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The records of Hoare's Bank and the correspondence of six of its women customers show how these women started to use the new banking services both for transferring money and for trading in the stock market. It is clear that alongside their use of the new facilities, older systems of money transfer remained important for customers. Much of the business of the bank and its customers, including their ventures into the stock market, took place within groups of people united by kinship, religion, and politics.
Recent work, by historians such as Quinn, Lamoreaux and Temin and Voth, has concentrated on the development of banks as institutions; on such facilities as loans, credit, and mutual acceptance; and on the institutional changes, described by Temin and Voth as ‘an emerging technology’, that made it possible for banks to develop in the age of the financial revolution.2
This study, in contrast to the work of Temin and Voth and Lamoreaux, who worked on loan customers, uses the records of Hoare's Bank in Fleet Street, one of the earliest banks to take a private, non-mercantile clientele, to study the bank's deposit customers. For the most part, deposit customers were landed aristocrats and gentry (male and female), MPs and office-holders, charities and clergymen, rather than businesspeople with extensive mercantile interests, although the Bristol merchant Edward Colston was a notable exception. Women make a particularly noteworthy group, as they were almost always non-mercantile customers.3 So a study of women customers not only contributes to the literature on women's agency, but also to our understanding of the development of private banking. This study is particularly concerned with how women customers managed their finances in the early years of the eighteenth century, and with how these individuals integrated the bank into their financial affairs, depositing money, withdrawing it in a variety of ways and for divers purposes, and using other banking services, notably access to the stock market.4 Inevitably, most of these women were spinsters or widows.
After a general consideration of the way in which Hoare's Bank organized its deposit operations, this study concentrates on the financial affairs of six women customers. Exceptionally, both correspondence and complete deposit ledger entries survive for the lengthy periods when these women held accounts at Hoare's Bank. This makes it possible to understand the Hoare's ledger entries more thoroughly than is usually possible, to track the women's financial activities throughout their lives, and to follow their banking careers. The evidence demonstrates the erratic take-up of banking services; the coexistence of modern banking and earlier financial devices; the changing use of banking services at different stages of the women's lives; the use of the bank to buy and sell stock; and the closeness of the circles within which the women did business. It is also suggestive of the way in which business relied upon personal networks as a guarantee of reliability, despite the supposed development of an impersonal market.5 In the context of the great significance of patronage in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English society, there was no sense that unfair advantage was being gained by acting upon good, professional advice from trusted advisers. What is unclear is how far personal decisions about financial dispositions were influenced by political or religious allegiances.
This material also throws light upon the ways in which Hoare's Bank developed its private customer business in parallel with its long-standing mercantile and commercial business. Comparisons with the (much less full) records of two contemporary firms suggest that Hoare's Bank was exceptional in the services it provided and in the way in which its partners' advice was given, or at least acted upon.
From the 1650s, goldsmiths had started to transform themselves into something more resembling bankers, relying on note circulation for payments.6 By the later seventeenth century, the use of bills of exchange had spread to a wider public beyond lawyers and merchants: changes in the law had made the use of promissory notes and inland bills of exchange easier, and private individuals were beginning to follow merchants in using banks to facilitate the payment and encashment of bills and notes.7 Although changes seem to have improved the security of bills and notes, not everyone trusted banks; in 1710, a number of banks failed, and further companies disappeared in the wake of the South Sea Bubble.8
Richard Hoare (1648–1718) created a bank from what had primarily been a goldsmith's business, taking his son Henry (1677–1725) as a partner. After Richard's death, his son Benjamin (1693–1750) joined Henry as partner, and after Henry's death his sons Henry (1705–85) and Richard (1709–54) joined the company. By the 1720s, they had ceased to act as goldsmiths, although they continued to offer interest-free loans secured on plate.9
The bank seems to have taken its first deposit in 1633, and in the late seventeenth century provided facilities that allowed out-of-town customers to cash cheques drawn on accounts in London, although from 1690 no interest was paid on deposits.10 It developed recognizably modern aspects of banking practice, such as the banker requiring the customer's authorization to pay himself. Lady Frances Hastings, writing in 1722, was mistaken in thinking that ‘Mr Hoare having a little money of mine in his hands would pay himself out of it’.11
From the 1690s, Richard Hoare invested customers' deposits in mortgages and small-scale government loans; the bank later acted for customers who wanted to invest in joint stock companies.12 The ledgers show the growing involvement of deposit customers in the stock market, although we do not know how much of their stock market business was conducted by Hoare's Bank as agent, nor what further business customers did with other banks or directly with stock-brokers and jobbers. Richard Hoare was a director of the original South Sea Company. The Hoare family themselves were active in the stock market, and Richard's sons, Henry and Benjamin, invested heavily in the South Sea Company, making some £28,000 from trading during the South Sea Bubble.13
In the 1690s, Hoare's Bank started to expand its activities to a new clientele beyond its traditional mercantile customers. The numbers increased considerably in the early eighteenth century—according to Temin and Voth, they sought out wealthy and well-connected customers for their solvency.14 Deposit customers were landed aristocrats and gentry, MPs and office-holders, clergymen, and some people with city interests. Women constituted 10 to 12 per cent of the bank's customers. Figure 1 indicates how the proportions were liable to fluctuate.15
Many of these private customers were connected with each other through kinship, politics, or religion, and frequently several members of the same family used the bank. Some, such as the Finch and Hastings families, shared the Hoares' strong Tory and high church associations. Others, such as the Pelham Holles and Pierrepont families, also linked by marriage and politics, moved in Whig circles. The families of the earls of Nottingham and Huntingdon formed notable networks of customers. Daniel Finch, Earl of Nottingham and Winchilsea, his brother Heneage Finch, Lord Aylesford, and their brothers, sons, and nephews banked at Hoare's, as did the husbands of their daughters, Lord Bingley, Roger Mostyn, and the Duke of Roxburghe, for example. Successive earls of Huntingdon; Lady Betty Hastings and her four half-sisters (all daughters of the seventh earl); Lady Betty's uncles (William Joliffe and Lord Scarsdale); her step-grandfather (Denzil Onslow); her sister-in-law's family (the Shirleys, Earls Ferrers); and her stepmother's family by her first marriage (the Needhams, Lords Kilmorey) all had accounts at Hoare's Bank, as did her friends Lady Fox (with her daughter Charlotte Digby) and Mary Astell.
