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 4 of 57)
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sudden Errand or Call out of the room. Very often they employed one Coggill, by his ordinary occu-
pation a Porter, to act the Teller, and he lost time and blundered with great alacrity — being instructed
to do his worst."

So the game went on ! During thirty days Trotter only got payment for
notes to the value of under ^i,ioo. This programme continued for months, till —

" Mr. Trotter's flesh and blood could endure this treatment no longer ; and, accordingly, we find him in
Murdock's telling-room on 23rd January, 1759, solemnly accompanied by a notary and two witnesses.
Utterly abandoned, the shameless Coggill was again set to work * in the usual manner of payment ' in
sixpences. Some noteholders were not so well treated as Mr. Trotter, being called ' scoundrels ' by the
tellers, and otherwise abused. Sometimes a beating was threatened, and one man was said to have got
both a beating and payment in sixpences. The instant the clock struck five all troublesome parties
were ' thrust out of doors by the shoulders ' — a mode of satisfaction of which there is little doubt Mr,
Trotter had experience."

Litigation followed, in the course of which it was shown that with a capital of
only ;^i 5,000, Murdock and Co. had a note circulation of ;^20o,ooo.

During the growth of the three large companies — the Bank of Scotland, the
Royal Bank, and the British Linen Company — another class of trader had developed,
namely, the private banker. An advertisement from a newspaper of July, 1730,
gives some idea of the business they undertook. James Blair, Merchant, at the
head of the Saltmarket, in Glasgow, announces the following : —

" All persons who have occasion to buy or sell bills of exchange, or want to borrow money, or have
money to lend on interest, or have any sort of goods to sell, or want to buy any kind of goods, or who

__^ [_io]

want to buy Sugar house notes, or other good bills, or desire to have such notes or bills discounted,
or who want to have policies signed, or incline to underwrite policies on ships or goods, may deliver
their commands."

Many of these merchant bankers acted as agents for the distribution of the
notes of the Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Prominent amongst them
stood out John Coutts, of Edinburgh (afterwards Sir William Forbes & Co.),
whose son James migrated south as many a Scotchman has done since, and
married the niece and became the partner of Mr. Campbell, the firm becoming
Campbell and Coutts of London. A mutual friend of John Coutts of Edinburgh
and George Campbell of London, was Ralph Carr, Merchant, of Newcastle, who,
in conjunction with the Edinburgh and London firms, found the gold required to
pay the Government troops during the rising of 1745. (See "Old Bank,"

The development of banking and the issue of paper money made rapid
progress in Scotland. The Darlington Pamphlet for July 3rd, 1772, announces : —

" To so high a pitch had the Scotch carried their rage for paper money that there is hardly a fishing-
town in the kingdom but has a bank. Even their publicans were wont to issue notes. It is reported of
one of them that when one of his notes was brought to him for payment he could not discharge it, but
he gave the bearer a pot of beer, and marked it upon the back of the bill as part of payment. It is
said that the Scotch have ten times more paper money in proportion to their specie, than ever the
English had."

At various times the forgery of their notes troubled the early Scotch bankers.
A Newcastle paper, of September 9th, 1768, says: —

" We are informed from Aberdeen, that on account of the late forgery of the Thistle Bank, of Glasgow,
the Banking Company there have refused taking any kind of their notes, as the counterfeited notes are
fabricated so much like the real notes that they cannot easily be discovered."

Having given an outline of the early formation and growth of the Scottish
banks up to the time of similar institutions being opened in the district we have
undertaken to review, we quit the subject as far as banking north of the
Tweed is concerned, and leave the consideration of the wonderful development of
the Scottish banking system, that now spreads like a network over the whole
country, and has become proverbial for its ability and stability.




Early use of coined money — The Northumbrian " Styca " — Silver Pennies — Their
almost exclusive use till the reign of Edward III. — Establishment of local
Mints and provincial Exchanges — Account of York Mint — Durham Mint —
Newcastle Mint — Specimens of various coins — London and Provincial Trade
Tokens — Counterfeit Copper — The new Copper Coinage of 1797 — Silver
Tokens — Set issued by John Robertson, of Newcastle — Carriage of Treasure
—Money hidden— The Will of Ricliard Belassis— Robbery of Gold— The
Town's Hutch — Towers of the Guilds — Assay Office opened in Newcastle —
" The Pretender " in Scotland — Duke of Cumberland in Newcastle — Cash
wanted for Troops — Ralph Carr supplies it — George Campbell suggests Bank
in Newcastle.

