This private bank was established in Lothbury, City of London in 1758 as Smith & Payne. The founding partners were Abel Smith II, senior partner of Abel Smith & Sons, bankers of Nottingham, and John Payne, a London merchant and linen draper who was chairman of the East India Co. The bank was established, following a dispute between the Smith family partners in the Nottingham bank which may also have severed the link with London goldsmith Samuel Smith, the bank's former London agent. The aim was to service the London business of the Nottingham bank's country customers and until 1769 it was only drawn upon from Nottingham and was effectively the first branch of a bank in England. Smith managed the Nottingham bank and Payne the London bank.
John Payne died in 1764 and was succeeded by his son Rene Payne. In 1764 the bank moved to the sign of the hare at 18 Lombard Street and in 1776 to George Street at the back of 1 Lombard Street. The London business was styled Smith, Payne & Smith from 1773 to 1783; Smith, Payne, Smith & Payne from 1783 to 1785; and Smith, Payne & Smiths from 1785.
In 1799 the Payne family withdrew and ownership of the business passed entirely to the Smith family, under Samuel Smith III, John Smith and George Smith. The bank had a balance sheet total of £964,261 in 1798 and by 1801 employed 42 clerks and porters. Meanwhile, other Smith family banks were opened at Lincoln in 1775, Hull in 1784 and Derby in 1806. The London partnership capital rose from £17,000 in 1764 to almost £50,000 in 1773 and by 1798 the balance sheet totalled £964,000. The bank initially issued notes, but note circulation was negligible by 1798 when the business was focused on deposits and agency work for 11 provincial banks in addition to those of the Smith family.
During the 18th century the London bank was seen as the parent bank, although the Smith family's country banks became more autonomous during the 19th century and eventually only three of the London partners held partnerships in the family's provincial banks.
Evidence from the compensation paid to slaveholders under the Abolition of Slavery Act 1833 indicates that this bank was financially connected to slave-holding estates in the Caribbean. Smith, Payne & Smiths was a recipient of compensation in respect of part-ownership of, or other legal claims upon, several plantations.
By 1891 the bank's balance sheet totalled £4.5m. In 1899, when the combined balance sheets of the five family banks amounted to over £10m, the Lincoln bank's partners proposed amalgamation with Barclay & Co, leading to discussion of the future of the businesses amongst the Smith family banks. In 1902 the five Smith family banks, including Smith, Payne & Smiths, merged with Union Bank of London Ltd of London, to form Union of London & Smiths Bank Ltd.
- FG Hilton Price, A handbook of London bankers (London: Chatto & Windus, 1890)
- 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, Payne & Smiths have the reference code SPS.
For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 68KB).
- partners' correspondence and papers 1696-1900
- partnership agreements 1728-98, 1836-55
- partners' miscellaneous private papers re family and business 1731-1912
- out-clearing book 1777
- account passbook, Rene Payne 1782-91
- private ledger, Oswald Smith 1830-63
- partnership rules 1836
- personal investment ledger, Eric Smith 1851-1905
- letterbooks 1858-90
- personal diaries, Lindsey Smith 1879-91
- account book, Lindsey Smith 1889-98
- photograph of Robert Smith II n.d.
- amalgamation papers 1891-1902
- papers re Baring crisis guarantees 1893-4
- information book 1900-2
- private ledgers 1776-1854
- promissory notes 1777
- private ledger cash books 1792-1854
- bills of exchange 1796-7
- balance sheets: 1797-1827, 1891-1902, trial 1813-24
- banker’s draft pull 18th cent
- private ledger balance sheets 1818-29
- customer account passbooks 1758-1801
- papers re customer debts 1768-1839
- cheque books and cheque forms 1770-1901
- customer correspondence and papers 1774-1902
- securities for advances 1776-1802, 1861-74
- bills and banknotes received 1777-88
- drafts 1777-1823
- customer instructions book 1795-1800
- balance sheets 1797-1827
- list of customer balances 1798
- bad and doubtful debts list 1799
- cheque form pull 18th cent.
- loan certificates 1811
- papers re agency work for provincial banks 1825-45
- letterbook 1858-70
- credit and debit slips 1869-1906
- probate register 1882-1911
- current account ledgers 1866-81
- surety bonds 1766-82, 1819-64
- papers re staff defalcation 1773-1809
- staff salary list 1777-86
- register of clerks 1783-1918
- staff list c.1790
- salary registers 1797-1830, 1895-1913
- letter to clerks re customer service 1894
- clerkship guarantee 1811
- staff Christmas money list 1822-68
- employment agreement 1855
- letter from staff re presentation to partner 1894
- tax assessment 1804
- property plans n.d.
Note issue records
- banknote circulation weekly returns 1884-1904
- printing plates for receipts n.d.
Summary of archive holdings elsewhere
- Nottinghamshire Archives: General papers and accounts 1777-1847; partnership agreement 1785