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Wider share ownership?: investors in English and Welsh Bank shares in the nineteenth century

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Abstract

The joint-stock banks that established after the liberalizing legislation of 1826 were periodically criticized during the nineteenth century for their low-quality and rapidly deteriorating shareholder constituencies. The quality of a bank's shareholding constituency was of paramount importance because of unlimited shareholder liability. Using archival records, this article examines the quality of bank shareholder constituencies over the nineteenth century. The main finding is that shareholder constituencies did not deteriorate in quality until the introduction of limited liability. The non-deterioration of constituencies is attributed to bank deeds which locked in the aggregate quality of shareholder constituencies by empowering directors to vet all share transfers.

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