HAVING given some slight account of the state of banking in the great
centres of commerce to the North and South of Newcastle, as repre-
sented by London and Edinburgh, let us now consider a few incidents
relative to monetary transactions prior to the foundation of the first Bank in the

The use of coined money for the purposes of trade goes back to the earliest
period of our history ; but there are no pieces either in the scanty coinage of
Britain or among the numerous hoards of Roman money which the northern
camps have yielded, which can be assigned to a definite locality in the North
of England, although among the former a distinct class of coins of very rude
workmanship is found exclusively in the territory of the Brigantes.

The first English coinage of
copper, however, is of a type
peculiar to Northumbria, and is
supposed to owe its origin to the
survival in the North of England
of the later Roman small brass
g^ ' coinage long after the withdrawal

of the legionaries. Large hoards
of these coins are from time to time unearthed upon the line of the Roman Wall,
and they were probably used'in Saxon times concurrently with the silver Sceatta.


The Northumbrian coin which succeeded them is called the Styca. It is a
small copper piece about half an inch in diameter, having upon one face the


name of a king or archbishop and upon the other that of his moneyer, with the
simplest possible device, usually a small cross or circlet with a dot in the centre.
The earliest known specimen is assigned to ECGFRITH, King of Northumbria
from 670 to 685. This series includes a vast number of varieties of a very uniform
type and is continued intermittently through a line of Kings of Northumbria and
Archbishops of York for about two centuries, when it is superseded by the silver
pennies of the Danish and Norse Kings of Northumbria.

The large collection of stycas in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of
Newcastle was formed chiefly from the enormous find made in 1832 by the sexton
in digging a grave on the north side of Hexham Abbey Church, when upwards of
8,000 specimens were discovered hoarded in a large bronze pail.

The series of silver pennies and halfpence coined under the Danish and Norse
Kings covers the next two centuries, and though it exhibits little that is artistic in
its design and the slightest possible variation in type, is distinguished by great
precision of workmanship.

Pennies of Guthred Gndt, Danish King of Northumbria.

A very large proportion of the recorded specimens are from a deposit of about
7,000 coins and 1,000 ounces of silver bullion found in the banks of the river Ribble,
at Cuerdale, in 1840.


Pennies continued to be struck at York during the remainder of the pre-
conquest period, but with the exception of a ver}' doubtful attribution of a coin to
Corbridge there is no other place of mintage in Anglo-Saxon times which comes
within the geographical limits of this work.

Penny op ^thelstan, stbuck at York.

For several centuries the currency of England consisted almost exclusively of
silver pennies, and until the reign of Edward III. there was no regular coinage of
pieces of a higher value.

Owing to the difficulty of conveying money to distant places, local mints were
at an early period, established at various towns in England, and the dies for coining
were issued to them from the central mint at the Tower of London, subject to the
payment of a rent for their use. To facilitate the circulation of the money coined
by provincial mints. Exchanges were established in some of the chief towns,
at which bullion and plate were purchased, and where a table was kept
setting out the rates at which English money would be exchanged for foreign
specie. The exchanges in the north of which we have records were at York,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Hull, and at the same towns, with Durham and
Berwick-upon-Tweed, were the principal mints in the North-east of England.

The English mints at Bersvick-upon-Tweed and Kingston-upon-Hull were in
operation only under the first three Edwards. To the former town is assigned a
mintage in the Scottish coinage of pennies issued under the Northumbrian earldom
of Henry, son of David I., some of whose coins have been attributed by Mr.
Longstaffe to Bamburgh.


Both a Royal and an Episcopal mint existed at York. The earliest record of
the latter is in the Styca of ECGBEHRT, Archbishop, 734, and it was continued
at intervals to the dissolution. Thomas Wolsey, who was archbishop from 1515
to 1 53 1 struck, in addition to the pennies which were the staple coinage of the
provincial mints, groats, half groats, and halfjpence, marked with the cardinal's hat.


and in some cases with the crossed keys and his initials, T.W., and one of the
articles of accusation against him at his impeachment was this use of his own
private mint marks upon the larger pieces of money.