A very high proportion of customers were MPs, especially Tory MPs and minor office-holders, with a few occupants of great offices of state, such as members of the Finch family, Speaker Bromley, and Lord Wyndham (Lord Chancellor of Ireland). Many of them were high churchmen and were associated with the societies for the reformation of manners and the charity school movement, both of which had strong support from Tories. The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), founded in 1698 for the suppression of vice, opened an account at Hoare's Bank in 1711; and the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG), founded in 1701 for foreign missions, opened one in 1719. Henry and Benjamin Hoare were themselves involved with both societies, as well as with many other causes supporting charity schools and parochial libraries.
A number of churchmen such as Anthony William Boehm, chaplain to Prince George of Denmark and King George I, and William Lupton, rector of St Dunstan in the West, the parish in which the bank lies, were customers of Hoare's. They, with such laymen as Robert Nelson, were noted for their piety and good works, and shared a common interest in the proper observance of the sacraments and festivals of the Church, in remedying clerical poverty, in the conversion of the heathen, in the provision of Christian education, and in moral reform. A subset of them was concerned with the questionable legitimacy of the rule of William and Mary (particularly as heads of the Church of England), some were nonjurors, and some doubted the legitimacy of the Hanoverian succession.
In the early eighteenth century, then, the bank moved into a new sphere of activity beyond the mercantile and business community. Temin and Voth have argued that they did this successfully by selecting their customers with care, lending to those who were known to be solvent.16 However, given the novelty and uncertainty of deposit banking, the benefit of a closely linked, wealthy, and well-connected non-mercantile clientele advertised the bank's solvency to new customers.
The Hoare's Bank customer ledgers start in 1673. Normally, customers conducted their business in the bank at 37 Fleet Street, where deposits and drawings were recorded in a day book, the entries being copied into customer ledgers arranged by customer. The ordering of the ledgers has no logic other than that dictated by the volume of an individual's business and the point at which a page in the ledger was filled up. Loans were entered in separate loan books, but occasionally appear in the customer ledgers. For a period in the first half of the eighteenth century, there were two series of customer ledgers, one identified by numbers, the other by letters. The distinction between them is not obvious, although the numerical series contains records for many customers who did no more than a single transaction, such as cashing a note or bill, and for others who conducted no more than five or six transactions over a period of three or four years. The series designated by letters contains the accounts of customers with a large enough volume of business to take up several double-page spreads in a single ledger, with five or 10 transactions a month or more. Both groups of customers made payments by bill and note and received payments by both means, but the second group had a much larger involvement in the stock market.
Seasonal fluctuations in the use of the bank are apparent, corresponding with customers' occasional presence in London. Initially, it was necessary for customers to come into the bank every year to sign off their reconciled accounts. The bank did not, as modern banks do, carry balances forward. Accounts were actually signed off, the bank notionally returning credit balances to the customer and recording the amount needed to settle negative balances. The bank devised ways of circumventing the need to have its customers on the premises, making the changes gradually and piecemeal; first by sending out copy accounts to be signed and returned; later by allowing customers to use an agent (the agent most commonly used by the four unmarried Hastings sisters was the husband of the fifth, the Reverend Granville Wheler); and finally by dispensing with the need to reconcile the accounts annually by keeping the balance running. The switch to keeping running balances seems to have come about over a period of years and in response to individual customers' circumstances; the basis on which the change was made is not apparent.
The emergence of the stock market, providing a mechanism for lenders to invest their money for a variety of periods with easy liquidity and risk diversification, was aided by the emergence of banks as vehicles for the management of the financial affairs of private individuals. Capital markets, rents and private loans on bonds all provided income at a time when banks were not paying interest. But it was difficult for provincial customers to trade profitably in capital markets when there was necessarily a time lag of several days between the arrival of market information and any possibility of acting upon it.17 Hoare's Bank seems to have provided the services that allowed its out-of-town customers to use the stock market, government debt, and the lottery as vehicles for their surplus capital. However, it is not possible to tell how the bank itself profited from providing these services.
In the early eighteenth century, many Hoare's customers dealt in a range of different forms of government debt: Exchequer Bills; Orphans stock; Navy Bills; and loans based on anticipating revenues from the Land Tax, the Malt Tax, and the Excise on low wines. By the mid-1720s, records of this kind of business diminish; in 1729, payments to the Sun Fire Office and the Amicable Company start to appear. It is not possible to know whether customers were trading in the market through other banks or brokers, whether the bank was conducting these transactions as agent, or whether these are simply a record of transactions that passed through deposit accounts in which the bank had no other involvement. There is an obscure and incomplete notebook at Hoare's entitled ‘Book of Stocks and Annuities begun 5 Aug 1717’, which contains pages headed ‘Transfers of South Sea stock in the name of Henry Hoare and belonging to the persons under written’: these pages include the names of a small number of customers, including the six women who are the subject of this study. The corresponding list of transfers of shares from Hoare's to their owners does not contain all of their names, possibly because the stock was sold before it had had time to be transferred. This suggests that, at least for a few customers, the bankers were acting as agents.
Table 1 shows that approximately a third of the bank's customers participated in the stock market (the monied companies) or in the lottery. While it shows a modest increase in the number of customers, the proportion owning or dealing in stock or lottery tickets stays roughly the same for the four sample periods, with a very small dip after the South Sea Bubble (the full extent of investors' losses did not become apparent until well into 1721) and a rise after 1723.
Table 1. Hoare's Bank customers' stock market or lottery transactions (purchases, sales, or receipts of dividends, interest, or lottery prizes)
Note: See n. 15 for an explanation of the samples.
Source: Hoare's Bank Customer Ledgers.
Number of customers
Number of customers transacting
Percentage of customers transacting
Figure 2 shows the changes that took place in the kinds of market activity over the four periods. In 1714, most transactions were receipts of income from stock, the lottery, or lottery prizes. Income continued to remain significant (it is lower in 1723, probably because the South Sea Company was only then resuming dividend payments after the Bubble), but there is a striking increase in the importance of trading. In 1719 and 1723, customers made slightly more sales than purchases, suggesting that they saw trading gains as more important than income; while in 1714 and 1729 purchases exceeded sales, suggesting, at least for 1714, a desire to rely on income. It seems unlikely that they were simply holding on to the stock in the hope of capital gains.
