The legal regulation of pawnbroking in England, a brief history

Swain, Warren and Fairweather, Karen (2012). The legal regulation of pawnbroking in England, a brief history. In James Devenney and Mel Kenny (Ed.), Consumer credit, debt and investment in Europe (pp. 142-159) Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9781139003469.009

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Author Swain, Warren
Fairweather, Karen
Title of chapter The legal regulation of pawnbroking in England, a brief history
Title of book Consumer credit, debt and investment in Europe
Place of Publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Publication Year 2012
Sub-type Research book chapter (original research)
DOI 10.1017/CBO9781139003469.009
ISBN 9781107013025
Editor James Devenney
Mel Kenny
Chapter number 7
Start page 142
End page 159
Total pages 18
Total chapters 14
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
It is fair to say that pawnbrokers have not always enjoyed a very good reputation. In an action of slander brought by a pawnbroker, Holt CJ admitted that, ‘The trade of a broker is an honest lawful trade, though it lies under suspicions.’ The views of one late seventeenth-century writer were not untypical:

An unconscionable pawn-broker, I say, is Pluto's Factor, Old Nick's Warehouse-keeper, and English Jew that lives and grows fat on Fraud and Oppression, as Toads on Filth and Venome; whose Practice out-vies Usury, as much as Incest simple Fornication; and to call him a Tradesman, must be by the same Figure that Pickpockets stile their Legerdemain an Art and Mystery. His Shop, like Hellgates, is always open, where he sits at the Receipt of Custom, like Cacus in his Den, ready to devour.

Much of the criticism emphasised the supposed immorality of pawnbrokers. But there were more specific allegations too. Pawnbrokers were variously accused of dealing in stolen goods, deliberately understating the value of pawned goods, wearing clothes that were pledged, selling off pledges before they could be redeemed, and charging beyond the maximum permitted rate of interest. These abuses did not come about because of an absence of legal regulation. By the mid eighteenth century, as well as the prohibitions on interest, pawnbroking transactions were also governed by detailed statutory rules. [Chapter extract]
Q-Index Code B1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Book Chapter
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
TC Beirne School of Law Publications
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Created: Wed, 25 Jul 2012, 14:52:47 EST by Warren Swain on behalf of T.C. Beirne School of Law