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 7 of 57)
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CHARLES ATKINSON, Esq., Mayor, in the Chair.

It is Resolved as followeth, viz.

I St. That no Halfpennys bearing the Impression of King
George the Third be received, even as Change, but only such as
the Receivers shall be clearly satisfied are pure good Copper, and
of the real Mint Coin.

2d. That old real Mint Halfpennys of the Coinage of former
Kings of this Realm be taken as Change.

3d. That the Resolution of the former Meeting, not to
receive a greater Quantity of Halfpennys at any one Payment,
than shall be necessary' for Change, and that only of real Mint
Coin, be strictly adhered to and persevered in.

4th. That the Representatives of this Town and County be
desired to apply to Parliament for a new Act to amend the Laws
now in being, respecting the Copper Coin of this Realm.

5th. That the Bankers of this Town be desired to procure
from the Mint, such Quantities of full Weight Half Guineas, and
Silver Coin, as shall be sufficient to answer the Purposes of Trade
in this Town, and to put the same in Circulation.


The nuisance of surplus and spurious copper did not abate. The following
curious announcement appeared in the Newcastle Chronicle, October 2nd, 1784 :—


Respecting the Seizure of Halfpennys.

"BEING much overstocked with Halfpence, which has been the Case with me for Years past,
and which Inconvenience most People in the mercantile Line, especially in this Town, have been
subject to. In Consequence thereof, on the 3d and 11th September last, one Box containing 211. 15s.
and 12 Parcels containing 611. were by my Order forwarded to Glasgow per Hen. Howey's Waggon.
Said Box, and 6 of the Parcels were addressed to Mess. Corbett, Russel, and Co. the other 6 to Mess.
Christie and Smith, Merchants in Glasgow. This will appear by the following Letters, which were the
whole of our Correspondence on the Subject. However, in consequence of anonymous Letters sent per
Post, from Newcastle, the box of Halfpennys was seized by an Officer of Excise, at Glasgow, likewise
the 12 Parcels at Edinburgh. — After the candid Public have perused the said Letters of Correspondence,
the Affidavit sent to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and the anonymous Letters of Information, I
leave them to judge of the Equity and Fairness of the Transaction, and the malevolent Disposition of
the Informer or Informers.

If any Person or Persons will upon Oath, discover the Author or Authors of the said anonymous
Letters, so that he or they may be legally charged with the same, they shall be paid a reward of

Two Guineas. At the same Time I embrace the present Opportunity of returning my sincere Thanks

to my Friends and the Public for their many favors conferred upon me, and beg Leave to inform them,
that I have purchased at Glasgow, a large Quantity of Tobacco from the latest Imports, which I
purpose selling "Wholesale and Retail, on the very lowest Terms, and do solicit their future Commands,
which will be faithfully executed and gratefully acknowledged, by their most obedient and much
obliged humble Servant, JOHN JAMES.

Full copies of letters and affidavits are given but they are too long for
publication. Of the final resting-place of the copper there is no record.

Some enterprising tradesmen endeavoured to take advantage of the glut of
copper in the district. An advertisement of February 4th, 1786, reads : — " One half
taken in Copper. If of the present reign and full weight. Great Sale of Woollen
Goods in the Bigg Market, &c., &c.

N.B. — The proprietors will not take copper after the above period on any consideration whatever and
they presume one moment's reflection will convince any family in want of any article in the above
branches, they never will meet with so fair and eligible an opportunity of parting with halfpence as
that which now presents itself."

A few weeks afterwards we have an account from Newcastle of a man on
horse back riding up The Side with a sack slung in front, from a hole in which
half-pence were tumbling out. A by-stander picked some of them up and
shouted to the man to stop, others soon joined in the scramble, and in the shout,
but the louder they shouted the faster the horse galloped away. The mystery
was explained when the coins were examined— they were all bad.

[43j ^

Shortly afterwards the nuisance appears to have abated, but in 1796 it came
up again, and at a Meeting held on February i8th, the following gentlemen were
appointed a Committee to take the necessar}" steps to " more effectually put a
stop to this evil " : —

Charles Ogle, Esq.

Mr Nathaniel Clayton,

Mr John Green,

Mr William Wolf all,

Mr Malin Sorsbie,

Mr William Batson,

Mr John Russell,
Mr John Shield,
Mr George Ludlow,
Mr Anthony Easterby,


Mr Solomon Hodgson.

