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 29 of 57)
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" Agreed with Mr. Fenwick for his son's being bound for seven years at £40, £50, and £60, and after
that £60 a year if he obtain his freedom, if not, £80 a year for the last four years, his board to be
deducted, namely, £20 a year."

At the close of each year's trading, the ledger was signed by all the partners ;
a copy of the signatures affixed in 1790 is given here.


Illness and death soon made inroads upon the staff. On July 7th, 1789, Mr.
Chambers wrote to Mr. Charles Kingston of Kirkleatham (evidently a friend of
the partners), "Your nephew, William, who is still very poorly, will go home and
wait till he hears from you before he set out." William Kingston entered the
service in the previous February for three years at £20, £20, and £-^0 per annum.
On October 25th, the death of Mr. Ashworth the junior partner who had to
"stand at the till" is recorded.

One of the early commercial customers of the bank was Thomas Joplin, who
then had a Raff Yard at Egypt, Newcastle. (His son afterwards took a prominent
part in the establishment of Joint Stock Banks.) An enquiry is made for him
regarding a Mr. Beynon who certainly had a curious address, " At the Tippling
Philosopher, Liquor Pond Street, Gray's Inn Lane, London."


In the days when conveyance of treasure was both difficult and expensive, every
opportunity had to be taken to secure the services of personal friends who were
going from home. A letter to Berwick states : — " Mrs. Thompson, a relative of our
Mr. R. Chambers, who takes the trouble of this letter, with her little nephew is
staying a few days at Berwick." The letter contained notes upon the Berwick
Banks for £ioo which Mrs. Thompson was to convert into gold and bring back to

An entry in the books at this time reminds us of the objectionable practice of
" Xmas Money " for the clerks, that existed for so many years.

"To Messrs. the Clerks at Ed. Master, Esq., & Co. Newcastle, 4th March, 1789.

Gentlemen, — Enclosed are two notes value Ten Guineas of which we beg your acceptance as we
understand this is customary at this season of the year."

At the end of the second year of the partnership considerable alterations
occurred. The senior partner, Thomas Davison-Bland, evidently retired, but no
reason is given for his so doing. Mr. George Hoar "being called to his appoint-
ment under the Honourable East India Company," left the firm and returned to
India. The gaps thus made were filled by Ralph John Lambton of Southall,
and Robert Hopper Williamson of 4^ JJa / //

Newcastle, gentlemen representing /o^fjl^lvtvyjr tv \ l//t (X^^yrvyf-YJ
two influential families. The former

was uncle to the first Lord Durham, and brought to the bank the name by which
it has been so widely known for more than a century. At this time gold was
a scarce commodity, and bankers were not so willing to pay as to receive the
precious metal. Mr. Chambers wrote, "We had a balance against Eden & Co.
(Old Bank) of ^650 ; they gave us a bill at 10 days without paying the carriage."
Mr. Dunn of Durham was evidently a trial to the Newcastle firm. In a letter
to Mr. George Fenwick, dated Newcastle, June 23rd, 1790, Mr. Chambers
writes : —

" Mr. Dunn of Durham made a demand upon us to-day for £610 in Gold, and comes every week upon
the same errand for considerable sums ; we will be much obliged by the Favour of your com-
municating this circumstance to Mr. Tempest who we are certain wou'd not countenance such
conduct. If it was for the purpose of making Colliery Payments we wou'd not Complain, but the
Money goes out of this neighbourhood to Manchester or some distant Part of the Kingdom. Any
means of counteracting this disagreeable Business of Mr. D's. will be very desirable."

In the early months of 1792 gold was very scarce in Newcastle, so the firm
despatched their clerk Joseph Cowing to Edinburgh, to try and procure specie
from Sir W. Forbes & Co. A letter dated February 25th, 1792, from the firm to
their London Agents explains the situation : —

" Gentlemen, — In consequence of the enclosed Advertisement by Way of Caution, lest any unusual
Demand shou'd happen, we have drawn four Bills upon you this day at Ten Days Date for One

[^46] ^

thousand Pounds each, payable to Mr. Joseph Cowing one of our clerks, whom we have sent to
Edinburgh as the most speedy means of getting Specie, if he shou'd not succeed the bills will of course
be remitted to you and in the mean Time we will be obliged by the Favor of your forwarding Two
thousand Pounds of the Money we have already wrote for by the Mail Coach agreeing for the carriage
on the lowest Terms you can, and the Eemainder by the first Waggon."

