The east india company

Daily life at the 18th-century Bank of England

The England cricket team was once greeted at an Ashes test by an Australian banner with the immortal words ‘WOTHAM IS A BANKER’, the simple genius of the line being that you knew Wotham was being insulted before you had worked out quite who Wotham was, or what exactly he was being accused of. But, as Anne Murphy reminds us, the word ‘banker’ was not always just a word of abuse; it could also denote personal probity, sobriety, a certain nitpicking stolidity of thought, above all a preoccupation with credit and public confidence. It was not automatically oxymoronic to think of ‘virtuous bankers’. Amid all the financial crises of the

Piracy pays: how history’s greatest buccaneer got off scot-free

In 1694 London’s streets echoed with a call to the piratical life: Come all you brave boys, whose courage is bold, Will you venture with me, I’ll glut you with gold?Make haste unto Corona, a ship you will findThat’s called the Fancy, will pleasure your mind. In a week-long orgy of savagery, women flung themselves overboard to escape gang rape The ballad was supposedly written by the ‘pirate king’ Henry Every, who was about to pull off an astonishingly daring raid. In one fell swoop he’d landed the equivalent of $20 million by today’s reckoning, and — some said — married an Indian princess to boot. He’d also vanished off