Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Norman, George Warde

NORMAN, GEORGE WARDE (1793–1882), writer on finance, was born at Bromley Common, Kent, on 20 Sept. 1793. His father, George Norman, born on 24 June 1756, was a merchant in the Norway timber trade, who served as sheriff of Kent in 1793, and died on 24 Jan. 1830, having married on 22 Nov. 1792 Charlotte, third daughter of Edward Beadon, rector of North Stoneham, Hampshire; she died on 18 Feb. 1853. George Warde was educated at Eton from 1805 to 1810, when he joined his father in business, spending parts of 1819-21 in Norway. He was there again in 1826 and 1828. In the course of his visits he was presented to the king, and gained the friendship of distinguished Norwegians. With some of them, or with their descendants, he continued on intimate terms to the end of his life. His father retired in 1824, and the son kept in the timber trade till 1830, when he transferred it to Sewell & Co., his brother, Richard Norman, becoming a partner in the new firm. From 1821 to 1872 he was a director of the Bank of England, and in 1826 took an important part in the establishment of branch offices. About 1840 he was appointed a member of the committee of the treasury at the bank, the only director who has filled that post without having passed the chair. During the commercial crisis of 1847 he was a constant attendant at the bank, and conferred daily with Sir Charles Wood [q. v.], chancellor of the exchequer, in Downing Street. In 1832 he was examined before Lord Althorp's committee of the House of Commons to inquire into the utility of a great central issue, and into the competency of the Bank of England to act as a regulator of currency. In 1840 he was examined for six days before Sir Charles Wood's committee to inquire into matters connected with circulation. In 1848 he was examined before a committee of the House of Lords on currency matters. He became an exchequer bill commissioner in 1831; was renominated a commissioner in 1842, when the business was transferred to the public works loan commissioners, and served till 1876. He was also a director of the Sun Insurance office from 1830 to 1864, was for many years a governor of Guy's Hospital, and the last surviving original member of the Political Economy Club, founded in 1821. In politics he was a liberal, and an advocate of free trade; in 1835 he was asked to stand for the city of London, and afterwards to contest West Kent, but declined, owing to ill-health. He took a keen interest in matters connected with the poor-law administration. Of the Bromley union, one of the first established, he was vice-chairman for nearly forty years, and often acted as chairman.

Soon after leaving Eton he formed an intimate friendship with George Grote the historian. They read books in common, chiefly on historical and political subjects, and studied political economy. In 1814 Norman introduced Grote to Miss Harriet Lewin, who afterwards became Grote's wife, and it was at Norman's suggestion that Grote undertook to write the history of Greece rather than that of Rome, which he had originally contemplated (Mrs. Grote, Life of George Grote, 1873, pp. 13-22, 32, 34, 41 et seq.) In the development of cricket in West Kent Grote and Norman were also jointly interested.

Norman was a wide reader, not only of English but also of French, Italian, and Norwegian literature; he was intimate with the works of the later Latin poets no less than with those of mediaeval French and Italian writers, and collected a library of Norwegian books. In 1833 he published ' Remarks upon some prevalent Errors with respect to Currency and Banking, and Suggestions to the Legislature as to the Renewal of the Bank Charter.' The pamphlet contained views which have suggested most important changes in the currency. It was criticised by Colonel Torrens, Samuel Jones Loyd, afterwards first Baron Overston [q. v.] and J. H. Palmer, and was republished in 1838. His last important work, in 1850, was 'An Examination of some prevailing Opinions as to the Pressure of Taxation in this and other Countries' (4th edition, 1864), in which he combated the view that the increase of public expenditure was a proof of heavier taxation of the people, and that English liberty was attained by an amount of taxation which, as compared with that borne by our neighbours, was excessive. He died at Bromley Common, Kent, on 4 Sept. 1882, within a few days of completing his eighty-ninth year, having married in 1830 Sibella (1808–1887), daughter of Henry Stone, of the Bengal civil service, and afterwards a partner in the banking firm of Stone & Martin.

Besides the works already mentioned, Norman was the author of:

  1. 'Letter to Charles Wood, esq., M.P., on Money, and the Means of economising the Use of it,' 1841.
  2. 'Remarks on the Incidence of Import Duties, with special reference to the England and Cuba Case contained in "The Budget,"'1860.
  3. Papers on various subjects, 1869.
  4. 'The Future of the United States,' a paper read before the British Association at Belfast in August 1874; printed in the 'Journal of the Statistical Society,' March 1875.
  5. 'A Memoir of the Rev. F. Beadon,' 1879.
  6. 'Remarks on the Saxon Invasion,' printed in 'Archæologia Cantiana,' vol. xiii. 1880.

He also at one time frequently contributed to the 'Economist.'

[Economist, 9 Sept. 1882, p. 1125, 30 Sept. pp. 1209-11; Times, 15 Sept. 1882, p. 4; Darwin's Life of C. Darwin, 1887, ii. 304; Recollections of a Happy Life—the Autobiography of Marianne North, 1892, ii. 214-15; Lord Tollemache and his Anecdotes in the Fortnightly Review, July 1892, pp. 74-5; information from his son, Philip Norman, esq.]

G. C. B.