William Paterson (banker)

William Paterson (banker)

Sir William Paterson (born April, 1658 in Tinwald, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland - died in Westminster, London, on January 22, 1719) was a Scottish trader and banker.


Early life

William Paterson was born in his parent's farmhouse of Skipmyre in Tinwald, Scotland, and lived with them until he was seventeen, when he emigrated first (briefly) to Bristol and then to the Bahamas. It was here that he first conceived the Darién scheme, his plan to create a colony on the isthmus of Panama, facilitating trade with the Far East.


Paterson returned to Europe, and attempted to convince the English government under James II to undertake the Darién scheme. When they refused, he tried again to persuade the governments of the Holy Roman Empire and the Dutch Republic to establish a colony in Panama, but failed in both cases.

Paterson returned to London and made his fortune with foreign trade (primarily with the West Indies) in the Merchant Taylors' Company. In 1694, he founded the Bank of England, described in his pamphlet "A Brief Account of the Intended Bank of England", to act as the English government's banker. He proposed a loan of £1.2m to the government; in return the subscribers would be incorporated as The Governor and Company of the Bank of England with banking privileges including the issue of notes. The Royal Charter was granted on July 27, 1694.

Paterson relocated to Edinburgh, where he was able to convince the Scottish government to undertake the Darién scheme, and was influential in the establishment of the Bank of Scotland (1695), the central bank of the Kingdom of Scotland. Paterson accompanied the disastrous Scottish expedition to Panama (1698), where his wife and child died and he became seriously ill. [Dennis R. Hidalgo "To Get Rich for Our Homeland: The Company of Scotland and the Colonization of the Darién," Colonial Latin American Historical Review, 10:3 (Summer/Verano 2001): 156] On his return to Scotland in December 1699, he became instrumental in the movement for the Union of Scotland and England, culminating in his support of the Act of Union 1707. He spent the last years of his life in Westminster, and died in January 1719. A mystery still surrounds the burial site of Paterson. Many (including officials at the Bank of England), believe he is buried in Sweetheart Abbey in Dumfriesshire.


* "Proposals and Reasons for Constitulating a Council of Trade" (1701), a plan to create a Scottish council of Trade which would stimulate the Scottish economy and trade, partly by abolishing export duties.
* "A Proposal to plant a Colony in Darién to protect the Indians against Spain, and to open the Trade of South America to all Nations" (1701), a broader version of the Darién scheme intended to bring free trade to all of Central and South America.
* "Wednesday Club Dialogues upon the Union" (1706), a series of imaginary dialogues in which Paterson expressed his beliefs that Scotland had to be guaranteed equal taxation, freedom of trade and proportionate representation in Parliament if union with England was to succeed.

See also

* John Holland, founder of the Bank of Scotland
* Saxe Bannister
* Daniel Defoe
* Acts of Union 1707
* Darién scheme
* Lionel Wafer, a buccaneer marrooned for four years on the isthmus of Darién that he hired as an adviser for the Darién Scheme.


External links

* [http://www.darien-venture.co.uk/events/darien/ (Link does not work) Photos and Report of Darien Venture site in Panama]
* [http://www.firstfoot.com/Great%20Scot/williampaterson.htm Great Scotsmen - William Paterson]
* [http://www.rampantscotland.com/famous/blfampaterson.htm Famous Scots - William Paterson]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/civil_war_revolution/scotland_darien_01.shtml The Darien Venture, Dr Mike Ibeji (BBC) ]

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