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Working-Class Households and Savings in England, 1850–1880


The British trustee savings banks that operated throughout the nineteenth century were designed expressly for working-class use, and solely to promote long-term saving. Despite the substantial numbers and national spread of these banks, there have been few studies of their use by savers. Their neglect as a data source is puzzling, given the extent of the surviving depositor records that provide long-run empirical data that includes savers’ identity, marital status, and occupation, as well as account balances and transactions. Our preliminary work on four banks (Limehouse, Newcastle, South Shields, and Bury) shows results of significant interest in understanding working-class financial behavior, including a substantial number of accounts opened and maintained by working-class married women, accounts opened and run by minors from earnings, and varied patterns of account usage.

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