Joseph John Gurney: Banker, Reformer, and Quaker

Joseph John Gurney: Banker, Reformer, and Quaker

Joseph John Gurney: Banker, Reformer, and Quaker

Joseph John Gurney: Banker, Reformer, and Quaker

Excerpt

In the course of Joseph John Gurney's life (1788-1847), a number of far-reaching changes occurred in the life of Great Britain: in economic production and political organization, in the temper of Christianity in both the Established and Dissenting churches, in educational institutions, and in the mental attitudes of Britons at large. As partner in a powerful banking house, as educator, as Biblical theologian and Friends minister, Gurney was an active participant in these changes. His career and thought illuminate the developments of the time.

During Gurney's life the later phases of the Industrial Revolution in Great Britain brought about a huge increase in production of manufactured goods, a rapid growth in national income and population, and a decisive shift of labor from rural areas to expanding industrial centers. The Industrial Revolution also meant a shift in economic power and wealth from agricultural magnates to industrial and commercial entrepreneurs--i.e., to merchants and bankers. In the passage of the Reform Bill of 1832 this shift in power was given political recognition. The Gurney family's rise to wealth and influence, as wool merchants and bankers through the eighteenth century, was a part of this general shift. The rapid expansion of commerce, manufacturing, and banking brought financial panics and periods of extensive unemployment. Men out of work for . . .

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