Barclays -- The Business of Banking, 1690 - 1996 by Margaret Ackrill and Leslie Hannah
From a Quaker-run anti-conflict partnership to a globally competitive bank, this history spends much of its effort on the post-World War 2 era, while the daily trials of Quaker bankers in 18th century England caught more of my interest.
As an aside, what's the largest country that has no military forces of its own or others stationed in it? Apparently, Costa Rica which has had a sizeable Quaker community since the early 1950's when a bunch of draft-dodgers headed south.
Barclays Bank was founded in April 1690, when 21-year-old John Freame (later father-in-law of the eponymous Barclays) completed his seven-year apprenticeship and became a freeman of the city of London.
Quakers were also barred, by their own beliefs or religious tests, from entering the ancient universities, the legal profession, parliament, the army or the church, a prime reason why, as Voltaire put it, "they are therefore reduc'd to the necessity of subsisting upon traffic' (i.e. commerce).
Intelligent financial journalists -- though considering clearing bankers insignificant and depressingly anti-intellectual -- saw the merits of stability in the chaotic international financial conditions from 1929 through the 1930s. British bankes generally preserved their reputation for honesty, integrity, and reliability. Bank solvency in Britain was taken for granted, but proved elusive in much of the rest of the advanced industrialized world, particularly in countries with much more competitive banking systems. Over 600 small banks in the USA collapsed and European banks were brought down, especially when guided by less conservative lending policies in an unstable environment.