Child & Co

Child & Co (c.1580s-date), established in London, is a constituent of The Royal Bank of Scotland.

Brief history

The origins of the private bank of Child & Co can be traced back to the predecessors of two goldsmithing shops operated by William Wheeler and Robert Blanchard in Strand, London, in the early seventeenth century. Following the death of William Wheeler in 1661, his widow married Robert Blanchard and the two businesses were merged. Robert Blanchard was subsequently joined in partnership by Francis Child, and by 1673, when Blanchard & Child moved to 1 Fleet Street adjoining Temple Bar, the firm's banking activities had become more important than the traditional goldsmithing business.

In 1681 Francis Child, who had married Blanchard's step-daughter, inherited the entire business. He was knighted in 1689 and later served as Lord Mayor of London and as a Member of Parliament. Supported by the patronage of the Earl of Dorset, who was Lord Chamberlain, he regularly advanced large sums of money to the Treasury. In 1698 he was appointed 'jeweller in ordinary' to William III. Child died in 1713 and his three surviving sons ran the business in succession until the 1750s.

Child & Co remained a relatively small, private bank throughout the nineteenth century with, for example, profits of £49,490 in 1845. The firm survived many acute banking crises thanks to its aristocratic partners and their connections. The bank's proximity to the Inns of Court attracted many customers from among the legal profession and links were developed with a number of Oxford colleges.

Francis Child's grandson Robert had no male heirs and so the Child fortune was eventually settled on his granddaughter, Sarah Sophia Fane, who married the 5th Earl of Jersey. Sarah acted as senior partner of the bank from 1806 to 1867.

When Temple Bar was removed and the street widened, Child & Co built an elegant new banking house which opened in 1880.

In 1924 the 8th Earl of Jersey sold the firm to Glyn, Mills, Currie, Holt & Co for £74,372 plus life annuities to the partners totalling £7,200 per annum. Child & Co continued to trade independently after the acquisition. A branch was opened in Oxford in 1932.

In August 1939 Glyn's was itself acquired by The Royal Bank of Scotland. During the Second World War the main banking departments were evacuated to Osterley in West London, and in 1942 the Oxford branch was transferred to Martins Bank.

During the 1950s and 1960s new services were introduced. Accounting was mechanised. In 1977 a branch was once again opened in Oxford.

By the 1980s competition in the personal sector had become unprecedentedly fierce and Child & Co re-established its private banking traditions.

Published histories

  • Child & Co: A History. (Edinburgh: privately published by The Royal Bank of Scotland, 2002)
  • ‘The first 400 years,’ Three Banks Review, March 1984, vol.141, p.44-53
  • ‘The goldsmith banker,’ Three Banks Review, September 1955, vol.27, p.42-52
  • P Clarke, The first house in the City: an excursion into the history of Child & Co (London: privately published by Child & Co, 1973)
  • FG Hilton Price, Temple Bar; or, some account of Ye Marygold (London: London & Middlesex Archaeological Society, 1875)
  • FG Hilton Price, The Marygold by Temple Bar (London: privately published by Bernard Quaritch, 1902)
  • Child & Co's seventeenth century hanging sign depicting a marygold motif is featured in RBS History 100

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of Child & Co have the reference code CH.

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

Partnership records

  • papers re management of the partnership 1757-1909
  • partnership agreements 1757-1924
  • private out-letterbook 1762-1835
  • partnership correspondence 1833-49
  • partnership dispute letterbooks 1839-49
  • papers of Sarah Sophia Child Villiers, many re partnership dispute 1841-59
  • correspondence re introduction of audited half-yearly balance sheets 1891-2
  • merger papers: Glyn, Mills & Co 1922-4, The Royal Bank of Scotland 1939

Financial records

  • balance books 1685-1926
  • private journals 1700-40
  • private ledger 1717-67
  • profit and loss ledgers 1717-1962
  • details of cash received and paid 1726-8, 1939
  • journal entries, daily business 1753-4
  • papers re division of profits 1755-7, 1844-51
  • passbooks: Bank of England 1783-1806, 1878-1924, The Royal Bank of Scotland 1906-24, The National Bank 1906-24, Glyn, Mills & Co 1924-33
  • expenses journals 1785-1935
  • notebook re annual balances 1789-1938
  • commission books 1812-79
  • papers re tax on servants, income, property etc 1812, 1859-1920
  • balance papers: 1835-1934, auditor's 1891-1900, 1930-4
  • details of bills of exchange 1866-1939
  • agreements re securities 1867-1921
  • coin and note books 1870-1940
  • bank day books 1878-92, 1899-1908, 1926-8, 1934-6
  • balance sheets: annual 1891-1923, half-yearly 1926-9
  • stockbroker expense accounts 1898-1910
  • coupon account commission book 1919-36
  • details of foreign stocks 1919-39
  • ledgers, accounts with Glyn, Mills & Co 1924-34
  • papers re drawing up of balances on partners' deaths 1930-5
  • foreign coupons book 1937-9
  • daily balance ledgers 1959-62

Legal records

  • cases, opinions and other papers re partnership 1783-1860, 1899-1903, 1952
  • solicitors' bills of charges 1857-1928
  • manual of emergency legislation 1915
  • letter re forged cheques 1916

Customer records

  • customer ledgers: 1663-1755, Francis Child 1682-1726
  • papers of James Lowther, Earl of Lonsdale re West Indies estate 1690-1800: source overview (PDF 28KB)
  • abstract book re creditors and debtors 1691-1712, 1716-1836
  • correspondence with customers and other banks 1692-(1915)
  • agreements, correspondence and other papers re customer loans, overdrafts and securities, incl account statements 1693-(1915)
  • drawn notes 1699-1753
  • details of loans and repayment of interest 1717-56
  • signature books 1731-1909
  • papers re executorships and trusteeships 1759-1913
  • cheque books, cheques and cheque forms c.1763-85, 1857-(1915)
  • box books 1763-(1915)
  • foreign payments journal 1769-1854
  • details of customers' Bank of England stock holdings c.1775
  • probates of customer wills 1792-1880
  • draft promissory note forms re loans 1793, c.1805
  • details of annuity and stock transactions for customers 1794, 1798, 1848
  • pocket account book 1800-14
  • powers of attorney re receipt of forces pay and treasury pensions 1807-(1915)
  • list of probates 1810-9
  • lists of outstanding interest on loans 1812-3
  • bonds of indemnity to draw on accounts 1840, 1845
  • jewel closet books 1844-(1915)
  • letters and circulars from foreign correspondent banks 1858-75
  • papers re creation of a sinking fund 1871
  • memorandum book of securities for temporary loans 1879-86
  • loans book 1889-1903
  • stop cheque boards 1890-1
  • details of foreign correspondents 1890-1902

circular notes and drafts 1899-(1915)

Staff records

  • Christmas box books c.1726-(1915)
  • book of caricatures of staff, partners and customers 1791-(1915)
  • rules for clerks 1878, 1881
  • clerks' holiday cards 1881-1901
  • correspondence and agreement re pensions 1882-8
  • staff magazine, 'Ye Marygold' 1902

Property records

  • title deeds and other papers: Fleet Street 1625-c.1955, Carfax, Oxford 1930-4
  • engravings of Temple Bar and Fleet Street 1753-1878
  • papers re tenants, rents and leases, Fleet Street, Thanet Place, Child's Place and Brick Court c.1793-1840
  • plans and drawings: Brick Court 1824, Child's Place 1870s, Fleet Street 1875-80, 1924-39, 1961, Oxford branch 1932
  • insurance policies: fire 1836, 1869-78, 1884-1934, plate glass 1881-1927, bombing 1915
  • correspondence and articles re bank rebuilding 1877-82
  • photographs of bank c.1878-1956
  • returns papers: rate assessment, Fleet Street and Strand c.1885, land tax 1910
  • papers re telephones 1892-9
  • property valuation 1894, 1907
  • inventories, Fleet Street 1915, 1924
  • papers re air raid precautions 1915
  • papers re adding machines 1916-32
  • papers re electric lighting 1926

Note issue records

  • banknotes 1740-52

Other

  • scrapbooks 1671-1958
  • papers re Child and Jersey family property 1795, 1805, 1860-76, 1896-1910
  • various histories of Child & Co 1875-1939
  • Christmas cards 1950s-60s

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • Yorkshire Archaeological Society: Accounts, statements, cheque books etc c.1800-30 (Ref: DD56/P); correspondence with a Yorkshire customer 1781-1820. (Ref: DD56/M10).
  • Bank of England Archive: Chief cashier's file re banking and banking practice, incl clearing extended to Child & Co 1898-1909 [Ref C40/72]; governor's file re bank amalgamations, incl takeover of Child & Co by Glyn, Mills & Co 1923-24 (Ref G1/9)