Barings' People

Discover more about some of the characters in Barings' history

In the Sources:
Portrait of John Baring

John Baring 1697-1748

John (Johann) Baring arrived in England from Bremen in 1717 with £500. He was apprenticed to Edmund Cooke, a merchant from who his family imported most of their wool. He sold consignments of linen from his family on commission and then on behalf of other families, expanding later into wool trading. He married the wealthy daughter of a commodity wholesaler and earned respect as a merchant through his hard work. In 1723 he became a British Citizen. He expanded his business making a considerable fortune, buying a substantial property on the outskirts of Exeter.

"A man of exceeding good parts, or a most pleasant, excellent admirable head and an excellent heart”. -John Baring (son)
In the Sources:
Portrait of Elizabeth Baring

Elizabeth Baring 1702-1766 

Elizabeth was the English-born wife of John Baring. After her husband's death she controlled the family business, advising her sons and directing their decisions. In 1762 she lent her sons money to set up a merchant house with branches in Exeter and London. She was cautious and advised her son Francis to make his profits without running enormous risks. Under her care the family assets grew from £40,000 to £70,000 and at the time of her death the Barings were one of the wealthiest and most influential families in Devon.
"She deserved to be remembered ‘for her extraordinary ability and great attention and usefulness to her family" -John Baring (son)

In the Sources:
Portrait of Francis Baring 1762

Sir Francis Baring 1740-1810

Francis, with his brothers, established Barings in 1762. He ran the London branch and entered into the risky but potentially profitable business of acceptances credits, acting as middle man between buyers and sellers in international trade. In the early years he lost money but built up invaluable intelligence, trade links and expertise. By 1800 he was the leading merchant in London. As France descended into Revolution and then War, he began to finance the British war effort, undertaking business for the Government. It was said that he had few friends but no man was more respected and trusted. His keen business sense, calculated risk-taking, excellent judgement and financial talents laid the foundations of Baring's later successes.

“He was unquestionably the first merchant in Europe; first in knowledge and talents, and first in character and opulence”-Lord Erskine  
In the Sources:
Portrait of Alexander Baring

Alexander Baring (1st Lord Ashburton) 1773-1848

Aged only 21, Alexander negotiated the purchase of 1,255,000 acres of land in North America from Senator William Bingham. He would later marry Bingham's daughter, Anna Louisa. Alexander remained in America providing market intelligence to his father in London. The Napoleonic Wars meant that American business offered a security which volatile Europe did not. In 1803 Alexander negotiated the financial arrangements for the USA's acquisition of the Territory of Louisiana. He succeeded his father as senior partner at Barings and was appointed to the Court of Directors of the Bank of England. He negotiated bond issues for the French government in order to fund their payments to their conquerors and was generally recognised as the most powerful financier in Europe. Alexander entered politics in 1806. His focus on politics meant that he had less time for business. He declined the position of Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1832 and was created Baron Ashburton in 1835.

“Baring having the French finances in his hands, and French loans being in fashion in England, has to a certain degree the command of the money market of the world”-The Duke of Wellington   

In the Sources:
Portrait of Thomas Baring

Thomas Baring 1799-1873

Thomas Baring, a grandson of Francis Baring, was a partner in Barings from 1828 until his death. He led the house in the 1850s and 60s, working closely with Joshua Bates to re-organise much of the business. They made a formidable partnership focusing on expanding the firm’s bond issuing business. At a time when railways were transforming trade and travel Thomas became an expert in the field. Thomas’ ability to build relationships with overseas governments was vital for Baring's success. His keen eye for detail, management skills and ability to make good use of intelligence saw Barings through some difficult financial challenges. Under their care, Barings became 'a giant' in the London financial world. Thomas held many posts of influence, he was Chairman of Lloyds and a Director of the Bank of England. He also became an MP. His opinion was sought after and he served as one of the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition of 1851, that celebrated modern industrial technology and design.

“How curious it is that in the greatest city in the world there should be only one man to look to and consult, and to guide action in important financial matters…Ask about anything and the reply is, What does Mr Thomas Baring say, or think?”-American railway tycoon 1853

In the Sources:
Portrait of Joshua Bates

Joshua Bates 1788-1864

Joshua Bates was not a member of the Baring family. He was senior partner of Barings from the late 1820s until his death. He was born in Massachusetts in the United States and trained in Boston. He came to London in 1816 as an agent for several ship-owners and met John Baring. They set up business together in 1826 as Bates and Baring. Two years later he became a partner in Baring Brothers & Co. Bates' American connections were very important to Barings business. He was reckoned to be the leading US citizen resident in London. He maintained his close links with Boston and provided funds for the building of Boston Public Library, giving the library almost 30,000 books. Bates was noted for his attention to detail and his application to work. He improved a lot of the administration and management of the bank.

