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John Freame

Birthdate: (80)
Birthplace: Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
Death: 1745 (80)
Place of Burial: Quaker Cemetery, Winchmore Hill, London
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Freame and ? Freame
Husband of Priscilla Freame
Father of Priscilla Barclay; John Freame; Mary Plumsted; Thomas Freame; Sarah Barclay and 1 other
Brother of Hannah Gould and Robert Freame

Occupation: Banker
Managed by: Martin Ware
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Freame

John Freame takes deposits.

London 1700 In 1690 John Freame started trading as a goldsmith in Lombard Street, London. At this time London was still a tiny fraction of the modern conurbation, still focused almost entirely around The City, with the West End beginning to be developed. But John was in on the ground floor and seized his chance, just as the great expansion started.

At 21 he had completed his rigorous seven year apprenticeship and earned his spurs as a 'freeman' of the city of London. He had a trusted partner Thomas Gould, also a Quaker and freeman of the city. This famed partnership predated the 1694 launch of the Bank of England and lasted in various forms until 1896. John & Thomas married each other's sisters ... as if to cement the network in place.

John was a Quaker from quite ordinary stock, but practiced in trade and money; as dissenters his family were excluded from many other activities. As a teenager Freame had left Gloucester, where persecution of dissidents was rife, to learn his trading & metal working skills in a more tolerant environment in London under the watchful eye of Job Bolton, another Quaker.

The Quakers had a rich tradition in commerce where confidence & trust in dealing was fostered by a close knit 'club' of like minded folk. Life was not easy for innovative folk who were singled out as subversive and persecuted for their beliefs, but out of adversity came strength. John's dad Robert Freame was a textile merchant and John's education was a family priority. Robert insisted John worked hard during his apprenticeship to acquire a trade ... Robert also purchased land in Philadelphia to provide an escape route, should persecution persist ...

One of John's jobs would have been the issuing of receipts for cash deposits which customers were increasingly willing to place with respected goldsmiths for safe keeping. The goldsmith stocks were concentrated value and a persistent target for thieves ... expertise in safes and security became an important part of the apprenticeship. But the issued receipts from successful goldsmiths were beginning to be even more important ... they were being used as money ... a token of a promise to pay ... but who would trust a paper promise?

The Worshipful CompanyThe tradition of 'freemen' goes back many centuries ... some citizens of towns & cities were granted rights to trade & other 'privileges' which were conceded by royal charters. The close connection between 'freemen' and London's government can be traced back to the Saxon folkmoot and to the 'Great Concourse' of the early Norman kings. As London grew, its trade & craft industries expanded to such an extent that it became impossible for all 'freemen' to be directly involved in the evolving structure of local government. As a result, the relationship between freemen and the government of London changed to a representation system through the Masters & Wardens of the Livery companies. The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths was one of the twelve great Livery Companies in the City; these were associations of craftsmen developed to promote the trade by apprenticeship. The Freedom of the City of London became an essential requirement for all who wished to carry on business and trade within the Square Mile. As a result, the privileges of Freedom were eagerly sought after, and the duties & obligations were faithfully observed. It remains necessary to this day for all Liverymen to be 'freemen' of the City, and it was the liverymen who elect the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs of the Corporation of London. Although it is no longer necessary to be a 'freeman' to work in the City, the proud history of the City of London is such that large numbers of men and women have regarded it a privilege to be admitted to the Freedom of the City. In John Freame's day freemen inherited, earned or purchased such independence from the 'powers that be' through their successful deals of mutual benefit; benefits for both freeman & city ... and Quakers with savings were not excluded! Essentially a voluntary club of trusted mates who co-operated for mutual benefit.

The goldsmiths, in particular, resolutely guarded their hard earned reputation and discovered that they were able to set up shop as sellers of credit. In the business of credit, satisfying customers was no mean achievement as Archimedes, Shylock and the Jews of history will attest!

Associations of traders in the city and the Livery Companies, like all trade unions, initially emerged to reward investments in hard work, honesty & thrift and to protect the reputations of craftsmen against the infiltrations of conmen and parasites ... more apprenticeships and improvement of standards were in the interests of everyone ...

But there were problems ... if associations were controlled by government edicts & revenue raising licences, such institutions tended to become rent seeking cartels where restrictive practices, particularly restrictions on entry & innovation, inhibited the proliferation of skills, learning and competition. 'Promotion of trade' became 'restraint on trade'?

Moral hazard was around in the City of London from the early days.

In 1690, his apprenticeship over, John Freame was 'allowed' set about his new business which inevitably required considerable capital reserves as the Quaker Meeting of 1688 recorded -

'none can launch into trading & worldly business beyond what they can manage honourably and with reputation; so that they may keep their words with all men ...'.

Quaker Banking.

George Fox had always insisted all are equal before God and nobody could make unacceptable claims on the people. Capital for young John Freame's new business had to be secured on a proper footing not on a whim. The capital would have come from reliable family & friends. The established Quaker practice was to invest heavily in education and the human capital of the future, not in mercantilist or religious wars ... John was not alone, that's what friends and partnerships were for ... and it seemed 'Freame & Gould' were a much better investment bet than governments ... hard work, honesty & thrift were needed for the selection of profitable projects and banking success ... government success seemed to depend on warfare & decrees and not on profitable projects?

In this way the Lombard Street location acted like a magnet attracting merchants, dealers and nascent bankers, to a club of like minds where regular interaction was intense. This close knit cooperation developed into a 'Gold Boy's Network' for inter bank lending and clearing of debts. What a service for customers!

Treaties on governmentAnd what better time to start a business than in the atmosphere of confidence following the Glorious Revolution of 1688 ... John Locke had clarified some inspiring principles of government -

first - no government could be justified by any divine, inherited or absolute right to lord it over others ... how the Quakers would have loved that

second - all men were created free & equal in a state of nature, but there was a moral caveat; free to deal & exchange but not free to harm others ... no man was free to do whatever he pleased ... this was not 'laissez faire'. Customary 'common law' & 'tort law' underpinned by innate morality, was the binding for the social fabric ... and the Quakers knew all about innate morality.

Following this Glorious Revolution emerged the rise of a new civilisation & new properties ... the only legitimate governments were those that had the consent of all the people ... 51% could not lord it over 49% as there existed inalienable rights ... but there was a rub; how to cope with folk who were different and disagreed and had joined another club?

100 years later Thomas Jefferson invented America to protect dissenting beliefs and wrote -

'Bacon, Locke and Newton are the three greatest men that have ever lived, they laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical & Moral sciences'

... no wonder folk talked about a special relationship ...

Sure there were still wars being fought in 1690 ... in Scotland, Ireland & France ... but some wars could be profitable for bankers ... and everybody now knew spendthrift kings were a thing of the past? ... parliament now ruled over the national purse? ... and these were 'just' wars for the defence of the revolution?

Things were changing - spending on the kings whims was now controlled by Parliament and rent seeking slothful landlords had to compete with new capital accumulations from merchants with the confidence to invest in specialisations, scale & technology ... a social revolution as a middle class emerged intent on mass production ...

At this time, in 1694, the Bank of England was founded to provide £1.2 million at 8% for the wars & grand schemes ... and the Quakers were getting a sizable piece of the cake, maybe 25% of the population around Lombard Street at the time were Quakers ... and 8% was a good return ... ? Was the funding of a 'just war' a profitable project?

The Quakers were in a cleft stick? Was there a difference between a defensive bullet and an offensive bullet?


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John Freame's Timeline

Gloucester, Gloucestershire, England, United Kingdom
Age 34
Age 36
Age 37
May 23, 1708
Age 43
Age 80
Quaker Cemetery, Winchmore Hill, London