and writing “Same Old Game!” did not
start from an interest in bankers or banking, but was instigated by a local
story in Devon, England where my wife and I have lived for several years.
We were walking the South West coast
path along a section that had been described to us as Lord Revelstoke’s
carriage drive. A passing interest in who Lord Revelstoke might have been and
why he should build this splendid drive led to a series of connections which
took me back in time to Philadelphia in 1774 and the first Continental
Congress, and the close connection between Barings Bank and the birth of the
American nation. That research resulted in “Merchants
of War”, a history that comes to an end in 1810, but sets the scene for its
sequel, “Same Old Game!”
So with the early history of Barings
now assimilated, I went back, or rather forward to the story that triggered my
interest in the first place, and returned to Lord Revelstoke - Edward Charles
Baring, who had acquired the Membland Estate in south Devon in 1877, whilst he
was senior partner of Baring Brothers Bank. His fellow partner in the Bank and
cousin, Henry Bingham Mildmay, had acquired the adjacent estate of Flete the
year before. The two men had married, by coincidence it seemed, sisters who had
grown up at Flete before the estate (and that of Membland) had been lost to
their family through some distant financial disaster. The question of why the
two London bankers would marry the two Devon sisters was still hanging when I
read more of the Barings Bank crash of 1890 – the one that preceded the Nick
Leeson affair by almost 100 years, and in its time of equal magnitude, if not
with quite such devastating results.
Barings Bank crashed in 1890 because
of one speculative investment too far in Argentina – the partners seemed
somehow distracted in Devon. Only reluctant but decisive action by the Bank of
England with support from, amongst others, Lord Rothschild saved a run on the
world’s Banks. Barings was a private merchant bank and its liability was unlimited.
The quid pro quo imposed by the Bank of England on the partners, in
particular Edward Charles Baring and Henry Bingham Mildmay, was draconian – in
effect putting both men into bankruptcy, and requiring the disposal of the
Devon estates, the Mayfair townhouses and the sale of their sumptuous contents.
I have attempted to describe what
has become known as the “Baring Crisis of
1890” together with the stories of the four very different families that
came together to participate in a real-life Victorian melodrama, complete with
its a tragic finale. To do this I have split the book into three parts. Part 1
chronicles the families, Barings, Bulteels, Binghams and Mildmays; Part 2 the ”Baring
Crisis” itself, and Part 3 deals with the aftermath of the event.
I have attempted to keep the story
flowing to make to make it easier to read. However the wealth of background research
that has been assembled cannot be ignored, so for more information on any
aspect of the story, hopefully you will find it the “Notes and Sources” section
that is classified by chapter, or in the appendices.
Barings Bank did recover from the
crash of 1890, only for history to repeat itself almost 100 years later, when
Nick Leeson killed it off once and for all, after the lessons learnt at the end
of the nineteenth century had long been forgotten.
you do ever get to walk the carriage drive at Noss Mayo in Devon you will you
will know who built it and what became of him! And here it is – I hope you
enjoy “Same Old Game!” as much as I
did researching and writing it!
On Saturday 8th November 1890, Lord
Revelstoke, Francis Baring and Everard Hambro met William Lidderdale, the
Governor of the Bank of England and Baring Bank’s calamitous situation started
to emerge. Lidderdale sent a note to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George
Goschen “hoping that he might be in town
early on Monday morning the 10th November”. Lidderdale spent an
anxious weekend knowing what was about to happen. Lord Goschen spent an anxious
weekend not knowing what was about to happen. He need not have waited until the
Monday to find out, because on Saturday 8th, Punch Magazine published the John Tenniel cartoon, “Same Old Game!” Someone was very well informed indeed……………..
Same Old Game
reveals the remarkable story of “The Baring Crisis of 1890”……
"SAME OLD GAME!"
Old Lady of Threadneedle Street "YOU'VE GOT YOURSELVES IN A NICE MESS WITH YOUR PRECIOUS SPECULATION! WELL - I 'LL HELP YOU OUT OF IT, FOR THIS ONCE!!"
The cartoon by John Tenniel that was published by Punch on Saturday November 8th 1890, the same day that Lord Revelstoke met the Governor of the Bank of England, William Lidderdale to discuss Barings' plight. The reality of Barings dire circumstances were known to very few people when Tenniel drew this cartoon and Punch published it. They were very well informed................
I have explored the mystery of the the source and the intriguing timing for this Punch cartoon, and "Mr Punch and the Crisis of 1890", a chapter from "Same Old Game!" appears on the next web page, "............and Mr Punch"
From the sale catalogue for the Membland Estate of Edward Charles Baring, later Lord Revelstoke, from 1895. Barings Brothers Bank collapsed in November 1890 and was saved by the Bank of England and a consortuim of city banks, most notably Rothschilds. The quid pro was that Revelstoke and Henry Bingham Mildmay must offer up their estates to the Bank of England. Membland was eventually sold to a shipbuilder from Hartlepool. The estate was broken up and much of it was sold to the existing tenents. Membland Hall itself and all its memories were literally blown up in 1928. The neighbouring estate of Flete was leased but not sold and now remains in the Mildmay family to this day.
"Same Old Game!" is now available in paperback from the Amazon Bookstore. An e-book for Kindle will follow shortly.