Changes soon again occurred in the firm. Mr. David Landell died February
2nd, 1793, and at the same time Mr. Smoult retired, and requested that his money
might be remitted to India, where he proposed staying a few years longer. The
vacancies do not appear to have been immediately filled up.

In the early part of the year great disturbances arose at Shields, Sunderland,
and Newcastle, in consequence of the sailors banding together to resist the
press-gang. They drove them out of Shields with their "jackets reversed,"
and vowed that " should they ever attempt to enter Shields, they should be
torn limb from limb." Riots occurred in other places. It was, therefore, deemed
prudent to remove the stock of notes, both cancelled and new, from the bank to
the private residence of Mr. Williamson in Hanover Square.

" Sent to Mr. Robt, Hopper Williamson, February 13th, 1793 —

Notes, No. 1, examined to be cancelled as per the burning-book, page 47, £27,975 16 6

Tin Box No. 2 . . . . . , . . . . . . 20,000

1 Paper Parcel, No. 8 . . . . . . . . . . 33,225

Delivered by Joseph Cowing .. .. .. .. £81,200 16 6

March 4th, 1793, By the above Notes returned . . . . . . £81,200 16 6

Mem. — The above notes were sent to Mr. Williamson to keep in his possession on account of
an alarm of Riot amongst the sailors, and returned to the bank on the day above-named.

Witness, R. CHAMBERS."

On March 9th, 1793, Mr. Chambers wrote to Mr. Lambton regarding the
annual statement of accounts which had recently been made up, and remarked that
it was very satisfactory, adding : —

" Having a considerable Balance in Masters & Co.'s Hands we have wrote to desire they will purchase

Ten thousand Pounds Stock for us in the 3 p.c. Consols which Power Mr. Williamson

thinks shou'd lay by us to be ready upon any emergency. I have the satisfaction to add that we have
had no losses during the last Year and that our Circulation keeps its Ground in Spite of the
Multiplicity of Banks that are daily creeping in upon us in the neighbourhood. We have also steered
clear of any losses by the late Failures amongst the West India Houses in London." (See page 54.)

For some weeks a panic had prevailed in London and other places, but so far,
the Newcastle district had not been affected. Mr. Chambers in a letter written
to Mr. R. J. Lambton addressed to Melton-Mowbray on the 20th March, 1793,
says : —

" Notwithstanding some convulsions amongst the Bankers in different parts of the kingdom, we remain
quiet and undisturbed here, indeed, with respect to ourselves, we never were better prepared against a


run than at present ; we have only 60,000 in circulation and can command Forty Thousand
immediately within our reach, the remaining 20,000 being mostly in negotiable bills, might also be
converted into money in a few days so that we have nothing to fear."

This, and the previous letter quoted, are very important, as they show most
conclusively the sound condition of the bank up to March 2oth, and the
prudence that regulated its transactions. They entirely refute in this instance the
charge of reckless trading that had often assailed the country banker. The sequel
shows how suddenly the panic storms burst over certain districts in the olden days.
Before the month was out, distrust — the banker's worst foe — had reached
Newcastle. Every effort had to be put forth to procure gold, both locally and
from other parts. Mr. Hall, one of the clerks, was despatched to London to get
a supply of specie from Messrs. Masters & Co., who were unable to procure it,
and made some paltry excuse regarding the state of the account. On the 6th
April, Mr. Chambers wrote to Mr. Hall to the following effect : — " We hope
you are not still in London, but if you are, try and bring ;^4,ooo with you
immediately, or all you can get." Things grew desperate ; all the banks in the
town and district were pressed ; gold must be procured or the doors closed.
Mr. Hopper WiUiamson posted up to London to see what he could do ; only to
find Mr. Lambton was there before him. While they were away, the Newcastle
traders had to take up the question. On April 8th, a meeting was held in
the Merchants' Court " to take into consideration the propriety of giving, at this
juncture, every possible support to public credit, and to the commercial engagements
of this part of the country." Resolutions were passed which stated that four of
the banks (of which Messrs. Lambton's was one) " are entitled to the confidence
of the public in the fullest extent," and that those present would accept their notes.
On the 9th, the four banks — Ridley's, Surtees', Baker's, and Lambton's (the
"Commercial," Messrs. Burrell, Rankin, & Co., being omitted), issued a joint notice
asking the indulgence of the public for a short interval for the purpose of
supplying themselves with such additional funds as the present extraordinary
demands make necessary. A public meeting was held in Newcastle on the next
day, when about a quarter of a million sterling was guaranteed to be paid to the
Mayor on demand, to uphold the public credit. Meetings were also held in the
local towns. In the meantime, all the banks had to suspend payment ; Saturday,
April 2oth, being the day mutually agreed upon when they would resume business.
(For account of the panic see page 48). There is no doubt that Messrs. Lambton
could have paid cash sooner, but they acted in concert with the other banks.
A letter to their London Agent, April 13th, (Saturday) proves this, and shows
what two of the partners were doing in London while meetings were being held in
the north.


