This private bank was formed in Kingston upon Hull in 1784 as Abel Smith & Sons by Abel Smith II and his sons, Robert Smith and Samuel Smith II. It was also known as Custom House Bank and later as Hull Bank or Hull & Kingston-upon-Hull Bank.
Abel Smith II was the bank's principal partner. He had been sent to Hull in 1732 as an apprentice to William Wilberforce, a merchant trading with the Baltic region. By 1768 Smith was running the merchanting business, which by 1784 was known as Wilberforce & Smith. Smith became related by marriage to the Wilberforce family, and was the uncle of William Wilberforce, the famous campaigner for the abolition of slavery.
The Smith family had already established three banks: Samuel Smith & Co in Nottingham; Smith, Payne & Smiths in London; and Smith, Ellison & Co in Lincoln. The family subsequently established a fifth bank, based in Derby.
The Hull bank traded as Abel Smith Sons & Co from 1787, following the admission of Thomas Thompson, formerly a clerk, as partner in both the bank and the merchanting firm. Abel Smith II died in 1788 and the firm was subsequently known as Smiths & Thompson. Thompson remained the principal resident banker at Hull until his death in 1828, when the bank was renamed Samuel Smith, Brothers & Co. The bank had a number of agents in Yorkshire from the 1780s, including agencies at Scarborough and Beverley. It issued notes from the outset and by 1802 had £137,544 in circulation.
The firm's partners were John Smith, Thomas Thompson, Samuel Smith and George Smith from 1792; Samuel, George, John, Samuel George, Oswald and John Henry Smith from 1828; Abel Smith III, Oswald Smith, Martin Tucker Smith, J H Smith, Edmund Smith and James Henwood by 1846; John Egginton, Eric Carrington Smith and Dudley Robert Smith by 1887; and Gerard Smith, Arthur Egginton and Francis Nicholas Smith by 1902.
During the 19th century the connections between the Smith family partners loosened and each bank became more autonomous of the London business. In 1902, however, Samuel Smith, Brothers & Co joined with the other Smith banks in merging with Union Bank of London to form Union of London & Smiths Bank.
Branches: The bank opened 2 branches between 1784 and 1902.
- JASL Leighton-Boyce, Smiths the bankers 1658-1958 (London: privately published by National Provincial Bank, 1958)
Summary of our archive holdings
Our archival records of Samuel Smith, Brothers & Co have the reference code SSB.
For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 68KB).
- partners’ papers 1787-1899
- articles of partnership 1790-1862
- partners’ correspondence and letterbooks 1825-81
- papers re legal case 1868
- promissory note 1778
- banker’s draft 1793
- annual ledger balances 1802-15
- counsel’s opinion on commission rates 1812
- statement of affairs 1828
- accounting statistics 1870-90
- cheque book and cheques 1828-1900
- customer information books 1891-1901
- customer account ledgers 1784-1828
Note issue records
- papers re Hull banknote circulation 1797
- banknote pull 1800s
- banknotes 1817, 1879