Apparently the difficulty regarding the copper coinage was not confined to
this district. Miss Carter writing to Mrs. Montague at Denton Hall near
Newcastle on October nth, 1784, says : —

" I sympathise with you in the distress of the reprobation of your copper coin, the prohibition in
London is very whimsical ; sometimes a half-penny is as accurately examined as a guinea and at others
all kinds pass without difficulty."

The number of notes put into circulation by bankers recently established, and
the opening of the "Commercial Bank" January 24th, 1784, suggested the
production of a satirical note purporting to be issued by the " Scale-de-Cross Bank."
The six partners are strictly adhered to, all of them being " Knights of St. Crispin."








Mr. James Potts who was a clerk for some years in the Commercial Bank
says : — " Notes similar to the above were circulated in derision of the Commercial

Bank. They were the production of Mr. James Calton and and

afforded a good deal of amusement to the jokers of that day. I knew nothing
belonging this concern beyond common report."


The notes evidently had a reputation beyond Newcastle, as the Ge^itleman's
Magazine has : —

" Died at Newcastle, February, 1791, in an advanced age, James Duncan, cobbler, better known by the
appellation of Sir James Duncan, principal proprietor of the Scale-de-Cross Bank, the two-penny notes
of which have had a wide circulation for some years past."

Probably the notes were sold, and the proceeds given to charitable objects, as
we read — " A few weeks after the establishment of this bank the proprietors gave
two guineas to the Newcastle Dispensary and one guinea to the Lying-in-Hospital."

" On Jan. 17, 1787, at the sessions in Newcastle, Hugh Peel, horse dealer, was convicted of a fraudulent
deceit, in putting off a Scale-de-Cross note of no value, as and for a Newcastle bank note of the value
of £5, to an unlettered person in part payment of the price of a mare, which Peel had bought of the
said person, for which Peel was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment."

The use of the cheque for remittance by post would be very slight. Post
Office Orders were not invented, but to help and instruct those who had money
to remit, a notice was issued from the General Post Office, that drafts or notes if
sent by post should be cut in the manner indicated.


. io8.

Bank off

No. io8.



' protnise

to pay to/ John

or bearer



the siimlnf Ten Pounds.


Loii\don g

day of Feb.

, 1782.


Thos. Sykes \For

the Gov.

& C.B.ofE.

N.B.— " The note is to be cut exactly where marked with a black lino, first writing the date and year
at one end of the note and the number at the other end, by which means each part will contain a
sufficient specification of the whole."

During the period under consideration, one event happened in the metropohs
that cannot be passed over, as the Bank of England narrowly escaped looting.
On June 2nd, 1780, commenced the Lord George Gordon riots. For a few
days London was in the hands of the mob, Newgate was attacked and the
prisoners liberated, utter consternation prevailed, and business was brought to a
standstill. At night the city was illumined by the light of over thirty fires. The
houses of the nobility and gentry were demolished, and the Bank of England
hourly expected an attack. " The old inkstands were cut into bullets, a strong
force was placed within, while the mihtar)-' awaited their arrival without the walls.
The officers of the establishment were called upon to assist, and another force
was placed on the roof to fire upon the assailants if they entered. Every possible
arrangement was made for the defence of a building far more important to the
credit of the country than any in the capital." Fortunately the spirited resistance


instituted by the authorities saved the bank, and the country from a general panic.
The danger that the estabhshment was placed in led the directors to arrange
that in future a militar}^ force should nightly be in attendance at the bank.

About this time an advertisement appeared in a Newcastle paper that shows
the condition of the note circulation in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Newcastle Chronicle, March i6th, 1782 :

" Cleveland, Yobks, February 15th, 1782.
" Whereas many Inconveniences have been experienced in this Neighbourhood by the great Increase
of Five Pounds and Five Guinea Notes, made payable in London only, or otherwise by Drawers of
such Notes themselves, at his and their usual Place of Residence only ; and which it is apprehended in
some Measure contributes to lessen the Circulation of Cash in the Country, to the great Prejudice of
the Community in general ; and many Persons having expressed their earnest Wishes to prevent as
far as may be in their Power, the Circulation of all such Notes, but what are made payable as
well by the Drawers of such Notes themselves, at his or their usual Place of Residence, as in London ;
and as the most likely Means of doing so, have thought proper to enter into an Agreement, engaging
themselves not to accept any such Notes in Payment, (save such as are made payable as aforesaid,
from and after the 1st Day of May next) ; and have also thought proper to give this public Notice,
that Duplicates of such Agreement already signed by several respectable persons, are now left in the
Hands of Mr. Harrison in Guisborough and Mr. Preston in Stokesley, where all Persons who have not
already signed the same and are desirous to promote the said Plan, may have an opportunity of signing
such Agreement."

