Minister of Money
Henry Duncan, Founder of the Savings Bank Movement
Written by Charles Munn / Introduction by Paul Pester
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About the Book
Henry Duncan was a man of many parts: parish minister, savings bank founder, political lobbyist, anti-slavery campaigner, educator, geologist, poet, author. He restored the Ruthwell Cross, a medieval monument of international importance. He also played a major role in the Disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843 – the most significant social event in nineteenth-century Scotland. But his lasting legacy is as founder of the worldwide savings bank movement. He first opened a parish bank in Ruthwell, Dumfriesshire, in 1810, to encourage the ‘industrious poor’ to save for times of hardship. It was run by local voluntary trustees, and the idea spread to become the basis of trustee savings banks across the world.
Duncan was a product of the Enlightenment and his Christian faith. While these were often uneasy bedfellows, he found ways to reconcile them by addressing the economic and social problems of his parishioners as well as their spiritual needs. A man of vision and compassion, Duncan believed fundamentally in the dignity of ordinary working people. From its beginnings in a small cottage on the shores of the Solway, his community savings bank went on to influence and inspire generations all over the world.