Maberly Phillips.

A history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, with numerous portraits, facsimiles of notes, signatures, documents, &c online

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Online LibraryMaberly PhillipsA history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, with numerous portraits, facsimiles of notes, signatures, documents, &c → online text (page 13 of 57)
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the case, and to give it their immediate attention."

Mr. John Easthorpe, who acted as secretary, in due time issued the
following : —

" At a meeting of several Country Bankers, held in pursuance of the circular letter of Mr. Easthorpe.
P. M. James, Esq., of Birmingham, was appointed to the Chair. It appearing to this meeting highly
desirable, at all times, to be enabled to collect the opinions, and to combine the efforts of so numerous
and important a body as the Country Bankers of England and Wales on any question considered likely
to affect their general interest, It was resolved ... to form a Committee of Country Bankers."

A meeting was held at the Old Tavern, Bishopsgate Street, December 7th,
Sir John Wrottesley, Bart., M.P., in the chair. Sundry resolutions were passed,
and a deputation appointed to wait upon Lord Viscount Goderich, and the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the meeting was adjourned until Monday,
December loth, when the chairman gave an account of the interview of the


deputation with the Premier and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and read their
answer as follows : —

"Lord Goderich and the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated to the Deputation that they were fully
sensible of the great importance of the subjects which were brought before them by the Deputation,
and that although it was obviously impossible that they could undertake on the part of the Government
to express upon that occasion any opinion upon the matter under consideration, they could assure the
Deputation that all that had been communicated should receive the most deliberate and serious

The bankers next appointed a standing committee of twenty-seven members
representing firms in all parts of the country, to watch the general interests of the
community. Mr. J. Backhouse of Sunderland was a member of this committee.
The result of the bankers' agitation it is difficult to detennine ; several branches of
the Bank of England were opened, but in Circular No. 7 Mr. Burgess says :—
" A rumour prevails in various parts of the country, that the Directors of the Bank
of England have resolved to establish Forty Branch Banks in addition to those
already opened for business. And as a \ery high and respectable authority has
been mentioned to us for the truth of this, we deem it right to give our opinion on
the matter immediately." As the number of branches opened never amounted to
half this number, it is possible that the action of the country bankers may have
had some effect. The merchants and tradesmen in many districts also objected to
the branches being opened. The MS. in Circular No. 12, October 12th, 1827,
says : — " The Bank Directors have answered the representation of the people of
Hull, that they do not like to be dictated to, but that the project of establishing
a Branch there will not be acted upon for the present."

Differences of opinion regarding the advisability of the branch system appear
to have existed even amongst the Directors of the Bank of England. Mr. William
Leatham in his " Letters on the currency question addressed to Charles Wood,
Esq., M.P.," says : —

" It is well known this proceeding of the Bank becoming a country banker, proposed by one director,
and supported by others, was met by some other directors of long experience with opposition, as a
measure of doubtful wisdom, and degrading to the dignity of the bank and its direction. I believe
more than one director withdrew at this period, and I know that J. Harman, Esq., was one of them.
He had passed the chair ; and his highest rank as an old English merchant is acknowledged by all his
fellow citizens."

An account of the active opposition taken by the Chamber of Commerce
in Newcastle against the Bank of England opening there, and the letters written
by "Alfred" will be found in the record of the Newcastle Branch.

About this time the Northern bankers instituted a periodical meeting of their
various representatives. They first assembled at Thirsk, but that place was soon


__^ w

changed for Northallerton. Exchanges of notes were made, and matters affecting
the general interests of their business discussed.

The law affecting notes under ^5 was, in 1822, extended until 5th January,
1833, but the panic of 1825 so frightened the Government, that they passed an
Act restraining the issue of one pound notes by country bankers to 1829.
Petitions in favour of small notes remaining in circulation were presented from
several quarters.

In Newcastle-upon-Tyne the matter was taken up by the Chamber of
Commerce at a Special General Meeting, held March 8th, 1828. " Mr. Lamb gave
notice that at the next Committee Meeting (in April) he would bring forward a
motion respecting the one pound notes."

The following extracts from the records of the Newcastle Chamber of
Commerce have been furnished by Mr. B. Plummer.


Peesent : —
ANTHONY EASTERBY, Esq., in the Chair.

