Background and early life
Andrew Aikman was born in Edinburgh in 1842. He claimed descent from the Scottish portrait painter William Aikman (1682-1731).
He was educated at Dr Wood’s academy and then at the Edinburgh Institution, Queen Street. Fellow students recalled him as an accomplished student.
In 1858, when he was 16 years old, Andrew Aikman went to work in the office of William Moncrieff, with the intention of becoming an accountant.
Commercial Bank of Scotland
In August 1859, Andrew Aikman left the office of William Moncrieff to join Commercial Bank of Scotland. He initially worked in the secretary’s department, and later moved to the law department.
In 1870 the bank opened a new branch in Edinburgh’s West End. Aikman was appointed to get the branch up and running as its first agent. He returned to the head office law department in February 1871, but in November that year was posted to a branch again, as joint agent of the bank’s large Dundee office.
He returned to head office in 1874 as an inspector of branches. In that role he spent significant amounts of time travelling around the bank’s branches, which by that time numbered over 100, reporting back to head office on the state of business and the performance of staff at each one.
In 1879 he was appointed the bank’s joint agent in Glasgow. He expected to spend the rest of his career there, but after just three years he was recalled to head office once more, to take up the post of secretary.
At that time the secretary was the only person, besides the manager himself, who had a full overview of the bank’s business. As a result, he was effectively the manager’s second-in-command. Aikman’s manager was Robert Luff Peploe, but Peploe soon fell gravely ill, leaving Aikman largely responsible for performing the manager’s duties in his place.
Following Peploe’s death in 1884 Aikman was appointed manager, aged just 42. He held that post (later known as general manager) until his own death 20 years later, in 1904.
Other activities, character and appearance
Andrew Aikman joined the newly-formed Scottish Bankers’ Literary Association in 1864. The following year he became its secretary and treasurer, and in later years he served as its vice-president.
He was a justice of the peace; a vice-president and enthusiastic supporter of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland; and a director of Caledonian Insurance Company. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland from 1887 until his death.
A biographical sketch published in 1904 noted ‘plain, blunt, matter-of-fact and sensible are appellations entirely applicable to him’; ‘his mind is of the logical order, and he goes in a straight bee-line to the root of any matter. He would make an excellent President of an Anti-Humbug Association.’
Andrew Aikman married Mary Dorothy Scott in 1871. They had four sons, one of whom died at the age of 10 in 1888. The other three survived him, as did Mary.
On 8 November 1904 Andrew Aikman was taken ill while attending the funeral of David Deuchar, manager of Caledonian Insurance Company, of which Aikman was a director. He never regained consciousness, and died at home at Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, on 11 November 1904.
- Biographical profile in Moneta, Scottish Banks and Bankers (Edinburgh, 1904)