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Paterson, William

Born: 1658 AD
Died: 1719 AD
Nationality: British
Categories: Bankers

1658 – William Paterson, British writer on finance, founder of the Bank of England and projector of the Darien scheme, was born in April at the farmhouse of Skipmyre, parish of Tinwald, Dumfriesshire.

1675 – His parents occupied the farm there, and with them he resided until he was about seventeen. A desire to escape the religious persecution then raging in Scotland, and the immemorial ambition of his race, led him southward.

1690 – He was occupied in the formation in the Hampstead Water Company.

1694 – He founded the Bank of England. The government required money, and the country, rapidly increasing in wealth, required a bank.

1695 – He is the supposed author of the act of 1695 which formed the "Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies". This company, he arranged, should establish a settlement on the Isthmus of Darien, and "thus hold the key of the commerce of the world".

1698 – On the 26th of July, the first ships of the expedition set sail "amidst the tears and prayers and praises of relatives and friends and countrymen." Some financial transactions in which Paterson was concerned, and in which, though he had acted with perfect honesty, the company had lost, prevented his nomination to a post of importance.

1699 – Still weak and helpless, and yet protesting to the last against the abandonment of Darien, he was carried on board ship, and, after a stormy and terrible voyage, he and the remnant of the ill-fated band reached home in December.

1701 – He removed to London, and here by conferences with statesmen, by writing, and by personal persuasion helped on the union. He was much employed in settling the financial relations of the two countries.

1715 – The United Parliament, to which he was returned as a member for the Dumfries burghs, though he never took his seat, decided that his claim should be settled, an indemnity of £18,241 was ordered to be paid him.

1719 – His last years were spent in Queen Square, Westminster, but he removed from there shortly before his death on the 22nd of January.