Clayton, Morris & Co, scriveners, merchant bankers and estate agents

Scope and Content

This constitutes a selection of the correspondence and papers of Clayton, Morris and Co. The majority of the correspondence and documents in this collection are addressed to Sir Robert Clayton, John Morris, and Peter Clayton (nephew of Sir Robert), and date from the second half of the 17th century. In addition, there is some material from the first half of the 17th century addressed to Robert Abbott, and some from the 18th century addressed to Sir William Clayton (nephew of Sir Robert) and Sir Kenrick Clayton (son of Sir William). There are also a few letters of 19th century date addressed to Sir William. The entire correspondence of Clayton, Morris and Co. is grouped alphabetically by the name of the correspondent, and those sections acquired as part of this collection cover the letters B, parts of C, D, F, G, H, M, N, O, P, parts of S, T, W, Y, and Z. The collection also includes receipts, bills, bonds, promissory notes, wills, affidavits, and indentures.

Administrative / Biographical History

Clayton, Morris & Co., law scriveners, merchant bankers and estate agents, of the City of London was originally established in 1636 by Robert Abbot, and was taken over on his death in 1658 by his nephew and apprentice, Robert Clayton, and another of his apprentices, John Morris. From its foundation in 1638 until the premises were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, the firm was based at the sign of the Flying Horse in the parish of St Michael's, Cornhill. It then moved to premises in Austin Friars, whilst purpose built premises were constructed in Old Jewry, to which the bank relocated in 1672. At this point, the name and symbol of the Flying Horse ceased to be used. No contract was ever registered for the Clayton - Morris corporation, and the company was known variously as Robert Clayton and Partner, John Morris and Partner, and Morris and Clayton and Company.

Robert Abbott, c 1610 - 1653, was born in Gretton, Northamptonshire, but went to London during the 1620s, becoming apprenticed to Francis Webb, scrivener. He completed his apprenticeship and became a member of the Scriveners Company in 1635, establishing his own shop, the Flying Horse, in the parish of St Michael, Cornhill. As a result of his Royalist sympathies, he was forced to move to Bow in 1646, but his business flourished nonetheless. Despite a codicil to Abbott's will specifying that his banking operations should be dissolved after his death, his apprentices, Robert Clayton and John Morris, continued to run the business.

Sir Robert Clayton (alias Cleton), 1629 - 1707, was born in Northamptonshire and moved to London, where he was apprenticed to his uncle. It was in London that he made the acquaintance of a fellow apprentice, John Morris, with whom he went on to establish the company Clayton and Morris Co. Clayton went on to become a member of the Scriveners and Drapers Co, an alderman of Cheap Ward in the City of London, 1670 - 1683, a sheriff in 1671, Lord Mayor of London, 1679 - 1680, an MP for the City of London, 1678 - 1681, colonel of the Orange Regiment of militia at various times between 1680 and 1702, President of the Honourable Artillery Company, 1690 - 1703, Commissioner of the Customs, 1689 - 1697, an Assistant to the Royal African Company, 1672 - 1681, and governor of the Bank of England 1702 - 1707. He was knighted in 1671. He was also a supporter of the Whigs and the Exclusionists, and a benefactor of St Thomas' Hospital and Christ's Hospital. Sir Robert outlived his children and his heir was his nephew, Sir William Clayton. Sir William's son, Sir Kenrick Clayton, was also involved in the company.

John Morris (alias Hall or Hales) was born in Abingdon. His father died in 1633, leaving three sons as paupers, of which John was the eldest. He was elected to a Bennett's scholarship at Abingdon School in 1941, but was apprenticed in London in 1642, having been driven out of Abingdon by the Civil War. On John Morris' death in 1682, Robert Clayton inherited considerable wealth from him.

For further information see Sir Robert Clayton and the Origins of English Deposit Banking, 1658 - 1685 by F T Melton (Cambridge, 1986).


The collection has been partly box-listed, giving details of correspondents. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the name of the correspondent. All other documents are currently grouped under the heading 'miscellaneous'.

Access Information


Other Finding Aids

Boxlist only.

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on February 1, 2002

Separated Material

The ledgers, and further correspondence and papers of the company are held by the Guildhall Library, London (Ref: MS 8493).

Conditions Governing Use

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