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that they should be carried out, it has long been the practice in granting Acts to these companies to limit the liability of the shareholders. This was done in the case of the Bank of England itself; in railway and other companies; also, almost universally, in the charters granted to Colonial banks. But for a very long time the application of this principle to private partnerships in England was vehemently resisted. However, this resistance was overcome in 1855, and in that year an Act was passed, Statute 1855, c. 133, to permit the formation of joint-stock companies with limited liability. However, although the principle was conceded as to other companies, joint-stock banks were still most jealously excluded, on account of some unintelligible distinction between their trading and other trading. In the Joint-Stock Banking Act of 1857 this exclusion was still strictly maintained. But the terrible examples of the failures of joint-stock banks in 1857 at last compelled the Legislature to yield, and in 1858 an Act was passed to extend limited liability to banks.
“The chief provisions of this Act, Statute 1858, c. 91,
“I. So much of the last mentioned Statute of 1857, as prevented banks being formed on the principle of limited liability, was repealed.
“ II. All banks which issue promissory notes are subject to unlimited liability, as far as regards their notes, for which they are to be liable, in addition to the sum for which they are to be liable to the general creditors.
“III. Every existing banking company may register itself under this Act, upon giving thirty days' notice to each and all of its customers. Any customer to whom it may fail to send notice retaining his full rights as before.
“IV. All companies formed, or registering themselves, under this Act, must, on the 1st February and 1st August in each year, post up in a conspicuous place in its head office, and each branch, a statement of its liabilities and assets, made up in a form prescribed by the Act.”
THE COUNTRY PRIVATE BANKS.
TH 'HESE banks cannot have more than ten partners.
They are banks of deposit, of loan, and of discount. As banks of deposit they usually allow interest on both deposits and balances of current accounts, and charge a commission on the amount of the transactions. In commercial or manufacturing districts, their advances are usually made by way of discount; in agricultural districts, frequently by loans. They remit money by issuing bills or letters of credit on London, or they direct their agents to make payments to bankers or other parties resident in London. As banks of circulation, they have at various times occupied a large portion of public attention, and have been the subject of much legislation,
Those bankers who wish to issue notes, or unstamped bills of exchange, must take out a licence, which will cost £30, and must be renewed every year. They may reissue any notes not above the value of £100 as often as they think
of the firm die or remove from the business, the notes may be issued by the remaining partners. But they cannot be re-issued by a new firm which does not include any member belonging to the firm by whom the notes were first issued.
If the half of a note be lost or stolen, a banker cannot be compelled to give a new note in exchange for the remaining half. But if it can be proved that one half of a
note is burnt, or otherwise destroyed, then the holder may perhaps recover the note from the banker.
In such cases, the bankers always pay the value of the note on receiving a respectable indemnity. Bankers
may be compelled to pay whole notes that have been lost or stolen, provided the holder has given actual value for them.
The stamp duty on country notes is as follows:
£ 8. Notes not exceeding 1 0
Exceeding 1 0 and not exceeding 2 0
8. d. 0 5 each, 0 10 1 3
" 1 9
0 3 0
0 8 6
Country banks are allowed to compound for the stamp duties on their notes, at the rate of three shillings and sixpence per cent. upon the half-yearly amount in circulation, and to include, on the same terms, their bills drawn on London at twenty-one days after date. But whether a country banker compounds for the stamp duties or not, he must make a return to the Government of the amount of his notes in circulation every Saturday night. These returns are consolidated, and the result published in the " London Gazette."
I am not aware that we have any authentic details of the rise and progress of country banking in England. It is generally understood that very few country banks existed previous to the American war—that they rapidly increased after the termination of that war that they received a severe check in the year 1793, when twenty-two became bankrupt, and that they increased with wonderful rapidity
after the passing of the Bank Restriction Act. Since the year 1808 every bank that issues notes has been compelled to take out an annual licence—and since 1804, the notes have been subject to a stamp duty. This duty was increased in 1808, and again in 1815.
In the year 1775 bankers were prohibited by Act of Parliament to issue notes of a less amount than 20s. And in 1777 they were prohibited to issue notes of a less amount than £5. But after the passing of the Bank Restriction Act in 1797, the last restriction was removed, and the country banks commenced issuing notes of £l and £2. And in 1822 the permission to issue such notes was continued until the expiration of the Bank Charter in 1833. But after the memorable panic of 1825, the Government refused to issue any more stamps for notes under £5, and it was enacted that all such notes already stamped should cease to be issued by the bankers after the year 1829.
The speculations that preceded the panic of 1825 were attributed by the Government of the day to a wild spirit of speculation fostered by the country banks. To guard against the recurrence of similar evils, not only were notes under £5 abolished, but two other ineasures were introduced. Banks of issue, consisting of more than six partners, were permitted to be formed at a greater distance than sixty-five miles from London; and the Bank of Eng. land was induced to open branches in the provinces.
And here it will be proper to notice a peculiarity in the county of Lancaster, and particularly in Manchester and Liverpool. In these places there were no country notes, and but a small proportion of Bank of England notes. The circulation consisted mainly of bills of exchange, which passed from hand to hand like bank notes, having the endorsement of all the parties through whose hands they had passed. In Liverpool large notes were required to pay the