Messrs. J. Lamb. Messrs. M. Plummer. Messrs. R. Ohmston.
,, J. Potts. ,, E. H. Campbell, ,, W. Armstrong.

,, W. Redhead. ,, Jos. Price. ,, Jos. Shield.

,, R. Marshall. „ T. Hedley. ,, T. Cookson.

,, G. Burnett. ,, T. Doubleday.

Mr. Lamb read the Draft of a Petition to Parliament against the Act which restrains the Issue of
One Pound Notes by Country Bankers, after the month of April, 1829.

After a good deal of Discussion (it being carried by a great majority that a Petition should be
addressed to Parliament on the question of the One Pound Notes) It was Resolved — That on so very
important a matter as the Currency a General Meeting should be convened by the Secretary, on
Wednesday the 16th inst., vrhen all the Premises should be taken into due consideration.

GENERAL MEETING, 16th April, 1828.

Present : —
A. EASTERBY, Esq., in the Chair.

Messrs. Campbell. Messrs. J. Potts. Messrs. R. Marshall.
„ T. Doubleday. „ A. Clapham. „ M. Plummer.

,, W. Armstrong. ,, G. Burnett. ,, A. Hall.

„ Brockett. „ R. HoYLE. „ T. Hedley.

„ R. Ormston, Jr. „ W. Redhead.

The Secretary having read a Petition submitted by Mr. Plummer, respecting the small note
Currency, as also that which had been previously recommended by Mr. Lamb, a good deal of discussion
ensued as to which should be adopted. It was finally carried that the Petition brought forward by
Mr. Lamb should be adopted subject to a trifling alteration, and transmitted to the Hon. H. T. Liddell
to be bj' him presented to the House of Commons.


Nbwcastle-on-Tyne, 17th April, 1828.
Hon. H. T. Liddell, M.P., London.

I have the honor to enclose you the copy of a Petition to Parliament on the subject of the Act
which restrains the Issue of Small Notes, which Petition was unanimously agreed to yesterday by the
Chamber of Commerce of this town.

I am desired, Sir, on the part of the Chamber to request that you will have the goodness to
present this Petition to Parliament, and that you will be pleased to give it your powerful support in
the House. The original Petition engrossed on Parchment was forwarded you in a parcel per the

mail this evening.

I have the Honor, &c.,

(Signed) T. GRIEVSON, Secretary.

Newcastle on-Tyne, 17th April, 1828.
Matthew Bell, Esq., M.P., London.

I am requested by the Chamber of Commerce to acknowledge the receipt of your highly obliging
letters under date of the 10th and 21st ultimo, and to express their warmest acknowledgments for the
trouble you were pleased to take in the affair of the Branch of the Bank of England about to be
established in this Town.

On the present occasion, Sir, I have the honour to enclose you the copy of a Petition to the
Legislature on the subject of the small Note currency. The Petition itself was forwarded by this
night's mail to the Hon. Mr. Liddell, with a request that he would be so good as present it to the
House. The Chamber of Commerce earnestly hope. Sir, that you will also honour it with your support.

I have the Honour, &c.,

(Signed) T. GRIEVSON, Secretary.

Newcastle-on-Tyne, 21st April, 1828.
Matthew Bell, Esq., M.P., London.

I have the honour this morning to receive your obliging favor dated the 19th instant. I regret
exceedingly that in the hurry of expediting my Letters last Thursday evening I should have omitted
enclosing you a copy of the Petition respecting the small Note currency. I trust however, that the
Newcastle papers (the Petition being published therein) will have put you in possession of the
Arguments used in that Document at least a couple of days before this can possibly reach you.

I have the Honour, &c.,

(Signed) T. GRIEVSON, Secretary.


To the Honourable the Commons of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament

assembled : —

The humble Petition of the Chamber of Commerce of Newcastle-upon-Tyne sheweth — That your
Petitioners are deeply interested in all that concerns the commerce and manufacture of Newcastle
and the surrounding district.

