13th June 1711. ‘I Promise to Pay to Bearer…’
Many sums deposited with the early goldsmiths, for safe-keeping, inevitably became ‘idle money’, and thus available for re-lending at interest.
The key notion was that these funds would be safe and held by the trustworthy, so one could reclaim one’s money on demand.
One of the early English bankers, (Sir) Richard Glyn, was born Today in 1711, later to become a politician and 1st Baronet of Ewell.
The Glyns had moved to banking, from dry-salting in Hatton Garden, London, and in the process, adopting the status of the prosperous English gentry.(1)
He was one of many who entered banking between 1650-1750, from which institutions, one could access money, by ‘drawn notes’ (cheques), as the demands for payment and credit grew alongside trade.
This Drawn-Note was distinguished from the true bank note, (which was-and still is-a promise to pay a certain amount on demand), by originating from the account holder of the bank which directed the bank to pay a creditor.
One of the first of these drawn notes is dated, 9th October 1725, addressed to Abraham Fowler, goldsmith, banker at the sign of the 3 squirrels…Fleet Street [London]: ‘Pray you pay to Mr Thomas Hill without further advice the sum of seventy pounds…’
Fowlers became Goslings & Company, one of the first branches of Barclay’s Bank, at 19, Fleet Street, London, where cheques still retain the Goslings’ name.
Sir Francis Child is said to have been the first goldsmith to lay aside his trade to become a banker, becoming the ‘father of the profession’.
Child was established as a goldsmith in 1664 and entered into partnership with Robert Blanchard, later marrying his stepdaughter.
The business, now Child & Company, was inherited in 1713 by his three sons, as goldsmiths and bankers.(2)
Thomas Coutt joined a banking partnership at the sign of the Three Crowns in the Strand, London in 1761, and gave the bank its name.
Its customers were later to include, Jane Austen, Admiral Nelson and Charles Dickens, and is still in the Strand, London, catering for the well-heeled.(3)
(1) Glyn with Joseph Vere and Thomas Hallifax, founded the bank of Vere, Glyn and Hallifax, later Williams and Glyn’s Bank. He died 1.1.1773.
(2) Lord Westmorland married Sarah Anne Child, only daughter of Richard Child, against her father’s wishes, by eloping to Gretna Green on 20.5.1782. She was cut out of Richard’s will, and her daughter became the beneficiary.
(3) Angela Burdett-Coutts, born in 1814, became the 19thc richest heiress, having acquired the fortune of the Coutts banking firm.
Coutt’s featured as the bank of Dr Jekyll in the 1886 ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ by R.L. Stevenson.
Ref: safaribooksonline.com/library. Image of Fowler ‘Cheque’.
Ref: Notes re Goslings Bank, courtesy of British Museum.
Ref: umich.educ/money/banks. Image for Child’s Banknote.