30th July 1936. The Right to Wed Denied.

It is incredible to discover that Scottish bank clerks had to get their boss’s permission to marry in the 1930s. 

The sorry business was brought to light Today in 1936, when in the House of Commons, Mr Lathan MP for Sheffield Park, asked the Minister of Labour whether he was in a position to make a statement relative to the recent dismissal by the Commercial Bank of Scotland, of a clerk who at the age of 29 years, had married without permission of the Bank.

Lathan was particularly concerned about the civil and human rights being denied the clerk.

Ernest Brown MP for Leith, the Minister said that at the request of the Scottish Bankers Association an officer of his department had met their representative, and he [the minister], ‘would look into it’.

The question raised how much control there was over the lives of male bank clerks, who were required to meet certain requirements before permission was given to marry. The houses they lived in and club membership were also vetted.

As a minimum male clerks had to be aged at least 28 years in the Commercial Bank of Scotland, and at least 31 years at the National Bank of Scotland.

The assumption was that a salary of £200, reached between the ages of 26 and 28, was needed. Also one had to have served anything between 8-16 years.

Despite the question in Parliament, one clerk William Notman, who after pleading to get married and denied by his boss, did in fact do so, and was promptly dismissed.

Failing to find work for three years, he eventually took the Bank to court in 1938, and won £1000 damages, a very tidy sum then, but he was never reinstated.

Within a year we were at war when any residual Victorian working practices very quickly disappeared. They even started employing women!

Ref: a2sn.org.uk.

Ref: theyworkforyou.com.

Ref: Bureaucracy to Network Organisation. Google Books, Thos Diefenbach, Ed. Reinventing Hierarchy and Bureaucracy.

Ref: Commercial bank of Scotland (Clerk’s Marriage), HC Debate, 30th July 1936 Vol. 315 cc 1694-5.

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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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