Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 21: Thomas Tooke (1774–1858)
Thomas Tooke (29 February 1774–26 February 1858) was one of the most influential political economists in Great Britain over the course of five decades. Tooke was born in a village near St Petersburg, Russia, the eldest son of the Reverend William Tooke, the chaplain of the “English Factory” at St Petersburg. He received a general education and entered into mercantile endeavours at an early age, soon becoming a partner in one of the largest of London’s “Russian houses” engaged in the trade between Russia and Great Britain. Early in his commercial career Tooke began gathering and evaluating price data on various commodities, an activity that led to the publication of seven books focusing on price data and four more publications focusing on the currency and on monetary policy. Over the course of his long life Tooke became a well-known figure in the world of political economy as a collector and publisher of price data, as a monetary theorist and as a social reformer. Tooke developed a reputation as an expert on economic issues long before he began writing on the subject. In 1810 he was called to give evidence before the Select Committee on the High Price of Gold Bullion. In 1819 Tooke testified before the parliamentary committee considering the return to convertibility of the pound sterling. Later that same year he was also called to state his opinions before the Lords’ Committee investigating the state of the Bank of England as the return to convertibility neared. Over the...
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