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 24 of 57)
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first class in natural science. In 1862 he became a partner in the bank. Soon after
this he entered the Council, and has served four times as Mayor. He is also a
Magistrate and a Deputy Lieutenant for the North Riding, besides holding a
number of other positions of a public character, but he is perhaps best known in
connection with the Fishery Boards and Committees, where his great knowledge
of the subject, and his deep interest in it, have made him a most valuable colleague.

CHARLES W. WOODALL, another son of the third John Woodall, is a
barrister, but joined the partnership in 1878, shortly before his father's death.

EDWARD HOPPER HEBDEN married the sister of John Tindall, one of
the former partners of the bank, and was connected with it for at least forty years.
His third son William followed him.

WILLIAM HEBDEN, the present head of the firm, joined the partnership
in 1862 or 1863. He married Juha, daughter of Col. Salmond, of Waterfoot,
Cumberland. He is a magistrate for North Yorkshire, and a Lieut.-Col. of the
2nd North Yorkshire Volunteers.


BecRett S, Co. l^orft.

(See Bower & Co., Malton.)

BIaF?e, Sir Jfrancis, $i (To. iRewcastie-upon-xrgne.

(See Batson, Wakefield, & Scott.)

Bower, Dcw6bur^, S. Co. noaiton.

Founded between 1805 & 1812. Now Beckett & Co., York.


— Bower. James Smith. W. B. Denison.

— Dewshury. Harold Barkworth. C. B. Denison.

R. Bower. R. H. Bower. W. F. H. Thomson.

H. W. Hutton. John Hall. E. W. Beckett.

E. T. Hutton. J. R. Pease. E. B. Faber.

James Hall. G. A. Buncombe.

AT some period between 1805 and 181 2, this bank was commenced at Malton.
It does not appear in the lists for 1805. Messrs. Campion's books show
that they had banking transactions with the firm in 18 12, as Bower,
Dewsbury, & Co. They are mentioned in 18 16 as Bower & Co.; London Agents,
Curtis & Co.

By 1825 they had evidently attained a considerable position, with an extensive
note issue. The great panic of that year was felt even at Malton, where the notes
of the country bankers w^ere looked upon with discredit. It was deemed necessary
to hold a public meeting regarding them, when the following announcement was
made : —

" Malton Banks. — In consequence of the present unsettled state of the public mind in respect to the
circulation of Country Bankers Notes, We, the undersigned Malton Traders and Inhabitants of New
Malton and its vicinity, do hereby declare that we have the highest confidence in the stability and
integrity of the gentlemen composing the above firms and in confirmation thereof we further declare that
we do and shall continue to take their notes as usual. December 17th, 1825."

A long list of signatures is attached. The other banks at Malton at this period
were : — Messrs. Hague, Strickland, & Allen ; and Pease, Dunn, & Co.

In 1840 the firm had become Bower, Hutton, & Hall ; they were in
Yorkersgate, James Smith being Cashier. In the Bankers' Almanack for 1846, we
have "East Riding Bank — Bower, Hutton, & Co., a very old establishment.
Note issue £53,392'"

[ 200 ]

By 1847 they had made Beverley their head-quarters, and are announced as
Bower & Co. of Beverley, Driffield, Malton, and Pickering ; the partners being
Robert Bower, Welham House, near Malton ; Henry William Hutton, Beverley ;
James Hall, Scorboro', near Beverley ; Edward Thomas Hutton, Beverley ; their
fixed note issue being ;^53,ooo. In 1850 a change of partners occurs. They then
become Bower, Hall, & Co. ; partners — Robert Bower, Welham House, near
Malton ; James Hall, Scorboro' ; James Smith, Malton (probably the previously
named cashier) ; Harold Barkworth, Beverley.

Another alteration took place about 1863. Mr. Smith's name is omitted, and
Robert Hartley Bower, Firby Hall, near Malton, and John Hall, of Scorboro',
were added to the firm. In 1867 Robert Hartley Bower was of Sutton Cottage,
near Malton. By 1869 the firm was James Hall, Robert Hartley Bower (now of
Welham House), and James Robinson Pease, Westwood, Beverley. In January,
1 87 1, George Augustus Duncombe, Beverley, joined the partnership.

On 31st December, 1875, Mr. James Hall retired, and William Beckett
Denison, and Christopher Beckett Denison, came in as senior partners (they
were also partners in the firm of Beckett & Co., bankers, Leeds), when the name
of the bank was changed to Beckett & Co., East Riding Bank. Upon the failure
of Messrs. Swann, Clough, & Co., bankers, at York, on May 8th, 1879, their business
was purchased by the East Riding Bank, and in 1884 York became the head
office of Messrs. Beckett & Co. Mr. C. Beckett Denison died October 30th, 1884;
in the same year Mr. J. R. Pease left the firm (He died January 13th, 1888).
Mr. R. H. Bower died May 25th, 1886, when the senior partner, Mr. William
Beckett (who had relinquished the name of Denison), and Mr. George Augustus
Duncombe were the only partners.

In the following year Wilfred Forbes Home Thomson entered the firm.
Mr. William Beckett died 23rd November, 1890, when his son, Ernest William
Beckett, and Edmund Beckett Faber joined the partnership ; these two gentlemen
being partners also in Beckett & Co., Leeds. The present partners, therefore, are
G. A. Duncombe, Beverley ; Ernest William Beckett, Kirkstall Grange, Leeds ;
Edmund Beckett Faber, Belvedere, Harrogate ; and W. F. H. Thomson,
Nunthorpe, York. This is one of the few private banks that have survived
for nearly a century, although its name and the situation of its head office have

It is probable that the Bower family originally came from Newcastle-upon-
Tyne, as in old St. Mary's Church, Malton, upon a tablet facing the altar, is the
following inscription : — " Here lieth the body of Mr. John Bower, late of
Newcastle, Mercer, who departed July 26, 171 5, aged 32.


Brancb 1Bm\\\ of jEnglanb, •Rewcastie-upon-xcpne.

Opened April 2ist, 1828.

THE circumstances that led to the formation of Branches of the Bank of
England in various towns throughout the kingdom having been explained
in the general account of banking in the north (page pj), it is now only-
necessary to show how the merchants and bankers of Newcastle viewed the coming
event. The hostility shown throughout the provinces by the country bankers and
merchants, against the policy of the directors of the Bank of England in extending
their business beyond the limits of the metropolis, was not lacking in the north.
As early as 1825, it would be known that Newcastle was one of the towns named
as suitable for the establishment of a branch, but it was not until premises were
actually engaged that active steps were locally taken to prevent if possible the
opening of a Branch Bank in the town. The country bankers of the Newcastle
district had united their protest with the rest of their profession when the scheme
was first mooted, and now the merchants and tradesmen took up the cudgels
against the Bank.

Eight branches had already entered into competition with the provincial
bankers, namely, Gloucester, opened 19th July; Manchester, 21st September;
Swansea, 23rd October, 1826 ; Birmingham, ist January ; Liverpool, 2nd July ;
Bristol, 1 2th July; Leeds, 23rd August; Exeter, 17th December, 1827; and
rumour was rife that the Directors had resolved to open forty others. The matter
was considered by the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce (as will be seen by the
following extracts from their minute book), when they drew up and forwarded to
London a petition against the formation of a Branch Bank of England in Newcastle.

Extracts from Minute Book of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce : —

COMMITTEE MEETING, 7th March, 1828.

Present : —

S. W. PARKER, Esq., in the Chair.

Mr. J. Lamb. Mr. T. Loggan. Mr. A, Clapham.

„ W. Armstrong. ,, R. Ormston. „ R. Belt.

„ W. Redhead. „ R. Marshall. „ T. Hedley.

,, E. H. Campbell.

Mr. Lajuh read the Draft of a Memorial to the Directors of the Bank of England, on the subject
of the proposed Institution of a Branch of the Bank of England in Newcastle.

Resolved — That the memorial now read is unanimously adopted by this meeting, and that the
Secretary be requested to convene a special general meeting of the subscribers to the Chamber,
to-morrow, at 2 o'clock, for the purpose of confirming the proceedings this day.


[ 202 ]


Pbesent :

Mr. J. Lamb.

S. W. Parker.
W. Redhead.
J. CooKSON, jun.


R. Oemston, jun.
M. Plummer.

Mr. R. Marshall.

,, C. Angas.

,, W. Armstrong.

„ G. Burnett.

,, R. Plummer.

„ R. Todd.

,, A. Clapham.

Mr. T. Loggan.

,, T. Hedley.

,, E. Walker.

,, E. H. Campbell.


„ J. Cboser.

,, I. Price.