" To Messrs. Masters & Co., Gentlemen, — Mr. Williamson left this place on Tuesday morning last
(April 8th) intending to call upon you, but finding Mr. Ralph Lambton ready to set out for Newcastle
with a considerable supply of money, he returned immediately with him after staying a few hours in
London, and arrived here this morning. We doubt not you have heard of the disagreeable
circumstances the four banks here at present labour under, and we have the pleasure to assure you
the popular alarm appears to be in a great measure subsided, so that in a few days we hope everything
will go on as before."

The banks re-opened on April 20th, the " Commercial " declining to continue
banking, but subsequently paying all its notes with interest. In a short time
public confidence was regained, and Messrs. Lambton's business went on as usual.
The difficulty of procuring gold from Messrs. Masters & Co. probably led to
a change of the London Agent, for very soon afterwards, the account was transferred
to Messrs. Boldero, Adey, Lushington, & Boldero.

In the July following the panic, the proprietors of the Tyne Bank made
overtures to Messrs. Lambton & Co. for the amalgamation of the two firms, the
following reply showing the result : —

"Newcastle, July 11th, 1793.
" To George Baker, Esq., and Robert Newton Lynn, Esq.
" Gentlemen, — We have considered your proposal for a union of our interests in the Banking concerns,
but being apprehensive that under the present circumstances of the country any change might be
attended with inconvenience, we feel ourselves on that account induced to decline your obliging and
friendly offer."

In 1 794, Mr. James Pybus became a partner. Doubtless he was the gentleman
who came from Prescott & Sons as clerk, at the formation of the bank. From a
letter written by him to Mr. Boyd in 1828, we have procured some of the
particulars regarding the bank. In 1795, at the termination of his apprenticeship,
Mr. Thomas Fenwick entered the partnership. On the ist February, 1797, Mr.
Job Bulman joined the firm, which became Lambton, Bulman, Chambers, Fenwick,
and Pybus.

Before the end of the month named, gold again became very scarce. On
February 20th, the banks unitedly issued a notice stating that they were taking
immediate steps to procure specie. On the same day a public meeting was held
at Turner's Inn (one of the noted Coffee Houses on the Sandhill), when
resolutions in support of the banks were passed. On Saturday the bankers held a
meeting at which they resolved, that if the demand for gold continued on the
Monday morning, they would all suspend payment until it could be obtained.
This course they had to adopt. It must be remembered that so scarce was gold
at this time, that " by order of council " the Directors of the Bank of England
were prohibited from giving cash for their notes. The local banks soon resumed
their payments.*

* For panic of 1797, see page 63.


After the panic, the Newcastle banks evidently took some united action
regarding the distribution of their notes. Messrs. Lambton wrote in May to Mr.
E. Blackbird, one of their agents : —

" From an arrangement lately made by the different Banks here, it has become unnecessary for them
to trouble any of their friends to circulate their paper in the way of exchange for other notes. We
shall not therefore have occasion to avail ourselves of your good offices in that respect in future."

Soon after the panic, Mr. Chambers became involved in commercial
difficulties, and ultimately (in 1803) came to the bankruptcy court. In August,
1797, he severed his connection with the bank, being the last of the original
partners. In the local papers appeared the following : —

" Bank in Newcastle. R. J. Lambton & Co. respectfully inform their friends and the Public that
the Banking business lately carried on under the Firm of R. J. Lambton, J. Bulman, Chambers & Co.,
will, in future, be conducted under the firm of R. J. Lambton, J. Bulman & Co."
Newcastle, 21st August, 1797.

In June, 1803, another commercial panic occurred in the north, when the
programme of guaranteeing the notes was again carried through. On this occasion
the old established bank of Surtees, Burdon, & Co. had to relinquish the race, and
subsequently became bankrupt.

