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Home > Archive > Committee of Inspection Minutes 1783-90

Committee of Inspection Minutes 1783-90

Archive Catalogue Reference: M5/212-213

On 13 March 1783, the Bank of England’s Court minutes record that ‘…a Committee be appointed to inspect and enquire into the mode and execution of the business as now carried on in the different departments of the Bank.’ The Committee of Inspection was formed with the intention of inspecting the daily business of the Bank, with the results published in six separate reports for the attention of the Governor, Deputy Governor and the Committee of Treasury.

The Court minutes describe the role of the Committee, which illustrates the extensive powers that it was given by the Bank; ‘…they are hereby empowered to inspect the management of every office, together with all such books and papers as they may think necessary.’ They were also required to report their concerns on an intermittent basis to the Committee of Treasury. 

The first report produced by the Committee was written on 14 April 1783 and primarily includes details of the Committee’s concern with procedures in the Chief Cashier department. The evidence which they gathered from their inspections is recorded in the minutes as they state ‘…we learn, that all bills or notes brought in to be discounted, pass progressively through the hands of 5 different clerks…’ or the third report which raises concerns about the security of several offices outside business hours.
The evidence recorded by the Committee generally notes the names and roles of the staff  they interview. Such detail offers a unique insight into the operations of the Bank’s staff in the 18th century. For example, interviews are recorded with Mr Betsworth, the Head of the Drawing House who is called to report to the Committee on the 25 November 1783. He is recorded as having been a staff member at the Bank for more than 31 years whilst describing ‘the number of Clerks under him now in the office is 15.’ A variety of other first-hand accounts are included such as that of Mr Baillie, Head of the Cheque Office, and William Watkins, the Principal Gate Porter.
The reports produced by the Committee led to the formation of three permanent Committees of Inspection. Committee one was responsible for Stock Offices, Committee two was required to inspect areas which included the Printing Office, Bank Note Office and Pay Clerks, and Committee three was responsible for Drawing Office Accounts, Chancery and Discount.
The Committee's minutes are located below.
The Committee’s gathering of information across the Bank led to the production of six reports. Copies of the reports have been extracted from the main minutes and can be found below: