Image: portrait of Thomas Priaulx, c.1830 © RBS 2018
Thomas Priaulx (1762-1844) was a merchant and banker. He was a founding partner in, and chairman of, Guernsey Banking Company.
Background and early life
Thomas Priaulx was born on 9 May 1762. He was the second son of Thomas Priaulx and his wife Rebecca, daughter of John Le Marchant. The Priaulx family was long-established in Guernsey and had originally gained its wealth through smuggling and privateering. Thomas Priaulx senior himself owned a small fleet of armed merchant vessels.
Thomas Priaulx senior was also a partner in an agency which acted as bankers to customers and clients of Carteret, Jersey & Co, the firm owned by his brothers-in-law. Carteret, Jersey & Co was one of the largest businesses in Rotterdam and specialised in shipping alcohol and tea to England via the Channel Islands.
Thomas junior attended a private school at Plympton in England for around three years.
At one time Thomas Priaulx considered studying medicine, but in the summer of 1777 he went to work for his uncle James Le Marchant at his office in Rotterdam. He later returned to Guernsey and joined his elder brother in the family shipping company Carteret Priaulx & Co. They operated a global privateering business from their counting house on Cornet Street, St Peter Port.
In 1827 Priaulx and his fellow merchants John Le Marchant and Hilary Rougier started a bank as an offshoot to their other trading activities. Priaulx, Le Marchant, Rougier & Co, popularly known as Guernsey Banking Company, was the first bank in Guernsey.
The new enterprise thrived, meeting the island’s need for dedicated banking facilities, in particular providing a way for customers to send remittances to England and France without incurring large premiums.
Within a few years, the arrival of competitors led Priaulx’s bank to become more commonly known as Guernsey Old Bank. Priaulx himself was chairman of the bank from its foundation until his death in 1844.
Family life, death and legacy
On 15 December 1792 Thomas Priaulx married Anne Lihou. They had two sons and eight daughters together: James, Thomas, Letitia, Frances Henrietta, Emma, Eliza Jane, Anne, Louisa, Julia Anne and Mary.
Thomas Priaulx died on 26 February 1844, aged 81. He was buried at Candie Cemetry, St Peter Port.
Several of Priaulx’s relatives and descendants held office in Guernsey Old Bank, including:
- James Priaulx, son of Thomas Priaulx, chairman of the bank, 1849-56
- de Vic Carey, husband of Thomas Priaulx’s daughter Frances Henrietta, chairman of the bank, 1861-74
- General de Vic Francis Carey, son of de Vic Carey and Frances Henrietta Priaulx, chairman of the bank, 1879-1906
- Victor Gosselin Carey, great grandson of Thomas Priaulx, director from 1906
Thomas’s nephew Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx, the son of his brother Anthony, gifted the Priaulx library to Guernsey.