While the participation rate in the market (table 1) and the number of transactions (figure 2) both remained fairly steady, variations in the value of transactions are very noticeable. Figure 3 shows that the value of stock and lottery ticket purchases increased sharply (some of the customer entries in the sample for 1719 extend into the early months of 1720), but the most dramatic aspect is the high value of the sales, more than double the value of the purchases for 1719, suggesting that customers and bankers succeeded in out-performing the market before the Bubble as well as during it.18 The difference is not nearly so apparent in 1723, but Hoare's Bank customers were still divesting themselves of stock, and apparently at a profit. The figures also give the impression of large numbers of relatively low value transactions, especially in payments of income.
Figures 4–7 give the same information as those preceding, broken down by company. We have seen that the Hoare family themselves invested extensively in the South Sea Company. Temin and Voth have demonstrated that the bank traded actively on its own account from at least as early as 1702.19 They also show that the bank dealt profitably in Royal African and Bank of England stock, but that they had a mixed record with East India Company stock and that the bankers' successful trading was not the result of information from knowledgeable customers; rather it seems more likely that customers were following their bankers' advice.20
The figures also show customers' dealings in lottery tickets. The lottery rests between the stock market and other forms of government debt insofar as it was backed by the government, like the monied companies, and like Exchequer Bills, Navy Bills, and other funded debt such as the anticipation of the Land Tax incomes, but there was an active secondary market in lottery blanks (tickets that did not carry a prize but did entitle the owner to a small annuity).21 Murphy observes a disproportionate involvement of women in the lotteries of the 1690s compared with other investment opportunities.22 Lotteries provided a safe home for money which required no management and avoided investors having to deal with stock-jobbers. Elsewhere, she notes that it seems to have been the Million Adventure lottery of 1694 that awakened small investors' interest in the capital markets.23
Figure 4 shows that the number of lottery transactions far exceeds the number of transactions in any of the three monied companies in 1714. The next most frequent destination for customers' funds was the South Sea Company, followed by the Bank of England, and then the East India Company. The succeeding years show the decline of the lottery (the need for government borrowing was reduced by the absence of foreign wars), although on the eve of the South Sea Bubble it was still important. In 1719, some annuities payable on lottery tickets were redeemed or the rate of interest payable on them was reduced, and lottery annuities were exchanged for South Sea stock in the conversions of 1719 and 1720.24 Customers' increasing ownership and retention of South Sea stock is very striking. The figures for 1719 suggest that customers were dealing more actively in other stock as well (consistent with Neal's figures for the rise in stock market activity in all of the monied companies in 1720), but that they did not regard owning Bank or East India stock as advantageous.25
Figure 5 shows that even in 1714 the value of South Sea purchases exceeded that of lottery tickets. Customers placed their faith extensively in South Sea stock, backed up in 1719 by increased Bank stock purchases. The years 1723 and 1729 saw an overall decline in purchases, but a considerable expenditure in buying South Sea stock.
Figure 7 demonstrates very clearly that in 1719 Hoare's customers had become active and successful traders, the value of the sales of South Sea stock considerably exceeding that of purchases. The very slight excess in value of South Sea purchases over sales in 1723 suggests either a renewed confidence in the market or that the effects of the slump in values was still being felt. The excess in values of Bank stock sales over purchases in 1719 confirms Temin and Voth's observations about the bank's own successful dealing, as does the small value and small movement in East India stock.
Finally, the value of customers' receipts from stock and the lottery (figure 7) shows the growing impact of South Sea stock ownership and a decline in the diversity of stock ownership. Income from the lottery more or less disappeared, partly by virtue of the conversion of earlier lottery annuities into South Sea stock. Customers' income derived overwhelmingly from the South Sea Company, with the Bank of England, supposedly the ‘safest’ of all the monied companies, a poor second.
These samples contain very small numbers of women, and there is within them no significant variation in behaviour from the men, but a larger study of all of the women (around 10–12 per cent of all of the deposit customers) might produce different results.
Several hundred women had some dealings with the bank in the early eighteenth century, many of them carrying out no more than a single transaction. However, for six of those who did a good deal of business with the bank, there survives sufficient correspondence, in addition to the bank ledger entries, to enable the reconstruction of a substantial part of their financial lives, although no other financial information, such as household or estate books, survives. A detailed study of their stock market activity at the time of the South Sea Bubble has been published elsewhere, but it is possible also to use this material to demonstrate how they used Hoare's Bank and whether their investment activity resembled that of the samples.26
The six women, like many other customers of Hoare's Bank, were connected with the people with whom they did business through blood, marriage, religion, and politics. In the ledger entries, a number of networks can be discerned, with family being the most important form of connection. Family was the source of income and the recipient of payments, and was involved in transactions such as loans. There were men of business, usually connected in some way with the women's incomes from family sources, and there were also religious, charitable, and philanthropic contacts, a very large number of whom also banked at Hoare's.