This announcement evidently refers to the use of " optional " notes upon
which we remark in the next chapter.

The following extracts from a York paper illustrate the mode of travelling and
the dangers of the roads at this period : —

" 1782, Aug. 10. — An attack on one of the York diligences was perpetrated on Pinchley Common
about dusk. The villains robbed the coach and passengers of everything valuable. They had two
carts at hand in which they deliberately deposited the stolen property and weut oft unmolested."

" 1790, Fob 1. — The York and Newcastle coach with a guard all the way and carrying five inside
passengers, sets out from York Tavern, the George, and the Black Swan luns alternately every morning
at 6 o'clock. This coach meets at the above places the Highflyer and Paul Jones post coaches, carrying
six inside passengers with a guard all the way and sets out from York every morning at 5 o'clock for
London. Fares, Newcastle to York, inside £1 4s., outside 12s ; York to London, inside £2 10s., outside
£1 53."

Fortunately there is no special commercial panic to record during this time,
but the calm was only a prelude to the storm.




England at peace — New banks open — " Optional " Notes — War with France — Panic
in London — It spreads to the provinces — Difficulty of obtaining specie —
Newcastle banks suspend payment — Meetings held in their support in the
principal towns in the north — Guarantee Fund started — Panic said to have
originated in Newcastle — Statement shown to be incorrect — Mr. Bagshot's theory
confirmed — Notes displace gold — Private estates of bankers liable for trade
debts — Commercial Bank winds up — Forged French assignats — Harriet
Martineau— Her connection with Newcastle — Pitt and the Bank of England —
Fear of French invasion — Government orders returns of farm implements, etc. —
Panic amongst the farmers — Run on Newcastle banks — They suspend —
Meetings in their support — Letter from Charnley — Difficulties of the Bank of
England — Cash payments prohibited — City merchants support Bank — Issue of
£1 and £2 notes — Great fall in stocks.

DURING the early part of the decade that this chapter reviews, England was
at peace after a long and costly war. Commerce revived, and numerous
provincial bankers sprang into existence, who freely discounted the bills
of necessitous traders, giving in exchange the paper of the newly formed establish-
ments, and by that means greatly increased the note issue of the country.

The bankers that commenced business in this district from 1790 to the close of
the century, were Messrs. Batson, Wakefield, and Scott, at Newcastle, Berwick,
North Shields, and Morpeth ; Russell, Allan, Maling, and Wade, at Sunderland ;
Mills, Hopper, & Co., and William Shields, at Durham ; Sir John Lawson, at
Richmond ; Peirse, Consett, Topham, and Walton, at Northallerton ; Fenton,
Scott, & Co., at Thirsk ; Hayes, Leatham, & Co., and Sir Christopher Sykes, at
Malton ; Simpson, Sanderson, and Taylorson, at Stokesley ; Pease & Co., and
Campion & Co., at Whitby.

We are told that about this time, country bankers commenced inserting an
"optional" clause into their notes, which gave the holder the choice of payment,
either at the place of issue, or in London, and that so general had the custom


become, that 204 out of 279 country banks adopted the clause. The accompanying
illustration is a rare example of the optional note.

:-.. \y








</ 1 / ^'^

In 1792, these country notes came upon the London shopkeepers in such
numbers that they grew alarmed, discredit of the notes of the provincial banker
commenced, and discredit once set in was as uncontrollable as the rising tide.
Holders of the notes could not dispose of them, so naturally took the readiest
means to convert them into coin, the stock of which soon became low in the
metropolis, and almost exhausted in the countr}\ These circumstances appear to
have given rise to the production of a derisive note, a copy of which is here

TN ''~N

/ jf nil jUcon ciiARTA )b,\nl:

) A


/^ ///'///'///


___^ U8]_

In the early part of 1793 great uneasiness prevailed in London. On February
19th the Bank of England refused the paper of Lane, Son, and Fraser, who the
next day failed for a million. This event, with other causes, led to a panic in
the City, which in time spread to the provinces.

We learn by an interesting letter written from Newcastle, March 20th, 1793,
by one of the firm to the senior partner of Lambton & Co., that things in the
North up to that time were quiet. He says : — " Notwithstanding some convulsions
amongst the bankers in different Parts of the Kingdom, we remain quiet and
undisturbed here." Ere the month closed, we find a very different state of things.
A general panic was raging in London, many bankers failed, some of whom
acted for their northern brethren. Fresh London agents had to be appointed,
and duly advertised in the local papers. This helped to spread alann. Every
holder of a note was anxious to convert it into gold. Scores of country bankers
were in London, trying, by any means, to gather the precious metal, with which
when obtained, they instantly posted home, disregarding the perils of robbery on
the road. The very bank that reported all "quiet and undisturbed" on the 20th had
before the close of the month first a clerk and then two partners in London seeking
gold ; a supply of which they obtained, and carried north with all speed. Mr. Row-
land Burdon, partner in the Exchange Bank, Newcastle, was in the metropolis upon
the same mission. On the return journey, his post chaise was stopped by footpads,
who pinioned the banker and rifled his pockets. The bullion fortunately escaped
their notice. In Newcastle, things had grown desperate. From Monday, April ist,
to Saturday, the 6th, all the banks had been sorely pressed, but had stood their
ground. Then the proprietors of the " Commercial " felt that they could hold
out no longer. On Monday morning, April 8th, they issued a notice stating that
they must for a short time suspend their payments. They comforted their friends
with the assurance that they could show a clear surplus of ;^25,ooo.

On the same day a public meeting was held, of which the following is
the report : —

"At a very numerous Meeting of the Gentlemen, Merchants, and Inhabitants of this town and
neighbourhood, held at the Merchants' Court, this Eighth day of April, 1793, 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, James Rudman, Esq., Mayor, in the Chair. Eesolved
unanimously : — That the Banks of Ridley, Cookson, and Company ; Surtees, Burdon, and Company ;
Baker, Hedley, and Company; and Lambton and Company; of this Town, are Banks of
unquestionable Credit, and are entitled to the Confidence of the Public in the fullest Extent. Resolved
unanimously : — That we in our several Capacities will, as usual, accept in payment the Notes issued
by any of the above-mentioned Banks, and will do our utmost Endeavours to induce others to do the
same. Resolved unanimously : — That a Committee of Sixteen Gentlemen be appointed to communicate
these Resolutions to the Gentlemen, Merchants, and Inhabitants of the neighbouring Counties and to


the Public at Large ; and that these Resolutions be signed by all present, and by all others who shall
approve the same, and that Mr. Mayor, Mr. Alderman Blackett, Mr. Alderman Cramlington, Mr. Gray,
Mr. Reay, Mr. Graham Clarke, Mr, Emerson Headlam, Mr. Walter Hall, Mr. Hood, Mr. Brown,
Mr. Hopper, Mr. Davidson, Mr. Pearson, Mr. Ward, Mr. Clayton, and Mr. Heron, be such Committee."
"These Resolutions were signed by the several Gentlemen, whose Names are subscribed, and the
same will remain for further signature at the Town Clerk's Office."

Jas. Rudman, Mayor

J. Eras. Blackett

Ra. Wm. Grey

Chas. Atkinson

Wm. Yielder

Fras. Johnson

Wm. Cramlington

Jno. Graham Clarke

Matt. Pringle, Sheriff

Henry Utrick Reay

Wm. Surtees

Robert Pearson

Wm. Darnell

Hopper and Monk-

Richard Lambert

Nath. Clayton, Town
Clerk of Newcastle

Wm. Adair

Chas. Ogle, Collector
of his Majesty's

Henry Moorhouse

Robt. Clayton

Chr. Blackett, Treas-
urer of the County
of Northumberland

Blackett and Dixon

Thos. Harvey

Thos. Robinson

Robt. Greenwell

Henry Mewburn

John and Robert Chap-

John Stoddart

Robert Rayne

Geo. Henderson

Jno. Hawks

Wm. Richardson

Gregory and Crawford

Errington and Ward

James Row

Peter Paxton

Joseph Hogg

Edward Brown

G. Parker

Wm. Halliday

Thos. Davidson

Geo. Brumell

L. and M. Atkinson,

Jas. Atkinson

Geo. Burdon

Doubleday and East-

Wm. Row

Richd. Keenlyside

Walter Hall and Co.

Jos. Pollard

Stephen Humble

Geo. Liddell

Alex. Chatto

John Davidson, Clerk
of the Peace for the
County of North-

John Haigh

Michael and W. R.

