The Glasgow and Ship Bank was formed in 1836 as a result of a merger between the Ship Bank (established 1749) and the Glasgow Bank Company (established 1809). There were initially 28 partners: four from the Ship Bank, and 24 from the Glasgow Bank. One of the latter, Robert Findlay of Easterhill, was appointed manager of the new company. Michael Rowand, Manager of the Ship Bank, retired at the amalgamation.
Initially the bank seems to have operated from two offices in Glasgow. The former premises of the Glasgow Bank on Ingram Street seem to have been designated as the main (head) office; while those of the Ship Bank (on the corner of Trongate and Glassford Street) appear to have been a 'branch office'. In 1842 a new combined office was erected on the site of the famous Virginia Mansion which had been purchased by the Glasgow Bank in 1828. The Kirkcaldy branch of the Glasgow Bank also continued to operate.
The Glasgow and Ship Bank was set up as a private rather than a joint stock bank, with an initial capital of £600,000. There were discussions about converting to joint-stock form in the early days but uncertainty about government plans for legislation prevented decisive action. By the time a firm proposal was issued to the partners in 1843, rumours about the Bank's unfavourable position made a successful launch unlikely: deposits were being lost, a proportion of the funds was locked up unproductively, and one of the tellers had defrauded the bank. Hence when the Union Bank of Scotland offered to acquire the business in 1843, the proposal was readily accepted.
At the date of its amalgamation with the Union Bank of Scotland, the Glasgow and Ship Bank held deposits amounting to £1,550,000, had a circulation of £116,000 and a reserve of £130,000.