The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Thornton, William Thomas (1813–1880)

  • A. Picchio
Reference work entry


Thornton was born in Buckinghamshire and lived three years in Malta and five years in Constantinople. In 1836 he obtained a clerkship in the East India House and later (1858) became secretary for public works to the India Office. His expertise had a wide range, from literary works to political economy. Thornton’s economic works were praised by his friend J.S. Mill, who referred to his work on population in the Principles and used Thornton’s arguments for his recantation of the strict wages-fund theory (Mill 1869). Thornton’s fortunes with Marshall were less stable. Marshall was doubtful about the critique of the law of supply and demand as the determinant of wages but appreciated Thornton’s style and his work on trade unions (Marshall 1975, pp. 117–20, 263; 1960, p. 365).

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Picchio
    • 1
  1. 1.