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Über dieses Buch

Banking, Projecting, and Politicking uncovers a previously understudied and unacknowledged financial institution in late-seventeenth-century England known as Thompson and Company. Whilst the institution has been briefly mentioned in literary studies focusing on the poet and politician Andrew Marvell, it has never been the sole focus of an economic, financial, commercial, or political study in its own right. As such, nothing is known of how it operated, where it sits in the history of English finance, why it collapsed, or what it can tell us about wider Restoration society and its economic and political culture. Through a microhistorical study, the book reconstructs the institution of Thompson and Company, the social networks of its partners, the identity of its creditors, and the events and circumstances that led to its collapse.

The book situates the reconstructed institution within its economic, commercial, financial, and political contexts, using the evidence accrued to question the traditional narrative of financial and commercial development, credit systems, the relationship between economics, finance, commerce and politics, and the place of risk and strategy in gendered relations, credit, and social status. The book will be of interest to academics and students in economic history, financial and business history.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The institution of Thompson and company is not one that historians of finance and commerce will have come across. The institution and its partners have been briefly touched upon, but only as part of literary studies aimed at contextualising the works of the poet and politician Andrew Marvell, who was a friend and distant relative of two of the partners. As a bank and as a mercantile venture Thompson and Company has somewhat slipped the net of the historical record. Chapter 1 therefore introduces Thompson and Company and outlines the ways in which the institution and the lives and careers of its four partners can inform our understanding of the broader social, political, commercial, and economic atmosphere in which it existed.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 2. Thompson and Company

Abstract
The institution of Thompson and Company has never been fully outlined or examined. It has therefore been incorrectly identified in previous studies and information about it has largely been taken from a pamphlet written by the partners upon their collapse, which provides little detail about the business or its day-to-day operations. Using more detailed sources, primarily Chancery court proceedings, Chapter 2 reconstructs the institution that was Thompson and Company. It outlines the identities and backgrounds of its four partners, the articles of agreement that underpinned its formation, the day-to-day operation of the bank, the geographical and occupational range of its creditors, and the economic instruments used by the partners to provide a variety of financial services for their customers. As such it provides the foundation for discussion in the following chapters.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 3. Early Modern Banking

Abstract
The bank of Thompson and Company has only once been included in a study of the history of banking in England and occupied only a footnote in that study. Therefore, how Thompson and Company compare to their contemporary banks or what role they played, however small, in the development of banking in England is unknown. Chapter 3 situates the reconstructed institution of Thompson and Company into the historiography of finance and banking, demonstrating its similarities and differences to contemporary institutions in operation, size, and clientele. As well as suggesting where Thompson and Company fit within the historiography, the chapter also examines why individuals might have used banks in the 1670s, what other financial opportunities were available, and why some of these developments may have particularly benefitted Thompson and Company.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 4. An Early Modern ‘Project’

Abstract
The historiography of finance and banking and the historiography of commerce have largely been treated separately for the early modern period. However, Thompson and Company were not just an early deposit bank but incorporated a merchant partnership as well. This chapter argues that Thompson and Company can best be viewed as an early modern ‘project’, an innovative and entrepreneurial scheme that exploited the techniques of commerce and banking under one institution. Furthermore, this central banking project was then used by the partners to facilitate a variety of other joint and singular projects, which were all funded by the bank through loans to the partners themselves. Whilst projects could be highly profitable for everyone involved, there was a fine balance between an honest projector contributing to public good and a dishonest projector seeking only personal gain. Thompson and Company ended up defined by the latter persona.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 5. Family Network

Abstract
To embark on a financial and commercial business in seventeenth-century England an individual required connections, skill, and capital to succeed. In most cases these three factors were provided first and foremost by family. This chapter argues that whilst Thompson and Company was itself a partnership and a series of projects, it was also part of a wider family business that involved the kinship networks of the Nelthorpe and Thompson families. The families provided the partners with education, contacts, and support during their careers, and the experience gained through the family business helps to explain how and why the partners came to set up a venture like Thompson and Company. However, as well as commercial support, the families also entrenched all four partners in a wider network of religious and political alliance that was as risky as it was supportive.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 6. Credit Networks

Abstract
Little evidence survives of the creditors of early modern banks, and Thompson and Company is no different. Without original ledgers or business papers it is impossible to fully reconstruct the business transactions of every customer. However, a list of names from Chancery proceedings in 1679 and other chance findings means that some rudimentary identification can be carried out. This chapter uses surviving source material of Thompson and Company’s creditors to investigate how they described and discussed their financial activities, both with Thompson and Company and other institutions, and why they decided to entrust their money to the partners. In doing so, it demonstrates the importance of interpersonal credit and reputation to institutions as well as individuals and reveals the vague and ambiguous way in which financial activities were described, which suggests a lack of distinction between what we now describe as investments and deposits.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 7. Bankruptcy

Abstract
The bankruptcy of Thompson and Company is relatively well documented, especially when compared to what is known about the institution, its partners, or its creditors. This is because the main sources for examining Thompson and Company, the Chancery proceedings, primarily refer to the collapse of the bank. Despite there being a greater number of sources, however, the significance of Thompson and Company’s bankruptcy and how typical it was of bankruptcy in this period has not been addressed in existing scholarship. This chapter outlines the bankruptcy of Thompson and Company, demonstrating the unusually harsh procedures the partners faced and the wider significance of the case to the historiography of bankruptcy in early modern England.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 8. Why Did Thompson and Company Collapse?

Abstract
The collapse of early modern banks was not unusual. Early deposit banks were inherently risky institutions that relied on unstable financial and commercial markets and the trust of their clientele. However, the reasons behind each institution’s downfall vary considerably. This chapter analyses the commercial, financial, and political reasons behind the collapse of Thompson and Company in 1678. It builds on the historiography of credit and reputation in early modern England and argues that it was not Thompson and Company’s failure to meet their financial obligations that led to their collapse. Instead, it was the fact that the partners spread their credit across three different roles in the fields of finance, commerce, and politics and employed risky strategies that could easily be manipulated and used against them by enemies.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 9. Aftermath

Abstract
Often studies that examine business collapse end at the point of failure when the institution ceased operating. However, in keeping with the microhistorical outlook of the book and the emphasis on examining an institution as a social as well as an economic and commercial entity, this chapter details the impact of Thompson and Company’s bankruptcy on the partners as well as their family, creditors, and wider networks in the years that followed its collapse. It argues that while the bank’s collapse disrupted and altered household composition and ended the partners’ business careers, it did not destroy wider household credit or the individual credit of each member. Likewise, the wider family networks were also largely unharmed. The chapter particularly emphasises the role of women in the management of household finance, demonstrating that they had recourse to and knowledge of the law that they could use to their own benefit.
Mabel Winter

Chapter 10. Conclusion

Abstract
Throughout this book, Thompson and Company has been reconstructed, re-evaluated on its own terms, and resituated in the historiography of finance, commerce, and politics. This chapter draws this study to a conclusion and discusses the broader, macro, ramifications of this microhistorical case study for Restoration society, and its commercial, financial, and political culture. It argues for the importance of studying institutions, emphasising the role of entrepreneurial institutions and those geared towards private, as opposed to public, finance in the traditional narrative of England’s commercial and financial development. The case of Thompson and Company also questions the scope of the Financial Revolution, the role of reputation in the collapse of credit networks, and the nature of household and institutional credit. Overall, it demonstrates the close intertwining of finance, commerce, and politics in seventeenth-century England, and the pervasiveness of risk across all aspects of society.
Mabel Winter

Backmatter

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