A. EASTERBY, Esq., in the Chair.

The memorial to the Bank Directors being again read, it was moved by Mr. J. Lamb, and
unanimously carried, that the same be transmitted to M. Bell, Esq., M.P., London, to be by him
presented to the Directors of the Bank of England, after Mr. Cookson, the President, had added his
signature to it.

Mr. Lamb gave notice that at the next Committee Meeting (in April) he would bring forward a
motion respecting the one pound notes.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 8th March, 1828.
Matthew Bell, Esq., M.P.

Sir, — I am directed by the Chamber of Commerce to forward to you the enclosed Memorial
addressed to the Governor and Company of the Bank of England on the subject of the proposed
establishment of a Branch of the Bank of England in Newcastle, and to request that you will have
the goodness to transmit to them the same.

I think it right to observe, that the Memorial was unanimously agreed to in a very full Meeting
of the Chamber, including many Gentlemen of the greatest Commercial Weight in this town.

(Signed), P. GRIEVSON, Secretary.

To the Governor and Company of the Bank of England.

The Memorial op the Chamber op Commerce of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
" Most respectfully sheweth that your Memorialists are informed, that it is the intention of the
directors of the Bank of England to establish a Branch of that institution in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
That your Memorialists are all, more or less, extensively engaged in the commerce and manufacture
of this town and neighbourhood, and that in the conducting of their various concerns they have
hitherto experienced from the Bankers here, every degree of accommodation they could reasonably
expect or desire. That Newcastle is the centre of a most important mining and commercial district,
and that the system of banking which obtains here, has become adapted to the wants, and conducive
to the benefit of all classes of the people. That, in proof of the soundness and ability of the existing
system of banking, your Memorialists have only to refer to the calamitous period of little more than
two years ago, in which the credit of the country was shaken in almost every direction ; it being well
known, that during the whole of that period of unexampled commercial distress, the resources and
liberality of the Newcastle Bankers served effectually to protect this part of the country from any
serious inconvenience. That your Memorialists, in the absence of any avowed motive for the
establishment of a Branch of the Bank of England, in Newcastle, see no prospect whatever of good
from such an establishment.

That they beg leave to assure you that no doubt is entertained of the security of the notes in
circulation here, and that they have not heard of any complaint of the insufficiency of banking


Your Memorialists therefore most earnestly recommend to the Directors of the Bank of England
to re-consider the policy of the measure they are about to adopt, and to abstain from trying an
experiment on a system of banking, the advantages of which are so generally felt and admitted ; an
experiment which, in the deliberate opinion of your Memorialists, is but too likely to be injurious
while it cannot possibly be beneficial to the interests of a town circumstanced as this most fortunately
is with respect to every commercial facility which the operation of banking is calculated to afford.

Signed on behalf of the Chamber, Newcastle,
March 8th, 1828. ISAAC COOKSON, President.

The Governor took twelve days to consider the short but significant answer
that he returned.

Bank of England, 20th March, 1828.

Sir, — I am desired by the Governor to acquaint you that the memorial which he had the honour

to receive from you, dated the 8th Inst., on the subject of the Branch of the Bank of England, proposed

to be instituted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has been submitted to the consideration of the Court of

Directors, and that they do not see reason to alter the intention of establishing a Branch Bank

in that town.

I have the honour to be

Your most obedient humble servant,

Matthew Bell, Esq., M.P., Northumberland. JOHN KNIGHT, Ass. Sec.

The matter was further brought before the pubhc by some strong letters that
appeared in the local press. They were subsequently published in pamphlet form,
entitled —

" The Bank of England and the Country Bankers. Three letters addressed to the editor of the Tyne
Mercury, under the signature of ' Alfred,' pointing out the danger to be apprehended from the
provincial establishment of the Bank of England, and in particular the inexpediency of the
establishment of a Branch of the Bank of England in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. ' It is good not to try
experiments in states except the necessity be urgent or the utility evident.' — Bacon. Newcastle :
printed by J. and J. Hodgson, Union Street, and sold by E. Charnley, Bigg Market, and Baldwin and
Cradock, Paternoster Row, London, 1823."

The letters are inscribed " To Isaac Cookson, Esq. (partner in Sir M. W.
Ridley's Bank), President of the Chamber of Commerce, Newcastle-on-Tyne.
The dedication concludes : —

" If the following letters, embracing a subject so important as a change of our local currency, should
be found in any degree to meet with your approbation I shall deem myself amply rewarded for any
little trouble the composition of them may have cost me." — " Alfred," April 19, 1828.