Five of the six women with whom this article is concerned were daughters of the seventh Earl of Huntingdon, members of an aristocratic landed family of a kind that provided many of the bank's private customers: these were Lady Elizabeth (Betty) Hastings (1682–1739) and her four half-sisters the Ladies Ann (1691–1755), Frances (1694–1750), Catherine (1697–1741), and Margaret (1700–68). They almost certainly banked with Hoare's because the earls of Huntingdon already did so. Their friend Mrs Jane Bonnell (c.1670–1745) came from a rather different social milieu and may have done business with the bank primarily as a consequence of her personal relationship with the Hoare family.27
All five Hastings sisters, at the time they banked with Hoare's, were spinsters; two of them subsequently married, at which point their accounts were closed. It was very unusual for wives to have accounts, although there are some joint husband and wife accounts. It was not, however, unusual for the daughters of elite families to be unmarried—during the eighteenth century, around a quarter remained single; the combination of their aristocratic and single status gave them very considerable economic freedom.28
Lady Betty Hastings opened her account at Hoare's Bank in 1703. In 1704, she inherited the Yorkshire property of her grandfather, Sir John Lewis, providing her with an estate at Ledstone and an income of £3,000 a year. After the death of her brother, the eighth earl, in 1704, a £600 annuity from the Huntingdon estates was arranged on the condition that she made no other claims on that estate. This annuity was frequently paid through her account, but there is little evidence of the financial affairs of her own lands being handled through the bank (indeed, virtually no documents relating to the Ledstone estates under her ownership survive). Her management was akin to that of earlier landowners, although she seems to have been readier than them to use the bank to provide personal cheques while continuing to use ‘returns’ to make some payments to herself in Yorkshire.29 In about 1729, she wrote to her half-brother, the ninth Earl of Huntingdon, ‘If the rest of my income was as well paid as that part I receive from dear Lord Huntingdon I should have much more money to command than I now boast’.30
Her account was used most extensively during the period of the South Sea Bubble when, apparently on the advice of her bankers, she bought and sold a considerable amount of South Sea and Bank of England stock at a profit.31 Her income from dividends was minute by comparison with the profits she made from trading. Carlos and Neal show that women who traded in Bank stock during the period of the Bubble made positive capital gains and find that the proportion of female shareholders increased after 1720.32
In the early years of Betty Hastings's business at Hoare's, there were payments to and from older members of her family, such as her uncle William Joliffe and her step-grandfather Denzil Onslow (both of her parents were dead), as well as her brother the eighth Earl of Huntingdon. In later years, after she had inherited the Yorkshire estates, family transactions were more likely to consist of payments to younger family members, such as a Hastings cousin who studied in Germany; the less well-off descendants of her grandfather Lewis; occasional payments to her half-sisters; and her young Wheler nephews and nieces.33 Some family dealings may be concealed by payments being made through third parties.
The men of business with whom Betty Hastings dealt were her own steward (successively Robert Hole and John Austen); her brother's steward (James Oldes, then Leonard Piddock); and agents with whom she had a long-standing relationship, such as the Leeds merchant William Milner, who cashed money for her in Yorkshire. Milner and the two stewards banked at Hoare's. There were also bills on other London bankers such as Childs and Caswall & Co.
Another circle shared her religious and philanthropic interests. Betty Hastings had been associated since her youth with a group of people who shared high church and Tory sentiments and a commitment to moral reform, notable members of which were Archbishop Sharp; Robert Nelson (a leading light in the charity school movement, the SPCK, and the SPG); Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man; and Martin Benson, Bishop of Gloucester. She made numerous payments in support of activities that they promoted, such as George Berkeley's abortive scheme for a college in Bermuda; missions for the East Indies; schools in the Isle of Man; Mary Astell's proposal for a school for the children of Chelsea pensioners (Astell was a fellow customer); and the Halle Pietists. She also made payments directly to clergymen, such as Anthony William Boehm and Samuel Wesley, and for causes such as a divinity lecture at Cambridge, and the ‘poor sufferers at Piedmont’.34
There were also political connections. The Hoare family were Tory; the directors of the South Sea Company were Tory; Lady Betty was a Tory and had expressed concern about the legality of the Hanoverian succession, writing in 1715 to an Oxford theologian for advice on whether the oath of abjuration (declaring James Stuart not to be the son of King James II) might lawfully be taken.35
Lady Betty Hastings had an account at Hoare's Bank for 35 years and was a heavy user—at the peak of her banking business in 1719–20, she conducted nearly 100 transactions in a year, many of which related to her stock market business. In the years when she was living in London, she used the bank for making everyday payments for window tax, washing, poor rate, tea, drugs, wine, coals, and ‘spa’ water. There were extraordinary payments such as £15 to the portraitist Sir Godfrey Kneller, and for jewellery, plate, books, and clocks—all made to London-based craftsmen and shop-keepers.
Despite the fact that Betty Hastings was a wealthy woman with an assured income both from the Huntingdon family estates and from her own extensive Yorkshire lands, she took out occasional loans.36 There was a £200 loan on a bond in 1737, and a further loan to buy a mortgage, both of which were repaid within a few months. She and her sisters also had dealings with the bank over plate because, although the Hoares' goldsmithing business was declining, the bank still lent on plate and provided a service selling plate and jewellery.37 As well as formally organized loans, there seem to have been more informal loans, more resembling overdrafts, such as the £300 Betty Hastings repaid to Sir Richard Hoare in 1707/8; the £500 she borrowed in 1708; and a further loan of £600 in 1709, repaid in 1712. In 1717, she paid Sir Richard Hoare £12 interest on what must have been a loan of £240 if interest was charged at the legal rate of 5 per cent.38 It also seems that she had loans outside the bank; for example, she borrowed £2,000 from Mr Cornelisen in 1721.39 She also made loans, receiving interest from Mr Midleton for a £700 loan in 1723, 1727, and 1728 when the principal was repaid.40 In 1725, in return for £1,000 from her nephew, Ferdinando Hastings, she agreed to pay him £150 annually; a sum of £500 was received through the bank, although few payments were made to Ferdinando, who died in 1726.41
As Lady Betty established herself in Yorkshire and visited London with decreasing frequency, she used local agents in Leeds for financial transactions, possibly consolidating sums of money and making larger payments to and withdrawals from the bank (there was no bank in Leeds during her lifetime).42 In 1718, her account shows debits of £100 and £200 on ‘money returned to Leeds’; in 1719 it shows a bill of £100 on Mr Preston of Leeds; in 1721, debits of £100 returned to Leeds by Giles Prickett's bill and a bill for £90 on Thomas Breury in Leeds. By early 1722, William Milner, a wealthy cloth merchant who banked at Hoare's, was acting as her agent in Leeds.43 The association with Milner lasted at least until 1728. In Betty's later years, from 1732, she was in the habit of arranging for money to be sent ‘by note’ into the country for sums such as £800 in denominations of £50. As she became more confined to her house in Yorkshire (she had an operation for breast cancer in 1738 and fell fatally ill in 1739), she used her account more for transferring cash for use in Leeds.
Lady Betty Hastings's half-sisters were supported chiefly by their income from the Huntingdon estates. Ann and Frances never married; Catherine married in 1724 and Margaret in 1742. They distributed their time between Betty's Yorkshire estate, the various houses of their brother (the ninth Earl of Huntingdon), the home of their mother (who had married her third husband on the death of the seventh Earl), and an assortment of other relations. While they were unmarried and Betty was alive, they did not maintain independent establishments.
