Paterson, William, 1658–1719, British financier. By the time of the Glorious Revolution (1688–89, which he supported), he had acquired considerable wealth and influence through foreign trade. In 1691, he was the chief projector of the plan to establish the Bank of England, which finally came into being in 1694. Paterson served as a director from 1694 to 1695. In 1695, he proposed to the Scottish Parliament the famous but ill-fated Darién Scheme. Subsequently he devoted several years to carrying out that plan and accompanied the expedition of 1698 to Darién. Paterson advised William III on economic, financial, and state affairs, and he strongly advocated the union of Scotland and England. Paterson strenuously argued for free trade and was a recognized authority in later years. His writings were edited by Saxe Bannister (3 vol., 1859).
See biography by S. Bannister (1858); J. S. Barbour, William Paterson and the Darien Company (1927).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.