Hankey & Co

Hankey & Co (1685-1865), established in the City of London, was a past constituent of NatWest.

Brief history

This private bank was established in 1685 as a goldsmithing business by Captain Samuel Hankey. Hankey had been born in Cheshire in 1640 and apprenticed to a haberdasher in London. By 1674 he had also become a West India merchant, forming a partnership with John Houblon in Fenchurch Street, London, known as Houblon & Hankey, traders to Jamaica, Antigua and the Leeward Islands. The West India trade was a business wholly reliant on the exploitation of enslaved Africans, from which both men profited. In the 1680s the merchant partnership was dissolved, with both men concentrating on forms of banking: Houblon went on to be the first governor of the Bank of England, and Hankey started his own goldsmith-banking business.

The first known reference to what became Hankey's banking business is in the London Gazette in 1685, where it is described as ‘Captain Samuel Hankey, goldsmith, at the Ring under St Dionis Back Church in Fenchurch Street’. Two years later, in 1687, the firm is listed in a London directory as a ‘goldsmith keeping running cashes’.

Samuel Hankey died in 1686 and his nephew Henry Hankey continued the business as a goldsmith banker at the sign of the ‘Ring & Ball’ in Fenchurch Street. He was also involved in pawnbroking. Henry was, however, still young (only 19) and it is possible that Samuel Hankey’s widow, Elizabeth, remained active in the firm for some time as in 1692 the business was known as Widow Hankey & Co.

Later Henry Hankey became managing partner and the firm was known as Henry Hankey & Co. Henry’s sons, Joseph and Thomas Hankey, were both partners in the firm by 1732 when it was styled Henry Hankey & Sons. Hankey owned Jonathan’s Coffee House in Exchange Alley, the precursor of the London Stock Exchange, and was a respected citizen, appointed Alderman 1728 to 1737 and knighted in 1732. After 1732 the firm traded as Sir Henry Hankey & Sons. Henry Hankey died in 1737. In the same year Joseph Hankey was knighted, and between 1739 and 1769 the firm was known as Sir Joseph Hankey & Co. Joseph died in 1769, and his brother Thomas (knighted 1745) died the following year. Thereafter the firm was known simply as Hankey & Co, bankers and brokers at the sign of the ‘Three Golden Balls’ in Fenchurch Street. Both Joseph and Thomas had admitted their own sons, Joseph Chaplin Hankey (in 1763; died 1773), Thomas Hankey (in 1765; died 1793) and Robert Hankey, as partners, along with Stephen Hall (in 1765).

Thomas and Robert Hankey’s brother, John, did not join the family bank. Instead, he went into business with a West India merchant, Peter Simond, to form what would be known as Thomson Hankey & Co. This West India merchant business was run separately to the bank of Hankey & Co, but the families and business were very close and shared resources.

By 1783 the banking firm was known as Thomas Hankey & Co. Further members of the Hankey family went on to become partners, including William Alers (later William Alers Hankey), son of Thomas Hankey, who joined in 1789. He became senior partner by 1830 and died in 1859. The bank was styled Hankey, Hall, Hankey & Alers from 1804 and Hankey & Co from 1810. In 1865 Hankey & Co was acquired by Consolidated Bank Ltd of Manchester and London.

Detailed list of name changes

  • Captain Samuel Hankey from 1685
  • Widow Hankey & Co in 1692
  • Henry Hankey & Co by 1704
  • Henry Hankey & Sons by 1732
  • Sir Henry Hankey & Sons from 1732
  • Joseph Hankey & Co by 1737
  • Sir Joseph Hankey & Co by 1739
  • Hankey & Co from 1769
  • Thomas Hankey & Co by 1783
  • Hankey, Hall, Hankey & Alers from 1804
  • Hankey & Co from 1810

Published histories

  • FG Hilton Price, A handbook of London Bankers (London: Chatto & Windus, 1876)

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of Hankey & Co have the reference code HAN.

For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 68 KB).

  • waste book 1697-1705
  • signature book c.1792-1807
  • cheques and cheque forms 1801-59
  • bankers’ payments 1826-7
  • cash book 1831-65
  • property conveyance as security 1855-8

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere