George Scrope, Free Bankers, and The Bank Charter Act of 1833

  • Paul E. Orzechowski City University of New York


This article explores the contributions of George Poulett Scrope and the free bankers to monetary reforms in 1833 through their parliamentarian efforts by exploring Hansard recordings. Scrope joined a group of free bankers in the British Parliament to lead a partially successful effort to derail the Whig Government’s monetary reform plan. Many monetary economic historians do not emphasize these efforts and simplify the struggle as a pamphlet battle between the Currency School and the Banking School over the currency principle. Free bankers and Scrope were instrumental in defeating the government’s effort to eliminate any future joint-stock banking formations under the Banking Co- Partnership Act of 1826 and impose a royal chartering process on banks. The Bank Charter Act of 1833 was approved with a declaratory statement that made clear that joint-stock banks of deposit were allowed to operate within the 65 mile exclusion zone of London. These events allowed for a significant increase in joint- stock banking after 1833, which may have helped British economic development.