Our history: an introduction

Our history - fast facts is a quick tour of landmark events, focusing on the history of the Royal Bank of Scotland itself.

More detailed information about each of our historical constituent businesses, including those that made up NatWest, is available through our index of companies

For a broad overview of the historical contexts that shaped all our banks over the centuries, choose a datespan below.

  • Before 1700

    The 17th century saw the emergence in London of Britain's first generation of goldsmith-bankers, while in Scotland the ill-fated Company of Scotland paved the way for the subsequent foundation of The Royal Bank of Scotland
  • 1700-1740

    Founding charter of The Royal Bank of Scotland, 1727 In 1727 The Royal Bank of Scotland was established as Scotland's second bank; a unique departure in banking at that time.
  • 1740-1780

    John Campbell, cashier of The Royal Bank of Scotland, 1745-1777 The middle years of the 18th century were a time of instability and conflict in Scotland, but at the same time the nation was developing a uniquely stable banking system that would go on to be widely admired and imitated.
  • 1780-1820

    The Royal Bank of Scotland's Glasgow branch in the early 19th century As the Industrial Revolution gathered pace, banks became more important than ever. Small, often unstable, partnership banks proliferated in England and Wales, while Scotland's much-admired multi-bank system continued to develop.
  • 1820-1860

    Document establishing Lancaster Joint Stock Banking Co, 1826 After a series of damaging crises, the government changed English and Welsh law to emulate Scotland's more stable banking system.
  • 1860-1890

    Banking hall of National Bank of Scotland's Glasgow branch, 1870s Banks' branch networks expanded, and the Royal Bank undertook its first acquisition. Meanwhile, Scottish-trained bank clerks became sought-after workers all over the world.
  • 1890-1920

    Montage of the managers of The Royal Bank of Scotland, 1899 Many mergers took place in the banking sector in these years. International trade became a greater concern, despite the temporary halt caused by the First World War. Women joined the banking workforce for the first time.
  • 1920-1950

    Staff of The Royal Bank of Scotland's Glasgow office, c.1925 All banks began to seek a broader range of customers, including small savers. The Royal Bank expanded rapidly, thanks to major acquisitions in England. Just as a generation earlier, war took its toll on all areas of life.
  • 1950-1980

    An early Royal Bank cash dispenser in use, 1971 Banks began to offer a much wider range of products, including insurance, mortgages and personal loans. The biggest bank merger since the end of the First World War saw the creation of NatWest.
  • 1980-date

    Call centre operator, 1990s The Royal Bank of Scotland grew rapidly through the 1980s and 1990s, and in 2000 acquired NatWest. Later the bank made a series of bad mistakes which culminated in the crisis of 2008. Since then, the bank has been working to put things right.