William Paterson, founder of the bank of England, and of the Scottish colony of Darien, born according to tradition at Skipmyre, Tin-wald parish, Dumfriesshire, about 1660, died in January, 1719. He is said to have been among the Covenanters who were persecuted by Charles II. To escape from these persecutions he went to London as a merchant, and also visited America, where he acquired from the buccaneers much information in regard to the Spanish main. In 1692 he was a merchant in London, as is evident from a lease authorizing him and two others to construct the Hamp-stead water works. About this time he made proposals in regard to founding a bank of England, and a tract entitled " A Brief Account of the intended Bank of England " is supposed to have been written by him. He was one of the first directors of the institution, but resigned. He had long before conceived the project of founding "a free commonwealth in Darien," and after unsuccessful efforts in England it was finally sanctioned by a Scottish act of parliament in 1695 constituting the Darien company. (See Darien, Colony of.) After the failure of the expedition he returned to England and devised a new plan for the colony; but the unexpected death of King William, over whom he had great influence, destroyed all possibility of reviving the project.

He was an able advocate of the union of England and Scotland, and when the treaty to that effect was passed, an indemnity was recommended to be given him on account of the losses he had suffered in the Darien expedition, and of his " carrying on other matters of a public nature, much to his country's service." But it was not till the reign of George I., and after a long struggle with the government, that the indemnity was paid. Paterson was in 1708 a member of parliament for Dumfriesshire. The last years of his life were spent in Westminster. He was an early and zealous advocate of free trade, and was a decided opponent of the schemes of John Law. His works have been collected under the title of " The Writings of William Paterson, with a Biographical Introduction " (2 vol's. 8vo, 1858). - See Bannister's " William Paterson, the Merchant, Statesman, and Founder of the Bank of England, his Life and Trials " (Edinburgh, 1858); and " The Birthplace and Parentage of William Paterson," by William Pagan (1865).