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A ledger from 1660-1661 kept by the paymaster to both the Excise and the House of Commons. It carries an estimate of £20,000-40,000 at Bonhams’ Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in Knightsbridge on December 4.

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Containing well over six hundred original acquittances for payments received, it sheds new light on the business of Backwell that was described by banking historian RD Richards as ‘undoubtedly both the central or reserve bank and the clearing house of the post-Restoration period’ and ‘the indispensable precursor of the Bank of England’.

It was Thomas Speed, listed in these accounts as Backwell’s Cashier Generall, who went on to become chief cashier at the Bank of England and the first man authorised to issue what are now known as bank notes.

Alderman Edward Backwell, of ‘The Unicorn’, Lombard Street, had been banker to the Commonwealth of England and was, after the restoration of Charles II, banker to the king, his brother the Duke of York (future James II), Prince Rupert, the Earl of Clarendon, the East India Company and many others whose names feature in this ledger.

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