Exhibition: George White, Barings' Troubleshooter

3: Initial missions abroad: Argentina and France

In 1852 White's gifts were first recognised when the partners picked him out to accompany Major Ferdinand White (no relation) to Buenos Aires.

I find him an agreeable companion and a most useful assistant - Major Ferdinand White comments on George White

White sent Bishopsgate commercial reports on leading houses and on the economy and government of Buenos Aires.

It was on this mission that White proved his calibre. Three years later in 1856 he was travelling to and from Paris as Barings’ emissary in order to persuade the French government to pay up for huge wheat purchases (12 million francs) that Barings had made on its behalf. "The whole machinery is very cumbrous and excruciatingly slow" he complained in his letter back to the Barings' office at 8 Bishopsgate. The French Treasury man with whom he dealt was "very awkward" to manage and made "large demands on my patience… but I have fortunately kept on excellent terms with him". For several months White’s only concrete achievement was to purchase china fish dishes for Thomas Baring but on New Year’s Eve the money came to hand and George had triumphed.

White had little time to glory in his triumph. In his last letter from Paris on Boxing Day 1856 he wrote of his readiness to go out to undertake another mission "although I should be glad to have learnt that you had found a better diplomatist for the business." The business was in Argentina and Barings' partners could think of no better man for the job than White.

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