Leith Banking Company

Scope and Content

Collection includes:

Discount Ledgers, 1799-1842

General Ledgers, 1797-1813

Weekly Transactions and Bills Receivable, 1812-1816

Banknotes, 1798-1838

Administrative / Biographical History

The Leith Banking Company was established on 1 January 1793 by 18 partners, most of whom were involved in mercantile trade. The Bank began issuing notes and opened branches in Callander, Dalkeith, Galashiels, Langholm, and Carlisle. The Bank was also in the practice of conducting business at "tent branches" at Highland shows, the Falkirk Trysts, and various other agricultural markets and fairs. In addition to the Bank's involvement in fishing and overseas trade, this suggests a considerable involvement in the financing of agricultural products and woollens. Joint Managers for many years were James Ker and Henry Johnston, both of whom were partners in the Bank, Johnston also acting as accountant.

While the Bank appeared to do well initially, cash payments were suspended for a time in 1797. Like many of the provincial banks, it seems to have suffered from the economic crisis of 1837. In 1838, the Glasgow Union Bank offered £5,000 for every £100,000 of deposit money transferred, but the Directors of the Leith Bank declined these terms. Ultimately, the Bank failed and was sequestered on 7 May 1842. The reasons for its failure are not entirely clear, though its involvement in the fishing industry may have been partly to blame - in 1842 the Shetland and Renfrewshire Banking Companies also failed as a result of poor fishery returns. The Leith Banking Company failed with debts totalling £123,582, whereof upwards of £10,000 were notes in circulation.

It is interesting to note that the Bank's branch in Carlisle, opened in the 1820s, was registered as an English bank but was actually illegal according to the Act which forbade English provincial banks from having more than 6 partners. No attempt, however, was made to prosecute the Bank and it eventually closed in 1837 when its agent left to become the manager of the Carlisle City and District Banking Company.

The Bank kept a small agency in Glasgow. The agent between 1800 and 1815 was Richard Dick, who conducted business from his premises in Hutcheson Street. In 1816, the agency was transferred to J and R Watson, Post Office Court, who retained it until 1832 when the Western Bank became the agents.

In 1810, the Directors were: Alexander Alison, Adam White, James Jamieson, J Pillans and J Pattison. In 1829, the partners included: James Ker of Blacksheills, John Patison WS, Robert Grieve and Abram Newton, merchants Leith, Alexander McDonald of Lochans, William Blackie of Muirhouse, John Gray, merchant Dalkeith, Archibald Scot, John Bisset, John Brown and William Armstrong of Carlisle, Robert Davidson, and Henry Johnston, banker Leith. The four remaining partners in 1842 were James Ker, Henry Johnston, George Craig, banker in Galashiels, and John Bisset.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

  • LBC/1: Discount Ledgers
  • LBC/2: General Ledgers
  • LBC/3: Weekly Transactions and Bills Receivable
  • LBC/4: Banknotes

Access Information

Access is by appointment only, and at the discretion of the Archivist. Closure periods apply to some records less than 100 years old. Please e-mail archives@lloydsbanking.com for further information.

Other Finding Aids

An item level catalogue is available - please e-mail archives@lloydsbanking.com for further details.

Please note that this catalogue replaces the NRAS survey of the Leith Banking Company records undertaken in the 1970s (NRAS945).

Conditions Governing Use

Copying of material is permitted at the discretion of Lloyds Banking Group Archives.


  • Charles A. Malcolm, The Bank of Scotland 1695-1945 (R. & R. Clark Ltd, Edinburgh, [1945])
  • S. G. Checkland, Scottish Banking, A History 1695-1973 (Glasgow, 1975)
  • Charles A. Munn, The Scottish Provincial Banking Companies, 1747-1864 (Edinburgh, 1981)
  • Andrew William Kerr, History of Banking in Scotland (London, 1926)
  • Robert S. Rait, The History of the Union Bank of Scotland (Glasgow, 1930)


Corporate Names