Skip to main content

The Bubble Act: Its Passage and Its Effects on Business Organization

  • Ron Harris (a1)

By surveying contemporary sources this article reveals direct evidence for the involvement of the South Sea Company in the passage of the Bubble Act. The dominant position of the Company and of its national debt conversion scheme in the affairs of England in 1720 support the conclusion that the act was in fact a piece of special-interest legislation for the Company. The short-term interest that motivated the enactment, together with the limited legal and economic effects of the act, minimized its significance as a turning point in the long-term development of the English joint-stock company.

Hide All
Adams J. N., and Averley G., A Bibliography of Eighteenth Century Legal Literature (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1982).
An Account of the South Sea Scheme and a Number of Other Bubbles (London, 1806).
Anderson Adam, Origin of Commerce (London, 1764).
Ashton Robert, The City and the Court, 1603–1643 (Cambridge, 1979).
Ashton Robert, The Crown and the Money Market, 1603–1640 (Oxford, 1960).
Baumol William J., “Entrepreneurship: Productive, Unproductive, and Destructive,” Journal of Political Economy, 98 (10 1990), pp. 893921.
Blackstone William, Commentaries on the Laws of England (London, 1765, 1769), vols. 1 and 4.
[Blunt John], A True State of the South Sea Scheme (London, 1722).
Brewer John, The Sinews of Power: War, Money and the English State, 1688–1783 (Cambridge, MA, 1990).
Butler Henry N., “General Incorporation in Nineteenth Century England: Interaction of Common Law and Legislative Processes,” International Review of Law and Economics, 6 (12 1986), pp. 169–87.
Butler Henry N., “Nineteenth-Century Jurisdictional Competition in the Granting of Corporate Privileges,” Journal of Legal Studies, 14 (01 1985), pp. 129–66.
Carswell John, The South Sea Bubble (Stanford, 1960).
Chandaman C. D., The English Public Revenue, 1660–1688 (Oxford, 1975).
Coke Edward, Institutes of the Laws of England (London, 1628), vol. 2.
Commons' Journal (17191721), vol. 19.
Cooke C. A., Corporation, Trust and Company (Manchester, 1950).
Deitz Frederick F., English Public Finance, 1558–1641 (2nd edn., London, 1964).
Dickson P. M. G., The Financial Revolution: A Study in the Development of Public Credit, 1688–1756 (London, 1967).
DuBois Armand B., The English Business Company after the Bubble Act, 1720–1800 (New York, 1938).
Goldsmiths'-Kress Library of Economic Literature: A Consolidated Guide to Segment I of the Microfilm Collection (Woodbridge, CT, 19761987).
Gordon Thomas, “A Complete History of the Late Septennial Parliament” (1722), in A Collection of Tracts by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon (London, 1751).
Gower L. C. B., “A South Sea Heresy?Law Quarterly Review, 68 (04 1952), pp. 214–25.
Harris Ron, “Industrializaton Without Free Incorporation: The Legal Framework of Business Organization in England, 1720–1844” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1994).
Holdsworth William, A History of the English Law (London, 1926), vol. 8.
Hoppit Julian, “Financial Crises in Eighteenth-Century England,” Economic History Review, 2nd ser., XLVI (1986), pp. 3958.
Hunt B. C., The Development of the Business Corporation in England, 1800–1867 (Cambridge, MA, 1936).
Hutcheson Archibald, Several Calculations and Remarks Relating to the South Sea Scheme (London, 1720).
Krueger Anne O., “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society,” The American Economic Review, 64 (06 1974), pp. 291303.
Lambert Sheila, Bills and Acts: Legislative Procedure in Eighteenth-Century England (Cambridge, 1971).
Lords' Journal (London, 17191721).
Maitland F. W., “Trust and Corporation,” in Maitland: Selected Essays (Cambridge, 1936).
Manchester A. H., A Modern Legal History of England and Wales, 1750–1950 (London, 1980).
Mathias Peter, and O'Brien Patrick K., “Taxation in England and France 1715–1810,” Journal of European Economic History, 5 (Winter 1976), pp. 601–50.
Mirowski Philip, “The Rise (and Retreat) of a Market: English Joint Stock Shares in the Eighteenth Century,” this Journal, 41 (09 1981), pp. 559–77.
Mirowski Philip, The Birth of the Business Cycle (New York, 1985).
Neal Larry, The Rise of Financial Capitalism: International Capital Markets in the Age of Reason (Cambridge, 1990).
O'Brien Patrick K., “The Political Economy of British Taxation, 1660–1815,” Economic History Review, 2nd ser. XLI (02 1988), pp. 132.
Patterson Margaret, and Reiffen David, “The Effect of the Bubble Act on the Market for Joint Stock Shares,” this Journal, 51 (03 1990), pp. 163–71.
Pawson Eric, The Early Industrial Revolution: Britain in the Eighteenth Century (New York, 1979).
Plumb J. H., The Growth of Political Stability in England, 1675–1725 (London, 1967).
Plumb J. H., Sir Robert Walpole (London, 1956), vol. 1.
Plumb J. H., England in the Eighteenth Century (Baltimore, 1973).
Roseveare Henry, The Financial Revolution, 1660–1760 (London, 1991).
Schubert Eric S., “Innovations, Debts and Bubbles: International Integration of Financial Markets in Western Europe, 1688–1720,” this Journal, 48 (06 1988), pp. 299306.
Scott William R., The Constitution and Finance of English, Scottish and Irish Joint-Stock Companies to 1720 (Cambridge, 1910, 1912), vols. 1 and 3.
Sedgwick Romney, History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1715–1754 (London, 1970), vol. 1.
Shannon H. A., “The Coming of General Limited Liability,” Economic History, II (1931), pp. 358–79.
Sperling John G., The South Sea Company: An Historical Essay and Bibliographical Finding List (Boston, 1962).
Supple Barry, The Royal Exchange Assurance: A History of British Insurance, 1720–1970 (Cambridge, 1970).
The Proceedings of the Directors of South Sea Company (London, 1721).
The South Sea Bubble (London, 1825).
Thomas P. D. G., The House of Commons in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1971).
Williams Orlo C., The Clerical Organization of the House of Commons, 1661–1850 (Oxford, 1954).
Williams Orlo C.The Historical Development of Private Bill Procedure and Standing Orders in the House of Commons (London, 1948).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 128 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 729 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st February 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.