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 17 of 57)
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and in May of the following year, they formed a co-partnership, and opened the
" Alnwick and County Bank " ; Mr. E. A. Storer, who for some time had been
manager for the " District " Bank in that town, being appointed to a similar post in
the new firm. From time to time various branches were established. Upon the
death of Mr. Woods in June, 1864, Mr. Dickson became the sole proprietor. He
died May 14th, 1875, and verj^ soon afterwards his trustees disposed of the business
of the Alnwick and County Bank to the proprietors of the North Eastern Banking
Company, Ltd. The following circular was issued by Mr. Storer : —

"Alnwick and County Bank, Alnwick, May 28th, 1875. Dear Sir, I have accepted the general
management of the Alnwick and County Bank, and its branch is now associated with the North
Eastern Banking Company. The business of tiie bank will go on without interruption. Depositors may
rest assured of the ample security afforded to them, as, in addition to the estate of the late Mr. Dickson
(which is ample), they will have the security of the large capital of the North Eastern Banking
Company, of which upwards of half-a-million is uncalled. After spending thirty years amongst you
as a bank agent, I would gladly have entered into privacy, but my duty to the late Mr. Dickson and
the public, renders such a course at present impossible.

Hoping to have the confidence I have hitherto enjoyed, and with many thanks for past kindness,

I am, Sir, yours very respectfully,


Mr. William Dickson was the son of a Berwick solicitor. He was born
in 1799, and came to Alnwick about 181 6. He served his articles with Mr. Robert
Thorp, and in 1822 entered into partnership with that gentleman. Mr. Dickson
held many public appointments. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries ;
and his " Translation of the Pipe Rolls of Northumberland " was a work of great
research. He also contributed many interesting papers to the Berwickshire
Naturalist Club.


Towards the close of 1875, a handsome testimonial was presented to Mr.
E. A. Storer, who for so long a period had been the leading spirit at the bank.
" The testimonial was in the shape of a purse containing 300 sovereigns, and a
handsome silver soup tureen, with stand, &c., accompanied with a book containing
a list of subscribers' names." A public ceremony was contemplated, but Mr.
Storer being unwell at the time, a deputation headed by Mr. M. H. Dand, made
the presentation at his private residence. He died at Alnwick, April 28th, 1877,
aged 50.

Bacl^bou6e S, Co. waviimton.

THE banking establishment of Messrs. Backhouse & Co. was founded in 1774,
now nearly a century and a quarter ago. It has retained its name and
maintained its fame to the present day, and holds the proud position of
being the only banking firm in the north of England that has achieved this
distinction. Darlington was their birthplace as a banking establishment, as it is
to-day the seat of their head office, though their various branches now encircle all
the business centres of the County of Durham.

Originally James Backhouse and his son Jonathan were linen and worsted
manufacturers in Darlington, and like many other substantial traders in other parts
of the country, they extended to tradesmen and farmers almost unintentionally
those various accommodations of a banking nature, which eventually culminated in
their opening at the date named, a properly constituted bank under the title of
James and Jonathan Backhouse & Co. Their London agents were Messrs. Smith,
Wright, & Gray, 2 1 Lombard Street.

Prior to their banking career, amongst other branches of business they were
acting as agents to the Royal Exchange Assurance Company. In 1759, September
15th, a notice appeared in the local paper stating : —

" That the Governor and Company of the Royal Exchange Assurance have constituted and appointed
James Backhouse of Darlington, Agent and Receiver in their business of Assuring houses, goods, &c."

The bank was originally situated in Northgate, not far from the present post
office. Upon the failure of Messrs. Mowbray, Hollings worth, and Co., in 181 5,
their premises on the High Row were acquired by Messrs. Backhouse, who, in
1866, erected the very handsome building now occupied by the firm, upon the same
site and adjoining properties.

We are favoured with an extract firom the letter book of James Birkett, of
Lancaster, West India Merchant, in which he quaintly announces the opening of


this bank. In a communication addressed to William Backhouse (in America) per
packet 14th of 5th month, 1777, he says : —

" Thy brother Thomas was over here the beginning of last month — he told me the family at Darnton
were all well. Thy brother James and his son Jonathan has set up a Banking Shop there — banking is
now become common in all the considerable towns in the country."

In 1777 the founder of the bank quitted Darlington for a time, and went upon
a "mission" to Ireland. Before me is a letter dated Darhngton, 21st 9 mo., 1777.
The front page is written by Jane Backhouse in a cheerful affectionate manner to
her absent husband, and contains an interesting account of home life. The back
of the sheet is utilised by Jonathan Backhouse with a chatty business letter to his
father. It is produced in facsimile, but reduced in size.



Cf(f^/^,^^y^^*^^ (^/^ ^^'S^^^ ^cJ^r^^*^^ ^Z^-


^ f'^f,^^


W^!^<i,C^ /C/^L^^-fJ 9fray/A //A//*^'

J^, /M^/4 ^»^/fjli.

' /^^


A day-book is yet in the possession of the firm, commencing 28th of loth
month, 1778, and ending 22nd of ist month, 1780. From its pages is compiled a
hst of the principal customers of that time. Judging from the nature of the entries,
those names that have an asterisk placed against them were acting as agents to the
firm for the distribution of their notes.


* Smith, John, Thirsk.
♦Harrison, Swainston, Barnard

Shephard & Brown, Knaresbro'.

Atkinson, James, Newcastle.
*Chapman, Solomon, Sunderland.

Smith, Wright, & Gray, London.

Crompton, Mortimer, & Co., York.

Baker, Shafto, & Co., Newcastle.

Swan, Thomas, Bedale.

Parkinson, Jane, Darlington.
*Oyston & Dunn, Durham.
*Hutchinson, Thos., Smeaton.
*Bradberry & Lonsdale, Reeth.

Bell, Cookson, & Co., Newcastle.

Surtees & Burdon, Newcastle.

Atkinson & Rudman, Newcastle.
*Row, Geo. & Leo., Reeth.

Reeve, John, Stockton.

Clement, John, Darlington.

Dunn, Benj., Durham.
*Wray, John, Yarm.

Hutchinson, Thos., Smeaton.

Mowbray, Wm., Bishop Auck-

Calvert, Robt., Northallerton.
*Dawson, Edw., Northallerton.
*Emm, Wm., Bishop Auckland.

Proctor, Jos., Yarm.

Backhouse, James,

Backhouse, Dorothy, Lancaster.

Wilson, Arthington, & Co., Leeds.
* Watson Michael, Staindrop.

Leatham, John, Pontefract.

Anderson, Wm., Newcastle.

Clapham, Anth., Newcastle.

Travis, John, Hull.

Hartas, Wm., Spaunton.

Masterman, — , Richmond.
*Gibson, Leonard, Richmond.
*Hedley, Joshua, Stockton.
*Richardson, Henry, Ayton.

Cooper, Wm., Manfield.
*Hirst, Godfrey, Northallerton.

Collins, Chas. J., Skurrington.

Sims, Mary, Tottenham.

King, James, Newcastle.

Russell, Allan, & Co., Sunder-
*Oastler, Robt., Thirsk.

Dove, Chr., Darlington.

Wright, John, Yarm.
*Brown, Geo., North Shields.
*Priestman, Hy., Scarboro'.

Wetherell, John, Field House.

Seton, Katherine, Northallerton.

Leach, Pollard, & Co., Bradford.

Ormston, Mary, Newcastle.

Pease & Harrison, Hull Bank.

Garforth, Raper, & Co., York,
*Elstob, Luke, Stockton.

Ward, John, Birmingham.

Pease, Edw., Jun., Darlington.
*Applegarth, J., Jun., Staindrop.

Lumley, Benj., Stockton.

Justice Bramwell, Hurworth.

Sir John Eden, Windleston.

Edward Shewell & Son, London.

Chapman, Jane, Whitby.