That by an Act of Parliament some little time ago passed, the period for the circulation of any
Promissory Notes to Bearer under the value of £1— -will expire on the 5th of April, 1829. That now for
many years a great proportion of the circulating medium of this district has consisted of a local
currency of £1 notes and that with great advantage to the community at large. That your petitioners
are fully aware that while Country Bankers were not under the salutary check of being obliged on
demand to pay their notes in a metallic currency, a great temptation was held out to an over-issue of
paper ; that your Petitioners however in confining themselves to the state of the Northern Counties
feel bound to declare that at no time has the issue here of bank notes been exclusive or beyond what
the circumstances of trade fairly required. That in this part of the kingdom no inconvenience has
been, or is likely to be experienced from the existing system of paper circulation and that your

[ 100 ]

Petitioners must therefore deprecate any measure having for its object a change in the local currency.
That in particular your Petitioners must deprecate the suppression of the £1 notes — a species of
circulation without which it must be extremely difficult to effect the payment of wages and the
smaller interchange of trade. Your Petitioners will not press upon the attention of your Honourable
House the inconveniences which must be felt in all the retail branches of business from the suppression
of the £1 notes, as they are such as must be evident to every person, but they deem it necessary
clearly to explain the difficulties which must be experienced in the payment of wages to the workmen
connected with the collieries and the various manufacturing concerns in the district. It is usual to
pay such persons once a week or once a fortnight, and the sum which each person has to receive may be
from £1 to £2 at a time. There are some concerns here which for wages and trifling purchases, pay as
much regularly as £4,000 in a fortnight, and your Petitioners can positively state that out of £4.000
advanced for such purposes, not more than £800 or £1,000 can in general be paid (without subjecting
the parties receiving to great inconvenience) in notes of £5 or upwards. The consequence necessarily
is that a large proportion of the paper circulation in the district consists of £1 notes, and that to make
a forcible substitution of gold for such notes would be in a great measure to deprive the public of the
utility of banking establishments.

That your Petitioners have most respectfully to observe upon the anomaly of the law as affecting
England and Scotland. At a distance of not more than 60 miles from Newcastle, the Scotch bankers
or any other bankers choosing to establish themselves on the borders of Scotland will have it in their
power to issue £1 notes, and which in the nature of things cannot be prevented circulating in this
populous neighbourhood. The law therefore in this part of the kingdom as regards the suppression of
the £1 notes must be altogether ineffectual, and while in that respect ineffectual, it must subject both
bankers and traders here to the most serious restraint and embarrassment.

That so long as the paper currencjy is convertible into gold on demand, your Petitioners see
nothing to apprehend on the score of over issue of £1 notes, and being fully convinced that a circulation
of small notes affords both facility and advantage to commerce

Your Petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will be pleased to take into
due consideration the premises here set forth, with a view to a Repeal of the Act of Parliament which
limits the circulation of £1 notes to the 5th April, 1829.

And your Petitioners will ever pray, &c.

Signed on behalf of the Chamber,
Newcastle, Apeil 16, 1828. ISAAC COOKSON, President.

The whole question of the issue or small notes was brought to a very abrupt
conclusion in the following manner. Upon applying to the Stamp Office for a
supply of stamps to meet their requirements till 1829, the country bankers were
informed, that no more stamps for one pound notes would be issued. " This step
was not only in direct violation of the law, but was a breach of faith on the part
of the Government." Mr. Burgess in Circular to Bankers No. 42, gives a full
account of the proceeding, and says, " The wanton and unprovoked breach of the
law committed by this Act of the Treasury against the country bank interest,
ought to have been a matter of grave investigation in Parliament."

An attempt was made to suppress the circulation of small notes in Scotland,
but it met with such strong opposition that it was abandoned. Some letters upon


the subject appeared in an Edinburgh newspaper, signed "Malachi Malagrowther."
They were humorous, admirably written, and strongly supported the small note
circulation in Scotland. Sir Walter Scott was subsequently proved to be the
author of the letters.

On June 3rd, 1828, the Chancellor of the Exchequer brought forward amotion
" to restrain the Circulation of Scottish notes in England."* It gave an
opportunity for opening up the discussion of the whole question of small notes.
Numerous speakers joined in the debate. Mr. John Maberly, of Shirley Park,
M.P. for Abingdon, though a banker in Scotland, pointed out the inconvenience
that would arise to numerous people just over the border who freely used the
Scotch notes. Sir M. W. Ridley, member for Newcastle, and partner in the " Old
Bank," availed himself of the opportunity to refute the charges brought against
the country bankers respecting the panic of 1825-6. He said : —