Early in the century, Messrs. Lambton removed from Pilgrim Street to
premises on the west side of Dean Street, situated a little above the present
railway arch. The site is marked No. 188 on Oliver's Map, and is now numbered
52, Dean Street.

Again in 1815, July 22nd, it became necessary to guarantee the notes of the
Newcastle bankers. A meeting was held in Foster's Long Room in Pilgrim
Street, at which Ridley's, Loraine's, Lambton's, and Reed's notes were guaranteed.

In the same month (July 24th) of the following year, it was once more
necessary to support the local notes by public declarations proclaimed as in former
times. On this occasion the townspeople were greatly astonished by Sir Charles
Loraine & Co. stating that they were declining the banking business. It can well
be imagined that the work of the surviving banks was augmented by the constant
disappearance of their rivals. In 1821 Messrs. Reed, Batson, & Co. found their
way to the bankruptcy court, which gave another influx of business to Messrs.

In 1836 the mania for Joint Stock Banks seized even Messrs. Lambton & Co.
In June of that year they issued a prospectus, proposing to form a Joint Stock
Bank to be entitled, " The Lambton Banking Company." The popular opinion
has hitherto been that the prospectus was drawn up but never issued. Such,
however, was not the case, as the copy here given passed through the post.







That the Banking Company be formed upon the basis of the private Bank of Messrs.


That the Capital be £1,000,000, and be divided into 20,000 Shares of £60 each.

That each of the Partners in the Firm of Messrs. R. J. Lambton and Co. shall
become a Shareholder, and shall be entitled to hold 300 Shares.

That the requisite numbers of Shares shall be appropriated for the Customers of the
present Firm, and the rest for the Public.

That a Premium of £2 10s. per Share be paid to Messrs. R. J. Lambton and Co. as a
compensation to them for relinquishing their business in favour of the nev? Banking Company.

That the necessary arrangements until the appointment of Directors, shall be intrusted
to a Provisional Committee, to consist of the Partners of the Firm of Messrs. R. J. Lambton
AND Co., and such six Gentlemen as they shall choose out of the applicants for Shares ; and
the allotment of the Shares shall be made by a Committee to be chosen at a General
Meeting of the Applicants to be called by the Provisional Committee.

That the Premium, and £10 per Cent, on each Share, shall on the allotment of the
Shares, or within ten days after, be deposited in the Bank of Messrs. R. J. Lambton and Co. :
the £10 per Cent, to be paid over by them to the new Banking Company immediately upon
the opening of the Establishment, which will take place on the 1st August next ; and the
remainder of the Capital, or such part thereof, as the Directors shall think necessary, shall be
paid up at such times as they shall appoint ; of which times three months' notice shall be

That no person, except as aforesaid, shall be entitled to hold more than 150 Shares, nor
less than five Shares.

That the qualification for a Director shall be 100 Shares.

That no Shares shall be sold or transferred before the end of the first year of the
Co-partnership ; and that any Shareholder desirous of disposing of his Shares, shall first offer
them to the Company, at such price as shall be fixed by the Directors as the then general
value of Shares.

That the three present Managing Partners of the Bank of Messrs. R. J. Lambton and Co.
shall be appointed Managers of the new Banking Company, subject to the superintendence
of, and with such salaries as shall be fixed by the Directors.

That a general Meeting of the Shareholders shall be held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, at
such time and place as the Provisional Committee shall appoint, for the purpose of choosing

That there shall be seven Directors, three of whom shall retire annually, but shall be
capable of being re-elected.

That the Directors shall annually appoint three Shareholders, not being Directors, to
audit and certify the accounts to be produced at an Annual Meeting of the Shareholders.

That at all General Meetings, the Proprietors shall be entitled to vote in respect of their
Shares as follows ; that is to say, for Five Shares, One Vote ; Fifteen Shares, Two Votes ;
Thirty Shares, Three Votes ; Fifty Shares, Four Votes ; One Hundred Shares, Five Votes ;
One Hundred and Fifty Shares, Six Votes.

That the sale, or transfer of every Share, shall be evidenced by some instrument in
Writing, and no Person shall be a Partner by reason thereof, until such instrument be
produced to the Directors, and entered in a Book to be kept for that purpose.

