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South African Reserve Bank
 
 
     
 
 

Mr William Henry Clegg 


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TERM SERVED IN OFFICE: 17 December 1920 – 31 December 1931
 
Mr Clegg started his career in January 1885 as a clerk at the Craven Bank (which was later taken over by the Bank of Liverpool) in a small town called Nelson, England. In 1886 he joined the service of the Bank of England. In 1895 he was promoted to Assistant of the Auditor and thereafter the positions of First Auditor, Deputy Principal of the Branch Banks Office, Principle of the Branch Banks Office and finally, Chief Accountant.
 
His appointment with effect from 17 December 1920 as first Governor of the South African Reserve Bank was in accordance with the policy of the Bank of England. He initially encounted a general lack of knowledge on the nature and functions of a central bank in South Africa. In addition there were shortcomings in the Reserve Bank Act, which hampered the work of the Bank. His first years were largely devoted to improving and rectifying this situation. Mr Clegg served two full terms of five years, plus an additional year (at his own request) in order to oversee the building of the Reserve Bank's new Head Office.
 
Unfortunately for him, this additional year coincided with one of the most traumatic periods in the Bank’s history when Britain's decision in September 1931 to abandon the gold standard, led to the total loss of the South African Reserve Bank's reserves which had been built up carefully over its first ten years of operations. Mr Clegg had no formal training in economics or banking but was sufficiently well respected to be elected President of the Institute of Bankers in South Africa in 1922, a position he held for two years. When the Economic Society of the South Africa (ESSA) was established in 1925, he was elected President of the Society.
 
On 31 December 1931 he retired as Governor of the South African Reserve Bank and later returned to England. At the beginning of 1932, Mr Clegg was appointed an Executive Director on the Court of Directors of the Bank of England, a position which he occupied until 1937. In 1932 he was also appointed a Lieutenant of the City of London and in 1935 he was awarded the King’s Silver Jubilee Medal. 
 
 
 
     
 
 
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