A family of Quakers who formed a banking house in Norwich in 1770 (178). In about 1800 they opened a branch in London. It became the world’s greatest bill-discounting house and was known as “the bankers’ banker,” taking business away from the Bank of England. The Gurneys went public in 1865, forming a joint stock company with limited liability. In 1866 the London branch failed, in debt £11 million. The Gurney family, however, remained wealthy –– which was probably at least in part the inspiration for Gilbert’s later jabs at limited liability companies (as in The Gondoliers and Utopia Limited) (103). The Norwich branch prospered and was taken over by Barclays in 1896 (48). As an aside, you might want to know that a Gurney relative invented those light carriages on which you recline while being whisked about in hospitals (43).

At length I became as rich as the Gurneys