. From Mr. Soane’s first appointment to the present time, there has scarcely a year elapsed in which he has not been engaged, either in making some addition to the building, or in re-modelling and simplifying the arrangement of the interior; nor has he yet completed his work, but has recently added what may justly be considered the most splendid portion of this noble edifice. This consists of a new wing at the east end of the Bank; the elevation forms a colonnade of six fluted Corinthian columns which connect two pavilions; the columns do not form a portico, being barely insulated from the wall. The entablature, which is surmounted with a very fine parapet, has its frieze enriched with Vitruvian fret. The whole possesses much novelty, boldness, and elegant effect.

The whole building occupies an area of nearly four acres. The centre of the south front erected by Sampson, is eighty feet long, and is of the Ionic order. The two wings, added by Sir Robert Taylor, were copied from a building by Bramante, in the Belvedere gardens at Borne, and, although neat, did not harmonize with the centre. The north and west fronts have been erected by Mr. Soane, who, in this, as well as in several other parts of the Bank, has indulged in his favourite attachment to the Grecian architecture, which he has introduced in the purest style.

It is, however, in the interior of the Bank that the skill of the architect is displayed to the greatest advantages. The rotunda, where the money-changers assemble to traffic in real or fictitious stock, is a fine octagonal room, fifty-seven feet in diameter, and covered by a dome; the whole building being of stone. It was erected in [1795], under the direction of Mr. Soane. The court room, the pay-hall, the offices for the several kinds of stock, the hall, the apartments for the accommodation of the governor, the directors, and the cashiers, with the various offices requisite for the accommodation of eleven hundred clerks, who are now employed in the Bank, are all admirably suited for the purposes for which they are constructed, and nothing can exceed the order and regularity with which the business is conducted. As a whole, however, the Bank, from its having been built at different periods, presents several architectural anomalies and incongruities, and a confusion of orders as varied as the Babel-like confusion of tongues heard in the rotunda when a sudden fluctuation in the funds has created a multitude of hopes and fears among the clamourous multitude who usually assemble there during office hours.

Over the hall of the Bank there is a curious clock, which, by communicating rods, indicates the march of time in sixteen distinct offices, where dial plates are placed; thus obviating the inconvenience which might arise in the transacting of business in the funds by the variation of different clocks.

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

The Bank of England – First Fraud Case

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More on the first recorded case of fraud at the Bank of England by Mr Robert Astlett in 1803 expanding on yesterdays post.  It is taken from The History and Antiquities of London Volume 3 and published in 1839.

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The Bank of England – First Fraud Case

In the year [1803], an extraordinary instance of embezzlement and fraud was discovered at the bank, on the part of Mr. Robert Astlett, a principal cashier, and one of the most confidential servants in the company’s employ. The detection arose from circumstances communicated to the directors by Mr. Bish, the Stock-broker and Lottery-office keeper, in Cornhill, who had been engaged by Astlett to dispose of some Exchequer bills, which on examination, Mr. Bish had found to have previously passed through his own hands, and been delivered in to the Bank. It appeared in evidence, that Astlett had the custody of all Exchequer bills brought into the Bank, till a sufficient quantity was collected to arrange in bundles, and deliver to the directors in the parlour, where the bundles are counted, and a voucher for the delivery of them given to the cashier.

In conformity to this practice three bundles to the supposed amount of £700,000. had on the 26th of February, been transferred to the parlour, and the proper entry made under the signatures of two directors; yet as counting the bills, it was seen that the vouchers had been given for £200,000 more than the bundles contained. For the felonious embezzlement of three of those bills, of £1000. each, Astlett was put co his trial at the Old Bailey, on the 8th of July, when it was proved by his counsel, that the purloined bills were not valid; inasmuch as they had not been signed by a proper officer, as required by an act of parliament.

The prisoner was therefore acquitted; but he was detained in custody by order of the court, in consequence of it being stated that the bank directors intended to issue a civil process against him for £100,000 and upwards, money paid for bills, which he had converted to his own use.

On the Thursday following, July the 14th, at a half yearly general court of proprietors, (which was held at the Bank for the purpose of declaring a dividend,) the chairman entered into a detailed and satisfactory explanation of the manner in which Astlett had imposed upon the directors, and been enabled by interlining sums, and other artful contrivances, to carry on his frauds without suspicion. He also stated that the actual loss was about £320,000 a sum nearly amounting to the entire dividends of the half year; but that the affairs of the company were in so prosperous a state that they should be able to divie as usual: about £78,000. likewise, of the above sum, he expected the Bank would be able to recover.

Previously to the return of the sessions, the directors departed from their declared intention of issuing a civil process, and Astlett, on the 3rd of September, was again tried for a criminal offence. The indictment was founded on the act of the 15th of George the second, chap. 13, and he was charged with the felonious embezzlement of property and effects of the Bank of England. The same ground of objection was taken as on the former trial, against the validity of the bills, from their want of a proper official signature; but this was over-ruled by Mr. justice Le Blanc, and the jury having brought in a verdict of guilty as to the facts, the point of law was reserved for the decision of the twelve judges. That decision was pronounced at the Old Bailey, on the 16th of February, [1804], by Mr. Baron Hotham, who stated that the objection had been ably and legally discussed; but that the judges were of opinion that the bills in question came properly under the denomination of the ‘effects, meant by the statute; and that the prisoner, by having been found guilty of the embezzlement of them, was subjected to the pain of death.’ This sentence, however, was not executed, and Mr. Astlett remained a prisoner in Newgate for many years, having but lately been discharged by means of a pardon.

Excerpt from The History and Antiquities of London Volume 3 and published in 1839.

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Further reading and external links

The Bank of England on Wikipedia 

The Bank of England Archives

The Bank of England – Part V

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Part V 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 V

It will readily be perceived that the principal business of the Bank of England is as the agent of government in the management of the public debt; and, in addition, to the allowance it has for transacting this business, considerable profit is derived from the balances which it holds belonging to the government, which have sometimes amounted to six millions. Although there can be no doubt that the profits of the Bank, for transacting the business of the government, are great, yet it is but justice to this body, the first in wealth and character that ever existed, to say that the directors, on all occasions, manifest a corresponding liberality; that their treasury has always been open when the necessities of the government required a loan, and that when, in [1798], voluntary contributions were solicited for carrying on the war, the Bank commenced the subscription by a donation of £200,000.

In nothing is the resumption of cash payments by the Bank of England more gratifying, than the service it has done to the cause of humanity, by putting a stop to that system of forgery which every year sent numerous victims to an untimely death. The forgeries were generally in notes of the lowest value, and these being entirely withdrawn, the crime has almost ceased. A singular fraud, though not fatal to the individual, yet of such an extent as would have seriously injured many establishments, was committed on the Bank, in [1803], by Mr. Robert Astlett, a principal cashier, who, by re-issuing exchequer bills, defrauded the company of £320,000. a sum nearly equal to the entire dividends of the half-year. Astlett was tried on two several indictments, and capitally convicted, but judgement was deferred; and after remaining many years in Newgate, he was pardoned by his present Majesty, on condition of quitting the country.

The Bank of England has, on several occasions, issued a silver currency to a considerable extent, sometimes in dollars, and tokens of eighteen-pence and three-shillings, at an advanced price on the value of silver. The Spanish dollars, which were successively raised from four-and-sixpence to five shillings, were, in [1811], re-issued at five-and-sixpence, having been previously re-stamped by one of Mr. Bolton’s powerful machines, which entirely effaced the Spanish insignia, and replaced it by the head of his Majesty, and a figure of Britannia.

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

The Bank of England – Part IV

 

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Part IV 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 IV

The restriction on cash payments, authorized by the privy council in 1797, and confirmed by an act of parliament, though intended as a temporary measure, was continued by various legislative acts until the month of September, [1817], when the Bank issued a notice that cash would be given for all their notes of £1 and £2 value, dated previous to the 1st of January, [1816]: so great, however, was the demand for cash, that in the course of two years, from the 1st of January, [1817], to the 1st of January, [1819], the gold coin issued amounted to £1,596,356 in guineas and half guineas, and £4,459,725 in sovereigns. Had this sum been withdrawn merely for the purpose of superseding paper money in internal circulation, it would have occasioned no uneasiness; but it was found that it was exported to France at a premium, and that in such quantities, that out of a new coinage of £5,000,000. made by the French government, nearly four millions of it was out of the coin of this country.

In order, therefore, to prevent such a drain of the precious metals, it was determined once more to interdict cash payments. After this measure was adopted, two parliamentary committees were appointed to investigate the affairs of the Bank; In the report of the secret committee of the House of Commons, dated May 6, [1819], we have a clear and decisive proof of the flourishing state of the Bank of England, fully justifying that ample confidence which the public have reposed in the stability of its resources. It appears by this parliamentary document, that the sum which the Bank was liable to be called on to pay, in fulfilment of its engagements, on the 1st of January, [1819], was £33,894,580. and that it was then in possession of government securities, and other credits, to the amount of £39,096,900. leaving a surplus in favour of the Bank of England, of £5,202,320. exclusive of the permanent debt due from government to the Company, of £14,686,800 repayable on the expiration of the charter. Thus the total capital of the Bank exceeds twenty millions sterling.

The proposal again to restrict the Bank from payments in cash, met with considerable opposition in both houses of parliament, though the usual orders of the house were suspended, that the bill might pass through all its stages in one day; and it passed through the commons on the 5th of April, [1819], and through the lords on the following day. This act, which is known by the name of Mr. Peel’s Bill, limited the restriction to the 1st May, [1822], on which day cash payments were resumed, and have continued uninterrupted, and unlimited to the present time.

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