Ann, in later life (some time between 1752 and 1755), gave an account of her finances which illustrates the variety of sources of her capital and the different ways in which it was managed during her lifetime. It is chiefly the income from securities that appears in her bank records:
as I was the eldest of my father's children by my mother when I came to age my fortune was only £2,578:2s:11d and £300 given me by Dr Gery. Indeed he left me £300 more at his death, but that went to pay off a bond of so much which I had borrowed to lend my dearest mother, of this £2,878, I lost £800 in the South Sea scheme in year 1720 and in 1725 I gave Mr Wilkins £1,000 for an annuity or rent charge of £100 a year for my life which with an £1,100 that I have out upon securities makes just twenty-two pounds that I have saved in upwards of forty years.44
The half-sisters did much less business with Hoare's Bank than Betty Hastings and, initially, it seems chiefly to have been with their brother's agent (Leonard Piddock); relatives, such as the family of their mother's first marriage, the Kilmoreys; Betty Hastings's agent and his family (her trusted servants, the Holes); and each other. Their hard-up mother seems to have borrowed money from at least one of her daughters. Like Betty, the sisters used the services of Mr Milner to transfer money. In 1723, Catherine Hastings wrote regarding the payment due to her from London, ‘that M[essrs] will give you a bill for me upon Mr Milner merchant in Leeds this being the way we have all our money returned’.45
The sisters' occasional use of the bank was more typical of other women customers than Betty's. Ann opened her account in 1712 and Frances hers in 1718. These were primarily used for receiving their allowances from the Huntingdon estates and Frances's dividend payments from some East India stock. There was a flurry of activity in both accounts at the time of the South Sea Bubble, but in the years after 1720 they were used to receive the dividend payments that constituted an increasingly significant part of the two sisters' income.
Frances held £1,400 of East India stock (on which she received between £100 and £140 a year) and considerably less South Sea stock (which brought in about £6 a year). Ann had South Sea stock alone; she retained some until she died in 1755. Both sisters bought and sold occasionally as new stock or annuity issues appeared. Ann and Frances negotiated a loan for £2,000 which was paid through Dr Gery (trusted agent of the Earl of Huntingdon) to buy South Sea stock in 1720.46
Catherine and Margaret opened their accounts in 1717 and received through them their Huntingdon allowances. They too became active during the South Sea Bubble. Catherine vanishes from the bank records when she married in 1724, though a dim footprint can be seen through the account of her husband, Granville Wheler (who was a customer of the bank as well). Catherine seems to have borrowed £1,000 through a mortgage for which she repaid Mr Cornelisen in 1722.47 Margaret vanishes from 1742 when she, too, married; in the intervening period, she held some South Sea stock on which she received modest dividends and which she traded for different stock and annuity issues. In 1732, she borrowed £150 on a bond and repaid it within six months.48
Jane Bonnell, wife of the former Irish accountant-general and lay theologian James Bonnell, was widowed in 1699. She had been born in Ireland, but from about 1705 made her home in England. Her chief income was from a mortgage arranged in 1702 by her brother, General Henry Conyngham, which was intended to provide her with an income of £140 a year.49 After his death, the general's heir (her nephew) withheld the income and, at about the same time, she lost a good deal of money in the South Sea Bubble.50 She seems to have supported herself by running errands in London for country-dwellers such as the Hastings sisters (though it is not clear how she actually made money from this activity) and made payments to tradespeople on their behalf.51 There are a number of inexplicable payments between Betty Hastings and Mrs Bonnell, such as £1,000 paid by Jane Bonnell to Betty Hastings in 1712; the £40 she paid her in 1713; and the four payments of £60 made by Betty Hastings to Mrs Bonnell ‘for interest’ in 1718, 1719, and 1720.52 Later in life, Jane Bonnell left London for Essex, and lived on an allowance from her sister, Katherine Conolly, widow of the immensely rich Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, who had left his entire estate to his wife.
Jane Bonnell's business with her family and circle in Ireland may well be concealed in payments through Irish merchants and financiers. It is also difficult to track the £70 payments on the Irish mortgage, as it is not clear whether they were calculated in Irish pounds or pounds sterling. Throughout her life, names of close relatives appear in her bank dealings, as well as members of an extended circle of more distantly related individuals in Ireland, although there were few direct transactions through the bank with her sister, Katherine Conolly, who preferred to find other ways of paying her sister's allowance.
Jane Bonnell's financial affairs were dominated for much of her life by the difficulties of transferring funds between Ireland and England. As a younger woman, she took a keen interest in the differential exchange rate between the Irish pound and the pound sterling, trying to organize her affairs to benefit from the difference.53 The men of business with whom she dealt were chiefly merchants with Irish connections who operated in London and were used to transferring money between England and Ireland. We do not know what payments were represented in the bills issued on Richard McGuire, Alex Cairns, Gould and Nesbit, Jonathan Gournall, Robert Finlay, and Messrs Knox, all merchants with both Irish and English business, several of whom banked at Hoare's. It may be that at this early stage of banking in Ireland, merchants were better organized for overseas remittances and the Irish banks were not considered to be safe.54 It is likely that some of the bills were mortgage payments and receipts from Katherine Conolly.
Jane Bonnell could not afford to be concerned with philanthropic gestures, although her late husband's spiritual interests were consonant with those of many of the circle round the Hoare family, and she left the mortgage (which she had still not recovered at the time of her death in 1745) to found a charity. She shared an interest in various good causes with the younger members of the Hoare family (she was godmother to one of Benjamin Hoare's children) and was a close friend of the vicar of St Dunstan in the West, Dr William Lupton, while Robert Nelson addressed her affectionately in his letters as ‘dear daughter’.55 Jane Bonnell's close personal relationship with the Hoare family led others to treat her as a confidante and intermediary; for example, one of her Hamilton relations confessed to having delayed in writing to her out of embarrassment at having ‘used your good friend and mine Mr Hoare ill as to money matters’.56
While Jane Bonnell's religious connections were entirely in sympathy with those of the Hoares and the Hastings, she came from a different political milieu; Whig and Tory in the political life of Ireland had markedly dissimilar associations from those they had in England. To express reservations about the Protestant succession, as was common among English Tories, in Ireland implied Catholic and Jacobite sympathies. Mrs Bonnell's brother, Henry Conyngham, and brother-in-law, William Conolly, were Irish Whigs, supporters of the Williamite revolution and the Hanoverian succession, preferring dissenters to Catholics. Conolly's widow Katherine was a noted political hostess and fixer. Jane Bonnell seems to have avoided overt political partisanship and to have allied herself with godliness and support for the Crown, dissenters in England being regarded as more politically unreliable than they were in Ireland.
