Research: Bank of England

Virtuous Bankers: a day in the life of the eighteenth-century Bank of England

During the period from March 1783 to March 1784, the Bank of England conducted a year-long audit of its business. Over that year the internally-appointed Committee of Inspection visited all areas of the Bank, observing working practices and systems of organisation. They also interviewed a large number of senior and junior clerks. Their work resulted in an 80,000-word document that detailed the organisation and management of all departments within the Bank and made a series of recommendations for improvements in efficiency and security. Thomas Rowlandson

This project uses the Committee of Inspection’s reports as a starting point for understanding the way the Bank of England was organised and managed. A series of articles, already published and in progress, explore the context for the Committee’s work, the way the Inspection was conducted and what it can reveal about the nature of the Bank’s operations. The project will culminate in a monograph which will detail a day in the life of an institution that was active, in some capacity, from dawn until very late in the evening.

Publications relating to the project:

‘Inspection and efficiency at the eighteenth-century Bank of England’, Histoire et Mesure, 30 (2015), pp. 147-170.

‘Writes a fair hand and appears to be well qualified’: recruiting Bank of England clerks at the start of the nineteenth century’, Financial History Review, 22 (2015), pp. 19-44.

‘Dealing with the threat of reform: the Bank of England in the 1780s’, in A. T. Brown, Andy Burn and Rob Doherty eds. Crises in economic and social history: a comparative perspective (Woodbridge, 2015), pp. 283-302.

‘Une crédibilité compromise: les problèmes des transactions relatives à la dette à la Banque d’Angleterre du xviiie siècle’ in Katia Beguin ed., Ressources publiques et construction étatique en Europe xiiie-xviiie siècle (Paris, 2015), pp. 249-265.

‘Making the market: trading debt at the eighteenth-century Bank of England’, European Association for Banking and Financial History working paper 14-05 (April 2014).