Same Old Game
"SAME OLD GAME! - The Barings' Crisis of 1890" Risk and Reward
Researching and writing “Same Old Game!” did not start from an interest in bankers or banking, but came from 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 cousin and fellow partner in the Bank, 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. If 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!
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 was known to very few people when Tenniel drew this cartoon and Punch published it. Whoever tipped off John Tenniel was very well informed................
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!!"
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!" follows……………..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!" follows…………….."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.
Return to "Books"...................
All Rights Reserved © David Tearle 2020