"There certainly never was a body of men that contri-Duted more to the public safety than the Bank of England. This flourishing and opulent company have, upon every emergency, always cheerfully and readily supplied the necessities of the nation, so that there never have been any difficulties - any embarrassments - any delays in raising the money which has been granted by parliament for the service of the public; and it may very truly be said that they have, in very many important conjunctures, relieved the nation out of the greatest difficulties, if not absolutely saved it from ruin."
1738. Dec. 14. The bank commenced issuing post bills, payable seven days after sight, that in case the mail was robbed the parties might have time to stop payment of the bills. Highway robberies appear to have been very frequent at this period.
1742. The bank charter was extended or renewed until the expiration of twelve months' notice, to be given after the first day of August, 1764, and until payment by the public to the bank of the demands in this Act specified, being an extension or renewal of the said charter for twenty-two years (15 Geo. II. c. 13). In consideration of obtaining this charter, the bank lent to government £1,600,000 without interest. To raise this sum the bank made a call upon the proprietors of £840,004 5s. 4d., which increased its capital to £9,800,000.
1745. Arun upon the bank, occasioned by the rebellion in Scotland, and supposed to be for the purpose of supplying the rebels with gold. A public meeting was held, and one thousand one hundred and forty merchants signed a declaration expressing their readiness to take bank notes.
1746. By the Act 10 Geo. II. c. 6, the bank delivered up to be cancelled £986,000 exchequer bills, in consideration of an annuity of £39,472, being three per cent. per annum. To raise the above sum the bank made a call of ten per cent. upon its proprietors; this increased the bank capital from £9,800,000 to £10,780,000.
1750. A reduction took place in the interest of part of the national debt. The bank held a court at Merchant-Taylors' Hall, and consented to receive a reduced rate of interest upon £8,486,800 of the debt due to them by the government. The bank also agreed to advance to the government a sum of money to pay off the dissentients.
1751. In order to raise the sum promised to be lent to the government, the bank established what was called "Bank Circulation." Books were opened to the public, and any person might enter his name and the sum he was willing to lend to the bank, in case it should be called for. The books being closed, the bank had the power of calling for the whole or any part of the sum subscribed at any time it pleased. The subscribers were to receive 2s. per cent. on the total amount of their subscription, and £4 per cent. on the sum actually advanced.
1752. By 25 Geo. II. the balance of annuities granted by 8 Geo. I. was carried to a three per cent. stock, formed in 1731, and they were consolidated into one stock - the new stock is still called "Three per cent. consols." The word consols is a contraction for consolidated.
1757. The government stock, called "Three per cent. reduced," derives its name from the operation of this year. This stock had borne four per cent. until the year 1750; from that time it paid three and a half per cent., and this year it was reduced to three per cent.
1758. It was legally determined that those persons who had given value for bank notes stolen from the mail, had a right to receive payment of them from the bank.
In this year occurred the first instance of the forgery of a bank note. It was committed by a person named R. W. Vaughan, who had been a linendraper at Stafford. The note was for £20, the smallest amount then in circulation. He was convicted and executed.
1759. The bank commenced issuing notes and post bills of £15 and £10.
1764. The bank charter was extended or renewed until the expiration of twelve months' notice, to be given after the first day of August, 1786, and until payment by the public to the bank of the demands therein specified; being an extension or renewal of the said charter for twenty-two years (4 Geo. III. c. 25).
In consideration of obtaining this charter the bank advanced £1,000,000 on exchequer bills until the year 1766, and paid into the exchequer £110,000.
1775. Bankers were prohibited to issue notes of a less amount than 20s. (15 Geo. III. c. 51).
1777. Bankers were prohibited to issue notes of a less value than £5 (17 Geo. III. c. 30).
1781. The bank charter was extended or renewed until the expiration of twelve months' notice, to be given after the first day of August, 1812, and until payment by the public to the bank of the demands therein specified; being an extension or renewal of the said charter for twenty-six years (21 Geo. III. c. 60). In consideration of obtaining this renewal of their charter, the bank advanced to the government £2,000,000, for three years at three per cent.
It is legally decided that the bank is not liable to pay forged notes.
1782. A call of £862,400, making the total capital of the bank £11,642,400. There was no further increase of capital until the year 1816.
1786. Previous to this year the bank received an allowance from the government on account of the management of the public debt; that is, for trouble in paying the dividends, superintending the transfer of stock, etc.,of £56210s. a million. It was now reduced to £450 a million; the bank being at the same time entitled to a considerable allowance for trouble in receiving contributions on loans, lotteries, etc. This scale of allowance was continued until the year 1808.
1791. A bill was brought into parliament to render £500,000 of the unclaimed dividends on the public funds available for the service of the public; but the bank agreed to lend that sum to the government without interest, and the bill was withdrawn.
1793. An Act of Parliament was passed (33 Geo. HI.
c. 32), declaring that the bank should not be subject to any penalties for advancing money to the government for the payment of bills of exchange, accepted by the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury, and made payable at the bank. The amount of sums so advanced was required to be annually laid before parliament. According to their original charter, the bank was prohibited lending money to the government without the consent of parliament, under a penalty of three times the sum lent: one-fifth part of which was to go to the informer.
This was a year of great commercial distress: twenty-two commissions of bankruptcy were issued against country bankers.
1794. The bank commenced issuing notes for £5.
1795. The bank having resolved to reduce their discounts, placed the following notice in the discount office: -
"Bank of England, 31st December, 1795.
"Pursuant to an order of the Court of Directors:
"Notice is hereby given,
"That no bills will be taken in for discount at this office after 12 o'clock at noon, or notes after 12 o'clock on Wednesday.
"That in future, whenever the bills sent in for discount shall in any day amount to a larger sum than it shall be resolved to discount on that day, a pro rata proportion of such bills in each parcel as are not otherwise objectionable, will be returned to the person sending in the same, without regard to the respectability of the party sending in the bills, or the solidity of the bills themselves.
"The same regulation will be observed as to the notes."