|>>|| No. 14066
So I asked my grandparents again about my loan shark ancestor. If £1m in early 1900s money was £80 in today's money, then surely that can't be. Although he got some starting capital from his forebears, you don't just amass personal wealth the size of a major company's balance sheet in the short time until your death at age 28ish. Unless you're Mark Zuckerberg. But oh well.
So my grandparents did say that that money would be worth around one million in today's money, not early 1900s. So we're talking about liquid assets of some £12,000 to £13,000 in 1915. Still, together with the land that was sold off subsequently by later generations, nobody in the family starved.
>and the great-great-great uncle in question here was apparently not stupid, didn't give out unsecured loans, and thus got very rich.
Nobody who will give you a sizeable amount of money will do so without collateral. Even if you want to buy a car for £10K, somewhere in the loan agreement, it will say that if you default on your payments, the bank has the right to take possession of that car and have it sold off to cover your debt.
My great-great-great-uncle's stroke of luck came with a slump in land prices in the early-early 1900s. The more that the price for land was slipping, the more land he could take as collateral. And haggle the price down even further, because there were no buyers in that tight market. And then sell the land for a higher price as the market was recovering, but not only that, he had also leased land back to farmers in between acquiring it and selling it, so he was making money off them doubly.