“His tone was dry, his words few” Samuel Ward, Barings’ American Agent

In the Sources:
Picture of Edward Baring

Edward Baring (1st Baron Revelstoke) 1828-1897

Edward, a grandson of Francis Baring, became a partner in 1856. He had the job of rebuilding the partnership after the assets of Thomas Baring and Joshua Bates had been withdrawn. In the early years he showed good business sense and prudence. He became the senior partner in 1882 and was respected throughout the City. He became a Director of the Bank of England and Chairman of Lloyds. In the 1880s, under his leadership, Barings began to take more risks, underwriting increasingly large proportions of stock, which culminated in a disastrous venture in Argentina stock which left the company in grip of a liquidity crisis. Barings was saved by a loan organised by the Bank of England. Barings Brothers was liquidated and a new company, Baring Brothers & Co Limited, was formed. Meanwhile the former partner's houses and contents were sold as they were personally liable for the firm’s debts. Edward felt responsible for the shame he had brought on Barings and earned respect for the way he behaved at this time.

“There really is no excuse for Ned (Edward). He has been reckless in business as in his own private money matters, loosing his head from success, departing from all the old rules and traditions of the firm and doing things inconceivably foolish?”-Tom Baring

Artist impression no portrait exists
In the Sources:
Punch Cartoon about the Baring's Crisis

T C Baring 1831-1891

Some people come good in a crisis and T C Baring was one of these. He was the son of the Bishop of Durham and a nephew of Thomas Baring. He joined Barings in 1867 after working in America. He suffered from gout and was aloof, grumpy and outspoken. He had few acquaintanes and drove to church in a closed carriage, even on the hottest Sunday. However, it was T C Baring who did his utmost to save Barings during the firm's great crisis in 1890. Hearing of the troubles of his old firm he put his fortune at their disposal and provided the new company with funds to operate. He came out of retirement to become a Managing Director and remained in post until his death. John Baring worried that his gruff manner would drive away what little business was left. However Barings had a lot to be grateful to him for.

"When TC Baring heard of his late firm’s disaster he offered them all his fortune to the last farthing." -Reginald Brett, Reporter

In the Sources:
Portrait of John Baring

John Baring (2nd Baron Revelstoke) 1863-1929

John Baring was the son of Edward Baring and was the man who turned around the disaster of 1890 and rebuilt the new business, Barings Brothers & Co. John was ambitious and determined to return the business back to its former glory. By 1914 Barings’ prestige had been restored. John maintained Barings' strong relationships with its sovereign clients and during the First World War was closely concerned with raising finance for the Imperial Russian government. He amassed great wealth and became noted for his fine living. He was a Director of the Bank of England from 1898 until his death and was politically influential serving as the British financial representative at the Allied Conference in Petrograd in 1917. In 1928 John was invited by Winston Churchill as British delegate to a conference on war reparations. Although ill he led negotiations between Italy, France, Germany and America. He died in Paris on 19th April 1928.

“The varied personnel of the Baring family... remain a powerful national institution animated by the great traditions of which John was so justly proud." - King George V

In the Sources:
Portrait of Cecil Baring

Cecil Baring (3rd Baron Revelstoke) 1864 -1934 

Cecil, John's brother was unconventional. He cared little for fashion and had many interests outside Barings, including the natural sciences. He would walk into a rock pool without removing his shoes to see what was there and once swam the river at Niagara Falls. He worked hard for Barings in New York. He then spent time sudying the natural world but kept an interest in the business and in 1911 became a partner for Barings in London. Before the outbreak of WW1 the business flourished with interests in Argentina, The United States, Russia and Japan. Whilst Cecil may not have had the business flair of some Barings he was a steady hand, helping the company through the war and economic problems of the late 1920's.

“...he plunged headlong into his work and is doing it as well as possible." - His Uncle Tom

In the Sources:
Portrait of Sir Edward Peacock

Sir Edward Peacock 1871-1962

Sir Edward Peacock was senior partner of Barings from 1929 until 1954. He was not a member of the Baring family and was a Canadian by birth. He spent virtually all of his working life in Britain. In 1902 Peacock had joined Dominion Securities, a financial company based in Toronto. Five years later he was sent to London to manage the firm’s affairs there and as a result came into contact with the partners of Barings. John Baring was very impressed by Peacock. Peacock was a member of the Court of Directors of the Bank of England and exercised significant influence on the Bank’s affairs until he stepped down in 1946. Peacock understood the modern needs of big business and consolidated the firm's leadership as a provider of corporate finance advisory services. From 1929 Peacock became the firm’s senior partner and led the house until his retirement in 1954.

“Peacock is a man of strong character and wide experience. The principal driving force in our management now resides in him and it is inevitable that a large share of our work and responsibility will devolve upon his shoulders” – Cecil Baring

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