Alfred's contributions are too long to give here, but thinking that my readers
might like to hear of the dire calamities that he prognosticated, the letters are
printed in full in the appendix. At the time these epistles appeared, they
undoubtedly did create some alarm in the mind of the public.

Notwithstanding this local opposition, on April 2ist, 1828, a Branch of the
Bank of England was duly opened in Newcastle, the premises secured being the South
corner of the Bailiffgate. The buildings were pulled down for railway improvements


some time ago. The staff consisted of an Agent, Sub-Agent, Chief Clerk, two or
three juniors, and one messenger. The Agent appointed was Mr. George Carr.
He was not connected with the north, and had previously been a merchant in the
Russian trade ; he resided upon the premises in the Bailiffgate. The Sub-Agent
was Mr. Timothy Cutforth, a local gentleman, described in the Newcastle
Directory as " Ship and Insurance Broker and Agent to the London Union Fire
and Life Office, Fenwick's Entry, Quayside." Mr. Cutforth was a member of the
Society of Friends ; he then and subsequently resided at Swinburne Place. For
some time he was a Director of the Savings' Bank.*

The Chief Clerk, Mr. Wm. Chas. McCreight, came from the head office, but
had relatives in the town. The requisite amount of notes and bullion for opening
the Branch were brought down by coach in charge of Mr. McCreight and his
junior Mr. Hoddle. The Mail was very late in arriving and the custodians and
their treasure spent the night at the house of Mr. Robert Dees (brother-in-law of
Mr. McCreight), Russell Court, Westgate Road.

The practice of the Directors of selecting gentlemen who had not had banking
experience as Managers at all the Branches, drew forth remarks from many
quarters. The early pages of " The Circular to Bankers " are full of condemnation
of the Branch System in general and the selection of the Agents in particular.

The question of the conducting of the business at the Branches was made the
subject of discussion at each half-yearly meeting of the proprietors.

The publication just referred to states : —

" How remarkable it is that information respecting the proceedings of the Bank Managers is never
submitted to the Meetings of Proprietors ! Neither the gross amount of the sum discounted at the
Branch Banks, nor the proportion of substantial or undoubted bills, and of fictitious or accommodation
bills, is known. Yet upon this depends the success or the failure of a Branch Bank establishment.
We believe that the Directors, in the appointment of the Managers of the Branch Banks, were entirely
uninfluenced by any jobbing motives in regard to their selection. But it is obvious that they are wholly
unfitted for being entrusted with a matter of so much delicacy and importance as the deciding upon
the credit of individuals and the regulating the amount of that credit, which shall at any time be
exchanged for the notes or the gold of the Bank of England.

The crudeness which marked its conception (the Branch Bank system) and the absurdity of its
arrangement and management, are in perfect parallel."

The business of the Branch at the commencement w^as very small. It was not
to be expected that an establishment opened against the expressed wish of the
merchants, with an agent a stranger to the town and to banking business, should

* We may presume that the family had been many years resident in the town, as the Netvcastle Journal of
December 19th, 1778, announces:—" On Thursday at the Quaker's Meeting in this town Mr. Joseph Storey to Miss
Eliza Cutforth, Newgate Street, a young lady endowed with every qualification requisite to make the marriage
state superlatively happy."


prove a very formidable rival to the existing banks, which then Avere Sir. M. W.
Ridley & Co. ; Lambton & Co. ; Backhouse & Co. ; and Chapman & Co. There
are no data to show how these firms were affected ; but idle rumour, and
possibly the letters of "Alfred" previously referred to, did materially affect the
business of the Newcastle Savings' Bank, as will be seen in the account of that

One primary^ object in forming the branch banks was a desire to substitute the
paper currency of the Bank of England for that of the country bankers, and
on this account a considerable stock of notes and bullion had to be kept at the
Branch, thus placing great responsibility upon the Agent. Lawson says : —

"The agent of the bank represents the authority of the Bank of England at the Branches; he is
responsible in a bond of £20,000 for his proper conduct, and also for using a due discretion and
diligence in the administration of the affairs of the branch."

The branch had been established a little over a year when Mr. Cutforth fell
into ill-health, and in March, 1829, went for a visit to the South of France. He
returned to business for a short time, but died in August of the same year. His
post was filled by Mr. H. J. Dorrien ;* he resided at Gateshead, and became a
member of the Northern Counties' Club.