Groat and Halp-Groat of Henry VIII., Struck at York by Cardinal Wolsey.

The first certain appearance of the Royal Mint at York is under Athelstane,
and several of his successors coined there. After the conquest the mint continued
to increase in importance and under Edward I. was allowed twelve furnaces. It is
supposed that the greater part of the University plate which was ceded to
Charles I. during the Civil Wars, was made into coin at York. The mint was once
more re-opened when the worn and obsolete money was called in under William III.,
1695 to 1697. -^ letter Y under the bust marks the pieces which were then issued
at York, and with this re-coinage the old provincial mints finally ceased their


No pre-conquest coins have been assigned to Durham, a penny of William I.
being the earliest which bears the name of this city. The interest of the Royal
Mint at Durham is completely overshadowed by that of the Episcopal, which has
received much attention at the hands of numismatists. The date of its foundation,
however, has not been ascertained, but it appears that it was situated within the

It is recorded that Henry II. when he placed dies at Newcastle reduced the
rent of those in use at Durham from ten to three marks.

The pennies of Bishop Beck (1283-1310), the earliest of which we have existing
examples, are distinguished by bearing as a Mint mark, or in one quarter of the


reverse the arms of his family, a cross moline. His successors, Bishops Kellow and
Hatfield, curled the end of one of the arms of the great cross on the reverse of their
coins in the form of a pastoral staff.

Lawrence Booth, Bishop 1457, marked his coins with the initial of his name
B., and manufactured, under a licence from Edward IV., for his own use the
standard and trussells bearing the dies for his coinage of sterlings and halfpence,
but this pri\ilege was withdrawn by Richard HI., who ordered the standards and
trussells made at Durham to be broken and others to be issued from the Tower of
London in their stead.

DoBHAM Pennies — Edward I., Bishops Beck, Kellow, and Wolsey.

The coins of the succeeding bishops were for the most part marked with their
initials for a difference, those of Wolsey bearing in addition the Cardinal's hat. The
extent of his coinage is indicated in the following extract from a letter addressed to
him by Wm. Frankeleyn, Chancellor of Durham* : — " At my last being at London
I spake to a frende to pro\yde me silver for coining at Duresme and on Good Fryday
I received a I're from hym whereby I p'ceive that I shall have of hym every yere
1200.1. of silver whiche will be very profettable bothe to your grace and also to all
the countrie. I intend to bringe downe with me from London as miche silver as I
can get and 2 or 3 moo coynars, and also we must have many moo coyning yrons,
for I received but 24 from Mr. Toynes, whyche yrons will endure but a litell space
if we have plentie of silver and workmen as I trust to have."

Tunstal, who succeeded Wolsey in 1529, was the last Bishop of Durham who
enjoyed the privilege -of coining.

♦ Noble's Dissertation apon the^Coins of Durham.



A mint was first granted to Newcastle by Henry II. whose moneyer inscribes
his name WILLEM. ON. NEVCAS. upon some of the pennies of this reign.

Arkenwaldus and WiHiam, the son of WiUiam, are mentioned as moneyers
under King John, and Brand quotes a mandate of King Henry III. of the year
1249, commanding the baihffs and good men of Newcastle-upon-Tyne to elect
four persons to be moneyers and four others to have custody of the Royal Mints.
Two goldsmiths were also to be chosen to assay the money, and a clerk to
keep the exchange.

Pennies Struck at Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Under Edward I. the Newcastle mint had two furnaces, and houses were
built for coiners who were to come from beyond the sea. The last coins issued
from this Mint are the pennies of Edward II.

During the Civil Wars the Royal Mint in following the fortunes of the King
suffered many vicissitudes, and among the interesting pieces of necessity and siege
pieces issued during this period two are from towns in the North-east of England,

Ohaeles II. Pontepeact Shilling— " Post Mortem patris pro filio."


the octagonal shilling of Pontefract and the Scarborough siege money, stamped
upon irregularly cut pieces of silver plate.

