British Equities

The UK Stock Market Database includes data on individual securities from 1601 when the East Indies Company was founded to the present.

After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 reestablished Britain’s finances, this stability allowed equity markets to grow. This ultimately led to the Bubble of the 1720s which resulted from the government’s attempt to reduce its debt by doing a debt-equity swap for the bonds it had issued in the 17th Century. Throughout the 1700s, the “English Funds” which included government bonds and the shares of the Bank of England, East Indies Co. and South Sea Stock were the focus of British investors. Data from the 1700s are also included on the East Indies Company in Amsterdam and the Mississippi Company in France.

After the canal bubble of 1792, interest in shares picked up. Beginning in the 1800s, brokers began to quote prices for dozens of companies. By the time the Mining Bubble of 1825 occurred, hundreds of shares were traded in London and the provinces. By 1845 when railroad mania hit England, thousands of people were speculating in the hundreds of companies that traded. In the 1860s, industrial companies began to grow and attract investors.

From 1818 on, GFD has daily data on hundreds of companies that traded in Great Britain. Daily data is available for dozens of companies from 1824. By the 1860s, the London Stock Exchange was well established and the number of companies listed grew quickly. Railroads represented the largest capitalization, but banks, insurance companies, canals, breweries, utility companies and others were important as well.

After World War I, London was the largest financial market in the world. In 1929, over 4000 securities traded on the London Stock Exchange, including over 1300 common stocks, more than traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Although the London Stock Exchange was eclipsed by the New York Stock Exchange after World War II, it remained the most important financial market in Europe for the rest of the Twentieth Century and still provides an important resource for understanding global financial markets.