Jane Bonnell opened her account in 1704, and maintained it until she died in 1745. Like Betty Hastings, she was a heavy user of the bank, especially in the years 1719–20, and conducted a number of stock market transactions through it. Her borrowings of £1,200 coincided with the period of the South Sea share issues, and were apparently used to finance her purchase of shares, but were repaid within six months, although we do not know by what means.57 The bank also processed a payment of £1,000 to Pierce Manaton in 1719, and in 1720 one of £1,200 to Serjeant Dickens and a note for £4,000 which seem to relate to borrowings.58
Jane Bonnell also had loan business outside the bank, borrowing and lending money to relatives and friends. Her Irish correspondence and surviving bonds show an ebb and flow of debts and loans with friends and relatives from her Irish circle. In 1725, she wrote to Dr Dickens about a debt of 10 guineas owed by his lately dead brother. She would not have applied for repayment, ‘but I have been a great sufferer by the South Sea and other bubbles which makes 10 guineas more to me than 100 would have been to me heretofore’.59 She borrowed £100 without interest from her kinsman Henry Leslie, undertaking to repay him by the summer of 1734, a loan that was not discharged until 1742.60
Jane Bonnell's finances were, in her later years, beset by the problems of the legal suit she had instituted against her nephew to recover her mortgage. She became increasingly dependent on the £100 annual allowance that her wealthy sister paid her from Ireland from 1731, raised to £120 in 1738. Katherine Conolly used a variety of means to convey the money to Jane Bonnell. Sometimes it became part of a series of transactions that involved purchases in London for Mrs Conolly or other Irish friends and relatives. Sometimes Mrs Conolly sent a bill on a firm of merchants (usually Gould and Nesbit) who dealt between London and Dublin. However, her preferred method was to send the money as specie with a trustworthy traveller (ideally someone from the administration in Dublin Castle), but it was often difficult to find a reliable courier. Mrs Connolly also needed suitable coin, not always an easy matter in Ireland where coin was in short supply. In 1737, she wrote that ‘upon looking for  guineas I could not easily get so many. I have in a box, with a little Irish thread sent you in Portugal gold 14 pieces and a half’.61 Katherine Conolly had an account at the Bank of England and it is not evident why she preferred to deal directly with her sister, although it may have been because Jane Bonnell for most of her later years lived outside London and could not get there to collect money from the bank.
It is clear that Hoare's Bank made it possible for the six women to buy and sell stock and to carry out transactions at a distance, without having to come to London or to make complicated arrangements to transfer money through intermediaries. All of them were most active in buying and selling at the time of the South Sea Bubble, but only the poorer Hastings sisters retained the stock that they had acquired in 1720. The lottery tickets that they bought were not for significant sums of money and the women appear to have invested in no other form of government debt. This suggests that the women shared the habits of other Hoare's Bank customers, buying South Sea stock in preference to other kinds of investment. It would appear that without the involvement of the bank, or at least of its partners, the only stock any of them would have owned was Frances's East India stock.
Although the bank was noted for having a wealthy landed clientele, a study of the deposit customers who used the bank extensively suggests that the majority of them were landowners on a more modest scale and lived partly off the fruits of office. In addition, it would have been hard to conduct much estate business through banks, since there were very few outside London until the 1750s.62 So Betty Hastings's estate business was more easily organized through older financial devices, using short-term, small-scale credit, and relying on personal reputation and character to make payments through networks of local contacts.
The ways in which the women used their bank accounts altered during the course of their lives, reflecting changes both in the financial world which they inhabited, and in the ways in which they themselves lived. The Hastings sisters did not correspond with family members about their financial affairs, but they did do so with Jane Bonnell (a social inferior), whose association with them weakened in the later 1720s.63 Catherine and Margaret ceased to operate as financial personalities after their marriages. As a result of ill health, Betty retreated to Yorkshire and dealt more in cash, supplied from the bank to a local agent. Having made successful gains on the stock market, she devoted her funds to philanthropic activities. Frances and Ann became concerned primarily with assuring their income and ceased to want to speculate, although the movement of their funds between different share issues in the 1740s suggests that they were receiving financial advice. Mrs Bonnell, with the losses from her South Sea speculation and her nephew's appropriation of her Irish income, became her sister's pensioner. The more subdued financial activity of the women's later years is in part a product of their individual circumstances, but may also correspond to more widely experienced life-cycle changes, a variant perhaps of R. J. Morris's middle-class property cycle.64
Hoare's Bank made access to the market in securities easier for its customers, and in some cases dealt in stock for them. Quinn notes, on the evidence of Child's Bank, that the banking system after 1697 adopted government debt both as a direct investment and as collateral for lending.65 Hoare's Bank assisted its customers in dealing in stock, but the mechanism by which it did so is not clear. The partners also passed on their own enthusiasm for South Sea stock and, it would seem, their customers experienced some of their success in trading in it.
These early users of banking services did much of their business within circles defined by kinship, religion, and politics. Certainly the customers of Hoare's Bank introduced their relatives and dependants to the bank, and did much of their business with these people and others who moved in similar religious and political circles. This gives some substance to Carruthers's view that market transactions were embedded in a highly politicized social context and that political considerations could outweigh financial considerations in decisions to buy and sell.66 This raises questions about whether politics actually affected the trust that Hoare's female customers placed in the partners. However, Staves concludes that women holders of stock were ‘uninterested in ideology, [preferring] collecting and distributing presents (or bribes), and developing connections for their family interests’.67 Meanwhile, Neal and Quinn argue that in commercial transactions the significance of networks arising from kinship, religion, or politics was already eroded by the early eighteenth century.68
The six women's investment activities demonstrate that their economic decisions were founded upon business and financial relationships every bit as personal as those that has gone before the emergence of the stock market. For them this market was not, as Carruthers suggests it was for professional traders, a politically neutral, impersonal affair, but was mediated by a set of significant personal and business relationships.69
The figures presented here do not distinguish between men and women, but we should perhaps consider what kind of men did business with Hoare's Bank and the extent to which the behaviour of women resembled that of men. There seem to have been two types of male customer: the mercantile customers; Carruthers's professional traders; and the private customers, men who had land and incomes from a variety of sources but who were not in business to any substantial degree. It is this second group—MPs, office-holders, churchmen—whose banking activity one would expect to be most similar to that of women and who were part of the same networks as the women. Detailed analysis of the identities of these customers is needed before it is possible to say with confidence whether networks were as important to them as they were to the women.