The much abused patents for the issue of copper farthings granted by James I.
to Lord Harrington and continued by Charles I. were cancelled by the Parliament,
and the scarcity of small change which ensued was followed by the issue of a vast
number of private tokens by London and provincial tradesmen which were in
circulation from 1648 until 1672, when our modern copper coinage was originated

Tradesmen's Tokens — Seventeenth Century.

by Charles IL These small tokens were much less commonly used in the border
counties, probably because the Scotch copper had obtained a considerable
circulation in the North of England.

In the later years of George IL it was estimated that nearly one-half of the
pence and half-pence in circulation was counterfeit, and the copper coinage
generally had been allowed by neglect to fall into so bad a state that in 1787,
private tokens were again tolerated ; they were issued in enomious numbers by
traders throughout the kingdom, and their devices often record matters of interest
in local history, many of the pieces were struck rather for the curious collector
than for actual monetary use, and the changes of type introduced with this view
multiplied the varieties to a very large total, in which most of the principal towns
in the North of England are represented.



Northumberland and Durham Tokens.

The new coinage of copper for the State, struck by Mr. Bolton, at the Soho
Works, Birmingham, in 1797, was the first step in the direction of a better national
currency. The suspension of specie payments by the Bank of England in the same
year, and the consequent depletion of bullion, aided by the drain of foreign war, so
intensified the scarcity of silver, that the various attempts to supply the want, first
by the issue of Spanish dollars, countermarked with the head of George III., and

Spanish Doliab, Countermarked with the Head op George III.


later, by the authorised coinage of silver tokens by the Bank of England, were
altogether inadequate.




Bank of England Tokens.

Counterfeits were in circulation almost as soon as the new coins appeared, and
each succeeding issue, though diminished in weight to meet the steady rise in the
price of bullion, after a brief existence, and in spite of all penal enactments, found
its way to the inevitable melting-pot.

The difficulties and scarcity increased, and in the years 1811-12 private local
tokens in silver were coined in considerable quantities. Many of the towns in
Yorkshire appear in this series, and a set consisting of half-crown, eighteenpence,
shilling, and sixpence, of more than the average merit in design and execution, were
issued by John Robertson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. These coins in common with
most of their class are very much below the standard weight, though they are struck
on silver of higher quality than is usual. The melting down of the heavier bank
tokens to supply material for manufacture of those issued by tradesmen led to the
passing of an Act which prohibited the use of the latter coin after Lady Day, 18 13,
and the issue of private tokens in copper was also made penal in 18 18.


Kobertson's Newcastle Tokens.

Newcastle Tokens.

The completion of the great re-coinage, instituted in 1816, in a few years
removed finally all need for the circulation of provincial specie in the North of
England and throughout the Kingdom.


The transport of money from town to town was both difficult and dangerous.
We are informed that

" in 1304, £4,000 was transmitted from York to Scotland ; five carters were engaged for the transit ;
twelve archers accompanied them, six men to watch the carriage ; besides John le Convers and Walter
de Gilling, who had general oversight of the transaction. The money was packed in eight barrels made
out of three empty casks. The first day they reached Easingwold, the next passed through North
Allerton to Darlington. In 1339 £200 was carried from York to Durham in three days, laid in
panniers on a horse's back, and two men-atarms and four archers guarded it."

Even at the close of the sixteenth century the fortunate possessor of money
had great difficulty in finding safe places of deposit ; the country was infested with
thieves, and burying and hiding were often resorted to. The will of Richard
Belassis, of Morton Grange, Houghton-le-Spring (1599), which is printed in vol. 38
of the Surtees Society's publications, gives an interesting illustration of this practice.
His property consists of " old angels, old rials and new rials or sovereigns, English
crowns, French crowns, shillings, testons, current coin of gold, double ducats, old
nobles, etc. One sum of ^400 made up of shillings and testons in eight leather
bags." A great part of the money was done up in paper or lead and hidden in
most extraordinary places. ;^200 consisting of shillings and testons was put
" edgeways into a box, walled up, in a hollow place, within the wall of the newe
great chamber." The will contains minute descriptions of where the money may
be found. It appears to have been hidden for safety and not from a miserly spirit.

