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10 Libertarian Papers 1 (2018)

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LIBERTARIAN PAPERS


     SPECULATION AND THE ENGLISH COMMON LAW

                         COURTS, 1697-1845


                              JACKSON TAIT*




        In the same manner all laws against gaming never hinder it... yet all
        the great sums that are lost are punctually paid. Persons who game
        must keep their credit, else no body will deal with them. It is quite
        the same in stockjobbing. They who do not keep their credit will
        soon be turned out, and in the language of Change Alley be called a
        lame duck.1

      IN 1766, ADAM SMITH keenly observed how essentially unenforceable
regulatory legislation was in the chaotic eighteenth-century stock market. Yet
according to economist Edward Stringham, the market continued to function
under an informal self-regulatory system, a self-policing club.2 In the early
eighteenth century, stock brokering was a relatively new occupation and in
the process of professionalization. The earliest indication of individuals who



    'Jackson Tait is a PhD candidate in history at Queen's University, Kingston. The
author wishes to thank Doug Hay, the Western Legal Histories seminar at York
University, and two anonymous reviewers from this journal for their comments at various
stages of this article.
    CITATION INFORMATION FOR THIS ARTICLE:
    Jackson Tait. 2018. Speculation and the English Common Law Courts, 1697-1845.
Libecaan Papers. 10 (1): 1-17. ONLINE AT: libertarianpapers.org. THIS ARTICLE IS subject
to a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (creativecommons.org/licenses).
    I Adam Smith, Lectures on Juisprudence, edited by R L. Meek, D. D. Raphael, and P.
G. Stein (Oxford: Calarendon Press, [1766] 1978), 538.
    2 Edward Stringham, The Emergence of the London Stock Exchange as a Self-
Policing Club, Journal ojPvate Ente nrse 17, no. 2 (Spring 2002): 1.


VOL. 10, No. 1 (2018)

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