Papers of Sir Charles Stewart Addis

Scope and Content

In addition to documenting Charles Stewart Addis's role as a leading financial adviser and negotiator, the collection gives an important insight into the development of international finance and monetary policy. It comprises diaries kept by Addis (1881-1945); correspondence with his family, colleagues and friends including Alexander Michie (1886-1902) and Montagu Norman (1921-1943); business papers (1886-1945); speeches and articles (1880-1941); newspaper cuttings (c. 1860-1949) and photographs.

Overall the papers are a valuable resource for those interested in European activities in East Asia in the late 19th Century; international diplomacy and banking, especially the activities of the International Banking Consortium for China; British monetary policy between the Wars; war-debts, reparations and the Anglo-American relationship; central banking co-operation and international exchange.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Stewart Addis was born in Edinburgh on 23 November 1861, the youngest son of the Reverend Thomas Addis, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy. Between 1876 and 1880 he worked for Peter Dowie and Co., Grain Importers of Leith.

In 1880 he joined the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in London. In 1883 he was posted to Singapore, then to the HSBC head office in Hong Kong. In 1886 he became one of the first western bankers to reside in Peking [Beijing, China], when he was posted there as Acting Agent. During this time, he also began his experience as a writer when he was invited to contribute material to the Chinese Times by its editor, Alexander Michie. After Peking [Beijing], Addis undertook assignments in Tientsin [China] (1889), Shanghai [China] (1889-1891), Calcutta [Kolkata, India] (1891) and Rangoon [Yangon, Myanmar] (1892). While on home leave in 1894 Addis met and married Eba McIsaac, the daughter of the Provost of Saltcoats, a small town in Scotland. They were to have thirteen children.

Following his marriage, Addis was posted to Shanghai. He was appointed Agent in Hankow [Wuhan, China] (1896), Calcutta [Kolkata] (1897), and served as Sub Manager in Shanghai (1898 and 1900). In 1905, he was appointed to the HSBC London Office as Junior Manager and also to the Board of Directors of the British and Chinese Corporation and the Chinese Central Railways. In 1908, he received his first official government appointment as British Censor of the State Bank of Morocco, a post he held until 1944. In 1911 he was appointed Senior Manager of the HSBC London Office. From 1912, he began his work to bring competing national banking syndicates together to form the Six Power China Consortium, transforming the policy of competition for loans to one of co-operation. The height of the Consortium's success came in 1913 when it issued a Reorganisation Loan to Yuan Shih-Kai's Republican Government. The British Government awarded Addis's efforts with a knighthood in that year. In 1917 he was appointed to the Cunliffe Committee on Currency and Foreign Exchanges After the War. In 1918 he became Director of the Bank of England, and in 1919 a member of the Bank's Committee of Treasury upon which the Governor of the Bank of England relied for advice. In that year he was also appointed to the Council of the Institute of Bankers and the India Currency Committee. In 1920, he served on the War Relief and China Famine Relief Committees, and visited New York to organise the Second China Consortium, which included banking groups from the USA, France, Japan and Great Britain. He was awarded a K.C.M.G. in 1921. In that year he retired as London Manager of the HSBC, but continued as Manager of the British Group of the China Consortium and Director on the Boards of the British and Chinese Corporation and the Chinese Central Railways. He was also elected President of the Institute of Bankers. In 1922, he was appointed Chairman of the London Committee of the HSBC, and attended the British Alternate Genoa Conference as the British financial expert. In 1923, he became Chairman of the Exchange Committee, Imperial Economic Conference. In 1924 he became a member of the Montagu Mission to Brazil; was appointed to the Colwyn Committee on National Debt and Taxation; gave evidence to the Chamberlain-Bradbury Committee and was appointed British representative on the General Council of the Reichsbank. In 1925, he served as a member of the China Advisory Committee, Boxer Indemnity, and in 1926, on the US Debt Committee. In 1929 he was the British Delegate on the Committee of Experts for Reparations in Paris. In 1930 he was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements, and also attended meetings of the Cabinet Economic Advisory Sub-Committee on China.

