The Bank began managing stock following its foundation in 1694 when it called for public subscriptions to Bank Stock. £1.25 million was raised for a Government loan via 1,520 stockholders purchasing shares. In 1715, the Bank of England also began to manage and process British Government stocks. Using a complicated index system that combines the use of the first letter of the surname with the following letter and/or consonants, details of the sales and purchases of stock can be traced in large, hard-bound ledgers recording transactions and accounts.
Ledgers for a number of different government stocks are held at the Bank Archive including Navy 5% and 3% Consols. Notable stockholders from over the centuries include Joseph William Mallord Turner (painter), Jane Austen (novelist), and George Frederick Handel (composer).
Due to there being over 10,000 stock ledgers, indexes and transfer books they are not available digitally, but they can be consulted for research purposes in the Archive search-room.
However, two 20th century documents written by members of Bank of England staff from both the Accountant’s Department, and Stock Returns Office provide a valuable insight into the history, workings, and practical operations of the stock system. They are a useful resource to accompany any research being undertaken into the history of Bank and Government stock purchases in the United Kingdom, and digitised versions can be viewed online below.
Further information about the stock collection can also be found on the Archive catalogue under reference AC27.