Soon after the establishment of the Branch, the Act of Parliament came into
operation that compelled the withdrawal from circulation of all bank notes under
the value of ^5. In conjunction with many others, the Chamber of Commerce in
Newcastle sent a petition to the Commons praying for the repeal of the said Act
(see page g8). It however, was unavailing, and upon the 5th of April, 1829, the
Act came into operation. This step necessitated the substitution of a large amount
of gold coin, which was paid to the local bankers through the Branch Banks.
Terms were arranged upon which the country bankers could open discount
accounts with the Bank of England. For gold required, one week's notice had to
be given, and if notice were given, it must be removed upon the day named.

" The mode adopted in fixing the amount which the Bank of England undertook to advance to any
bank applying for discount was, in the case of a previous circulation by such bank, to show the amount
of its notes ; and if it could prove, to the satisfaction of the Bank of England, that it was able to keep
out a circulation of £60,000 or £100,000, that amount of discount was afforded, but when there was no
previous circulation, they found it difficult to fix an amount and therefore gave an open account for
the year, to try what amount would be permanently required."

Most of the North-country bankers soon opened accounts at the Branch Bank,
and must have found much' convenience and safety in the depot for gold thus
opened in the North. By judiciously holding a stock of Branch Bank notes they
could ensure their conversion into gold in as many hours as it would previously

♦ Probably a relative of the London Bankers, Dorriens, Mello, & Co., who in 1842 amalgamated with
Curries it Co. of Cornhill.


have taken days to send to London for the precious metal. The Bankers
Magazine for 1845, gives the following : —

" The chief part of the business of the Branch Bank of England is understood to be derived from
discounting the Bills of, and supplying the notes to, the other banks. In 1828, the amount of notes
issued by the Branch Bank of England at Newcastle was only £8,000. In 1837 it had increased to
£245,000 ; but, by the latter period, accounts for circulation had been opened with the Northumberland
and Durham District Bank, and the Bank of Head & Co., of Carlisle. A similar account was opened
with the Sunderland Joint Stock Bank, in May, 1838. In 1839, the amount of notes in circulation
had increased to £341,000 ; and the total amount of credit allowed to the three banks above mentioned
was £315,000. Since that period, the Bank of England has opened accounts with all the banks in
Newcastle, as already mentioned, except one ; and, excluding the Bank of Head & Co., of Carlisle, and
the Sunderland Joint Stock Bank, the circulation of Northumberland may be taken, as above stated,
at about £400,000.

The aggregate capital of the Newcastle Banks seems inadequate to the business they transact,
and to the demands of trade. They have all, with one exception, discount accounts with the Bank of
England ; and, although it is understood that the Bank has always acted with much liberality in the
discount of their paper, the supplies obtained in this manner do not appear sufficient for the wants of
that district. They are in the habit of drawing large supplies from other quarters, — of re-discounting,
both with the Bank of England and with other banks, to a heavy amount. Their bills are to be met
with, not only among the London brokers, but in the banks of Cumberland, Westmoreland, Lancashire,
Norfolk, and other monied counties ; and also in different parts of Scotland. It is, of course, well
known that the same practice is followed by banks situated in other commercial towns, where the
demands of trade require more capital than the locality can of itself furnish."

Another source of business for the Branch was the collection of money from
the various Receivers of Inland Revenue, a clerk from the Bank attending at all
the towns where the receipts were held in Northumberland, Durham, North
Yorkshire, and parts of Cumberland and Westmoreland. Country bank notes
payable in the town of receipt were taken by the Collectors, but they were not
otherwise accepted unless a country banker placed to his credit with the Branch
Bank of England a sum agreed upon to meet the encashment of such notes.
When the Branches were first opened, country bank notes were rigorously refused
for all payments across the counter, but the action of Mr. Wood the well-known
Gloucester banker, led to this rule being somewhat relaxed. One writer says : —

" But we know that the Managers do not in all cases, conform to the rules laid down by their
superiors, but exercise a discretion in deviating from them. At Gloucester, for example, the notes of
some country bankers who have opened no accounts, and made no deposits are refused to be taken at
the Branch Banks ; while others, who have likewise neither opened an account nor made a deposit,
are taken. The Notes of Mr. James Wood a banker in Gloucester, were, at first refused ; but,
after he had remonstrated, in his peculiar manner, they were taken. ' What ! I refuse the notes of
one of your Masters ? ! ! Who, I should like to know, holds more Bank Stock than I do ? 1! ' Since

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 24 of 57)