Williams Deacon's Bank Ltd | RBS Heritage Hub

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Williams Deacon's Bank Ltd

Image: advertisement for home safe accounts of Williams Deacon's Bank, 1920s © RBS 2018


Williams Deacon's Bank Ltd (1836-1970), founded in Manchester and subsequently headquartered in London, was a past constituent of the Royal Bank of Scotland.


Brief history

This joint-stock bank was established in Manchester in 1836 as Manchester & Salford Bank by a group of promoters keen to take advantage of recent legislation allowing the formation of joint-stock banks outside London. The bank had up to 15 directors and the issued capital was £1m, of which £252,100 was paid up by December 1836.

The first shareholders' meeting, in May 1836, took place in temporary premises, but in August 1836 a banking house was rented in King Street. Land off Mosley Street was later acquired and a new banking house completed in 1838.

From the late 1850s the bank expanded rapidly. Branches were opened in nearby towns, a new banking house in Mosley Street was built in 1862 and a number of local banking firms were acquired: Heywood Brothers & Co of Manchester in 1874; Hardcastle, Cross & Co of Bolton in 1878; and Clement Royds & Co of Rochdale in 1881. In July 1881 the business was registered as a limited liability company, Manchester & Salford Bank Ltd, and by December 1881 it had a paid-up capital of £757,480.

By the 1880s the number of private banks was declining and large clearing banks with London head offices and nationwide branch networks had begun to emerge. In 1890, with 47 branches, the bank took over Williams, Deacon & Co, the bank's London agent since 1836. The new bank was renamed Williams Deacon & Manchester & Salford Bank Ltd and the head office transferred to Birchin Lane, City of London, to retain Williams, Deacon & Co's membership of the London Clearing House. By the end of that year the bank had a paid-up capital of £1m.

Profits increased steadily during the last decade of the 19th century and, in 1901, the name of the bank was changed to Williams Deacon's Bank Ltd, a less awkward title which better reflected the broad geographical spread of the branches. In 1907 Sheffield & Rotherham Joint Stock Banking Co Ltd was acquired, and after the First World War the bank's policy of expansion was resumed and 52 new branches were opened between 1919 and 1922. Around this time the bank also established a new department for foreign business and was among the subscribers to British Overseas Bank Ltd, which was set up to facilitate British foreign trade. Facilities for trustees and executors were also extended.

The post-war boom was short-lived and swiftly followed by widespread economic recession. Lancashire, where most of the bank's business lay, was particularly badly affected, and during the mid-1920s the bank's profits were severely undermined by increasing provision for bad debts. Williams Deacon's urgently needed support from a larger partner, and in 1929, through the offices of the Bank of England, the Royal Bank of Scotland made an offer for the company's entire share capital. Purchase terms, involving a transfer of shares, were finally agreed in 1930 and Williams Deacon's branches became the foundation of The Royal Bank of Scotland's branch network in England.

After 1930 William Deacon's Bank continued to trade separately with its own Manchester-based head office and board of directors. During the 1950s the directors decided to widen the bank's geographical coverage and a number of new offices were opened in the south, East Anglia and the Midlands. The growing importance of the motor car was reflected in the launch of the bank's first drive-in branch at Preston in 1959. During the following decade Williams Deacon's was amongst the first of the clearing banks to recognise the potential of offshore financial centres, and consequently established a number of offices and subsidiary companies in the Channel Islands. A new head office building was opened in Manchester in 1963. By 1969 the bank had a paid-up capital of £5m.

In 1969 The Royal Bank of Scotland was restructured and Williams Deacon's became a direct subsidiary of a new holding company, National & Commercial Banking Group. The following year the holding company's subsidiaries in England and Wales - Williams Deacon's Bank, Glyn, Mills & Co and the English and Welsh branches of The National Bank - merged to form Williams & Glyn's Bank.

Branches: The bank opened 293 branches and sub-branches between 1836 and 1970, located throughout England and Wales, but until the 1950s particularly focused on the north west of England. In 1970 288 branches were operating. 


Published histories

  • Williams Deacon’s, 1771-1970 (Manchester: privately published by Williams & Glyn’s Bank Ltd, 1971)
  • Over Two Centuries of Banking in Manchester (Edinburgh: privately published by The Royal Bank of Scotland, 1994)


Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of Williams Deacon’s Bank Ltd have the reference code WD.

For help understanding words used here, check our glossary of banking record types (PDF 24KB).

