The National Bank Ltd

The National Bank Ltd (1835-1970) was a past constituent of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Brief history

This bank was formed as National Bank of Ireland in 1835. It was a joint-stock bank founded by a group of MPs and other gentlemen, including Daniel O'Connell. Frustrated by the exclusivity of the Bank of Ireland (est. 1783) and the English orientation of the Provincial Bank of Ireland (est. 1825), the founders aimed to form a bank both to provide capital for Irish economic development and to serve the needs of small traders and tenant farmers, as well as those of the gentry.

The bank's head office was located in the City of London, at 39 Old Broad Street and, although the majority of backers were English, the banking business was carried on entirely in Ireland. The bank's London agents were Barnett, Hoares & Co, bankers of Lombard Street, City of London.

Lamie Murray, manager of the bank, modelled the organisation on Thomas Joplin's Provincial Bank of Ireland - a joint-stock bank with branches operating as subsidiary companies, the shares being held partly by the parent bank and partly by local people. By the end of 1835 the bank had opened 11 branches and 18 sub-branches and an unsuccessful attempt had been made to establish a subsidiary company in Belfast, as the Belfast National Bank of Ireland. By May 1836 the bank had a paid-up capital of £374,140, of which £133,125 was subscribed locally in Ireland. In 1837, however, owing to administrative problems, the principle of the semi-autonomous branch was abandoned and the capital consolidated.

In 1845 the Irish Banking Act ended the Bank of Ireland's monopoly in and around Dublin, and a chief office of the National Bank in Ireland was immediately opened at 34 and 35 College Green, Dublin. The Act also fixed the banknote issue of the National Bank at £852,269. In 1847 the National Bank of Ireland also absorbed the London & Dublin Bank of Dublin, regaining a number of branches which it had established in 1837 and had to dispose of because of their proximity to Dublin. In 1854 the bank opened its first branch in England at 13 Old Broad Street in the City of London, where the board had met since 1839. In 1856, the bank's name was changed from National Bank of Ireland to The National Bank Ltd and, in 1859, with a paid-up capital of £500,000, it was invited to join the London Clearing House. The expansion of the London business continued, and, by 1888, The National Bank was the eighth largest British bank in terms of authorised (£7.5m) and issued (£1.5m) capital and only four other banks had more branches in London. This growth was sustained with over 60 further branches opened between 1888 and 1922.

After the First World War the board, preoccupied with warding off take-over bids and coping with problems caused by the political and economic situation in Ireland, began to consolidate. The depression of agriculture had a detrimental effect on business, whilst the subsequent establishment of the Irish Free State had implications for the bank's shareholding, tax affairs and note issue. In 1922, therefore, when a parliament was re-established in Dublin, the bank formed an Irish board to manage the larger Irish side of the business. This did not however, solve all of the bank's problems, rather they were further compounded by the general economic recession of the 1920s and 1930s and the Second World War.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the expansion of the Irish economy provided much business for the bank, but, by the mid-1960s, it was apparent that it was no longer appropriate for such an important Irish bank to be controlled from London and operate as a member of the London Clearing. In 1966, therefore, the bank's business in Ireland was transferred to a new company, National Bank of Ireland, and sold to Bank of Ireland (est. 1783). The 36 English and Welsh branches passed to National Commercial Bank of Scotland, although The National Bank, with a paid-up capital of £3 million, continued to operate its branch network independently until 1970, when the branches became part of the new Williams & Glyn's Bank.

Branches: The bank opened 44 English and Welsh branches and sub-branches between 1835 and 1966, located in South Wales, London and other key English cities such as Liverpool and Manchester. In 1970 there were 38 branches operating in England and Wales.

Published history

  • M Slattery, The National Bank, 1835-1970 (London: privately published by The National Bank, 1972)

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of The National Bank Ltd have the reference code NB.

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

Corporate records

  • share certificates 1834-67
  • allotment letters 1834-5
  • share ledgers 1834-41, 1920-3
  • daily agenda books 1834-6
  • deeds of settlement 1835-1917
  • memorandum and articles of association c.1923-68
  • general meeting minute books: 1836-81, 1916-39, annual and extraordinary 1966-70, half-yearly 1881-1965, rough, Clonmell National Bank 1835-53, special 1836-76
  • general meeting agenda books: 1836-84, half-yearly and annual 1921-66
  • directors' meetings minute books: 1835-1958, Dublin 1917-66, rough 1834-7
  • dividend warrants 1835-67
  • directors' papers: Thomas Lamie Murray 1835-53, Sir Joseph Neale McKenna 1859-77, William Emmens 1872-88, Frank Lord Pakenham, later Lord Longford 1956-60
  • lists of shareholders 1836, 1910-13, 1920
  • correspondence registers 1836-42, 1943-70
  • special committee minute book 1841-4
  • London and Dublin committee rough minute book, incl takeover of London & Dublin Bank 1843-56
  • general committee agenda book 1846-8
  • merger papers, London & Dublin Bank 1847, The Cattle Trade Bank 1922-3
  • declarations of trust 1854-6
  • general orders and instructions books 1857-1941
  • memoranda book c.1860-71
  • circulars to shareholders 1860-9, 1881, 1894, 1961-5
  • papers re National Bank of Liverpool 1863-71
  • chief accountant's files 1869-1966
  • share transfer deeds c.1860s
  • proceedings of general meetings 1877-1965
  • instructions re share transfers 1881-1925
  • London office manager's private copy letterbook 1887-(1915)
  • special committee report on bank officers’ guarantee fund late 19th cent.
  • annual general meeting attendance books 1900-66
  • registers of directors 1901-50
  • registrar's letterbook 1909-17
  • Dublin daily committee copy minutes 1917-8
  • registers of shareholders c.1920s-60
  • register of unclaimed dividends c.1927-66
  • seal books 1927-70
  • certificates of incorporation 1946, 1965
  • register of directors' holdings and interests 1948-66
  • committee and sub-committee sheets 1950-68
  • attendance books 1954-70
  • allotment lists, London and Dublin 1963-4
  • share transfer control sheets 1964-70
  • papers re sale of Irish branches to Bank of Ireland 1965-6

Financial records

  • balance sheets and profit and loss accounts: annual 1835-44, 1882-1947, bi-annual 1859-81, 1948-69
  • directors' reports: annual 1836-69, bi-annual 1866-1956
  • half-yearly ledger balances sheets 1872-1928
  • monthly balance analysis books 1947-67
  • impersonal profit and loss ledger 1960-4
  • head office general ledgers 1845-1970
  • ledger re Irish branches 1850-60
  • directors' fees account book 1917-41
  • ledger re daily transaction and balance totals 1915-21
  • manager's room statistics books 1939-56
  • circulation statement books re Bank of England note and coin 1944-60
  • authorised signature books and lists 1933, 1958, 1965

Legal records

  • correspondence with bank's solicitor 1851-3
  • papers re various legal cases, incl proposed name change 1855, proposed National Bank expansion in London 1853, The National Bank v. McKenna and others 1853-77

Customer records

  • customer opinion book 1836-50
  • signature books 1854-(1915)
  • cheques 1864-71
  • specimen cheque book late 19th cent.
  • customer indemnities 1874, 1883-98
  • stock purchase journal 1888-(1915)
  • title deeds of Shoreditch Empire Theatre, London, 1696-1915

Head office branch records

  • inspectors' reports 1837-41, 1850-7
  • instructions for the general management of the branches 1840
  • general orders and instructions books 1857-1941
  • lists of branches 1862, 1870, 1893, 1904
  • instructions: note issue department 1876, 1885, guidance of the officers 1876, 1885, 1913, 1958-70, inspection of branches 1914, 1919
  • secretary's correspondence re sub-offices 1921-44
  • notes re book of general instructions 1929-31
  • half-yearly branch reports 1933-62
  • tables re London office profit and loss account c.1962-7
  • returns from English branches re experimental late opening 1969-70

Staff records

  • staff ledger c.1830s-50s
  • registers of officers, Ireland c.1837-(1915)
  • staff registers, London office and branches 1854-6
  • bonds of fidelity registers 1860-(1915)
  • staff character books c.1863-(1915)
  • lists of officers and correspondents 1875-1904
  • officers' addresses books 1876-(1915)
  • attendance book, country office clerks 1881-2
  • staff instruction manual 1885
  • registers of officials deceased, resigned and dismissed c.1887-(1915)
  • staff salary ledger 1892-9
  • staff birth certificates c.1890s-(1915)
  • regulations re clerk appointment examinations c.1950s
  • papers re pension funds 1964-70

Property records

  • papers re Old Broad Street premises 1807-1923, 1934
  • title deeds, 55 Moorgate Street 1838
  • insurance policies: Old Broad Street 1840, 1907-53, fire and aircraft, Old Broad Street and Adams Court 1895-1920, war damages 1941-4
  • bond and warrant re construction of bank premises at College Green, Dublin 1843
  • title deeds, Arabella Row, Pimlico 1858-64
  • bank premises ledgers 1859-1970
  • valuation form, Grosvenor Gardens 1914
  • branch photographs c.1910s-60s

Note issue records

  • banknotes 1825-1937
  • report on note issue procedure 1855
  • notes issued and cancelled books 1864-6, 1882-1929
  • specimen, proof and forged notes 1866-1937
  • forged banknotes 1866-84
  • banknote artwork, specimens and forgeries 1877, 1919-30s
  • correspondence re note issue 1879-1920
  • correspondence re note design 1888-1920
  • bankers' licences 1896-1965
  • note issue department account books: 1925-40, Belfast 1929-67, Dublin 1929-73
  • note circulation books 1944-67

Marketing records

  • presscuttings: 1838-9, 1870-1939
  • 50th anniversary dinner menu 1884
  • correspondence re scheme to advertise on wage packets 1929-32
  • calendar 1941
  • advertising booklets c.1950s

Branch records

  • selected records

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • Bank of England Archive: Discount office file re The National Bank 1845-69 (Ref: C48/65); governor’s files re bank mergers, incl possible merger of The National Bank with Hibernian Bank Ltd 1955-6, possible merger of The National Bank with Commercial Bank of Scotland 1959, possible merger of The National Bank with Bank of Ireland and Bank of Scotland 1964-5, and acquisition of The National Bank by National Commercial Bank of Scotland and Bank of Ireland 1965 (Ref: G1/12-13)