The customer accounts of Hoare's Bank show the emergence of retail banking, and private banking customers learning to use the bank to organize their financial affairs. The increasing volume of business conducted through Betty Hastings's and Jane Bonnell's accounts is evidence of the women's greater use of the bank rather than of their increasing prosperity. Bank and customers were learning together. At the same time, it is clear that personal relationships, assured by family links, shared political and religious views, and charitable activities in common were a significant factor in creating reputation. These links were evidence for customers of the trustworthiness of the bank; the banks were not yet in a position to demand evidence of the trustworthiness of their customers in the way that they had traditionally done with their commercial customers, nor had they yet the evidence of trustworthiness that arose from repeat business. The lustre of rich and well-connected customers brought valuable business to the bank.
Evidence from Child's Bank and Drummond's Bank suggests that the reliance on close personal connections was not unique to the Hoares' business. Apart from the Child family's own Whig preferences, customers of their bank included such Whig notables as the Russell, Cavendish, Egerton, and Montagu families, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, King William and Queen Mary, Prince George of Denmark, and Bishop Stillingfleet.70 Unlike Hoare's, Child's customers' stock dealings seem not to have been processed through their accounts, nor does the bank seem to have traded actively in the stock market on its clients' behalf. There are virtually no references in the customer account ledgers for the early eighteenth century to purchases of stock, and relatively few to sales of stock or receipts of dividends.71 Such references as there are show customers' marked preference for Exchequer Bills, for Bank and East India stock (Robert Child and Francis Child Jr were both directors of the East India Company).72 Before 1720, those few customers who owned securities seem to have received interest payments and the profits of sales. If they bought stock at par, most of them made a reasonable profit on their sales. After 1720, Child's customers' sales of stock were usually at a rate below par, and after 1722 there was an increasing number of dividend payments to customers. Child's personal business shows considerable stock market activity; from the 1690s, he held both securities and government debt. He lent on the security of stock, a part of the business that expanded considerably after 1690.73 In February 1719/20, he lent Edward Harrison (who seems to have been a man of business) £10,000 on £500 of East India stock, and in March 1719/20, he lent Charles Egerton £700 on £500 of South Sea stock. Later, loans seem to have been closer to the par value of stock.74 Like Hoare's, Child's seems to have allowed a good many unsecured loans, but the amount declined, while the amount lent and secured on government and corporate debt rose.75 Drummond's Bank customers showed less interest in the stock market, though the bank only opened in 1717 and its customers were to a large extent recruited from the Scottish connections of the founder, John Drummond.76
There are a number of possible reasons why the activity of the customers of Child's Bank seems so different from that the customers of Hoare's, only one of which arises from differences in customers' personal, political, and religious networks. Child's accounting practices may have been different—at this stage of private banking there was little uniformity—or ledgers recording stock market purchases may not have survived. Customers of Hoare's Bank who wanted to deal substantially in stock other than that of the South Sea Company and of Child's Bank who wanted to deal in South Sea stock, knowing the banks were not keen to deal in those stocks, may have chosen to buy them by some other means.
Lamoreaux's work on early New England banking, somewhat later than the period covered by this article, challenges the view of modernization theorists who argue that kinship connections lost much of their economic significance in the early nineteenth century because banks and other types of corporation made it possible for individuals to raise money without recourse to their relatives. Instead, she argues, banks clothed kinship networks in corporate form, but these relationships remained vital to a developing economy.77 Temin and Voth's work on Hoare's loan customers also suggests the significance of personal connections.78 All three historians, in contrast to Carruthers's finding that professional traders were more likely to conform to the law of indifference, show how business strategies relied upon close personal links as a guarantee of reliability.79 This was simply an adaptation of the old values of patronage applied to a new business milieu.
These arguments fit well with the evidence for the deposit customers of Hoare's Bank. Although it probably had more and richer private customers than the New England banks with which Lamoreaux's work was concerned, personal connections were everything in the conduct of the business. These were relationships in which there was a common sense of kinship. In the days when Hoare's Bank made little money, such relationships were vital for both the bank and its customers. The bank had to rely on its good name to attract customers, while customers had to be reassured that they were placing their money in a business that was secure.
The development of private banking was closely dependent on personal networks of a kind very similar to those that had characterized financial relationships between noble and gentle individuals and families and their men of business in the period before the existence of banks. In the particular case of Hoare's Bank, the financial relationships between the wealthy consumers who started to use the bank and their men of business provided a trustworthy community of customers comparable to the mercantile community with which the city banks operated. Within that community, customers started to use the bank to extend their financial operations into an impersonal market, but through highly personal networks. The bank was very well apprised through the family, political, and religious connections of the financial status of the customers whom it began to take on in greater numbers after 1700, and guided their expeditions into the emerging stock market. Their participation in the stock market was also partisan, guided by the same networks that organized their deposits and loans.
I am most grateful to Peter Temin of MIT for suggesting this subject and for his advice. I am also very grateful to the partners of Hoare's Bank for permission to use their archives (and to their archivist, Pamela Hunter); to the Royal Bank of Scotland; to the Provost, Fellows, and Scholars of Queen's College, Oxford; to the Provost and Fellows of Trinity College Dublin; to the West Yorkshire Archives service; to the Huntington Library, San Marino, California; to Cambridge University Library; and to the National Library of Ireland for the use of their archives, and to Anthony Malcolmson for assistance with them. Thanks are also due to Ann Carlos, David Green, Josephine Maltby, Janette Rutterford, and Peter Temin for access to unpublished materials; to the anonymous referees for suggestions for improvements; and to the Arts Faculty Research Committee of the Open University for travel grants. Versions of this paper have been presented to audiences at the Social History Society conference (Dublin, 2005); the Economic History Society conference (Leicester, 2005); the North-Eastern Association for Eighteenth-Century Studies (New Brunswick, 2005); and the Warwick University history department seminar (2005).
