Thomas Tooke - Encyclopedia

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THOMAS TOOKE (1774-1858), English economist, was born at St Petersburg on the 29th of February 1774. Entering a large Russian house in London at an early age, he acquired sound practical experience of commercial matters and became a recognized authority on finance and banking. He was one of the earliest advocates of free trade and drew up the Merchants' Petition presented to the House of Commons by Alexander Baring, afterwards Lord Ashburton. He gave evidence before several parliamentary committees, notably the committee of 1821, on foreign trade, and those of 1832, 1840 and 1848 on the Bank Acts. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1821. He died in London on the 26th of February 1858.

Tooke was the author of Thoughts and Details on the High and Low Prices of the last Thirty Years (1823), Considerations on the State of the Currency (1826), in both of which he showed his hostility to the policy afterwards carried out in the Bank Act of 1844, but he is best known for his History of Prices and of the State of the Circulation during the Years 1793-1856 (6 vols., 1838-1857). In the first four volumes he treats (a) of the prices of corn, and the circumstances affecting prices; (b) the prices of produce other than corn; and (c) the state of the circulation. The two final volumes, written in conjunction with W. Newmarch (q.v.), deal with railways, free trade, banking in Europe and the effects of new discoveries of gold.

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