Newmarch, William (DNB00)

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NEWMARCH, WILLIAM (1820–1882), economist and statistician, was born at Thirsk, Yorkshire, on 28 Jan. 1820. Mainly self-educated, he obtained employment early in life, first as a clerk under a distributor of stamps in his native county, and then with the Yorkshire Fire and Life Office, York. From 1843 to 1846 he was second cashier in the banking-house of Leatham, Tew, & Co. of Wakefield, where he had every opportunity of becoming acquainted with the business. While in this position he married. He was appointed second officer of the London branch of the Agra Bank on its establishment early in 1846. About this time, also, he joined the staff of the ‘Morning Chronicle.’ His great ability and his knowledge of the principles of banking and currency were early appreciated by Thomas Tooke [q. v.], Alderman Thompson, M.P., and Lord Wolverton, on whose advice he quitted the Agra Bank in 1851, and became secretary of the Globe Insurance Company. By his advice, and largely through his management while he was acting in this capacity, the Globe Insurance Company and the Liverpool and London Insurance Company were amalgamated. In 1862 Newmarch was appointed manager in the banking-house of Glyn, Mills, & Co., a position which he retained until 1881. He was a director of Palmer's Iron and Shipbuilding Company and of the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada, a trustee of the Globe Million Fund, and treasurer of the British Iron Trade Association from its formation until 1880. In 1869 he became president of the Statistical Society in succession to Mr. Gladstone; he had acted as honorary secretary for seven years, and editor of the ‘Journal’ of the society for five years. He was one of the most active members of the Adam Smith Club and of the Political Economy Club, of which he was for some years secretary.

On the Bank Act of 1844, and the currency controversies to which it gave rise, Newmarch agreed in the main with Thomas Tooke, whose disciple to a great extent he was. His evidence before the select committee on the Bank Acts in 1857 is the best summary of his views on these subjects. He denied that the Bank of England or other banks of issue could determine the amount of their outstanding circulation, and he argued in favour of the removal of all legislative limit upon the issues of the Bank of England. He disapproved of setting aside a certain amount of bullion as a guarantee for the circulation, maintaining that legal convertibility was a sufficient security against over-issue. There was, in his opinion, no sufficient reason for the separation of the issue and banking departments, which was mischievous in its results, produced undue fluctuations of the rate of interest, and debarred the public from the advantages of the whole resources of the bank. His statistical works are of permanent value. He brought to the elucidation of the most intricate subjects a clear, vigorous style, thorough mastery of the principles of economic science, rare ability as a statistician, and wide knowledge of the actual course of business. He himself prepared most of the elaborate statistical tables which illustrate his works.

About a year before his death he retired from business. He died at Torquay on 23 March 1882. After his death, H. D. Pochin, fellow of the Statistical Society, gave 100l. for a ‘Newmarch memorial essay’ on the ‘extent to which recent legislation is in accordance with, or deviates from, the true principles of economic science, and showing the permanent effects which may be expected to arise from such legislation;’ and a sum of 1,420l. 14s., subscribed to a memorial fund, was devoted to the foundation of the Newmarch professorship of economic science and statistics at University College, London.

Newmarch published: 1. ‘The new Supplies of Gold: Facts and Statements relative to their actual Amount; and their present and probable Effects,’ revised edition, with five additional chapters, London, 8vo, 1853. This work, the continuation of a paper read before the Statistical Society in 1851 on the magnitude and fluctuations of the amount of the bills of exchange in circulation at one time in Great Britain during the years 1828–47, was based upon several papers on the new supplies of gold and a series of articles on the same subject contributed to the ‘Morning Chronicle’ in 1853. In the additional chapters, which contained an analysis of the Bank of England circulation, Newmarch had the co-operation of J. S. Hubbard, at that time governor of the bank, who contributed some valuable notes on the gold coinage. 2. ‘On the Loans raised by Mr. Pitt during the first French War, 1793–1801; with some Statements in Defence of the Methods of Funding employed,’ London, 8vo, 1855. Newmarch argues that it would have been impracticable to obtain the necessary amounts if Pitt had enforced the principle of borrowing at par; that even if the money had been raised at five instead of at three per cent. the difficulties would frequently have been great; and that in either case the rate of interest, and therefore the annual debt-charge, would have been higher than it actually was. In the calculations respecting each of the loans he was assisted by Frederick Hendriks, actuary of the Globe Insurance Company. Newmarch's arguments were severely criticised by Sir George Kettilby Rickards [q. v.] in his Oxford lectures on the financial policy of the war, but they were adopted by Earl Stanhope in his ‘Life of Pitt.’ 3. ‘A History of Prices, and of the State of the Circulation during the nine years, 1848–56, forming the fifth and sixth volumes of the History of Prices from 1792 to the present time,’ London, 8vo, 1857, in collaboration with Thomas Tooke. Newmarch had been engaged on this work since 1851, when Tooke accepted his offer of aid in the completion of the ‘History of Prices,’ which he had brought down to 1848. Newmarch wrote the portions dealing with the prices of produce other than corn, and the general course of trade; the progress of railway construction; the history of free trade from 1820 to 1856; the commercial and financial policy of France; and the new supplies of gold from California and Australia; and Appendix II (on the early influx of the precious metals from America). His work immediately placed him in the front rank of economists and statisticians. The two volumes were translated into German and used in the German universities, and Newmarch himself was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. On his retirement from business he intended to devote himself to the continuation of this work, for which he had collected much material. 4. ‘On Electoral Statistics of the Counties and Boroughs in England and Wales during the twenty-five years from the Reform Act of 1832 to the present time’ (Journal of the Statistical Society, 1857 xx. 169, 1859 xxii. 101, 297). In these papers Newmarch showed that any scheme of redistribution based upon the principle of density of population would completely break up the existing county and municipal areas. 5. ‘The Political Perils of 1859,’ a pamphlet in defence of Lord Derby's Government on the question of political reform. On other questions, however, of public policy Newmarch was a liberal.

After 1862 he was unable, owing to the pressure of business, to publish any large work. He continued, however, to give addresses and to read occasional papers before the Statistical Society. His most valuable work during this period of his life consisted of anonymous articles in the newspapers. He contributed to the ‘Times,’ the ‘Pall Mall Gazette,’ the ‘Fortnightly Review,’ the ‘Statist,’ and the ‘Economist,’ for which he commenced in 1863 the annual ‘Commercial History of the Year.’

[Report from the Select Committee on the Bank Acts, 1857, pt. i.; Economist, 25 March 1882; Statist, 25 March 1882; Journ. Iron and Steel Institute, 1882, p. 649; Proc. Royal Soc. vol. xxxiv. p. xvii; Times, 24 March 1882, p. 10; Athenæum, 1882, p. 415; Guardian, xxxvii. 440; Journ. Statistical Society, 1882, pp. 115–19, 209, 284, 333, 389, 397, 519–21.]

W. A. S. H.