Use our archives

Our archives are used by many different people, including professional and amateur historians as well as bank staff. Some of our enquirers and researchers have extensive experience of using archives; others have none at all. 

This website provides a wealth of information about our history and historical records. It also offers ideas, tips and links for using our archives to research family history, local history and banking history.  

Bank archives

Past events have often left a financial footprint that provide a unique perspective. As a result, bank archives can be useful for historical research in a wide range of areas, from political, social and economic history to art, architectural and garden history, as well as genealogy and local studies. For example, the 18th and 19th century customer ledgers of Drummonds Bank are valued by historians all over the world for the insights they provide into prominent customers such as the garden designer Lancelot 'Capability' Brown; painter Thomas Gainsborough; engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel; and potter Josiah Wedgwood.

Nationally important collections

You might be surprised by the range and importance of the records in our archives.

Two of our collections are inscribed in the UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register, in recognition of their national, international and cultural significance:

  • Records of the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, 1695-1707. This company's failed attempt to set up a Scottish trading colony was pivotal in Scotland's history. Its records, nominated jointly by RBS and the National Library of Scotland, were one of 10 inaugural inscriptions to the new UK UNESCO Memory of the World Register at its launch in 2010. This site's page about the Company of Scotland includes detailed descriptions of many of the related documents in RBS Archives. We've also developed a teaching resource for schools based on the records.

  • Customer account ledgers of the London goldsmith-banker Edward Backwell, 1663-72. This is the oldest systematic set of banking records in the UK. It was one of twenty new inscriptions made to the Register in 2011. A detailed description of the ledgers, including an index to the accounts, is available on this site's page about Edward Backwell.