Edward Backwell

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Edward Backwell

Edward Backwell (ca. 1618–1683) was an English goldsmith-banker, and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1673 and 1683. He has been called "the principal founder of the banking system in England",[1] and "far and away the best documented banker of his time".[2]

Life[edit]

Backwell was the son of Barnaby Backwell, of Leighton Buzzard. He became a resident of London, and was apprenticed to Thomas Vyner as a prominent London goldsmith-banker in 1635. Like other goldsmith-bankers of the era, he was also played a role in State finance. He received his freedom of the Goldsmith's Company in 1651 and had his goldsmith's shop in Lombard Street.

During the time of the English Republic (1649-1660), Edward was deeply involved in credit finance, and dealt in former Crown property that had been put on the market, e.g. during the Commonwealth he purchased the park at Hampton Court and then resold to the state, at a profit, during the protectorate.

In the 1650s he was involved in bullion transactions and in 1657 helped Thomas Vyner to handle captured Spanish plate. He was also very actively involved as treasurer for the Dunkirk garrison, from the time of its capture and establishment as an English base in 1657 until its sale back to France in 1662. Together with Sir Thomas Vyner he was responsible for provision of money to the royal household and with handling bullion brought in for coinage at the Royal Mint.

In 1660, just before the Restoration, Edward was elected alderman of the City of London, but the following year he paid the customary fine to be excused from continuing to serve. He is the most frequently referred to financier in Samuel Pepys's Diary, which is perhaps indicative of his importance.

He continued to operate in finance during the reign of Charles II. He was selected an alderman for Bishopsgate 1660–1661.[3] The stoppage of the Exchequer in 1672 badly damaged him financially. He and his son John were appointed comptroller of customs in the port of London in 1671, and with his old master Vyner, he was from 1671 to 1675 a commissioner of the customs and farmer of the customs revenue.

Backwell owned land in Buckinghamshire and Huntingdonshire. In 1671 he was elected Member of Parliament for Wendover in a by-election to the Cavalier Parliament. He was re-elected MP for Wendover in the second election of 1679 and again in 1681.[4] He went bankrupt in 1682 and went to the Netherlands.

Backwell died in the Netherlands in 1683, and was buried in London on 13 June 1683.

Backwell married firstly Sarah Brett in 1657 and had one son, John Backwell. In 1662, he married secondly to Mary Leigh (died in 1669) by whom he had three sons and two daughters.

References[edit]

  1. ^  Henderson, Thomas Finlayson (1885). "Backwell, Edward". In Stephen, Leslie. Dictionary of National Biography. 2. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  2. ^ G. E. Aylmer, ‘Backwell, Edward (c.1619–1683)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 18 Sept 2010
  3. ^ Aldermen of London
  4. ^ History of Parliament Online - Backwell, Edward

External links[edit]

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Richard Hampden
Robert Croke
Member for Wendover
1673
With: Richard Hampden
Succeeded by
Richard Hampden
Hon. Thomas Wharton
Preceded by
Richard Hampden
Hon. Thomas Wharton
Member for Wendover
1679–1683
With: Richard Hampden 1679–1681
John Hampden 1681–1683
Succeeded by
Richard Hampden
John Backwell