George Christopher Trout Bartley, MP
In 1887, Sir George Christopher Trout Bartley, MP for Islington, signed a counterlease with the Metropolitan Board of Works for the property of 49 Theobalds Road in Holborn. In 1925 the Trustees of the South Place Ethical Society would buy this and the adjourning property (No. 51) to include in their property when building a new home, Conway Hall.
Sir Bartley was born in Hackney in 1842 and after completing his education became an educator himself. He took a keen interest in his field and wrote several pamphlets on the topic especially as it related to the working classes at that time. He also had an interest in improving women's education. In addition to his educational interests he had an abiding concern for the poor, their education and moral wellbeing, and wrote pamphlets on reforming the Poor Law system.
He founded the Middlesex Penny Bank in 1872 and then in 1875 with several partners he established the National Penny Bank, thus called as the minimum deposit was 1 penny. Collectors took deposits from account owners at places that were convenient to them, such as their workplaces or nearby schools; bank branches were often open in the evenings to allow their working class clientele to make deposits after work.
"The scheme was a great success. By the year of Bartley's death  over 2,800,000 accounts had been opened..."1
In 1885 he was elected as MP for Islington, representing the Conservative party, and remained MP for that seat until 1906.
He died in 1910 and was thus spared seeing the collapse of the National Penny Bank which went into voluntary liquidation in 1914.2 The collapse of this and other banks was due to the impact of the outbreak of World War I and the financial sitiation due to investment in foreign, soon to be enemy, states.3 The collapse left many depositors severely out of pocket and there were protests outside parliament in Westminster at that time.
1. Owen, W. B, rev. McConnell, Anita, "Bartley, Sir George Christopher Trout (1842–1910)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), accessed 12 Sept 2016.
3. Seabrook, Leonard, The Social Sources of Financial Power: Domestic Legitimacy and International Financial Orders, (New York: Cornell University Press, 2006), 79.