" At that time there were 770 country bankers — 63 stopped payment, 23 had subsequently resumed
their business and paid 203. in the pound, 81 were making arrangements for payments of their debts,
and there was a great hope that every farthing would be paid. The country bankers who failed in 1826

had averaged a payment of 17s. 6d. in the pound. It was not
the use but the abuse of a paper currency that had led to the
misfortunes of the commercial world, and it was rash and
unstatesman-like to abandon a course altogether, which was
only injurious because it was abused. The Vice-President of
the Board of Trade had said that the panic was caused by the
country bankers coming to the Bank of England for gold.
Those who held the paper of the Bank of England were
entitled to gold, which they could not get. He for one only
requested the Bank of England to act to him as he acted to
his customers. In fact it had not acted so well — country
bankers had helped the Bank of England and taken their
notes. He spoke from personal experience, and he knew that
for many days he had received as a country banker not a
single guinea from the Bank of England, nothing but Bank
of England Notes. As long as the public were satisfied it
was of no consequence to the Country Banker whether he
paid in notes or gold." The motion of the Chancellor of the
Exchequer was eventually carried.

During the period under consideration,
reductions were made in the amount of interest
" Symptoms of the 3 Pr. ct.. Bediiced. pebmary. 1826." paid ou souic of tlic Govcmment Stocks. The
subjoined portrait from a collector's scrap book, shows the result. It might do
for a " Goschen " of the present day.

» Mr. G. W. Boase says :— " Although the Acts of 1775 and subsequeut dates prohibited the issue of small
notes in England, it did not forbid the circulation of Scotch notes there, and consequently these continued to
pass freely in the Northern Counties, and were found to be very convenient. This was now interfered with (for
uniformity sake) by the Act 8 George IV. c. 65, which passed in spite of numerous petitions against it from the
border district, which set forth that seven-eighths of all rents were usually paid in Scotch notes, and had been
80 for seventy years without loss."



. PROVINCIAL BANKING— 1830 to 1840.

Introduction to the North of England of Banking on the Joint Stock Principle — List
of New Banks — Changes in Bank Premises — Thomas Joplin — Portrait — His
Ancestry — His Writings — Views on the Currency Question — Opposition to them
— Joint Stock Banks founded in various towns — National Provincial Bank of
England formed by Joplin, assisted by George Fife Angas — Charter of the Bank
of England — Committee of Secrecy to report upon it — Evidence of Country

THE great event of the period under consideration w^as the introduction to
the North of England of banks conducted on the joint stock principle.
Difficulties and impediments that had beset their formation were
removed, and similar establishments had been started in other parts of the
kingdom. The new banks showed a most satisfactory result to the investor
by the daily rise in the market price of their shares, so that the desire to become
a partner in such a lucrative business as banking appeared to be, soon spread to
the north, where the ground had been tilled and the seed sown ten years before
by Thomas Joplin.

The first bank in the district that was constituted on the new principle was the
Darlington District Banking Company, opened in 1831. Next came the " North
of England Joint Stock Bank " at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1832. A project was
started at Sunderland to form the " Wear Joint Stock Bank," but it never reached
maturity. Four years elapsed before another appeared, which brings us
to the memorable year of 1836, when quite a mania set in for founding every
conceivable business upon joint stock principles. Banking certainly had its share
of attention. The old firm of Messrs. Hutton, Other, & Co., of Richmond and
Leyburn, became the " Swaledale and Wensleydale Joint Stock Bank " ; and
Messrs. Chapman & Co., of Newcastle, converted their business into the
" Newcastle, Sunderland, North and South Shields Union Bank," incorporating
with it the Sunderland business of Sir William Chaytor, Frankland, & Co. The


financiers of Newcastle-upon-Tyne issued a prospectus announcing the formation
of the " Northumberland and Durham District Bank " with a very large capital
and strong directorate. Some of the promoters successfully negotiated with
Messrs. Backhouse & Co. for the purchase of their Newcastle connection. The
amalgamation was not to the liking of a section of the originators, who
immediately issued a prospectus of the " Newcastle Joint Stock Bank."
So great was the excitement in the town that Messrs. Lambton & Co. were
nearly drawn into the whirlpool, but the timely protest of a very important
client saved them. The merchants on the banks of the Wear were provided
for by the formation of the " Sunderland Joint Stock Bank." During
this year (1836) the National Provincial Bank of England acquired the
business of Messrs. Skinner & Co. at Stockton. In 1838 the "Stockton and
Durham County Bank " was formed, and this closes the list of new banks for that
period. There is one other important change to chronicle, namely, the transfer
in 1839 of the "Old Bank," Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Sir M. W. Ridley and
Partners), to the recently formed Northumberland and Durham District Bank.
About the same period the tragic events of arson and murder, that occurred in the
Savings' Bank of Newcastle, created an excitement that spread far beyond the
scene of the occurrence, and took some time to allay.

