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Josiah Charles Stamp, 1st Baron Stamp, Bt, GCB, GBE, FBA, (21 June 1880 - 16 April 1941) was a Britishmarker civil servant, industrialist, economist, statistician and banker. He was a director of the Bank of Englandmarker and chairman of the London Midland and Scottish Railway.

Josiah was born in London, the third of seven children; his youngest brother L. Dudley Stamp became an internationally renowned geographer. At the time of his birth his father owned and managed a provision and general shop in London. Josiah left school at 16 and joined the Civil Service as a boy clerk in the Inland Revenue Department, where he rose to become assistant secretary in 1916. Meanwhile he was studying economics as an external student. He was awarded a first class degree (1911) by the University of London and a doctorate (1916) by the London School of Economics. The thesis, published as British Incomes and Property, became a standard work on the subject and established his academic reputation. Stamp became the leading British expert on taxation. He took an active part in the work of the Royal Statistical Society serving as president in 1930 - 1932.

In 1919 Stamp changed career, leaving the civil service for business, to join as secretary and director Nobel Industries Ltd, from which Imperial Chemical Industries developed. He was knighted in 1920. In 1926 he became Chairman of the LMS and was instrumental in getting William Stanier to sort out the locomotive problem there. In 1928 he was appointed a director of the Bank of England. He was raised to the peerage in 1938 as Baron Stamp of Shortlands.

Stamp was often called to serve on public commissions, committees and boards: he was a member of the Royal Commission on Income Tax, 1919, the Northern Ireland Finance Arbitration Committee, 1923-24, the Committee on Taxation and National Debt, 1924, the Dawes Reparation Commission's Committee on German Currency and Finance, 1924, the Young Committee in 1929 and the Economic Advisory Council, 1930-39.

Stamp met his future wife, Olive Jessie Marsh, a soprano and student teacher, when he was seventeen. Pursuing their work and studies separately for several years until their marriage in 1903, they engaged in a correspondence that gives us a rich sense of Stamp's formative years (Jones 1964). Between 1904 and 1917 they had four sons, Wilfred, Trevor, Maxwell and Colin.Stamp refused to be move out of his house because of German bombing during The Blitz and he and his wife were killed by a bomb in 1941. His son Wilfred was killed at the same time, but English law has legal fiction that in the event of the order of deaths being indeterminable the elder are recorded to have died first. Legally therefore Wilfred momentarily inherited the peerage and the family had to pay death duty twice. The peerage was passed to the second of Stamp's four sons, Trevor.

A well known quote from Stamp (often referred to as Stamp's Law) is:

"The government are very keen on amassing statistics. They collect them, add them, raise them to the nth power, take the cube root and prepare wonderful diagrams. But you must never forget that every one of these figures comes in the first instance from the chowty dar (village watchman), who just puts down what he damn pleases." (Stamp recounting a story from Harold Cox who quotes an anonymous English judge).

Another quote often attributed to Stamp is:

"Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take away from them the power to create money and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money." (Said to be from an informal talk at the University of Texas in the 1920s, but as yet unverified.)


Books by Josiah Stamp

  • British incomes and property 1916
  • The fundamental principles of taxation. 1921
  • The National Income 1924 with A. L. Bowley 1927.
  • Some Economic Matters in Modern Life (1929)
  • The Science of Social Adjustment (1937)


  • Beveridge, ‘Stamp, Josiah Charles, first Baron Stamp (1880–1941)’, rev. Jose Harris, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • A. L. Bowley Lord Stamp Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 104, No. 2 (1941), pp. 193-196.
  • J. Harry Jones, M.A., LL.D., Josiah Stamp, Public Servant: The Life of the First Baron Stamp of Shortlands, London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons, 1964, 365 pp. With an Epilogue by his youngest son, Colin, from a talk broadcast over Springbok Radio from Johannesburg, South Africa, 5 October, 1960.

External links

Brief notes on Stamp's life

A biography emphasising Stamp's management of the LMS railway

There is a sketch of Stamp on the National Portrait Gallery website

There is more information on the AIM25 record

Record at the British Academy to which Stamp was elected in 1926

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