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James Wilson


1805 - 1860

Politician, banker and founder of The Economist. Born in Hawick in the Scottish Borders, Wilson was the son of a wealthy mill-owner who was also a Quaker. His father established Wilson and his brother in a hat-making business. The brothers moved to London and established a hat factory there making a fortune, which they then lost in an economic downturn. He had strong political views and established The Economist in 1843, to campaign for free trade. He was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1847, representing Westbury in England and between 1857-59 representing Devonport. By 1853 he had regained his fortune and was able to found The Chartered Bank of India, Australia & China, under a Royal Charter from Queen Victoria, which made large profits by financing the movement of goods between Asia and Europe. This became the Standard Chartered Bank in 1969. In 1859, he was sent to India to reform its finance system, but was able to do little before he was taken ill and died. He is buried in Calcutta.


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