Barclay, Bevan, Tritton and Co. (from 1888 Barclay, Bevan, Tritton, Ransom, Bouverie and Co.) 1690-1896

Scope and Content

  • Partnership agreements, letters and papers 1770-1896
  • Amalgamation papers 1863-1896
  • Draft Memorandum & Articles 1896
  • Balance sheet papers 1733-1896: balance taken annually at midsummer, and from 1878 half-yearly; comprising abstracts from ledgers recording name and balance of account holders including country bankers; figures from discount ledgers; bundles from 1825 onwards include separate lists of loans; 18th century bundles state profit allocated to each partner; published balance sheets 1891 onwards
  • Private ledger (earliest ledger of the business) 1729-33: discount, stock (East India, South Sea, Navy bills, Turnpike bonds), Welsh lead and copper company shares, expenses, partners' and family accounts inc David Barclay
  • Private ledgers 1815-1904: profit and loss, investments, bank properties inc Lombard Street, annuities, bonds, stock, bills, charity, frauds, tradesmen's bills, clerks' salary lists (from 1827), commission, income tax
  • Cash book 1807-14
  • David Barclay & Son: settlement book for the merchant business 1749-59; cash book for account at Bank of England 1753-61; cash books with Barclays 1761-64
  • Discount ledger lists and balances 1829-58
  • Stock register 1837-52: bonds and shares bought for customers and through country banks
  • Government loans register 1798-1826
  • Loans lists 1818-29
  • Out-letter book 1812-16
  • In-letters 1823-96
  • Applications for employment as clerks 1855-1903
  • Papers re Overend Gurney 1865-70
  • Examples of cheques, bills of exchange and promissory notes 1798-1896
  • Safe custody registers 1805-25
  • Clerks' guarantee fund rules and papers 1880-98
  • Property deeds and papers 1736-1896 inc Gracechurch Street, Lombard Street, George Court, Ball Alley, Fenchurch Street, Ingram Court
  • Property ledger 1837-96
  • Family papers 1661-1945: Allardice, Barclay, Bevan, Freame, Gurney, Massey, Mounsey, Tritton, Wakefield, Willett: mainly deeds, settlements, accounts and probates

This collection is an important one for tracing the rise of a business that developed into one of the major clearing banks. The balance sheets, for example, are a prime source for the history of private accounting over a period of 160 years or more. There are also some records of David Barclay senior's merchant business partnership

Administrative / Biographical History

The historic core of the present Barclays Group, this private bank traces its origins to John Freame and Thomas Gould, two Quaker goldsmith bankers who started a business in the heart of the City at Lombard Street. There were numerous subsequent changes in the partnership, but the predominant names were Barclay (the first partner of that name entered the Bank by 1736), Bevan (1767), and Tritton (1782). In 1888, the first 'branch' was added by the amalgamation with Ransom, Bouverie and Company of Pall Mall, the resulting partnership being known as Barclay, Bevan, Tritton, Ransom, Bouverie and Company, referred to in the City as 'the long firm', on account of its lengthy name.

By 1728 the firm occupied premises at the sign of the black spread eagle, a device which in 1937 was incorporated in a coat of arms and adopted as the company's commercial trading symbol. In the 19th century the address of the bank was settled as number 54 Lombard Street, which it remained until 2005.

The partnership was one of the most successful amongst the early banks, and pioneered the discounting of provincial bills of exchange. Its success sprang at least in part from what has been described as Quaker competitive advantage. In the 19th century the partners developed a general advcances business, againast a background of demand for loan capital as the economy and its banking system grew. Despite competition from the new joint stock banks the business expanded steadily, and survived the financial crises and banking failures of the 18th and 19th centuries, notably in 1825 and 'Black Friday' in 1866.

In 1896, recognizing that the days of a large private clearing bank were numbered, the partners negotiated a merger with a group of country banks (all but one of which were also private partnerships), to create a new joint stock company. The merger was described as the biggest of its kind and owed much to a long-established Quaker banking cousinhood, of which Barclays was still an important member. The two largest partner banks in the merger were Gurneys of East Anglia and Backhouses of Darlington.


Records are arranged to reflect the history of the partnership.

Access Information

Barclays Group Archives is open to access for research visitors throughout the year, by appointment. E-mail: Full contact details: Barclays Group Archives, Dallimore Road, Wythenshawe, Manchester M23 9JA. Telephone 0330 1510159

Customer records are subject to extended closure/access conditions

Acquisition Information

Former historical records section of company secretary's office.

Other Finding Aids

Searchable catalogue available locally on BGA's 'Archives' database; bespoke lists may be generated from specific search requests

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction or publication of records is subject to the written permission of an archivist.

Custodial History

Barclays had a historical records section in head office from at least the 1960s, managed by an official with the title of archivist. In 1989 the first professionally trained archivist was appointed, with the remit of centralising historical records and collecting additional material deemed worthy of permanent preservation.

One notable and valuable series of records that survives today - the annual balance bundles - was perhaps preserved deliberately by the partners down the generations, as a source of reference to trace the long-term profitability of their business, and perhaps also as a source of customers' names

Related Material

Records classified as 'branch' (e.g. customer ledgers) are described in a separate collection level description: see GB 2044 C LOMBARD STREET 54


The official published histories of Barclays, especially the most recent volume, are based largely upon the archives:

  • M Ackrill & L Hannah, Barclays: the business of banking 1690-1996 (Cambridge: University Press 2001); this volume won the Wadsworth Prize for business history
  • P W Matthews & A W Tuke, History of Barclays Bank Limited: including the many private and joint stock banks amalgamated and affiliated with it (Blades, East & Blades 1926)