Wm. Hawkes

Shaftoe Robert Coul-

John Robinson

Thos. Taylor & Co.

David Orr

Pickering and Fish

Robert Lisle

James Jno. Davis

Nichs. Andrews

Henry Shadf orth, Jun.

Robert Walters

M. Morrison

George Brown

Dixon and Straker

John and Thos.

Samuel Lawton

Joseph Snowball

Barker and Wolfall

St. Pemberton

Tallentire and Liddell

Rudman and Hall

W. and H. Cramling-

For Northumberland
Glass Co., John
Graham Clarke

T. E. Headlam

Matthew Hedley

Ralph Heron

John Hedley and Son

John Humble

John Summers

Airey and Gibson

Jasper Browell

RatclifE Manchester

Joseph Watson

William Brown

Henry Jos. Hounsom

Anth. Hood

Edw. Wilson

David Stephenson

John Marley

Shall et Dale

For James Moncas-\
ter, Esq., Walls-'
end, Shallet Dale, f

Wine Mercht
John Roddam
John Unthank
John Errington
William Ingham
Mosley and Airey

On Tuesday morning, April 9th, the banks were compelled to issue a joint
notice as follows : —





PJ^INDING that notwithstanding the liberal Offer of Support,

made at the Meeting yesterday, the public Alarm still


continues to Occasion such considerable and unusual Demands for
Gold, that those Funds, which, a few days ago, were greatly-
superior to every probable Exigency, are now found not adequate
to the present immediate Circumstances of the Country, think it
their duty to request 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

A public meeting was held the next day, Wednesday, April loth, when the
committee handed in their report and proposals : —

Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 10th April, 1793.

" A T a very numerous MEETING of the GENTLEMEN, MERCHANTS, TRADESMEN, and

INHABITANTS of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, held on Tuesday, the 9th Day of April inst.

JAMES RUDMAN, Esq., Mayor, in the Chair,

It was RESOLVED— THAT a COMMITTEE, to consist of Fifteen Gentlemen present, be
appointed to deliberate on the best Means of restoring the Public Credit at this Juncture, and that
they report thereon to a General Meeting, to be held To-morrow Morning at Ten o'Clock :

AND that the following Gentlemen constitute that Committee : The Mayor, Mr. Bigge, Mr. Reay,
Mr. Graham Clarke, Mr. Walter Hall, Mr. Malin Sorsbie, Mr. Darnell, Mr. Heron, Dr. Pemberton,
Mr. Adams, Mr. Alderman Blackett, Mr. Hood, Mr. Headlam, Mr. Lawton, Mr. N. Clayton.

THE Committee accordingly met, and after possessing themselves of every necessary Information,
and deliberating thereon, unanimously agreed upon the following Report, which they this Day
presented to a most numerous and respectable Meeting, and which was instantly adopted without a
dissenting Voice. And the Committee were desired to continue their Exertions, till the full effect of
the Plan recommended in their Report, shall be obtained.


WE, your Committee, proceed, with satisfaction, to report what we have done in the execution of
the important duty committed to us, because we have found in the Funds of the respective Banks of
Ridley, Cookson, and Co. — Surtees, Burdon, and Co, — Baker, Hedley, and Co. — and Lambton and Co.
a stability beyond our most sanguine expectations.

These Funds appeared so substantial, and so effective, that we found much difficulty in prevailing
upon ourselves to accept the offer of those Gentlemen, to pledge specifically their respective private,
real and personal Estates, for the fulfilment of their Banking Engagements. But the offer was made
with so much earnestness, that we have incorporated that measure into the plan we have to submit to
your consideration.

Our inquiries were directed to the ascertaining with precision, the amount of the paper issued by
these Banks, and now in circulation ; and we learnt, that it did not exceed in the whole, TWO
HUNDRED and THIRTY THOUSAND POUNDS, a sum which bears a small proportion to the
amount of their Funds. Adverting to their private fortunes, we found in them, a security almost
without limit.


In such circumstances, we deem the plan about to be proposed necessary, only because, at such a
juncture as the present, nothing ought to be omitted that may remove from the most distrustful, every
particle of doubt and suspicion.

With this view we suggest the propriety of all, who are any way connected with the landed or
Commercial interests of this town, and the adjoining counties, entering into a guarantee for the
space of twelve months, securing to the holders of the notes of these Banks, the full sums due upon
them. It is our idea that every gentleman should name the sum for which he will be answerable, and

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 7 of 57)