Unity Joint Stock Mutual Banking Association

Unity Joint Stock Mutual Banking Association (1855-62), established in London, was a past constituent of NatWest.

Brief history

This joint stock bank was formed in 1855 by parties connected with the Unity Fire and Life Assurance Companies. The bank was based on the novel principle of dividing profits between its customers and shareholders. Legal advice had to be taken on whether the principle of mutuality without making customers partners in the bank was feasible. The bank, based in Cannon Street, London, appears to have been awarded a charter in 1856.

By 1857 branches had been opened at Leicester Square, Watford, St Albans, Ware, Hertford, Brighton and Pimlico, but they did not prove successful. The branches at Watford, St Albans, Ware and Pimlico were closed by mid-1857 and at the annual general meeting of 1858 the winding up of the bank was under discussion. By July 1858 only the Leicester Square and Brighton branches remained. Business improved somewhat during the following years and a branch was opened in Lambeth in 1861.

In 1862, when deposits stood at £170,000, the business was wound up and the customer balances transferred to London & Middlesex Bank without any of the liabilities. Unity Bank went into liquidation, with London & Middlesex Bank acting as bankers. London & Middlesex Bank itself went into liquidation the following year. Parts of the business were acquired by London & Westminster Bank, but the shareholders of Unity Bank lost their investment.

Published history

  • TE Gregory, The Westminster Bank through a Century (London: Oxford University Press, 1936)

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of Unity Joint Stock Mutual Banking Association have the reference code UJS.

  • cheque 1862

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies: share certificates and receipts re Unity Joint Stock Mutual Banking Association and the Unity General Assurance Association of John Davies of Hertford, physician, 1854-62 (Ref: DE/L/4317-4317/1-14)