Bank of England
Banking in the modern sense originated in about the middle of the seventeenth century, when merchants took to depositing their balances of coin and bullion with the goldsmiths. The goldsmiths began to offer interest on deposits, since they could re-lend them at higher rates, and the receipts they gave in acknowledgment of the deposits began to circulate as money. And so arose a number of small private firms, all having equal rights, and carrying on the issue of notes unrestricted and free from Government control.
 Early history
Charles II relied to a very large extent for his financial needs on loans from the London bankers. He ran heavily into debt and in 1672 suspended Exchequer payments and so the repayment of bankers' advances. The King's credit was ruined by this for several decades. To substitute for these sources of income, William III and his government founded with a Scottish financier William Patterson the 'Governor and Company of the Bank of England', as a minor declaration in the many clauses of the Tunnage Act of 1694 (thus, the Bank in its early years was called the "Tunnage Bank.") The Bank was founded with a capital of Â£1,200,000, immediately lent to the Government. In return the Bank could issue notes to the same amount.
The Bank of England went bankrupt after two years of operation, in 1696, and survived because of government granted suspension of payments. The English Crown remained its main customer and granted additional privileges, such as legal protection against the competition of other banks.
The extensions of its charter often "coincided with the grant of additional loans to the State", and the initial limits on the activities of the Bank and the sums it could borrow to the crown were over time repealed. The accumulating privileges gave the Bank of England a position of prestige and influence in the financial world, and smaller banks had difficulties to compete in the same lines of business. In London was the majority of private note issues abandoned by about 1780. The smaller banks began to keep balances with the Bank of England, which was already beginning to acquire the characteristics of a Central Bank.
The modern form of central banking was established by the Peel Act of 1844. The Bank of England was granted an absolute monopoly on the issue of all bank notes in England. These notes, in turn, were redeemable in gold. Private commercial banks were only allowed to issue demand deposits. This meant that, in order to acquire cash demanded by the public, the banks had to keep checking accounts at the Bank of England. In effect, bank demand deposits were redeemable in Bank of England notes, which in turn were redeemable in gold. There was a double-inverted pyramid in the banking system. At the bottom pyramid, the Bank of England, engaging in fractional-reserve banking, multiplied fake warehouse receipts to goldâ€”its notes and depositsâ€”on top of its gold reserves. In their turn, in a second inverted pyramid on top of the Bank of England, the private commercial banks pyramided their demand deposits on top of their reserves, or their deposit accounts, at the Bank of England.
 Later history - a timeline
|1694||Foundation of the bank and a loan to the government|
|1696||Suspension of payments|
|1713||Renewal of charter and a loan|
|1742||Renewal of charter, loan to the government without interest|
|1751||Monopoly administrator of the public debt|
|1764||Renewal of charter for a fee paid to the government|
|1781||Renewal of charter and a loan to the government|
|1793||Legalization of short-term loans to government beyond statutory limitations, loan to the government|
|1795||Authorization of Â£5 notes|
|1800||Renewal of charter and a loan to the government|
|1812â€“19||Bank of England notes are legal tender, further loans to the government|
|1821||Resumption of payments in gold after wars with France|
|1825||Lending to country banks in crisis, re-issue of Â£1 notes|
|1833||Bank of England notes become legal tender for sums above Â£5|
|1839||Liquidity crisis, received credits from the Banque de France (Â£2,000,000) and from the Hamburger Bank (Â£900,000);|
|1844||Peel Act, monopoly of note issue in Great Britain, loan to the government|
|1931||Abandonment of the Gold standard|
 The Scottish Exception
The Bank of England does not have a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in Scotland (or Northern Ireland). The reason was the union of Scotland and England after the foundation of the bank, and so could the Scottish banks develop separately. The Bank of Scotland was a privately held bank, with a monopoly held from 1695 to 1716, its charter was not renewed. Another charter was granted in 1727 to the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The private banks, however, could operate freely as long as the shareholders accepted unlimited liability for the debts of their banks. Banking was soon dominated by a number of companies of considerable size and financial strength. The system was distinguished by keen competition between the banks and a strict practice of regularly clearing each other's notes (exchanges were made twice a week and balances immediately settled). They quickly adopted branch organisation, and there was, as compared with other countries, a much more rapid growth of deposit banking and development of loan technique. The highly developed Scottish banking, free from legislative interference, has inspired many proponents of free banking.
- Smith, Vera C. "The Rationale of Central Banking and the Free Banking Alternative", Chapter II - The Development of Central Banking in England, online version, referenced 2009-07-30.
- Doug French. Early Speculative Bubbles and Increases in the Supply of Money (pdf), Second Edition, 2009. Referenced 2011-01-09.
- JÃ¶rg Guido HÃ¼lsmann. "The Ethics of Money Production", online version, Chapter 15. Fiat Monetary Systems in the Realm of the Nation-State p.199-203, referenced 2009-07-30.
- Great Britain. Committee on Currency and Foreign Exchanges, Great Britain. Committee on Finance and Industry. "British Parliamentary reports on international finance", online version, referenced 2009-08-02.
- Murray N. Rothbard. The Case Against the Fed (pdf), referenced 2010-05-10.
- Bank of England website. History, referenced 2009-08-03.
- JÃ¶rg Guido HÃ¼lsmann. "The Ethics of Money Production", online version, Chapter 10. Legal-Tender Laws p.143, referenced 2009-09-19.
- Smith, Vera C. "The Rationale of Central Banking and the Free Banking Alternative", Chapter III - The Scottish System, online version, referenced 2009-08-03.
- Bank of England, home page and the founding document (pdf)
- British History Online, Statutes of the Realm, Volume 6.
- John H. Clapham, The Bank of England: A History, 1694â€“1914, (archived)
- Financial Crisis and Economic Recession, The Fatal Error of Peel's Bank Act by Professor Huerta de Soto
- The Bank of England by Walter Thornbury, 1878 (from Old and New London: Volume 1)
- Bank of England at Wikipedia