Corporate records

  • deeds of settlement 1836, 1876, 1881
  • provisional committee meeting minute book 1836
  • share journal 1836-1919
  • directors’ meetings minute books: 1836-1970, rough 1836, London directors 1935-70
  • general managers' papers 1836-8, 1866-9, 1916-58
  • commonplace book 1837-54
  • lists of shareholders 1837, 1881-9
  • general meetings minute book 1837-1954
  • managing director's out letterbook to other banks 1841-73
  • desk diaries of William Langton 1862, 1864, 1865
  • seal order book 1870-98
  • certificates of incorporation, change of name, etc 1871-1907
  • merger papers: Heywood Brothers & Co 1873-4, Hardcastle, Cross & Co 1878-82, Clement Royds & Co 1881, Sheffield & Rotherham Bank 1884-1913, Wiiliams Deacon & Co 1890-1, other banks, unimplemented 1921-4, The Royal Bank of Scotland 1928-30, Williams & Glyn's Bank c.1970
  • general letterbooks 1873-1957
  • circulars to shareholders 1874, 1901, 1926-7
  • Oliver Heywood’s private notebooks 1874-9
  • grant of arms to Manchester & Salford Bank 1875
  • papers re resignation of Oliver Heywood 1878-1950
  • papers re registration of the bank as a limited company 1881
  • share transfers balance book 1882-7
  • letters from shareholders re changes of details 1886
  • general manager’s papers, incl copy telegrams c.1890-1924, 1945-70
  • register of stock of John Deacon and Robert Williams 1892-3
  • annual lists of shareholders 1892-6
  • directors' rotation books 1908-69
  • papers re board of directors 1911-63, 1922-36
  • papers re new share issue 1918-9
  • annual returns 1919-38
  • liquidators' annual statements of account for Sheffield & Rotherham Bank 1919-45
  • board papers 1925-70
  • committee minutes: office administration 1925-7, London office building 1933, Manchester 1966-8, English merger 1967-9
  • blank share certificate forms c.1920s, c.1950s
  • share transfer registers 1928-69
  • registers of directors/managers 1929-69
  • registers of directors' interests c.1929-31
  • share certificate book 1930-1
  • annual returns 1930-59
  • register of shareholders 1930-69
  • correspondence with The Royal Bank of Scotland 1930-69
  • papers re chairman's general meeting speeches 1932-64
  • out-letterbooks: 1957-70, The Royal Bank of Scotland 1934-69, National & Commercial Banking Group 1969-70
  • directors’ remuneration papers 1936-69
  • share transfer forms, share certificates and related correspondence 1953-69
  • papers re visits to foreign banks c.1955-70
  • correspondence with Glyn, Mills & Co 1958-69
  • papers re national board for prices and incomes report 1958-68
  • papers re British Wagon Co Ltd 1961-2
  • Manchester committee: attendance book 1961-6, minutes 1968-70
  • papers re inter-bank lending procedures 1962
  • papers of management consultants 1963-9
  • papers re Williams Deacon's Investment & Finance Ltd 1967-8
  • papers re corporate development 1967-9
  • executive director's conference papers 1969-70
  • correspondence with National & Commercial Banking Group 1969-70

Financial records

  • ledgers: private 1836-1875, general 1836-76
  • balance charts book 1836-1930
  • annual reports 1837-1969
  • cash books 1838-43
  • statements of assets and liabilities 1881-1931
  • summary balance table c.1886
  • monthly balance sheets and statements of account 1890-1926
  • correspondence with Bank of England re guarantees 1890-1906
  • private statistics book re balances 1891-1925
  • balance books: monthly 1898-1958, weekly London office 1911-9
  • balance papers 1901-11
  • profit and loss summary books c.1900-68
  • guarantee book 1906-39
  • balance sheets analysis, Manchester banks 1911-5
  • authorised signature books 1912-36
  • tax papers: income tax 1914-8, 1943-62, excess profits tax 1930-49, 1935-46, cheque clearing tax evasion 1942-50
  • statement re loans, advances, overdrafts and reserves 1916-7
  • correspondence re setting off balances for the balance sheet 1917
  • papers re gold standard and gold reserves 1917-25
  • reserves books 1917-65
  • papers re half-yearly results: RT Hindley 1918-30, Leslie Fletcher 1968-9
  • statement of comparison of profit and loss accounts 1921-2
  • suspension charges and provision summaries 1921-61
  • head office tax returns 1927-30
  • annual information sheets 1932-41
  • papers re bank investments 1935-70
  • weekly balance sheets for the London foreign department 1937-8
  • files re co-operation with government and capital issues committee 1939-64
  • half-yearly balance papers 1940-52
  • group statistics file re returns on capital 1955-66
  • file re monthly figures 1959
  • profits statistics 1960-7
  • balance book 1967-8
  • details of various balances incl branch profit and loss 1968-9

Legal records

  • papers re Manchester Exchange Bill 1891-1912
  • papers re emergency legislation 1914-5
  • powers of attorney issued 1942-52

