This naval agency was established by John Gathorne (born 1726) in the City of London at Crutched Friars, next to the Navy Office, sometime before 1774. Gathorne was a merchant trading with Madeira, Azores and South America. He later took his friend James Sykes into partnership, and after Gathorne's death in 1774 Sykes continued to trade alone.
The firm moved to 22 Arundel Street, Strand, in 1792 when the Navy Office was relocated to Somerset House. Subsequently Sykes took his son James into the partnership, which became known as Sykes & Son.
In 1813 Thomas Stilwell, a kinsman, was taken into partnership. Sykes senior and junior both died in 1816, leaving Thomas Stilwell as sole partner. Stilwell was eventually joined by his sons and grandsons and the firm was later known as Stilwell & Sons. The firm moved to Great George Street in 1884, and later to 42 Pall Mall.
In 1923, when the partners were Geoffrey Holt Stilwell, John Bernard Lethbridge Stilwell and William Byron Stilwell and its balance sheet totalled £164,620, the business was acquired by Westminster Bank.
Detailed list of name changes:
- John Gathorne by 1774
- James Sykes from 1774
- Sykes & Son from 1792
- James Sykes, James Sykes junior & Thomas Stilwell 1813
- Stilwell & Sons by 1884
Summary of our archive holdings
Our archival records of Stilwell & Sons have the reference code STI.
For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 68 KB).
- papers as trustees 1795-1814, 1836-70
- customer correspondence 1798
- securities as bankers 1798-1825, 1870
- partnership agreements 1815-6
- partners’ private and business papers 1816-88, 1917
- customer probate papers 1852-1926
- premises leases 1859
- powers of attorney 1862, 1912
- customer information books 1866-1923
- cheque book and cheque forms 1900-23
- balance sheet 1922
- amalgamation agreement and papers 1923
- partners’ correspondence 1923-7