National Bank of Scotland Ltd

National Bank of Scotland (1825-1959), established in Edinburgh, was a past constituent of The Royal Bank of Scotland.

This co-partnership bank was established in 1825 as National Banking Company of Scotland, with an authorised capital of £5 million, and attracted more shareholders than any other bank in Britain. Its first governor was the Duke of Roxburghe and its first chairman was Alexander Henderson. It opened 13 branches in its first year, began to circulate notes through the offices of its provincial shareholders (£133,000 in circulation by 1826), and acquired head office premises in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh. In 1831 the bank received a royal charter, and changed its name to National Bank of Scotland.

It continued to expand, acquiring Commercial Banking Co of Aberdeen in 1833 and Perth Union Banking Co in 1836. In 1843 a bid to take over the Glasgow & Ship Bank (est. 1809) failed, leading National Bank of Scotland to open its own Glasgow office later the same year. In 1844 it acquired the short-lived Bank of Glasgow.

In 1864 National Bank of Scotland was the first Scottish bank to open an office in London. In 1882 it registered as a limited liability company. From 1881 until the outbreak of the First World War, it was - in terms of liabilities, deposits and advances - second only to Bank of Scotland among the Scottish banks.

In 1918 National Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank Ltd (est. 1765), bankers of London, building on an existing foreign exchange connection, reached an agreement by which Lloyds acquired the entire capital of National Bank of Scotland. Both banks, apart from an exchange of directors, remained entirely separate. National Bank of Scotland continued to trade successfully during the inter-war years, with a new head office building, commissioned in 1936, opened in 1947. In 1946 the bank introduced its first mobile banking service on the Isle of Lewis.

In 1959 Lloyds Bank approached Commercial Bank of Scotland, which was seeking amalgamation with a larger partner, offering to surrender its ownership of National Bank of Scotland for a stake in a new, merged bank. The proposal was readily accepted and resulted in the formation of National Commercial Bank of Scotland later that year.

Branches: In total, the bank opened 200 branches and sub-branches throughout Scotland between 1825 and 1959, and five offices in England (in London and Berwick). In 1959 198 branches were operating.

Published histories

  • The National Bank of Scotland. A short history of the bank (Edinburgh: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1947)
  • The National Bank of Scotland centenary, 1825-1925 (Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1925)
  • S G Checkland, Scottish banking. A history, 1695-1973 (Glasgow: Collins, 1975)

Summary of our archive holdings

Our archival records of National Bank of Scotland Ltd have the reference code NS.

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

Corporate records

  • prospectus 1824
  • stock journals 1825-46
  • progressive stock ledger 1825-1918
  • directors' meeting minute books 1825-1959
  • agenda books 1831-5, 1918-55
  • stock ledgers 1833-48
  • constitution, contract of co-partnership, charter of incorporation and certificate of incorporation 1882
  • changes to constitution 1895, 1909
  • register of directors' fees 1914-(1915)
  • general manager's correspondence file 1914-34
  • confirmatory and supplementary charter 1927 and 1954
  • committee register 1938-59

Financial records

  • journals of the general ledger 1825-1959
  • general ledgers 1825-1959
  • annual reports and balance sheets 1826-1940, 1946, 1957
  • balance statements 1828-1958
  • annual balance papers 1874-1957
  • income tax account books 1878-1940
  • statement of interest account books 1900-40
  • head office charges book 1903-31
  • statement of losses 1911-56
  • abstract of weekly balance sheets 1913-43
  • liabilities to the public and reserves of cash and money at short notice book 1915-25
  • ledger of advances 1922-39
  • chief accountant's letterbooks 1923-33, 1936-8
  • chief accountant's mechanisation correspondence files 1931-59
  • foreign banks' agency files 1933-47
  • branch profit and loss books 1934-59
  • half-yearly balance papers 1937-50
  • cash book sheets 1938-40
  • chief accountant's branch letterbooks 1946-7
  • head office accountant's branch statements 1956-8

Legal records

  • legal opinions of counsel 1871-1933
  • memorandum re enlargement of powers of investment of the funds of the bank 1895
  • correspondence and papers re securities over shipbuilding contracts 1956-9

Customer records

  • statement of losses books 1826-1904
  • debt ledgers 1827-49
  • signature book 1831-45
  • consignation receipt books 1850-(1915)

Head office branch records

  • branch inspection reports 1857-64
  • circular books 1883-(1915)
  • list of offices and correspondents 1913
  • branch procedural circulars 1938-58
  • audit statements of general balances of branches, 1948-56
  • memoranda for branches 1958-9

Staff records

  • lists of principal office officials 1825
  • register of officers 1825-(1915)
  • head office salary register 1843-65
  • widows and orphans fund letterbook 1850-82
  • annuity fund: entrance fee book 1851-96, membership books 1898-(1915), cash books 1851-1931, ledger 1851-99, accounts books 1875-96, lists of contributors 1851-1900, deaths, marriages and retirement book 1896-(1915)
  • staff photographs 1866-c.1950s
  • officers' guarantee fund: letterbook 1871-94, rules and abstract accounts 1919-38, register of contributors 1910-(1915)
  • minutes and papers re Glasgow officials' social meetings 1888-(1915)
  • golf club minutes and fixture cards 1891-1968
  • agents' instruction book 1897
  • staff report book 1910-(1915)
  • Glasgow branches annual dinner programme 1925
  • instruction manual 1927
  • staff magazine 1929-40, 1946-59
  • brochure re officers' pension scheme 1933
  • staff association quarterly reports 1951-2

Property records

  • agencies register 1825-1959
  • heritable property ledgers 1825-1959
  • premises register 1833-1950
  • drawings: Glasgow office 1849, head office 1935, 1950s
  • bank plans and architectural drawings 1863-1959
  • branch photographs 1864-1959
  • agency houses and furniture books 1914-59
  • property and alterations day book 1938-50
  • statement of rent accounts 1939-47
  • mobile bank photographs c.1946-56
  • expenditure accounts book 1946-59
  • property expenditure ledger 1955-9
  • list of tenants and rent paid 1957
  • valuation and rating book 1957-9
  • summary valuations 1958

Note issue records

  • banknote registers 1825-7
  • banknotes 1825-1957
  • banknote specimen album 1883-95
  • note cancellation ledger for 5 pound notes 1912-c.1920 and 20 pound notes 1914-c.1920
  • cashier's register of note circulation 1930-78

Marketing records

  • presscuttings 1908-51

Branch records

  • selected records

Summary of archive holdings elsewhere

  • Glasgow University Archive Services: Photocopies of extracts from minutes, annual reports, letterbook, balance sheets 1825-1958 (Ref: UGD 129/2/3), annual reports 1879-1925 (Ref: UDG 94/10/3)
  • The Bank of England Archive: Governor's file re bank amalgamations, including merger of National Bank of Scotland with Commercial Bank of Scotland to form National Commercial Bank of Scotland 1956-9 (Ref: G1/12)