Fringe banking and financialization: Pawnbroking in pre-famine and famine Ireland

Eoin McLaughlin*, Rowena Pecchenino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Pawnbroking, one of the oldest and most accessible forms of credit, was a common feature of life in pre-famine and famine Ireland. This article studies the role of pawnbroking in the Irish financial system during this important period, applying insights from modern studies on fringe banking. In the period under study, a formal tiered financial system existed; regulated joint-stock banks offered services to industry and the better off, while fringe banks provided financial services largely, but not exclusively, to unbanked groups. The main findings are that pawnbrokers provided a steady source of credit throughout the island of Ireland and that this credit stream was more durable than that provided by alternative financial service providers in the fringe banking market, especially during the famine. Our findings suggest a nuanced interpretation is needed as we find strong interrelationships between the various financial service providers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)903-931
Number of pages29
JournalEconomic History Review
Issue number3
Early online date21 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • financialization
  • fringe banking
  • Ireland
  • pawnbroking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Economics and Econometrics


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