HENRY THORNTON (1760-1815), English banker and economist, was born on the 10th of March 1760. In 1784 he became a member of the banking firm of Downie, Free & Thornton, with which he was associated till his death on the 16th of January 1815. In 1783 he was elected member of parliament for Southwark, a constituency which he represented for the rest of his life. Although an indifferent speaker, he soon acquired a high reputation as an authority on financial matters. This reputation he confirmed by An Inquiry into the Nature and Ef f ects of the Paper Currency of England (1802), defending the legislature in suspending cash payments. He strongly supported the income tax on its original imposition in 1798, but was in favour of a graduated system, and indeed paid his own income tax "on the scale of his ideal, not his legal debt." He was one of the founders of the Sierra Leone Company (see Sierra Leone) and its chairman until the colony was taken over by the English government.
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