Hankey, Thomson (DNB01)

HANKEY, THOMSON (1805–1893), politician and political economist, born in May 1805, was eldest son of Thomson Hankey (d. 1857), by his wife Martha, daughter of Benjamin Harrison. He was descended from Sir John Barnard [q. v.]; in 1855 he reprinted for private circulation, with a preface by himself, the 'Memoirs' of Barnard, which had first appeared in 1820.

Hankey was admitted into his father's firm of Thomson Hankey & Co., West India merchants, and ultimately became senior partner. He was elected a director of the Bank of England in 1835, and served as governor in 1851-2. In 1853 he was returned in the liberal interest to parliament for the city of Peterborough, and sat continuously until 1868. He was then beaten by a local candidate, but represented it again from 1874 to 1880, when he was once more defeated. During these years he had fought six contested elections. In the House of Commons he spoke frequently, and with independence of thought, on financial subjects. After the commercial panic of 1866 he criticised the constitution and action of the Bank of England. From April 1855 to July 1877 he was a member of the Political Economy Club. He collected a special library of tracts on financial topics, and at the close of his life gave many to the library of the City Liberal Club (Catalogue, 1890, pp. 111-14; Supplement, 1894, p. 55), and others to the library of the Bank of England. He studied the works of the leading French writers on political economy, and corresponded with them on his favourite points.

Hankey died at 59 Portland Place, London, on 13 Jan. 1893, and was buried in the churchyard of Shipbourne, near Tonbridge, Kent, a tablet being placed in the church in his memory. He married, on 4 Feb. 1831, Appoline Agatha Alexander, daughter of William Alexander and half-sister of Sir William Alexander, the chief baron. She died at 59 Portland Place, London, on 8 July 1888, and was also buried in Shipbourne churchyard.

In 1858 Hankey delivered at the Mechanics' Institution of Peterborough a lecture on 'Banking, its Utility and Economy.' This was printed, with an addition 'respecting the working and management of the Bank of England,' for private circulation only, in 1860. It was published in 1873, and a fourth edition, expanded and revised as regards the bank by Clifford Wigram, came out in 1887. His other works were: 1. 'Remarks on the Production of the Precious Metals,' by Leon Faucher. Translated by Thomson Hankey, jun., 1852. 2. 'Maria Theresa, the Empress Queen,' a lecture, 1859. 3. 'Taxes and Expenditure,' a lecture, 1864. 4. 'Suggestions for improving the Management of Public Business in the House of Commons,' 1876: referring mostly to proceedings on government bills in committee. 5. 'On Bi-Metallism,' 1879. 6. 'Irish Grievances,' 1881 and 1888: in favour of the abolition of the office of lord-lieutenant and the cheapening of private bill legislation. 7. 'London Dinners,' 1883: a bright little paper, which had previously appeared in 'Macmillan's Magazine,' March 1872, pp. 370-5.

[Burke's Landed Gentry, 9th edit.; Peterborough Advertiser, 21 Jan. 1893, p. 6; Times, 16 Jan. 1893, pp. 1, 10; Athenæum, 21 Jan. 1893, p. 89; private information.]

W. P. C.