Author Various

Various Photo
Avg Rating:

James Wilson PC (3 June 1805 – 11 August 1860) was a Scottish hat maker, Liberal politician and economist, as well as the founder of The Economist and the modern Standard Chartered Bank. Wilson was born in Hawick in the Borders. A successful disciplined autodidact scholar from a Quaker family, he was destined to be a schoolmaster but hated it so much that he "would rather to be the most menial servant in [his] father's mill". After considering studying for election to the Faculty of Advocates, against his family religion, he decided to be schooled in economics. So at the age of 16, he became an apprentice in a hat factory. Later, his father then bought the business for him and his elder brother, William. They left Scotland and moved to London, England when James was 19, with a gift of £2,000 each (£130,000 in 2005 pounds). The brothers established a manufacturing factory that they dissolved it in 1831. Wilson continued in the same line of business with much success (his net worth was


£25,000 in 1837, or £1,630,000 in 2005 pounds). During the economic crisis of 1837, he lost most of his wealth when the price of indigo fell. By 1839 he sold most of his property and avoided bankruptcy. However, in 1853 he founded The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, which later merged with the Standard Bank of British South Africa to form Standard Chartered Bank in 1969. Wilson was generally opposed to privileging the Church of England, the secret ballot when it was proposed in 1853, and the Corn Laws. He wrote a pamphlet titled Influences of the Corn Laws, as affection all classes of the comminity, and particularly the landed interests. It slowly received positive feedback and Wilson's fame had grown. He then went on writing on currency, and especially The Revenue; or, What should the Chancellor do?. He started to write for newspapers, including the Manchester Guardian. In 1843 he established The Economist as a newspaper to campaign for free trade, and acted as Chief editor and sole proprietor for sixteen years. The Economist is still published today, now with a weekly circulation of over 1.2 million globally. Wilson entered the House of Commons as Liberal Member of Parliament for Westbury, Wiltshire, in 1847.[1] Because of his economic experience prime minister Lord John Russell appointed him Secretary of the Board of Control (which ran the affairs of India) in 1848, a post he held until the government fell in 1852. He then served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury between 1853 and 1858, firstly in Lord Aberdeen's coalition government and secondly in Lord Palmerston's first administration. In 1857 he was returned to Parliament for Devonport.[2] He again briefly held office under Palmerston as Paymaster-General and Vice-President of the Board of Trade between June and August 1859 and was sworn of the Privy Council the same year.[3] In August 1859 Wilson resigned these offices and his seat in parliament to sit as the financial member of the Council of India. He was sent to India to establish the tax structure, a new paper currency and remodel the finance system of India after the revolt of 1857. However, he was in office only a year before he died. In 1860 he refused to leave the stifling summer heat of Calcutta, contracted dysentery and died in August of that year, aged 55. Strangely even though he contributed a lot to the financial set-up of the British empire in India, he lay buried unknown at a cemetery at Mullick Bazar in Kolkata. His grave was discovered in 2007 by CP Bhatia , an assistant commissioner of Income Tax, while he was researching a book on India's Tax History. Due to the efforts of CP Bhatia the tombstone was restored by the Christian Burial Board, thus restoring some dignity to a man that was in a way one of the fore-fathers of the Indian Tax structure.[4][5] Wilson married Elizabeth Preston of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in January 1832. They had six daughters, of whom Eliza, the eldest, married Walter Bagehot.

+Write review

User Reviews:

Write Review: