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British Banking History Society

Richmond and Swaledale Bank

A solid Dales institution: the bank that issued its own notes almost 200 years ago
John Robson looked down on the market place at Leyburn on a typical dales morning, only a few souls emerging from the mist and drizzle, and contrasted the hustle and bustle he had left behind in London where he had worked as a clerk at Messrs Gosling & Sharpe, Bankers. The nineteenth century was only a few years old and John had been invited to join the newly formed banking partnership of Hutton, Other and Company to manage their Leyburn Office in premises at the west side of the Wesleyan Chapel.

John Hutton, a substantial land owner who lived at Marske Hall, Richmond, founded the partnership around 1804 with a Mr Wood of West Burton and Thomas Other of Elm House, Redmire.

Although banks were familiar in the City of London at this time they were only just emerging in Yorkshire. Indeed as late as 1750 there was no evidence of any firm engaged solely in banking in the County. No doubt John Robson and a Mr Ellis, also from London, who joined the partnership were able to bring their experience to help lay a firm foundation. In this they succeeded to the extent that Hutton, Other and Company were appointed Deputy Receivers of Taxes for the North Riding of Yorkshire. In common with other private banks they issued their own notes styling themselves "Richmond and Swaledale Bank".

The partners would travel between the various towns (in daylight and armed) exchanging the notes issued by other local banks for their own or drafts on London. The bank never had to contend with "a run" where many depositors all wanted their money out at once (usually following losses or rumours of losses incurred) which had brought down many other banks who had often over-issued banknotes. Clearly the partnership observed banking prudence by only issuing a sensible ratio of notes to specie (gold coins) they held. They even survived the demise of their London Agents, Sir Peter Pole, Bart. and Company in 1825.

As the bank grew the partners decided to take advantage of Government Regulations and convert into a Joint Stock Company in 1836 under the title "Swaledale and Wensleydale Banking Company". At that time the partners other than John Hutton were Christopher Other of Elm House, Redmire; William Ware of Leyburn and Isaac Fisher of Richmond. Branches were established at Bedale; Hawes; Leyburn and Masham with the head office at Richmond.

The new bank was able to issue their own notes until Barclay and Company acquired the business in 1899.

What happened to John Robson? He married Frances, they lived happily about the bank at Leyburn (eventually moving to premises on the other side of the road - the present Barclays branch), and had one son and two daughters. Sad to relate, on his way from Richmond to Leyburn on 22 November 1819 John's horse fell and he was thrown out of his conveyance and died as a result.

Malcolm W Lobley - with acknowledgements to "The Upper Wensleydale Newsletter"

See also Banks in the Yorkshire Dales

Click here for pictures of Richmond and Swaledale Bank cheques.

Copyright 2010 BBHS