Exhibition: George White, Barings' Troubleshooter

1: Introduction

George Henry White (1817-1889) was a Barings' clerk from 1834 to 1872 when he retired. By the mid-nineteenth century White had become one of the most senior clerks at Barings and was appointed the firm's trouble-shooter. When a difficult transaction needed to be negotiated or some bad debts collected, White was the man who was sent abroad to do the job.

White was sent to sort out matters in Argentina, France and Italy. His major mission was to Mexico in 1862 and 1863 in order to negotiate with the Mexican government for the resumption of payments to bondholders in London. The mission was unsuccessful, however, during his stay White wrote frequently to Barings in London and his letters survive today in The Baring Archive. They give vivid details of the politics, economy and society of Mexico at a time when France was endeavouring to place Mexico under the control of the Emperor Maximillian. In addition, White, who was a talented artist, painted a series of eighty water-colours of the Mexican landscape. This written and pictorial record provides a remarkable insight into Mexico in the middle of the nineteenth century.

White survived his time in Mexico and returned to Barings' Bishopgate office. He carried out a further mission to Italy but these adventures had taken their toll on his health. He retired in 1873 aged 56 at a time when clerks often worked into their seventies. In this exhibition you can learn more about his adventures and read his own eye-witness accounts of his experiences abroad.

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