‘Writes a fair hand and appears to be well qualified’ : the recruitment of Bank of England clerks, 1800-1815
The financial strains of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars had a significant impact on the Bank of England. In its position as banker to the state and manager of the state’s debt, it experienced a significant increase in workload and thus was forced rapidly to expand its workforce. From a complement of around 300 in the mid-1780s, the number of clerks employed had increased to over 900 in 1815. Using a unique set of records preserved in the Bank’s archives, this article investigates the backgrounds and skills of the men recruited during the expansion of the early nineteenth century. It finds a significant gap between the skills required by the Bank and the skills possessed by its potential workforce.