This private bank, the first in Lincoln, was established in 1775 as Smith, Ellison & Brown by Abel Smith II, banker of Nottingham; Richard Ellison, a banker and partner in Ellison, Cooke, Childers & Swann (est. 1750), bankers of Doncaster; and John Brown, a former agent of a local canal company. The bank was also known as Lincoln Bank and was the third Smith family bank formed after Samuel Smith & Co, bankers of Nottingham, and Smith & Payne, bankers of London. Later banks were also opened in Hull and Derby.
The Lincoln bank's initial partnership capital was £3,000, but soon increased to £21,000. The bank traded in High Street from the house of John Brown, the resident and managing partner at Lincoln. The bank issued notes from 1775, by 1781 its circulation was almost £54,956, and its London agent was Smith, Payne & Smith. The bank's balance sheet grew from £322,294 in 1799 to £827,964 in 1818.
Abel Smith II died in 1788 and was replaced in the partnership by his sons, Robert and Samuel Smith, who were also partners in the Smith family's Nottingham, Hull and London banks. Both Richard Ellison and John Brown died in 1792 and thereafter the partners were Robert and Samuel Smith and Henry and Richard Ellison, trading as Smith, Ellison & Co. By 1813 the bank had 8 agencies, but these were reduced to 2, at Market Rasen and Brigg, by 1827 as the bank's note circulation increased.
Branches or sub-branches were opened at Gainsborough (1813), Caistor, Grimsby (1846) and Grimsby Docks (1892). The Ellison family withdrew in 1859 and for much of the nineteenth century the bank was managed by Alexander Melville, although the Smith family continued to provide partners. During the nineteenth century the connections between the Smith family partners loosened and each bank became more autonomous of the London business.
By 1899 lack of loanable funds prompted the Lincoln bank's partners to consider amalgamation with Barclay & Co, leading to discussion amongst the Smith family banks. In 1902 Smith, Ellison & Co joined with the other Smith family banks in merging with Union Bank of London Ltd of London, to form Union of London & Smiths Bank Ltd.
Branches: The bank opened 9 branches and sub-branches between 1775 and 1902. In 1902 8 branches and 1 sub-branch were operating.
- 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 Smith, Ellison & Co have the reference code SEC.
For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 68 KB).
- partners' correspondence and other papers 1778-1900
- partnership agreements 1789
- papers of partners as trustees 1868, 1900-3
- partners' letterbooks 1891-1916
- amalgamation papers incl. accounts 1895-1914
- general ledgers 1775-1902
- balance sheets 1836-1902
- lawsuit notes re customer complaint 1816
- notes for counsel’s opinion re customer dispute 1847
- customer correspondence 1835-8
- customer account pass books 1836-58, 1886-1907
- cheques and cheque forms 1869-73
- branch returns re accounts 1881-98
- special accounts books 1891, 1897
- salary books 1839-1911
- staff photograph c.1900
- order of service for laying building cornerstone 1885
- branch premises valuations 1885-91
- papers re purchase of Grantham premises 1897
- branch architectural drawings n.d.
Note issue records
- banknotes 1775-1896
- Grimsby branch 1846-1902