Barclays Bank: records of international operations: boards, chair and senior management

Scope and Content

This collection, reflecting the highest level in Barclays' overseas subsidiary, comprises three principal elements: records of the main boards and their committees; records of the chair (the chairman was an executive throughout this period); records of board-appointed general managers and executive local directors.

The records comprise:

  • board: complete series of signed minutes from first meeting in 1925; lists of advances 1930-1970s; BBI 'money book' management committee minutes 1971 onwards, papers re amalgamation 1925-28 inc agreements and Act of re-incorporation, papers re absorption by BBI of Limited's foreign branches 1971-72; annual report and accounts and balance sheets; records of general meetings; travel journals of C Fitzherbert 1949-66
  • chair: overseas visit reports (Africa, Caribbean, Egypt, Asia, Europe, North America, UK branches); subject files and correspondence including policy, relations with business in each territory (esp South Africa), relations with UK and foreign banks, customers, governments and European Community; capital, directors and staff, organization, management methods, planning; Barclays Overseas Development Corporation and Development Fund; DCO during world war two, nationalization and localization of overseas operations, role of Barclays Merchant Bank, advertising; diaries of Julian Crossley 1943-51, travel diaries of A C Barnes 1937-50
  • general managers and local directors: subject files (mostly 1950s onwards) covering similar subjects as for chair, and others inc eurocurrency-eurodollar operations, oil finance, automation, devaluations, secondary banking crises, trade union negotiations (overseas and UK)

Administrative / Biographical History

The international arm of Barclays was established by Frederick Goodenough, executive chairman of Barclays 1913-34. He conceived the idea of an Empire bank, providing retail and commercial banking along British lines throughout the sterling area and able to transfer funds through London to any part of the organization as required.

The new private subsidiary was created from three existing City-based banks acquired by Barclays, as follows:

  • Colonial Bank: founded by royal charter in 1836 to trade in the West Indies, and, from 1916, empowered to extend its operations throughout the Empire. In 1917 a working agreement gave Barclays access to its markets in West Africa. Barclays secured a controlling interest in The Colonial in 1918-19
  • National Bank of South Africa (NBSA): established 1891 in Transvaal (head office in Pretoria), it had absorbed banks with older roots in South Africa and had a holding in the Colonial Bank. Barclays acquired shares in NBSA from 1919
  • Anglo-Egyptian Bank: founded in 1864 and acquired by Barclays in 1920, this bank had representation in Egypt, British territories in the Mediterranean, Palestine and the Sudan

In 1925 Goodenough obtained an act of parliament for the re-incorporation of the Colonial Bank which thereby changed its name to Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), a subsidiary of Barclays Bank Limited, and soon afterwards formally absorbed both the Anglo-Egyptian Bank and the National Bank of South Africa, whose complete acquisition by Barclays was part of the whole transaction.

The original structure of the three foundation banks continued to function under powers delegated by the main board (known as the central board). The South African local board was based in Johannesburg but the local boards for the Colonial Bank and Anglo-Egyptian sections were based in London.

In 1954 the title of the company was shortened to Barclays Bank DCO, diluting its imperial overtone. In 1971 it was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary and renamed as Barclays Bank International (usually abbreviated as BBI), to reflect the change in emphasis to world-wide banking as Barclays' representation outside the Commonwealth expanded. DCO/BBI was headquartered with Barclays Bank Limited in Lombard Street, and as well as its overseas branches had a network of offices and branches in London and the main industrial cities of England.

This structure lasted until the major reorganization of Barclays Group under the Barclays Bank Act of 1984, whereby BBI was re-registered as a public company and its business combined with that of Barclays Bank to form the present holding company (Barclays PLC), and with a new operating subsidiary (Barclays Bank PLC) taking the former company number of Barclays Bank International.


Records are arranged to reflect the management structure e.g. board, chairman, general managers.

Access Information

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

Most management and administrative records are open to research when 30 years old; access to some material may additionally be restricted or closed for reasons of customer, commercial or third-party confidentiality.

Acquisition Information

Former historical records section of company secretary's office; subsequent accruals received from this and chairman's office, and directly from management.

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 subject to the written permission of an archivist.

Custodial History

Barclays Bank DCO had a tradition of looking after its historical records from at least the 1960s, managed by officers with the title of archivist. Following the merger of BBI with the UK business, the first professionally trained Group archivist was appointed in 1989 with the remit of centralising historical records and collecting additional material deemed worthy of permanent preservation. The material that was collected therefore included records from the former DCO/BBI boards, chair and senior management.

Related Material

see also GB 2044 B BARCLAYS 1896-1985 for comparable records of the board, chair and senior management of the domestic bank, Barclays Bank Limited


  • 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)
  • Sir J Crossley & J Blandford, The DCO Story: a history of banking in many countries 1925-71 (Barclays 1975)
  • [R H Mottram, comp] A Banking Centenary: Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial & Overseas) 1836-1936(Barclays, private circulation [1937])
  • anon., A Bank in Battledress: being the story of Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial & Overseas) during the second world war 1939-45 (Barclays, private circulation 1948)