Plintoff, John, Newcastle.
*Tretwell, John, Boroughbridge.

Dr. Trotter, Darlington.

A few extracts from the day book named may prove interesting.

30th of 10 Mo. Wm. Andeeson, Newcastle.— £100 per John Pickersgill's man.*

31 of 10 mo. Che. Auton. —
By Ragget retd. £50, he
being gone to jail.

20 of 11 mo. Smith, Wright,
& Gray, London. —
By optionals, £899 lOs.f

* For many years Pickersgill
and Howey were the great
carriers of the district; the
illustration produced is from
the workshop of Thomas Bew-

+ Optionals (see page i7).


21st of 11 mo. Bernaed Ogden, Sunderland. —

To 12 pair of Stockings £3 6

„ 1,000 QuiUs, at 9d. per Hd 076

3 13 6

nth of 12 mo. RoBT. Jackson, Dumfries. —

To his Dft. on us at Sight, dated By Advertising in the Dumfries

11 inst., payable to R. Kemp . . £1 4 6 Journal respecting the Forgery,

4 times £13 6

Four Newspapers 10

14 6

18th of 12 mo. John Leatham, Pontefract.— By Harding & Mosley, bill retd. £27 16s. 6d. They being
bad chaps and would not be seen.

23rd of 12th mo. Thos. Reed for the Dole.— To Copper £5.

2nd of 1 mo. 1779. Baker, Shapto, & Co., Newcastle. —

By Attorneys bill of expenses respecting the forgery . . . . . . £9 2 6

„ J. Nelsons bill for Chaise and Horses to Hexham and Axwell Park

respecting the same .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 160

„ Slacks bill for printing 300 hand bills 12

„ One Weeks advertising in the Newspaper . . . . . . . . 5 6

22nd of 2 mo. Benj. Lumley, Stockton. — To | of a Soldier's expenses for assisting in the pursuit of
a supposed John the Painter, 8d.*

28th of 6 mo. John Wethereli,, Fieldhouse. — To 6 Five Guinea Notes per Post-house Boot-
catcher, £31 10s. t

30th of 6 mo. Smith, Wright, & Gray. — By a present for clerks, £5 53.

2nd of 7 mo. Baker, Shafto, & Co., Newcastle. — By 2 Recpts. from the Bank of Scotland for 9
advertisements in 2 papers resptg J. Mathison, £4 2s.

9th of 7th mo. Query : Did J.B. leave any notes with Swainston Harrison when on his road to
Lancaster. Answer : Yea.

20th of 10. Baker, Shapto, & Co., Newcastle.— To 1 peck of Nuts in the Husks, 1/4 ; 2 Do. Do. 2/4 ;
1 out of the Husks, 2/6 ; Cask, lOd. = 7/- ; for and by order of Geo. Waldie.

* " John the Painter." The Annual Register, Vol. 20, p. 245, gives an account of his trial at Winchester for setting
several places on fire, and committing other outrages. It is possible that the name may have come to be used
generally to any one who may have committed a glaring crime. In February, 1788, the Newcastle Chronicle
advertises a reward for the apprehension of Eobert Koutledge, alias "Bob the Painter," who is suspected of
forgery. It seems probable that three firms had agreed to share any expenses that might be incurred regarding
forgeries, which were very frequent at this time, and that Messrs. Backhouse had paid a soldier 2/-, one-third of
which amount they pass to the debit of Benj. Lumley.

+ " Boot catcher. Boots, a name for the servant in hotels who cleans boots, formerly called Boot catcher, and
Boot catch. Boot catcher, a servant at an inn who pulled off the guests' boots." Dr. Murray's New English
Dictionary. My friend R. Oliver Heslop adds, "Dr. Murray's latest example of the use of hoot-catcher is
in 1761, from Colman's ' Jealous Wife.' Your quotation is interesting as showing a survival of the form as late
as 1779. It is just possible that John Clayton in his young days may have rung his bell for the boot catcher !
For the old form would be heard long after it ceased to be written let us suppose."



