Goslings and Sharpe: private bankers, Fleet Street (London): branch records including customer ledgers

Scope and Content

Branch records including customer ledgers from 1717 onwards, the main series running to 1896, with a subsequent series between 1927 and 1959. Each ledger includes an index of names of account holders in that volume. Although most accounts are for individuals or family trusts, there are also non-personal accounts such as those of charities (including some schools and hospitals), public subscriptions (including relief of soldiers and of victims of natural disasters), colleges, businesses, and a few public corporations and parishes. A number of interesting entries may be found by browsing the non-personal accounts in the database index e.g. 'Subscription for erecting a pillar at Runny Mead in memory of the Revolution in 1688', commencing in 1788; and 'Jennerian Society for Vaccine Innoculation' in 1803. For examples of notable non-personal accounts see: 'Access Points: Corporate Names' (below).

Some accounts are signed periodically by the customer, as the record of audit. Each account is arranged as credits and debits, with the source of many credits and debits being either named or described e.g. names of payees, stocks and securities purchased.

The ledgers have potential for research in the following fields: biography, family history, local history, estate management, institutional history, trade and business history, the arts, accounting history, investment.

The personal account holders at Goslings comprised a cross-section of moneyed society between the early Georgian and late Victorian periods, including members of the aristocracy, landed gentry, political figures, churchmen, artists and writers. For examples of notable accounts identified so far, see: 'Access Points: Personal Names' and 'Family Names' (below).

The Goslings ledgers constitute one of a handful of more or less complete sets of customer account ledgers to have survived in the United Kingdom, and are thus considered an important source for banking history.

Other material includes customer correspondence; signature books 1806-1896; specimens of early cheques, bills of exchange and pass books; branch premises papers and photographs; staff lists; artefacts including a sword deposited by General Cadogan in 1864 and a post-Great Fire pewter shop sign depicting the Three Squirrels.

Administrative / Biographical History

One of the oldest City banks, the partnership originated c1650 with Henry Pinckney, a goldsmith banker trading from the sign of the three squirrels in Fleet Street, London. The firm was led subsequently by the Chambers family. In 1794 Benjamin Sharpe became a partner and from that date the customary name of the business was Goslings and Sharpe, the Sharpes remaining as junior partners with no right to nominate their successors. In 1742 Sir Francis Gosling joined the firm and thereafter the Goslings name predominated in the partnership. The Goslings' original trade was that of stationers.

In 1896 Goslings was one of 20 banks (all but one being private partnerships) that came together to create the new joint stock bank of Barclay & Company Limited, in a merger that was said to be the largest yet seen in Britain.

Two of the senior partners joined the board of Barclays as directors, and all but one became local directors, the ancient banking house at 19, Fleet Street being designated as one of the original local head offices of the new company.


The ledgers are arranged alphabetically by surname or title of customer, and proceed chronologically e.g. names beginning A-E and names beginning F-I covering the years 1779-81 are in consecutive ledgers.

A distinct series of ledgers containing non-personal accounts seems to have been commenced in 1839, these ledgers being marked X, with later series marked Y and Z respectively. The names of these account holders are also entered in the indexes to the main series.

Access Information

Barclays Group Archives is open to access for bona fide research visitors throughout the year, by appointment. E-mail: grouparchives@barclays.com. Full contact details: Barclays Group Archives, Dallimore Road, Wythenshawe, Manchester M23 9JA. Telephone +44 (0) 330 151 0159. Fax +44 (0) 330 151 0153.

Customer records are subject to extended closure/access conditions.

Acquisition Information

Goslings branch of Barclays Bank PLC (19 Fleet Street), 1990

Other Finding Aids

All records are described on BGA's main 'Archives' database, and full or part-catalogues may be generated on request. Customer ledgers from 1717 to 1809 have been indexed by names of account holders, drawn from the original ledger indexes, in a separate dedicated database created by the Furniture History Society and donated to BGA. Both databases are searchable at the repository, but requests for remote searching are welcome

Otherwise the integral index to each ledger must be searched

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Most of the ledgers are large and heavy bound volumes

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction or publication of any customer record subject to permission of the account holder's estate or successors.

Custodial History

The records were created and maintained in the branch, until being transferred to Barclays Group Archives for better preservation and access

Related Material

Records of the partnership are also available at BGA by citing the code: A09 (catalogue available on request). These include: partnership agreements 1719 onwards; profit and loss ledger 1727-1845; balance books 1742 onwards; customer correspondence; country bank ledgers 1787-1874; staff lists 1801-97; partners' family papers.