Oriental Bank Corporation

Scope and Content

Collection consists of one bundle of miscellaneous papers dating from 1879-1884. Chiefly correspondence to officials of the Bank of Scotland, and related papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Oriental Bank Corporation was established in 1842 as the Bank of Western India, head-quartered in Bombay, with a paid-up capital of £1.5 million. In 1845 its head office was relocated to London, with offices in Threadneedle Street. The company was renamed the Oriental Bank. In 1849 it acquired the Bank of Ceylon (est. 1840) and with it, the advantages of formation by charter. The charter was revised on 30 August 1851, when the bank was renamed the Oriental Bank Corporation. By 1860 it was one of the largest and most important British-owned overseas banks with assets of over £12.6 million and 14 branches including Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Yokohama, Mauritius, Sydney and two branches in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). An advert in The Bullionist from 1879 describes its services:

The corporation grant drafts and negotiates or collect bills payable at Bombay, Calcutta, Cape Town, Colombo, Durban, Foochow, Hiogo, Hong Kong, Kandy, Madras, Mauritius, Melbourne, Point De Galle, Port Elizabeth, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Yokohama, on terms which may be ascertained at their office. They also issue Circular Notes for the use of travellers by the Overland route.

They undertake the agency of parties connected with India and the Colonies, the purchase and sale of British and Foreign Securities, the custody of the same, the receipt of interest, dividends, pay, pensions etc. and the effecting of remittances between the above-named dependencies.

They also receive deposits of £100 and upwards, for fixed periods, the terms for which may be ascertained on application at their office. Office Hours 9-3, Saturdays 10-2 at Threadneedle Street London.

The Oriental Bank was in decline by the early 1880s, due in part to a contraction of business, and partly due to the discovery of defalcations estimated at around £29,000 at its Mauritius offices. The bank failed in 1884, largely due to misjudgement of silver price movements and the lock up of funds in Ceylonese coffee plantations and Mauritian sugar estates. The business was reconstituted under new legislation as a limited liability company, the New Oriental Banking Company Ltd., but this too failed in 1892.

The Oriental Bank had an account with the Union Bank of London; in March, 1868 the Bank's directors approached the directors of Bank of Scotland for a similar arrangement. The court of directors agreed to open an account for the Oriental Bank at its London office, though the amount of the bank's acceptance was initially limited to £500,000.

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

A more detailed bundle description is available - please e-mail archives@lloydsbanking.com for further details.

Please note that this catalogue entry replaces the NRAS survey of these records undertaken in the 1970s (NRAS945).

Conditions Governing Use

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

Related Material

BOS/1/6/1/9 - Bank of Scotland Treasurer's Private Reports and Statements 1866-1893. Includes an item relating to the Oriental Bank Corporation, 1868.

Deposited Securities, wills, 1848-1884; Customer securities, 1851-93 (J90/1770-1774) held at The National Archives

Annual Reports, 1878-83 (102137); Shareholders' circulars, 1884 (102138) held at Barings Archive


Geographical Names