Montagu Norman, 1st Baron Norman

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Norman
DSO PC
Time-magazine-cover-montagu-norman.jpg
Norman on the cover of Time, 1929
Governor of the Bank of England
In office
1920–1944
Preceded by Sir Brien Cokayne
Succeeded by The Lord Catto
Personal details
Born Montagu Collet Norman
(1871-09-06)6 September 1871
Kensington, London, England
Died 4 February 1950(1950-02-04) (aged 78)
Campden Hill, London, England
Nationality British
Profession Banker

Montagu Collet Norman, 1st Baron Norman DSO PC (6 September 1871 – 4 February 1950) was an English banker, best known for his role as the Governor of the Bank of England from 1920 to 1944. Norman led the bank during the harshest period in British economic history and was noted for his somewhat raffish and arty appearance.

Early life and military service[edit]

Norman was the elder son of Frederick Henry Norman and Lina Susan Penelope Collet, a daughter of Sir Mark Wilks Collet, 1st Baronet, himself a Bank of England Governor. The Norman family was well known in banking. Montagu' brother Ronald Collet Norman and his nephew Mark Norman became leading bankers. Montagu's great-nephew David Norman has also led a successful City career and is a noted benefactor of the arts. Montagu Norman was educated at Eton and spent one year at King's College, Cambridge.[1] He also joined the 4th Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire militia in 1894 and served in the Second Boer War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1901.[2]

Merchant banking[edit]

After spending time in Europe, he joined Martin's Bank, where his father was a partner, in 1892, Brown, Shipley & Co., where his maternal grandfather was a partner, in 1894, and Brown Bros. & Co. of New York, in 1895. He became a partner in Brown Shipley in 1900 before leaving for South Africa, and retired from them in 1915.

Bank of England[edit]

He became a director of the Bank of England in 1907 and during World War I he was a financial advisor to government departments. He was appointed Deputy Governor in 1917 and he became Governor in 1920. Under Norman, the bank underwent significant change. In 1931 the United Kingdom permanently abandoned the gold standard, at which point the bank's foreign exchange and gold reserves were transferred to the British Treasury.

Norman was a close friend of the German Central Bank President Hjalmar Schacht, who was a supporter of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, and served in Hitler's government as President of the Reichsbank and Minister of Economics. As such, Schacht played a key role in implementing the policies attributed to Hitler. Norman was also so close to the Schacht family that he was godfather to one of Schacht's grandchildren.[3] Both were members of the Anglo-German Fellowship and the Bank for International Settlements.

While in the past Norman's role in the transferring of Czech gold to the Nazi regime in March 1939 was uncertain, careful investigation by historian David Blaazer into the Bank of England's internal memos has established that Norman knowingly authorized the transfer of Czech gold from Czechoslovakia's No. 2 account with the Bank of International Settlement to the No. 17 account, which Norman was aware was managed by the German Reichsbank. Within ten days the money had been transferred to other accounts. In the fall of 1939, two months after the outbreak of World War II, Norman again supported transfers of Czech gold to Hitler's Germany. On this occasion His Majesty's Government intervened to block Norman's initiative[4] He retired from the bank in 1944.

Honours[edit]

Following his retirement, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Norman, of St Clere in the County of Kent, on 13 October 1944.[5] In addition to receiving the Distinguished Service Order, Norman was sworn of the Privy Council in 1923[6] and was created a Grand Officer of the Order of the Crown.[7]

Personal life[edit]

On 2 November 1933, Lord Norman married Priscilla Cecilia Maria Reyntiens, London councillor and granddaughter of Montagu Bertie, 7th Earl of Abingdon. He gained two stepsons from this marriage; Sir Simon Towneley and Sir Peregrine Worsthorne. Lord Norman died at his home in Campden Hill, London, in 1950 following a stroke. Norman had no children himself and his barony became extinct on his death.

During his married life, he lived at the Manor of St Clere in Ightham.[8]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Norman, Montagu Collet (NRMN889MC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27359. p. 6326. 27 September 1901. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  3. ^ Forbes, Neil (2000), "Doing Business with the Nazis"
  4. ^ Blaazer, David (2005). "Finance and the End of Appeasement: The Bank of England, the National Government and the Czech Gold". Journal of Contemporary History 40 (1): 25–39. doi:10.1177/0022009405049264. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 36746. p. 4698. 13 October 1944. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32840. p. 4605. 29 June 1923. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33260. p. 1960. 25 March 1927. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  8. ^ Cameron, Roderick (1981). Great Comp and its garden. London: Bachman and Turner Publications. pp. 131–144. ISBN 0859741001. 

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Sir Brien Cokayne
Governor of the Bank of England
1920–1944
Succeeded by
The Lord Catto
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Norman
1944–1950
Extinct