Philip Burlamachi

Philip Burlamachi[1] (1575 – 1644)[2] was a major financial intermediary of King Charles I of England, and is remembered as the inventor of the concept of a central bank.

Burlamachi was born Sedan, France. His family was of Italian origin, exiled descendants of the Lucchese Francesco Burlamacchi. He is known to have been in England for at least 30 years (since at least 1605) where he became naturalised by an Act of Parliament.[3]

He worked extensively with his brother in law Philip Calandrini who was his financial representative in Amsterdam; for example, in 1626 Philip offered to stand as guarantor for £58,400 for Charles 1.[4][5] In 1621 Burlamachi acted on behalf of the City of London Merchants, collecting money from foreign merchants and transferring it to the Privy Council. "Whereas you have undertaken the collecting of such moneys as were thought reasonable and meet for the merchants strangers residing within the City of London and the outports, to contribute towards the expedition against pirates."[6] He was entrusted the sum of £30,000 on behalf of the Privy Council with bills of exchange for the service of an army for the States of the United Provinces or 'direct the employment them as he shall think'.[5]

One thing that is certain and clear is the importance of Philip Burlamachi in regards to money and finance and his idea (the first of its kind) although he himself did concede "the proposal has been formerly made."[7] Burlamachi’s idea was a national clearing bank:[8] the first known proposal for a central bank, where the word bank is first used for "a bank for the payment of all large sums of which shall be negotiated". The idea was originally discussed in the year 1636 and 58 years later, in 1694, the Bank of England was first formed.

Burlamachi is also known for financing the East India Company.[9] and as Postmaster of Foreign posts from 1637 to 1642.[10]

During the Anglo-French War (1627-1629), Burlamachi loaned Charles I the sum of £70,000, though the king's inability to repay him caused him to go bankrupt in 1633.[11]


  1. ^ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004) Vol 8, pp. 865-866 Oxford University Press
  2. ^ "Memorabilia" (PDF). Notes and Queries. Oxford University Press (March 1958).[dead link]
  3. ^ Calendar of State Papers Domestic Series 1635, p. 593
  4. ^ Charles P. Kindleberger. A Financial History of Western Europe, p. 43, 1984
  5. ^ a b Acts of The Privy Council 1621, p. 92
  6. ^ Acts of The Privy Council 1621, p. 160
  7. ^ Calendar of State Papers Domestic 1636-1637, p. 73
  8. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: BURLAMACHI, PHILIP". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 3 January 2008. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/37246. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ "The Business of Slavery - Chapter 13, The Guinea Company". Dan Byrnes.
  10. ^ "Postmasters-General". British Postal Museum. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  11. ^ Russell, C. "The Crisis of Parliaments: English History 1509-1660". Oxford University Press, 1971. p. 305