The ledgers consist of a series of entries organized by customer, made up of between two and 200 transactions, and cover a variety of periods from a few weeks to several years. During the early eighteenth century, there were two different series of ledgers. Each sample (for 1714, 1719, 1723, and 1729) consists of entries for 150 customers: 100 consecutive entries in the ledgers identified by numbers and 50 consecutive entries in the ledgers identified by letters. The first entry of the 100 and the first of the 50 start on the same date. Since individuals could have more than one entry within the 100 or the 50, the number of customers varies between the samples. Tab. 1 shows the actual numbers in the sample.
Temin and Voth, ‘Banking as an emerging technology’, pp. 151, 172–3, 178.
Temin and Voth, ‘Riding the South Sea Bubble’, p. 1661, argue that the partners of Hoare's Bank had an unusually successful trading record over the period of the South Sea Bubble.
Ibid., pp. 1657, 1659.
Ibid., pp. 1661, 1663.
On the lottery, see Murphy, ‘Lotteries in the 1690s’, p. 232, and Glaisyer, Culture of commerce, pp. 5, 6.
Murphy, ‘Lotteries in the 1690s’, p. 242. Around 30 per cent of investors in lottery schemes were women. Murphy points out, too, that the risk entailed in a lottery ticket purchase was, unlike most other investments, quantifiable (p. 244).
Dickson, Financial revolution, pp. 85, 88, 522–3. It is difficult to estimate the relative size of the lottery market as compared with the share market, not least because it fluctuated considerably. Murphy, ‘Lotteries in the 1690s’, p. 228, argues for linking consideration of lottery schemes with developing financial markets rather than with the eighteenth-century passion for gambling.
Jane Bonnell had links with the Cork banking family of Hoare, but it does not appear that there was a connection between the Cork family and the Fleet Street bankers. See the forthcoming Irish Dictionary of National Biography entry for the Hoare family. I am most grateful to John Bergin for pointing this out.
Larsen, ‘Elite single women's experiences’, pp. 390–1.
Davies, ‘Country gentry’, pp. 16, 17. Such estate records as survive for Ledstone do not cover the period of Lady Betty's ownership.
Huntingdon Library, San Marino, Calif., Hastings Papers HA 4728, Lady Elizabeth Hastings to the Earl of Huntingdon, 16 Jan. [?]1729.
The payments to the kinsman in Germany combined her family, charitable, and spiritual interests. He was studying with the Halle Pietists, a Lutheran spiritual movement led by August Francke, which influenced the Moravian church and, through the Wesleys, the early Methodists.
Hoare's Bank (henceforth HB), Customer Ledger O, fo. 286v.
Queen's College Library, Oxford, Smith MS 471.
HB, Money lent on bond and other securities, 1718–43, fos. 113v, 114; HB, Private Ledger, Feb. 1719[/20]–April 1725, fos. 5, 6, 10; Temin and Voth, ‘Private borrowing’.
HB, Private Ledgers, Feb. 1719–April 1725; April 1725–Midsummer 1734.
HB, Customer Ledger 20, fo. 35v; Customer Ledger F, fo. 294v; Customer Ledger 24, fo. 56; Customer Ledger G, fo. 63v; Customer Ledger 22, fo. 344. Milner seems to have been carrying out many of the functions of the country banking firms described by Joslin, ‘London private bankers’, p. 183.
West Yorkshire Archives, Leeds, WYL 170, box 11, Ann Hastings to Elizabeth Wheler [after 1752].
NLI, MS 41,580/10, Catherine Hastings to Jane Bonnell, 15 Aug. 1723[?].
HB, Customer Ledger 23, fo. 188; NLI, MS 41,580/30, Frances Hastings to Jane Bonnell, 7 Sept. 1720.
HB, Customer Ledger 23, fo. 367v.
HB, Money lent on bond and other securities, 1718–43, fos. 106v, 107.
NLI, MS 41,579/1, Henry Conyngham to Jane Bonnell, 4 July 1702.
HB, Customer Ledger 15, fo. 167; Customer Ledger 16, fo. 167 (sic); Customer Ledger 20, fo. 35v; Customer Ledger F, fos. 294v, 430v. Could this have been a loan of £1,200 to Betty Hastings on which she was paying interest at 5%?
Cambridge University Library, Baumgartner Papers 2, Strype Correspondence, vol. 1, part 2, additional 2, fo. 230; Neal and Quinn, ‘Networks of information’, p. 7; McCusker, Money and exchange, p. 39.
Agnew, Belfast merchant families, pp. 164–5; Cullen, ‘Exchange business’, p. 327; Cullen, ‘Landlords, bankers and merchants’, p. 35.
NLI, MS 41,580/21, Robert Nelson to Jane Bonnell, 28 Sept. 1714.
NLI, MS 41,580/6, A[ndrew] H[?amilton] to Jane Bonnell, 7 May 1737.
HB, Money lent on bond and other securities, 1718–43, fos. 21v, 22.
NLI, MS 41,580/31, Jane Bonnell draft to Dr Dickens, 15 Sept. 1725.
NLI, MS 41,580/16, 14 April 1729, Memorandum between Jane Bonnell and Henry Leslie; HB, Customer Ledger 34, fo. 272, 28 Aug. 1733, paid Henry Leslie £20; 1 June 1734, paid Henry Leslie £10; HB, Customer Ledger 39, fo. 65, 23 April 1740, paid Henry Leslie £20; 9 June 1742, paid Henry Leslie £40.
NLI, MS 41,580/4, Jane Bulkeley to Jane Bonnell, 14 Jan 1729/30; MS 41,578/10, Katherine Conolly to Jane Bonnell, 5 Nov. 1737.
Davies, ‘Country gentry’, p. 35; Joslin, ‘London's private bankers’, p. 168; Cameron, ‘England, 1750–1844’, p. 15.
None of the collections of Hastings correspondence (in the Huntington Library, the National Library of Ireland, the West Yorkshire Record Office or the Kent Record Office) yields letters between the sisters or other close family members about their finances.
However, Sir Francis Child probably voted with the Tory interest in the Commons. Sperling, ‘Division of 25 May 1711’, p. 196.
Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives, London (henceforth RBS); CH/194/13 and CH/194/14 are the customer account ledgers covering the period 1677–1733. Quinn (‘Glorious Revolution's effect’, p. 595) shows that Child and his customers began to own government debt and East India bonds from the 1690s.