A story from the "Annals of Yorkshire" will also illustrate the absence of the
country banker in Charles the First's time. Samuel Sunderland, Esq., resided at
Arthing Hill, near Bingley. He was a wealthy man and known to have a great
quantity of gold stored in bags and hidden in the house. Two men determined
to relieve him of some of it, and soon carried their resolve into effect. Before
starting they had taken the precaution to have their horses "shod backwards" so
that any one pursuing should be put off the scent. They made good their escape,
but forgot a dog they had brought with them and fastened up. The animal was
discovered by the loser of the property and a use for him speedily devised. A
pursuit party was organised, who were to follow the dog directly he was set loose,
care being taken to damage one of his legs so that he might not be too swift for
the pursuers' horses. The robbers found the stolen gold heavier than they antici-
pated, so they left part of it on Blackmoor and carried the rest to Collingham. Thither
the dog made his way, the door of the room was burst open, and the thieves caught
in the act of dividing the spoil. " They were sent to York, tried, condemned to
die, and their own apprentice was compelled to act the part of executioner."


The management of the coinage was in the hands of the Government, but in
very early days the temptation to grow suddenly rich called out the art of the
base coiner. In 1565 Hugh Partridge was "put down for coyning false money
in the great innes in Pilgrim Street," and soon after " one Thomas a Scottsman,"
was trying to coin " hard heddes " * upon Coquet Island, but relinquished the
attempt when he found he could not bring the coins to perfection.

Very little gold was to be had, and silver — ^the great medium of exchange —

was filed and clipped to an alarming extent. The "Rev. W. Fleetwood, Chaplain-

in-Ofdinary to their Majesties, " preached his renowned sermon against Clipping

before the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen at Guildhall Chapel, December

1 6th, 1694.

With professional clippers the North of England was as well provided as any
part of the country ; the very act that was so justly condemned by one reverend
gentleman was systematically practised by another. The vicar of Bothal near
Morpeth, carried on a considerable business in clipping and filing silver coins,
melting the produce into ingots, and selling them to the Newcastle silversmiths.

The " Town Hutch,"
and the " Hutches " belonging
to the various guilds, were the
only receptacles for public
monies. A recent writer says :
— " Several of the companies
are provided with strong boxes
in which, before banks were
established, they kept their
cash, and there is one of these
ancient chests still in the Cor-
poration Treasurer's office. The
Cordwainers' strong box is a
work of art. There are seven

The " Town Hutch," Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

locks which are opened from one keyhole in the centre of the lid." The " Towers "
of these guilds were also used as places of safe custody for many title-deeds and
valuable papers. The Receiver of Inland Revenue was paid in cash,
which he had great difficulty in remitting to head-quarters. He was allowed to
keep the money for a certain time that he might, if possible, purchase bills fi-om
merchants and traders payable in London. Manufacturers in many places when
short of coin, were paying their workpeople with " promises to pay" written upon

* See Chapter XII.


paper, and so initiating a kind of countr}^ bank note. Wealthy tradesmen and
manufacturers were obliging their customers and friends by keeping their money
for them, and allowing a small interest upon the same.

In 1702 an Assay office was established
in Newcastle for the purpose of testing and
marking gold and silver articles manu-
factured in the town.

The death of one of the Masters is thus
announced, April 14th, 1759. "Last week
died the Ingenious and Mathematical Mr. ^^^^^ Marks.

William Yryox, Assay Master of the Plate Office here and for the counties of
Durham and Northumberland, eminent for musical instruments and toys."

In 1745 the Pretender, Prince Charles Edward, landed in Scotland, gathered
sundr}' supporters around him, gained possession of Edinburgh, and soon after
defeated General Cope at Preston Pans, the General and his army retiring to Ber-
wick. Such proceedings naturally spread consternation throughout Newcastle.
Men were called to arms. Royal troops were going and coming. The Duke of
Cumberland passed through the town at the head of a fomiidable army, en route
for Scotland. Money was required in Newcastle to pay the troops, and all the gold
that could possibly be gathered, had to be sent to Scotland for a like purpose. The
business was undertaken by Ralph Can, general merchant. The fulfilment of

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 4 of 57)