Customer records

  • deposit ledgers 1810-1908
  • papers re bad debts 1848, 1866-9, 1879-86
  • doubtful debts memorandum book 1864-1914
  • weekly balance book, other banks 1879-85
  • general manager’s customer record books 1882-1915
  • correspondence from customers 1879-(1915)
  • safe custody books 1883-(1915)
  • cheque, cheque forms and cheque book 1883-1900s
  • correspondence from American banks re Louisiana bond coupons 1883-9
  • correspondence with the Bank of Liverpool 1886-1905
  • blank letter of credit c.1890s
  • correspondence with Public Trustee Office 1910
  • correspondence and circulars re Exports Credits Guarantee Department c.1927-1934
  • correspondence: war damage to properties that were securities for advances 1940, banker's card terms and conditions 1966
  • papers re national savings certificates 1940-62
  • papers re re-organisation of trustee department 1967-9
  • unissued cash dispenser cards 1960s

Head office branch records

  • particulars of branches books 1865-1970
  • manager's record books c.1874-1925
  • remembrancers 1874-1954
  • circulars 1888-1970
  • correspondence with branches 1890-1936
  • list of branches c.1907
  • head office memoranda files 1907-70
  • London statistics ledger 1926-41
  • papers re emergency banking procedures 1938-44
  • wartime account returns 1940-4
  • branch guarantees book 1944-58
  • general instructions books c.1944-70
  • report on branch profitability 1945-69
  • papers re branch closures and opening hours 1945-56, 1964-7
  • files re New York office 1960-5

Staff records

  • declaration of secrecy registers 1836-1903
  • staff applications correspondence 1836-8, 1898
  • salaries sheets and books 1836-(1915)
  • staff photographs 1866, 1911, 1934-40
  • staff and partners cartoons c.1879-1914
  • authorised signatures list c.1881
  • minutes and papers re staff clubs 1888-1971
  • staff books 1890-(1915)
  • papers re Banker's Guarantee and Trust Fund 1890-1919
  • general manager's salary papers 1895-(1915)
  • pensions ledger 1895-(1915)
  • head office correspondence re staff 1899-(1915)
  • agreements for engagement of commissioners 1900
  • pension fund papers 1921-7
  • rules of widows and orphans fund 1935
  • clerks' conditions of service c.1938
  • staff wartime passes 1940
  • papers re visits to America and Canada 1955-65
  • minute book of council of Williams Deacon’s Bank Pension Trust Ltd 1958-65
  • minutes of staff terms and conditions working party 1969-70

Property records

  • architectural drawings 1867-1957
  • property ledgers: 1881-1969, sheets 1937-70
  • agreements re Mosley Street premises 1881, 1923
  • photographs: branches c.1880s-1970, mobile banks c.1950s
  • branch property correspondence c.1892-1968
  • specification for decorating work, St Ann Street branch 1898
  • papers re machine posting system 1924-70
  • ledger detailing expenditure on branches 1925-69
  • papers re rebuilding of the Birchin Lane premises 1932-8
  • papers re protectograph cheque writer 1934-59, property valuations 1953-8, re computerisation 1954-71
  • drawings for proposed bullion van 1960
  • papers Mosley Street premises 1963-9
  • annual summaries of branch property expenses 1963-9
  • files papers re introduction of teleprocessing 1968-71

Note issue records

  • bankers' licences 1837-77

Marketing records

  • poster re bank history c.1920
  • papers re advertising 1926-67
  • Christmas cards 1936-8, 1954-7
  • booklet re overseas department c.1965
  • papers re protected budget accounts 1967-8
  • press advertising schedules 1968

Other records

  • papers of Thomas Read Wilkinson as Turkish vice-consul for Manchester 1882-96
  • papers re British Wagon Co Ltd 1898-1968
  • papers re Central Association of Bankers 1903-15
  • Sheffield & Rotherham Bank directors' meetings minute book 1907-9
  • historical notes c.1950-66
  • papers re Radcliffe Committee on the Working of the Monetary System 1957-60, c.1967
  • papers re central intelligence bureau 1959-62
  • papers re re-organisation of overseas department 1968

Branch records

  • selected records


Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • The Bank of England Archive: Governor’s file re bank amalgamations, incl possible merger of Williams Deacon’s Bank with other banks and eventually with The Royal Bank of Scotland 1927-35, and possible sale of Williams Deacon’s Bank by The Royal Bank of Scotland to Martins Bank 1938-43 (Ref: G1/9-10); committee of treasury files re Williams Deacon’s Bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lancashire Cotton Corporation and Combined Egyptian Mills Ltd 1928-38 (Ref: G14/254-255).
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