17th July 1695. Early Scottish Banking.

Gold statue of Fame on top of main dome of head office in Edinburgh by John Rhind.

Gold statue of Fame on top of main dome of BOS head office in Edinburgh, by John Rhind.

Today in 2015 saw the 320th anniversary of The Bank of Scotland (BOS). The year was also the 200th anniversary of its subsidiary Scottish Widows and the 250th of the parent company Lloyds Bank.

The Bank of Scotland, now  part of Halifax, Bank of Scotland had been founded on July 17th 1695, by an Act of the Scottish Parliament, one year after the Bank of England.

It is the only commercial institution created by the Scottish Parliament to still be in existence.(1)

In its early days, the Bank was suspected of having Jacobite sympathies, and its first rival was the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBOS), which received its Royal Charter in 1727 issued by  George I.

It was recorded in Latin, as Regii Banci Scotia, and awarded to the ‘Equivalent Company’, which was the debenture holder of the Scottish debt incurred by the failed Company of Scotland, an overseas trading company.

One of the terms of the Union of 1707 was that England agreed to pay off the debts, though only partly paid in cash.

Now there were two major banks, each tried to drive the other out of business, until the ‘Bank Wars’ ceased in about 1751.




Tercentenary Series for £50 of 1995.

Above the HQ of Bank of Scotland  and  the Tercentenary Series of notes for £50 of 1995.

The credit crisis of 1772 which originated in London, spread to the Netherlands and Scotland. It resulted from the escape to France to avoid his debts of Alexander Fordyce of the London House of Neal, James, Ford and Down.

With credit widely accepted at the time, it caused widespread panic and the bankruptcy of 20 banking houses. It spread to Scotland bringing down The Ayr Bank, (Douglas, Heron & Co.,) which had only been in existence since 1769.

According to the Gentleman’s Magazine: ‘No event for 50 years past has been remembered to have given so fatal a blow to trade and public credit’.(2)

Stability was restored through the major Scottish banks, (which printed their own notes), a privilege only saved by Sir Walter Scott in 1826, when the British Parliament wanted to curtail their issue.

The Scottish system created the joint stock banks in a capital hungry country, keen to mobilise capital, which in England was freely available from other sources. Thrift was also a part of Scots culture, later becoming part of stock Music Hall jokes regarding their meanness.

(1) BOS is now a subsidiary of Lloyds since 19.1.2009, when acquired by Lloyds TSB.

(2) June 1772, p.293.

Ref: British Credit Crisis 1772. BOS History 1695-1995.

Ref: express and star.com.17.7.2015/Image Ref.

Ref: wikipedia.org.royal_bank_of_scotland. Also Images of statue and money.

Ref: wikipedia.org/ayr_bank.



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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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