Only five years after their commencement, Messrs. Backhouse & Co. were
much troubled with the forgery of their notes, as will be seen by the items
extracted from their day book. The following announcement appeared in the
Newcastle journal, of September 12th, 1778, and probably was a copy of that

inserted in the other papers referred to : —

Darlington, 5th September, 1778.
" Whereas two Bank Notes which are Forged appearing to be signed for James and Jonathan Backhouse
and Company, by James Backhouse, for Five Guineas each, and to be payable to Henry Gray or bearer
on demand at Darlington, or fourteen days after sight at Smith, Wright, and Gray's, bankers, in
London, have been presented for payment. The public (and shopkeepers in particular) are desired to
attend to the following description of the forgery, and if any suspicious person should ofier any forged
notes in payment they are cautioned against receiving them; and they are earnestly requested to
apprehend such persons, and give immediate notices to James Backhouse and Company, in
Darlington, or to any of the banks in Newcastle. The counterfeit notes are not well engraved, and are
discoverable from the real ones. The water mark'd letters in the forged notes appear to have been
pressed in by a roller, and the letter n in Bank is reversed in the water mark. The written part
(except the number and dates) in the real notes, appears to be engraved in the counterfeit ones, and then
run over with a pen and ink. The Figures £5 5s. are very badly done as is the word Bankers, and the
n and k in the same word stand very near together. J. Taylor's name (the entering clerk) is much
worse done than in the real ones. It has been discovered that a few days ago, a man of a suspicious
appearance, between thirty and forty years of age, middle size, dressed in brown clothes, and boots,
with his own hair, cut rather short, and who speaks the north country dialect has paid two of the
forged notes in the following manner, viz. : — By buying a pair of buckles in one shop, and a yard of
muslin in another, or something of small value, and receiving the difference in specie. He was traced
from Sunderland to Durham in a chaise on the 28th of August, and from thence the next day to
Newcastle, but he dismissed the chaise at Gateshead, to prevent (as is supposed) a discovery of his route.

Whoever apprehends the Engraver, Printer, Paper Maker, or Publisher of the forged notes, shall
upon conviction receive a reward of One Hundred Pounds, to be paid at the Darlington Bank. And if
any person concerned in the said forgery will discover his accomplice, or accomplices, he will be
entitled to the reward offered, and the utmost interest will be used to obtain the King's pardon. It
being strongly suspected that the person above described is lurking in some town in the Counties of
Durham or Northumberland, or in the town of Newcastle, all Inn-keepers, Hostlers, and others, are
desired to apprehend any person who answers the above description, which will, upon conviction,
entitle them to the reward.

Any persons possessed of Darlington Five Guinea Notes (of the old plate) payable to Henry
Gray, and chuse to have them exchanged for new ones,* are desired to apply to Oyston & Dimn,
Durham; Wm. Emm, Bishop Auckland; Michael Watson, Staindrop; Swainston Harrison, Barnard
Castle ; George and Leonard Eaw, or Robert Bradberry, in Reeth ; Leonard Gibson, Richmond ;
Godfrey Hirst, Northallerton; John Smith, Thirsk; Luke Elstob, Stockton; Henry Richardson,
Ay ton ; or to John Wray, in Yarm.

The same advertisement is repeated on September 19th. On October 3rd,
1778, appeared the following : —

" A Forgery. Darlington, September 28th, 17 7S. Whereas certain Bank Notes appearing to be signed
by James Backhouse, for James and Jonathan Backhouse & Co., for Five Guineas each, payable to

♦ The new notes were made payable to Jolin Wright, and the time of the option was extended to twenty-one
days alter date. {See page 47.)


Henry Gray, or Bearer, on demand, at Darlington, or fourteen days after sight, at Smith, Wright, &
Gray's, Bankers, in London, which are forged, have been circulated, and attempts made to circulate
others ; and, whereas, John Mathison of Turdoch, near Gretna Green, in Annandale, in Scotland,
Watchmaker, is charged upon oath as one of the principals concerned in the said Forgery, and in
uttering several of the said notes, knowing the same to be forged. Notice is hereby given, that any
person who will apprehend and secure the said John Mathison shall receive a reward of Fifty
Pounds "

N.B. — The said John Mathison is about 30 years of age, of a middle stature, and strong made
though thin ; his face a little marked with small-pox, and one of his legs appears rather thicker at the
ankle than the other, occasioned it is supposed, by its having been broke some time ago ; and speaks
the Scotch dialect."*

The firm had a considerable note circulation. They first issued notes for
One and Five Guineas, and these were succeeded by others for £i, £^, £io,
and £20. So judiciously did they regulate their stock of specie that during the
"runs" which occured at various periods, they were able to meet all claims.

The monetary panics which so seriously affected the banks throughout the
North of England in 1793 and 1797, and brought so many of them under pubhc
notice; appear to have been tided over by Messrs. Backhouse without their once
having to " boycott the public " as had to be done in many other places. The
year 1803 was another period of commercial panic, augmented by a very heavy
fraud upon the Bank of England by one of their cashiers, Robert Astlett f — which
amounted to ;^3 20,000. In July of this year many northern banks stopped
payment. Meetings were held in Newcastle, Sunderland, and Durham, at which
resolutions were passed binding those present to accept the notes of the local
banks, the paper of the Darlington firms being included in the list of notes
guaranteed at the Durham Meeting. At Darlington, for the first time since the
formation of the Bank in 1774, the inhabitants deemed it necessary to pronounce
their opinion on the notes of Messrs. Backhouse. Accordingly at a meeting held

♦ Mathison was a notorious character : after committing various forgeries on provincial banks he removed to
London, where he took the name of Maxwell, and commenced forging the notes of the Bank of England, which
for some time he successfully accomplished. Eventually he was arrested on suspicion, but the evidence against
him was so slight that nothing could be proved. He was sent by the bank solicitors in charge of the officer
to a neighbouring public house, pending a consultation. While detained, Mathison made a determined effort
to escape, which increased suspicion. Those in charge of the case took him again before Sir John Fielding, and
further enquiries were msde, when to the utter confusion of the prisoner, the advertisement of the Darlington
Bank was produced and he was found to answer the description of Mathison who was suspected to have forged
the notes of that bank. This being read to him, and being asked if his name were not Mathison instead of
Maxwell, he all at once lost his resolution, turned pale, burst into tears, and, after saying, he found he was a
dead man, he added, "And now I will confess all." Mathison afterwards acknowledged the whole of his
forgeries, and offered to divulge his method of imitating the water mark for his freedom, but the offer was
declined. The wretched man was duly tried, convicted, and sentenced to be hanged, his execution being carried
out at Newgate on July 28th, 1779.

f Astlett was convicted and sentenced to death ; however the penalty was not exacted.


in the Post House, Darlington, Monday, July 4th, 1803, the following resolutions
were passed : —

" We, the undersigned, being satisfied that the proprietors of the two banks in Darlington have always
conducted themselves liberally and with service to the public, that the hitherto uninterrupted
punctuality of payment will be continued, and that their security (from the extent of their respective
property and the limitations of that property to their banking concerns) is unquestionable. Resolved
— That it is a proper measure at the present moment to make public our confidence in them, and our
resolution to accept their notes as usual."

In 18 1 5 another great calamity befell the bankers in the county of
Durham. Deposits were rapidly withdrawn, gold was demanded for notes,
and a third difficulty arose to the solvent banker, namely, the calls made upon
him for advances and discount, by firms whose available capital was locked up
by the numerous failures of local bankers. Under these circumstances it is not
surprising that rumours were afloat as to the stability of Backhouse & Co., but
the public voice soon spoke out in their defence. The newspapers of July 29th,
18 1 5, have the following: —

"Messrs. BACKHOUSE AND COMPANY'S BANK.— Having the most perfect confidence in the
stability and security of the Bank of Messrs. Jonathan Backhouse & Co., a confidence fully justified by
the substantial manner in which they have carried on business uninterruptedly for the space of
40 years, We the undersigned of the agricultural interest, think it due to them publicly to state that
we consider the establishment of such a bank a real advantage to the county, and that it is our
determination to receive their notes in payment to any amount as usual. Darlington, Monday,
July 24th, 1815."

