Christmas and New Year bonuses for eighteenth-century bankers


A report produced by the Bank of England over the year from March 1783 to March 1784 shows that gift-giving at Christmas and New Year was regularly observed by customers and the Bank also gave gifts to valued connections.

Eighteenth-century Bank of England clerks were hardworking. They were not entitled to annual leave and the institution closed for relatively few public holidays. Christmas was an exception. They worked Christmas Eve, kept the 25-28 December as holidays and worked on New Year’s Eve but not New Year’s Day or Twelfth Night, 6 January. It is not clear whether there was a specific day for gift-giving but most clerks working in offices that dealt directly with customers could expect to receive a small gratuity during the Christmas season. The Bank tellers told the Inspectors compiling the report that they ‘partake of the Gratuities given in the Hall at Christmas in equal proportions’.[1]  The Clerks in the Bill Office received:

 ‘small sums as were given voluntarily at Christmas by such of the Gentlemen keeping accounts in the Bank as chuse to give, but on no account are ever ask’d for’.[2]

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What do we look for in a prize-winning EHS New Researcher Paper?

Don’t skip the Friday afternoon of the Economic History Society Conference, that’s when the New Researchers Sessions are scheduled and it’s often the most interesting part of the weekend. Adding to the excitement is the tension in the air because everyone knows that the presenters are competing for one of the Society’s prestigious New Researcher prizes, awarded each year to the best one or two (and sometimes three) papers.

Between 2014 and 2016 I was lucky enough to be the Chair of the Committee. Hence I got to read dozens of New Researcher papers, to observe numerous panels at the Conference and to hear and read the deliberations of my colleagues on the Committee. I concluded that, although we sometimes disagreed about the merits of a particular paper, what we were looking for was not in dispute and could be summed up in five points. If you want to know more, read by blog post on the EHS Long Run:

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The Economic History Society Conference, 2016

Ec Hist Soc confBetter late than never, here are my thoughts on the 2016 Economic History Society conference held at Robinson College Cambridge on the weekend of 1-3 April 2016. This was the best attended of the Society’s conferences to date with over 300 delegates, nearly 50 New Researchers papers and over 100 Academic papers. There was an abundance of riches for scholars of the eighteenth-century. And the nine academic sessions and six new researcher sessions dedicated to financial history in some form this year attest to the continuing and welcome interest in the field in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

The EHS always begins on the Friday afternoon with the New Researchers sessions. For the past three years I have been Chair of the NR Prize Committee. This has been a welcome task because it has reminded me of the generosity of academics who give up their time to observe the sessions and read and comment on the written papers and who also eschew the bar, for a while at least, to attend late night discussions to decide the prize winners. Continue reading

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Breaking up and making up: another early modern courtship


Silver-cased watch, London 1640-50, BM Collection

Another courtship story from the Jeake family archive….

Richard Hartshorne and Barbara Harding were the parents of Samuel Jeake’s wife, Elizabeth. Richard was desperate to marry Barbara. And, as a couple in their middle age with no parents to interfere, their courtship should have been straightforward. It was anything but. They fell in love, they determined to marry and then they fought.

Although we have only Richard’s letters, we can deduce that the argument was over a love token, a watch given by Barbara and supposed to be kept secret. But the secret had been revealed and some were gossiping. Richard reassured: Continue reading

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The Reluctant Bride: an early modern courtship

Eloquence of Love 1

From Edward Phillips’, ‘The Misteries of Love and Eloquence’, 1658

When I embarked on my project to publish the Jeake family letters (read more about that here) I planned only to focus on those sent to and from Samuel, he of Astrological Diary fame, and his wife Elizabeth.[i] But correspondence preserved by Jeake’s father, also Samuel, and Elizabeth’s mother, Barbara Hartshorne, offered stories that were hard to resist. What follows is an account of Jeake senior’s courtship of Frances Hartridge. (The Barbara Hartshorne courtship will form the subject of a later blog.)

Samuel Jeake senior was a prominent man in Rye during the 1640s and 50s. A lawyer and one of the leaders of a congregation that broke away from the Church of England in the early 1640s, he was also a political activist whose sympathies were firmly with the Parliamentarian cause.[ii] He was not what we would consider ideal husband material. He confessed himself to be bookish, solitary, taciturn and laborious.[iii] Continue reading

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