View Full Version : The Town and County Bank

08-15-2017, 05:34 PM
I was interested in poor Miss Matty's bank failing in chapter 13. Her sister, when she was alive, had invested most of their property in the Town and County bank, because it paid 8% interest. This is quite a high rate of interest for then. I am used to reading of between 3 and 5%. For example, in Old Wives' Tale by Arnold Bennett, there is a character who receives 5% interest on a 12,000 fortune, which is not bad at all. It turns out the Town and County Bank invested heavily in railways. I have read that there was a big craze on railway building in the 1840's, which resulted in a deep recession when some projects went bust. After Miss Matty's bank goes under, she works out she's lost 150 income a year and only has 13 a year to live on. That is quite interesting because an annual income of 150 is about the figure under which it becomes difficult to keep up a middle class genteel appearances. It's really not all that much money. Miss Matty can only afford one new gown a year. Most of her clothing expenditure appears to be for small items like caps and bonnets. To be genteel, you have to employ a servant, or you will spend most of your time cooking and cleaning. Servants' wages are about 30 a year plus food and board. A safer bank rate would have yielded just under 100 a year, so I can see why Miss Matty's sister wanted to invest in the Town and County, although she was advised against it. It is also quite interesting that individual banks could issue their own bank notes, rather than the National Mint like nowadays. Miss Matty compensates a farmer for a 5 note drawn from the Town and County bank.