Newland, Abraham (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

NEWLAND, ABRAHAM (1730–1807), chief cashier of the Bank of England, son of William Newland, miller and baker at Grove, Buckinghamshire, by his wife Ann Arnold, was born in Castle Street, Southwark, on 23 April 1730. His father had twenty-five children by two wives. Elected a clerk of the Bank of England on 25 Feb. 1748, Newland became chief cashier in 1782. His signature, as cashier, appeared on the notes of the Bank of England, which were long known as ‘Abraham Newlands.’ This is commemorated in Dibdin's song, of which he was the subject:

Sham Abram you may,
In any fair way,
But you must not sham Abraham Newland.

For twenty-five years Newland never slept away from his apartments in the Bank of England. His only relaxation was a daily drive to Highbury, where he took a walk along Highbury Place and had tea in a cottage.

On the appointment of a committee of secrecy by the House of Lords in 1797 to examine the amount of the outstanding demands of the Bank of England, Newland was summoned as a witness. In his evidence (28 March 1797) he gave an account of the treasury bills due to the bank and of the sums repaid in each month subsequent to 6 Jan. 1795, and described the manner in which business was conducted between the bank and the exchequer. Subsequently to 1799 his growing infirmities made it necessary for him to intrust the management of the purchases of exchequer bills to Robert Astlett, one of the cashiers, whom he had befriended, and with whom he had been closely associated for more than twenty years. Astlett embezzled some exchequer bills, and upon his trial at the Old Bailey, in 1803, Newland had to give evidence against him. This event is said to have hastened the decline of Newland's health. He resigned his position at a general court of the directors of the bank on 18 Sept. 1807. He refused their offer of an annuity, but consented to accept a service of plate of the value of one thousand guineas, which he did not live to receive. He died on 21 Nov. 1807 at No. 38 Highbury Place, where he lived after his retirement, and was buried on 28 Nov. at St. Saviour's, Southwark.

Newland amassed a fortune of 200,000l. in stock and 1,000l. a year from estates by economy in his expenditure and by speculating in Pitt's loans, a certain amount of which was always reserved for the cashier's office. He left most of his property to his numerous relations, and 500l. to each of the Goldsmids, at that time the leaders of the Stock Exchange, to purchase a mourning ring.

Newland read much, and he had an accurate judgment and a tenacious memory. In politics he was a ‘king's man.’ He was partially deaf for the last thirty years of his life, and so gave up regular attendance at church, a neglect which caused some suspicion of the sincerity of his religious opinions. He held that man ‘lived, died, and there ended all respecting him.’ There is a portrait of him by Romney at the Bank of England, an engraving by Hopwood after Drummond in the ‘Life of Abraham Newland,’ 1808, and another engraving in ‘Public Characters of 1798–9.’

[Public Characters of 1798–9, pp. 73–7; [Collier's] Life of Abraham Newland, 1808; Jackson's New Newgate Calendar, vii. 202–18; Gent. Mag. 1807, ii. 1086, 1170; Dodsley's Ann. Reg. xlvii. 562, xlix. 482, 518, 528, 604; Chalmers's Considerations on Commerce, Bullion, and Coin, 1811, p. 193; Francis's History of the Bank of England, i. 280; Lawson's History of Banking, pp. 148, 167; Punch and Judy, 1870, p. 75; Bentley's Miscellany, 1850, xxviii. 67; Chambers's Book of Days, ii. 600; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 442, 7th ser. xii. 78, 172, 365; Wheatley and Cunningham's London Past and Present, i. 97, 339, ii. 214, iii. 215.]

W. A. S. H.