Chronicles and Characters of the Stock Exchange

Chronicles and Characters of the Stock Exchange

Author: Francis, John

Cost: $17.99



In this early history of stock trading in London, from its early days in Exchange Alley, Francis traces the rise of the National Debt from its institutionalisation under William III. The association of the Stock Market with the demands arising from War and political intrigues is made evident, as is the service rendered by the City - despite the notoriety of its money making powers, episodic fallout from crashes and panics, and the ever present temptation to corruption.

That fraud is always with us is seen in early examples such as the unfortunately named Charitable Corporation when such scams could produce misery unmatched by modern day crimes. More widespread then was the corruption arising from the entanglement of government,debt and the exchange mediated through an unhealthy association of Politicians, Ministers, Officials, Schemers, Brokers, and Jobbers:

"From the Alley to the House is like a path of ants", said Walpole.

Ingenious schemes to raise money (and lower morals) are described, including Tontines, Lotteries and issuing insurance (gambling) on the lives of the Rich and (ailing!) Famous. The lotteries were a phenomenon that bordered on mania through the eighteenth century. Even barbers and sausage-makers concocted lotteries for their clients - it served as advertising - encouraging the spirit of gambling but depressing the ability to value goods and ultimately taking away the means to pay for them. At its worst, illegal lottery houses in London alone exceeded 400.

The great bubbles are recorded from Tulips to the almight collapse in foreign stocks in 1835 and along with other well-known speculative fevers (such as the South Sea Bubble) are those less famous - such as:

"In 1807 and 1808, a general and feverish love of speculation was abroad. Joint-stock companies were the feature of the day; canals, bridges, and life assurance being great favourites, which if injurious to the speculator, were beneficial to the country. To this period London owes Waterloo and Vauxhall bridges.."

Or the "excitement" of 1824 and 1825, which saw a rash of new companies and offers including the Bolivar Mining Company which promised "mountains, not mines" and a proposed railroad from Dover to Calais, along with a parliamentary steam company to speed bills through the House! Truly the nations of South America were emerging then, and if the rush to make loans there and other foreign lands did not prove troublesome enough, the folly of MacGregor?s Poyais Colony demonstrated that the further from home shores a great venture is proposed, the more excited imaginations become. A debacle followed in the Greek Loan, yet within ten years another bubble and burst in foreign stock was facilitated in the rush to finance military adventures in Portugal and Spain.

In the course of this financial history, houses and fortunes rose (Rothschilds, the Barings, Samuel Gideon, Thomas Guy) and fell (such as the crash of Douglas Heron). The book includes a wealth of colourful accounts and anecdotal history of speculators and intriguers, and vividly conveys a picture of financial life in Eighteenth and early Nineteenth century London.

It is of course the drama of the market?s turbulent nature, rather than its contribution to progress, which often consumes the attention of commentators. Francis points out that some of the finest pens in English literature were put to use ridiculing the role of projectors and speculators.

His counterpoint:

"what does not England owe to men who bore the burden and the heat of the day in the introduction of projects, which once household luxuries, they have made household necessities."

This reprint of the 1850 American Edition was published by Hindsight Books Limited in 2001 Leather-bound copies of this book are available directly from the publisher at Specialist Bookdealers in Company, Business & Investment History.


Stock Market, London Exchange, Investment, Government Debt, Manias, Bubbles, Rothschild, Barings, Thomas Guy, Lotteries, Tontines, Crashes



Ancient Mode of supporting Governments - Ignorance of Political Economy - Mercantile Greatness - Early Supplies - Tulip Mania - Accession of William


The Earliest National Debt - History of Tontines - Of the Money Interest, its Origin, Extravagance, and Folly - Royal Exchange - First Irredeemable Debt - Tricks of the Brokers - Jobbing in East India Stock - False Reports - Importance of the English Funds - Picture of the Alley - Systematic Jobbing of Sir Henry Furnese, Medina, and Marlborough - Thomas Guy, a Dealer in the Alley


Enormous Bribery by William - Increased Taxation - Speech of Sir Charles Sedley - Wrongs of the Soldiers - Defence of William - Moral Disorganization of the Country - First Exchequer-Bill Fraud - First Foreign Loan - Romantic Fraud in 1715 - Political Fraud of Change Alley - Interference of the House of Peers - First Hoax


Charitable Corporation Fraud - Its Discovery - Appalling Effects and Remedy - Marlborough's Victories, their History, and the Loans they brought - Augmented Importance of the Stock Exchange - Dislike to the Members - Increased Loans - Difficulties in procuring them - Statement of Sir Robert Walpole - Gifts of Contractors to Clothiers - First Payment of Dividends by the Bank - South-Sea Anecdotes