An account of this declaration is given in the following letter from Mr. John
R. Ord, of Haughton Hall.

" My father at this time (1815) banked with Messrs. Backhouse, in whom he had the greatest confidence
in every respect. In proof of which he mounted horse and accompanied by a neighbour, Mr. Robert
Thornton, called upon every influential gentleman in the district, obtaining in every instance a
signature to a Declaration of Confidence in the Banking House of Jonathan Backhouse. The day was
Sunday, and at even my father called at the Friends Meeting House at Darlington, where the Quakers
were assembled and enquired for Mr. Backhouse. The Verger hesitated— then he whispered — 'Is it
about the bank ? ' The interview was at once effected. Early next morning (being the market day)
my father rode into Darlington and there beheld large posters having printed upon them the
Declaration of Confidence and all the signatures which his loyalty and energy had procured out of a
well-spent Sabbath. And the good old bank has continued to flourish."

Haughton Hall,

August 17 th, 1893.

List of signatures obtained by Mr. Ord and Mr. Thornton, in 1815 : —

Robert Colling, Barmpton.
Robert Waistell, Airey Hill.
Matthew Waistell, do.

Robert Thornton, Barmpton.
John Jolly, Worsall.
Thomas Ord, Newton.


List of signatures (continued)

William Robson, Great Burdon.
John Goodburn, Ketton.
George Gibson, do.
John Smith, do.

Christopher White, Morton.
John Wetherell, do.

Benj. JefEerson, Beamont Hill.
Robert Sheratin, do.

Henry Angles, Sadberge.
Thomas Swinbank, AyclifEe.
Wm. Arrowsmith, Sherbum.
Robert Addison, Wallworth.
John Addison, Borrowby.
James Watson, Heworth.
James Watson, jun., Heworth.
James Page, Eldon.
Wm. Seymour, School Aycliffe.
Haigh Robson, Coatham House.
Thomas Ord, jun., Coatham.
Daniel O'Callaghan, Heighington.

Robert Ord, Newton.

John Jackson, Burdon.

Wm. Richmond, Sadberge.

Nicholas Byers, Ketton.

Hy. Douglas, Sadberge.

Jos. Pearson, Burdon.

John Rawlin, do.

John White, Barmkin Moor.

James Alderson, Coatham.

Richard Maxon, Harrowfield.

John Stamper, AycliSe.

John Stamper, Brafferton.

John Best, Heighington.

Thos. Fortune, do.

Wm. Colling, do.

John Colling, do.

T. Richardson, Aycliffe Hill House.

Hy. Dunn, Lovesome Hill.

Thomas Sowerby, Bishopton.

W. Stow Stowell, Cockerton.

On July 26th, 1815, another declaration appeared : —

"DARLINGTON BANK, Messrs. BACKHOUSE & CO.— A report having been industriously
circulated that Messrs. Jonathan Backhouse & Co., Beinkers, Darlington, have been under the
necessity of suspending their payments for a short time, the friends of the Bank have great pleasure in
assuring the public that there was not the least foundation for such a report, as Messrs. Back-
house & Co. have had no occasion whatever either before or since the failure of Messrs. Mowbray & Co.
to suspend their payments for a single moment, and it appears but justice to the community at large
that they should be informed that the commercial and agricultural interests in Darlington and its
neighbourhood have unanimously come forward and testified their approbation and support of Messrs.
Backhouse & Co., and that the utmost confidence is reposed in them, a confidence justly merited by
the substantial manner in which they have uniformly and uninterruptedly carried on their business
for Forty Years. Darlington, July 26th, 1816."

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 17 of 57)