He retired from the HSBC London Committee in 1933, and in the same year became a member of the Royal Commission on Canadian Banking. In 1944 he resigned as Manager of the British group of the China Consortium and from directorships of the British and Chinese Corporation and Chinese Central Railways. He died at Frant, Sussex on 14 December 1945.

Further reading: Dayer, Roberta Allbert, Finance and Empire, Sir Charles Addis 1861-1945 (Macmillan Press, Hong Kong, 1988)


The collection has been divided into the following sections: diaries (1881-1945); letter books (1886-1904); letters to Addis and Lady Addis from their families (1872-1929); letters from various friends and colleagues (1873-1944); letters from Alexander Michie (1886-1902); correspondence with Dudley Mills (1885-1937); correspondence with Murray Stewart (1891-1922); letters exchanged between Addis, Lady Addis and their children (1895-1941); personal papers (1876-1952); business papers (1886-1945); papers relating to the Bank of England, including correspondence with Montagu Norman (1921-1943); letters from John Shield Nicholson (1916-1925); speeches and articles (1880-1941); newspaper cuttings (c. 1860-1949); papers relating to the Rev. William Addis (1905-1917); photographs of family, HSBC premises and miscellaneous views; blue books; additional papers and photographs donated by Lieutenant-Commander C.P. Addis, RN, MBE. Within each section, the arrangement is broadly chronological.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated to SOAS Library 1981-1983.



B&C Corp British and Chinese Corporation

BCom Bachelor of Commerce

BIS Bank for International Settlements

BOE Bank of England

British Indian SN Company British Indian Steam Navigation Company

CCR Chinese Central Railways

CMB Chartered Mercantile Bank of India, London and China

DD Doctor of Divinity

DSO Distinguished Service Order

ETC Eastern Telegraph Company

FO Foreign Office

HSBC Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation

ICCC Imperial Conference Currency Committee

KCMG Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George

LDS Literary and Dramatic Society

LCC London County Council

LSE London School of Economics

New OBC New Oriental Bank Corporation

P&O Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company

RIIA Royal Institute of International Affairs

RSA Royal Society of Arts

SDCGK Society for the Diffusion of Christian and General Knowledge among the Chinese

Shanghai LDS Shanghai Literary and Debating Society

SPG Society for the Propagation of the Gospel

US or USA United States of America

VAD Volunteer Aid Detachment

VRC Victoria Rowing Club

YMCA Young Men's Christian Association

YRIF Yellow River Inundation Fund

Other Finding Aids

Published catalogue: Williams, Margaret Harcourt, Catalogue of the Papers of Sir Charles Addis, (SOAS, 1986). A copy of this list (albeit lacking box numbers) is in the Access to Archives (A2A) section of The National Archives website.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance

Related Material

Associated Material at SOAS:

Addis, John Mansfield: correspondence with his father Charles Stewart Addis [ref. PP MS 25 / 1-9].

Associated Material held elsewhere:

Correspondence and papers (1915-1945) held at the Bank of England Archive Section, Archive Section HO-G, Threadneedle Street, London [ref. ADM16];

HSBC Group Archives, HSBC Holdings plc, Level 36 (GCQ), 8 Canada Square, London E14 5HQ. This archive contains correspondence generated by Addis within the files of semi-official letters originating from the London Office. Also contains a photographic collection with pictures of Addis as a member of the Bank staff; Correspondence between J.O.P Bland and Addis (1906-1908) are held at the University of Toronto Library, Toronto, Canada; India Office Records, British Library. Material concerning currency and banking matters from Addis's period as London Manager 1905-1921, is kept in the Finance files, for example see IOR L/F/7/21, L/F/8/71; Public Records Office, Kew, Surrey. China files from the Foreign Office, the Treasury and the Colonial Office contain material on Addis. Correspondence and papers of Robina Scott Addis are held at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine: Contemporary Medical Archives centre [ref. PP/ADD].

For details of other collections containing material on Addis, see Williams, Margaret Harcourt, Catalogue of the papers of Sir Charles Addis, (SOAS, 1986).