The death blow to unlimited liability in Victorian Britain: the City of Glasgow failure

Graeme Acheson, John D Turner

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27 Citations (Scopus)


In 1878, one of Britain’s largest banks, the City of Glasgow Bank, collapsed, leaving a huge deficit between its assets and liabilities. As this bank, similar to many other contemporary British banks, had unlimited liability, its failure was accompanied by the bankruptcy of the vast majority of its stockholders. It is generally believed that the collapse of this depository institution revealed the extent to which ownership in large joint-stock banks had been diffused to investors of very modest means. It is also believed that the failure resulted in bank shareholders dumping their shares unto the market. Our evidence, garnered from ownership records, trading data, and stock prices, offers no support for these widely held beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-253
Number of pages19
JournalExplorations in Economic History
Issue number3
Early online date12 Oct 2007
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2008


  • unlimited liability
  • banking
  • britain
  • nineteenth century Britain
  • baking collapses
  • City of Glasgow bank failure

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