Hilton Clarke (banker)

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Hilton Swift Clarke CBE (1 April 1909 – December 1995) was a British banker who served as Principal of the Discount Office of the Bank of England from 1953 to 1967.[1] The Daily Telegraph described him as a "master of the calculated indiscretion...Tall, dapper and resplendent in his silk hat he controlled the discount market with the force of his presence".[2]

Early life[edit]

Clarke was the son of a timber salesman, and educated at Highgate School. Clarke joined the Bank of England shortly after his 18th birthday, where his elder brother was a clerk.[2]


In 1938 Clarke joined the private office of the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman.[2]

At the outbreak of the Second World War Clarke helped establish the Bank of England's Exchange Control System, and helped persuade foreign exchange dealers in the City of London to join the new system. In 1942 Clarke was appointed Assistant Principal of the Dealing & Accounts Office of the Bank of England, and became deputy principal of the Bank's Discount Office, and succeeded as Principal in 1953.[3] The Discount Office of the Bank of England was in daily contact with the money markets and was where the discount houses of the City discounted or borrowed bills.[4] The Principal of the Discount Office was often referred to as the 'Governor's eyes and ears in the City' as he was responsible for monitoring the activities of financial institutions.[4] Clarke was Principal during the arrival of foreign banks attracted by the development of European currency markets. When a journalist suggested to Clarke that dollar ($) bills of exchange would soon be traded in the City, Clarke rebuked him by responding "Young man, I'll trouble you to remember that this institution has a branded product of its own".[5]

Clarke observed of his work that "I always reckoned you were idling if you were sitting at your desk in the Bank. I loved putting on my top hat...dropping in on the banks and having a chat".[5]

Later years[edit]

After his retirement from the Bank of England, Clarke served as chairman of the merchant bankers Charterhouse Japhet and the Atlantic International Bank, and of the money brokers Astley & Pearce.[3] Clarke also served as a director of the United Dominions Trust and the Malaysian plantation company Guthrie. Clarke was also a member of the London board of the Bank of Scotland.[3]

In 1984 Clarke was appointed a CBE. He was married twice, to his first wife Sybil Slater from 1934 to her death in 1975, with whom he had a son, and to Ann Marchant in 1984.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vander Weyer 2006, p. 7
  2. ^ a b c Vander Weyer 2006, p. 8
  3. ^ a b c d Vander Weyer 2006, p. 9
  4. ^ a b Forrest Capie (20 July 2010). The Bank of England: 1950s to 1979. Cambridge University Press. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-1-139-49012-2. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  5. ^ a b David Kynaston (2002). The City of London: A club no more, 1945-2000. Pimlico. pp. 348–. ISBN 978-0-7126-6735-7. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 


  • Vander Weyer, Martin (2006). Closing Balances: Business obituaries from The Daily Telegraph. London: Aurum. ISBN 978-1-845-13204-0.