Several alterations in bank premises were made. The Bank of England left
their birth-place in the Postern for Upper Dean Street, which was subsequently
given the more aristocratic name of Grey Street. The District Bank commenced
business in the offices previously occupied by Messrs. Backhouse & Co., at the
south-east corner of Grey Street, and subsequently moved to premises adjoining
the Bank of England, which, upon obtaining the business of Sir M. W.
Ridley & Co., they vacated, removing the staffs from both establishments to the
commodious premises now occupied by Messrs. Lambton & Co. No decade in the
history of north-country banking witnessed such a revolution in banks and
banking as that of 1830 to 1840. No particular panic occurred, and all the
firms appear to have obtained a fair amount of support.

It often happens that great inventors participate to a very small degree in
the honour and emoluments arising from their inventions. It is very remarkable
that the man who invented (if we may so apply the expression) and promulgated
the principles of joint stock banking, does not appear to have shared in the direct
formation of any one of the numerous joint stock banks that were formed in his
native town and places adjacent. The old proverb that "a prophet hath no
honour in his own country " may somewhat account for it. We cannot find a
more suitable place to pause and review the early life and subsequent work of


Northumberland's most indomitable advocate for banks upon the joint stock
principle — Thomas Joplin.

In the " History of the
Baptist Churches," by Douglas,
we are informed that the Joplin
family were amongst the earliest
adherents of that body at their
settlement on the banks of the
Derwent. Surtees mentions an
Andrew Joplin as a freeholder
of Satley in 1687. This is the
ancestor of the family. The
grandfather of the subject of this
sketch was Caleb Joplin of Satley,
born about 1730. He had one
son, Thomas, and a daughter, who
married John Angas, of Dotland.
She became the mother of Caleb
Angas, the coach-builder of New-
castle, and grandmother of George
Fife Angas, the pioneer of South

Thomas Joplin (only son of
Caleb of Satley) was of New-
castle, and had a banking account
^f^'^'"^ 'i^J^^^-^f^ with James Davison-Bland & Co.,
^^"^ 1788 to 1790. The nature of
the transactions pointed to his
being in the timber trade. He
died at Brancepeth in 1808. He
had a family of three sons, William, Thomas, and Charles, and a
daughter who died unmarried. The third son died young, but William and
Thomas succeeded to the timber business. The Newcastle Chronicle of May
27th, 1815, announces: — "Spey Timber. W. & T. Joplin & Co. have just
imported a large supply of this kind of timber, etc., etc. Egypt* Raff Yard,

♦ Egypt — Thus named in 1796, " when so great had been the importation of grain into Newcastle that no ware-
house room could be obtained for storing it, and in consequence, temporary wooden buildings were erected in a
fleld adjoining the New Road, behind Sandgate, for 120,000 bushels."


Soon afterwards the timber business appears to have passed into other hands,
Wilham, the senior partner, went to America, and Thomas devoted the whole of
his time to matters regarding financial currency. During the' years 1819 to 1822
great agricultural distress prevailed, wheat having fallen from 80/- to 40,'- per
quarter. Mr. Joplin wrote a great deal upon the question, maintaining that a
restriction in the currency was the cause of the agricultural depression. One of
his works published at this time was " Outlines of a System of Political Economy."
By the very few who remember him personally, he is described as of com-
manding presence, standing about 6ft. 2in., usually dressed in a blue coat with
brass buttons, knee breeches, and top boots. Reference has previously
been made {^page 88) to the circumstances that first led him to contem-
plate the joint stock system, and the steps that he took in 1822 to
establish a bank in Newcastle. Failing in this attempt he journeyed to London,
where, by the letters he contributed to the papers, and the spread of his pamphlets,

Online LibraryMaberly PhillipsA history of banks, bankers, & banking in Northumberland, Durham, and North Yorkshire, illustrating the commercial development of the north of England, from 1755 to 1894, with numerous portraits, facsimiles of notes, signatures, documents, &c → online text (page 13 of 57)