From Hawick to Hawick: The story of The Economist founder James Wilson

The life and times of The Economist founder who presented India's first Budget in 1860

James Wilson

A portrait of James Wilson. Presented to his wife in 1859, it was given to the National Portrait Gallery, London, in 1928 | National Portrait Gallery/ Wikimedia Commons

G Sreekumar
In May 2019, a 12-foot statue was reinstalled in Hawick, a small Scottish town with population below 14,000. Sculpted in 1863 in Edinburgh by John Steell, Queen Victoria’s official sculptor, it came from a single block of carrara marble. So restored to a due honour was James Wilson, the first finance member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, who presented India’s first Budget in 1860.

Born into a Quaker family in 1805, fourth among 15 siblings, Wilson wanted to study law, but the Quaker tradition frowned upon the profession. He became an apprentice to a hat manufacturer, spending his nights reading economics and other subjects. Wilson’s father, a woollen manufacturer, purchased the firm for him and a brother. Having outgrown Hawick, the

First Published: Jan 20 2021 | 11:20 PM IST

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