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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > March 2016 > Past Lives

Past Lives

Jon Bauckham shares the story of the South Sea Company – the 18th-century financial institution that brought a nation to its knees

THE ‘BUBBLE’ THAT BANKRUPTED BRITAIN

HISTORY THROUGH THE EYES OF OUR ANCESTORS

Long before the wolves prowled Wall Street, some of history’s riskiest financial transactions took place in a London passageway during the 18th century. Instead of trading floors, deals were struck in the noisy coffee houses of Exchange Alley, where speculators pored over newspapers for the latest share prices.

“I had need of an interpreter, as if I had landed in Asia,” wrote one Gloucestershire man, who arrived hoping to make a fortune for his family. “For though many of the words perpetually bawling in my ears had a turn of the English idiom, yet the variety of nations, combining in the same syllables, formed sounds as different from each other as Hebrew, from French or English.”

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The March 2016 issue of History Revealed.
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