The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Banfield, Thomas Charles (1800–?1882)

  • R. D. Collison Black
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-95189-5_506

Abstract

Banfield resided for some years in Germany and was tutor to the sons of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. After his return to England he lectured on political economy at Cambridge from 1844 until 1855, but in 1846, through the patronage of Sir Robert Peel, he became Secretary to the Privy Council.

Banfield resided for some years in Germany and was tutor to the sons of King Ludwig I of Bavaria. After his return to England he lectured on political economy at Cambridge from 1844 until 1855, but in 1846, through the patronage of Sir Robert Peel, he became Secretary to the Privy Council.

His residence in Germany enabled Banfield to act as an interpreter both of its economy and its economists to English audiences. His 1845 Cambridge lectures were expressly intended to direct attention to ‘principles that foreign authors have laid down’; Banfield referred mainly to the works of Hermann, Storch and Rossi, and seems to have been the first English writer to mention von Thünen. His concept of organization of industry was based on a theory of consumption starting from the proposition: ‘that the satisfaction of every lower want in the scale creates a desire of a higher character. If the higher desire existed previous to the satisfaction of the primary want it becomes more intense when the latter is removed’ (Banfield 1845, p. 11). Jevons quoted this approvingly in his Theory of Political Economy, but pointed out that satisfaction of lower wants does not create higher wants: ‘it merely permits the higher want to manifest itself.’

The graduated scale of wants outlined by Banfield would then result in a corresponding graduated scale of industries. The organization of industry he thus related to the utility of the goods produced and pointed out the linkage between the demand for goods and the payments to factors of production. Banfield’s theory of consumption led him to criticize the Ricardian theory of rent with its implications of a rising cost of satisfying primary wants, and to support free trade. His books on the Industry of the Rhine were purely factual, but remain useful as sources of historical information.

Selected Works

  • 1843. Six letters to Sir Robert Peel on the dangerous tendency of the theory of rent advocated by Ricardo, by a Political Economist. London.

  • 1845. Four lectures on the organization of industry, being part of a course delivered in the University of Cambridge in Easter Term, 1844. London: Richard and John E. Taylor.

  • 1846. Industry of the Rhine, series I, agriculture. London: Charles Knight & Co.

  • 1848. Industry of the Rhine, series II, manufactures. London: C. Cox.

  • 1852. Free production having freed trade! The pressure of taxation exposed in a lecture delivered in the University of Cambridge. London: W. Ridgway.

  • 1855. A letter to William Brown Esq., MP, on the advantages of his proposed system of Decimal Coinage. London: Robert Hardwicke.

Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Collison Black
    • 1
  1. 1.