That persons to whom Shares are allotted neglecting to pay the Premium and their
proportion of Capital within one month after the time appointed for the payment thereof,
shall forfeit their Shares.

That Shareholders be allowed to vote by a written Proxy, such Proxy to be held by a

_ That a deed of Co-partnership be prepared on the basis of this proposal, which shall also
contain all such other provisions as may be necessary for effectuating the object of the


Newcastle, nth jfime, 1836.

WE beg leave to acquaint you, that we have detevmined, in consequence
of the strong feeling expressed by the Public in favour of Joint Stock Banking
Companies, to offer to our Friends a participation in our Establishment.

Agreeably to this determination, we take the liberty of handing to you a
copy of our Proposal, and should you be desirous of becoming a Shareholder, we
request you will, at your earliest convenience, inform us how many Shares you
wish to have allotted to you.

Should you require any further explanation, we shall be most happy to
afford it to you ; and remain,


Yours very obediently.

The circulars issued were almost immediately recalled, and the project given



I am informed upon most reliable authority that the withdrawal of the circular
and the abandonment of the scheme were due to Mr. John Abbott of Gateshead.
He always had large sums of money on deposit with Messrs. Lambton & Co., and
he was so strongly in favour of their remaining a private bank, that he induced
them to accede to his request.

In September, 1840, the proprietors of the bank decided to accept the offer
made by the Bank of England to all country bankers, to relinquish the issue of
their own notes, and upon a commission of 7/- per cent, issue only the notes of
the Bank of England. A local paper records,

" This month (September, 1840) the old and highly respectable banking house of Lambton & Co,,
Newcastle, made arrangements to withdraw their own notes from circulation, and to issue no paper
but that of the Bank of England."

jtwiyw"." 1 < . ^ 1 1

7^.94^ \%inliTii")tcturaoffe



The year 1857 saw another bank crash in Newcastle. In December of that
year the Northumberland and Durham District Bank closed its doors. Being by
far the largest house in the north, its suspension naturally caused its numerous
customers to seek special accommodation from the other establishments in the
town, and many found welcome and generous assistance from Messrs.
Lambton & Co. Overtures were afterwards made to obtain the very handsome
premises occupied by the District Bank, in Grey Street. A removal thither was
soon after effected, and here Messrs. Lambton have since continued to carry on
their extensive business.

From time to time branches have been established at most of the commercial
centres in the vicinity, so that they now cover the principal business ground of the

fll>c69r0. Xambton S, Co,

Partners in 1894.

•^ ^




Henry N. Middleton. Ralph Brown. Mark Fenwick.

George John Fenwick. Henry Ralph Lambton.
Ralph E. Lambton. George A. Fenwick. Gerard Fenwick.


district. The centenary of the bank on February ist, 1888, was celebrated by a
bonus of 10 per cent, on their salaries being presented to the whole of the staff. A
banquet was held in the Assembly Rooms, Newcastle, Mr. Henry Ralph Lambton,
the senior partner, being in the chair. Representatives were present of most of
the old partners and the other banking establishments of the district.

A few years since, the firm adopted the practice of issuing an annual balance
sheet, certified by a chartered accountant. The statement for 1893 will show the
very extensive business now carried on by the firm.

LAMBTON & CO., Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Balance-sheet, 31st December, 1893.
Current, deposit and other accounts . . . . . . . . . . £3,067,103 19 8

Acceptances . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,344

Liabilities to the pubUc .. .. .. .. .. .. £3,082,447 19 8

Partners' capital, reserve, and current account . . . . . . 702,122 12 8

£3,784,570 12 4


Investments :— £375,000 2| consols at 95, £356,250 ; £125,000 2^ consols at
93, £116,250 ; £27,500 exchequer bills, £27,500— £500,000 ; securities
of, or guaranteed by the Governments of India and British colonies,
English municipal corporation stock, and debenture, preference and
ordinary stocks of English railways, £973,565 19s. Id. ; other
investments, £82,615 16s. 7d. . .

Cash at head office and branches, £165,502 13s. Od. ; cash with Bank
of England, Messrs. Barclay & Co., and other banks, £208,526 17s. lid.;
cash with London bill brokers at call and seven days' notice, £251,277
12s. 3d.

Advances to customers and bills discounted . .

Acceptances for customers against security, per contra

Freehold bank premises, head office and branches

THOMAS DAVISON-BLAND. The personal history of the eariy partners

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 29 of 57)