Life of Thomas Guy - Imposition in Sailors' Tickets - Foreign Loan attempted - Sir John Barnard - Expresses of the Jobbers - Foreign Commissions - Origin of Time-Bargains - Attempt to stop them - Its Inadequacy - Proposal to reduce the Interest on the National Debt - Opposition of Sir Robert Walpole - New Mode of raising Loans - Comparative Interest in Land and Funds - Punishment of Manasseh Lopez - The first Reduction of Interest - Life of Sir John Barnard


Origin of New Loans - Fraud of a Stock-broker - East India Stock - Sketch of Sampson Gideon, the great Jew Broker - East India Company - Restriction of its Dividends - Liberality to its Clerks - Important Decision - Robbery at Jonathan's - Curious Calculation concerning the National Debt


Crisis of 1772 - Indian Adventurers, their Ostentation, their Character - Failure of Douglas, Heron, & Co - Neale, Fordyce, & Co - Sketch of Mr. Fordyce - His Success in the Alley - Alarm of his Partners - His Artifice - His Failure - General Bankruptcy - Liberality of a Nabob - Reply of a Quaker - Witticism of John Wilkes - War of American Independence - Artifices of Ministers - Anecdote of Mr. Atkinson - Value of Life on the Stock Exchange - Longevity of a Stock-broker


Invention of Lotteries - The First Lottery - Employed by the State - Great Increase - Eagerness to subscribe - Evils of Lotteries - Suicide through them - Superstition - Insurances - Spread of Gambling - Promises of Lotteries - Humorous Episodes - Legal Interference - Parliamentary Report - Lottery Drawing - Picture of Morocco Men - Their Great Evil - Lottery Puffing - Epitaph on a Chancellor - Abolition of Lotteries


Wholesale Jobbing - Insurance on Sick Men - False Intelligence - Uselessness of Sir John Barnard's Act - Origin of the Blackboard - Opposition to Loans - Loan Chatham's Opinion of Jobbers - Inviolability of English Funds - Parisian Banking-Houses - Proposition to pay off the National Debt - Extravagance of the Contractors - Lord George Gordon's Opinion of them - Members' Contracts - New System adopted - Abraham Goldsmid - Bankers' Coalition broken by him - His Munificence - His Death - Sensation in the City


Curious Forgery - Its Discovery - Loan of 1796 - Its Management - French Revolution and its Effect - List of Subsidies to Foreign Powers - Removal of Business from Change Alley - Erection of the present Stock Exchange - Loyalty Loan - Preliminaries of Peace - Its Effect - Hoax on the Stock Exchange - War renewed - Great Fraud on the Jobbers - Its Discovery - Rights of Stock-brokers


Unfounded Charge - Joint-Stock Companies - Speculators - Mark Sprot - Sketch of the House of Baring - Policies on the Life of Bonaparte - Rumors of his Death - David Ricardo - Forgery of Benjamin Walsh - Excitement of the Nation - Increase of the National Debt - Sinking Fund - Unclaimed Dividends - Francis Baily


Review of the National Debt - Opinions - Bolingbroke - Financial Reform Association - Extravagance of Government - Schemes for paying off the National Debt - Review of them - Proposals for Debentures


Progress of Invention - Public Roads - Steam - Duke of Bridgewater - Canals - Railroads - Thomas Gray, their Pioneer - His Difficulties - Proposals for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway - Monopoly of the Canals - Parliamentary Inquiry - Extraordinary Opinions of Witnesses - The Claims of Thomas Gray - Value of Canal Property


Monetary Excitement - Approaches to the Stock Exchange - Gold Company - Equitable Loan Company - Frauds in Companies - Loan to Foreign States. Poyais Bubble


Loan to Guatemala - Dispute concerning it - Greek Loan - Its Mismanagement - Asserted Jobbing - Mr. Hume - Dr. Bowring. Quarterly Review - Proposed Tax on Transfers


Sketch of the Life of Rothschild - Comes to England - Introduction of Foreign Loans - Large Purchases - Anecdotes Concerning Rothschild - His Difficulties and Annoyances - His Death and Burial - Last Crisis on the Stock Exchange


Legends of the Stock Exchange - Mr. Dunbar - Duke of Newcastle - French Ambassador - James Bolland - Extraordinary Incident - Fortunate Adventure - Morals and Manners of the Stock Exchange - Its Constitution and Arrangements


Life Assurance - Its Benefits - Its Commencement - Suicide of an Insurer - Insurance of Invalid Lives - The Gresham - Sketch of the West Middlesex Delusion


The Anatomy of Exchange Alley; or a System of Stock Jobbing. Proving that Scandalous Trade, as it is now carried on, to be Knavish in its Private Practice, and Treason in its Public Stock Tables; Dividend Tables


The 'Little Go' continued - Allotments in 1836-37 - The System of Allotments and the Use of the 'Alley-Men'

Publisher: Hindsight Books
Date Published: 2001
Available Formats: Softcover (167pp., 5.5" x 8", 250g.)
ISBN: 0954156706