Thursday 5 April 2018

Lloyds Banking Group Edinburgh Archives visit

Debits and credits, numbers, don’t be mistaken, there’s far more to banking archives. We had a great visit to the Lloyds Banking Group Edinburgh Archives on 14 March 2018. Many thanks to the archivists there for their time and enthusiasm. 


Lloyds Banking group includes the Bank of Scotland, HBOS, some TSB Scotland, Scottish Widows and a range of small banks acquired or merged  along the way. Generally, the Bank of Scotland’s own records are the most complete.

The archive is in Sighthill, Edinburgh and is open to the public, 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, advance bookings are needed. There is no publically available item level catalogue but there are collection level lists. Personnel records, as you would expect, are closed for 100 years and some business records for shorter periods.

The records

People crop up in bank records in three main ways, as customers, shareholders and staff, each with their own records.

Archie keeping a watchful eye (K.Keter)
In the early days there were no branches, only the main office in Edinburgh. Lending decisions for the first 100 years or so were therefore noted in the Bank of Scotland’s minutes. There is a complete run from 1695 and they are generally very well kept with a margin index. Entries include the name of guarantors too so are potentially very useful. Similarly the bank’s head office ledgers for the earlier years include details of transactions with individuals and companies.  

The branch network began to develop from around the 1770s. Branch ledgers are indexed with name and type of business noted. Unfortunately they survive for only the early years of each branch. 

From the insurance side there are policy ledgers from 1824-1940s. Health issues are noted but not the beneficiaries. 

The Bank of Scotland was founded by an act of the Scottish Parliament in 1695 and the original lists of subscribers, signed at inns in Edinburgh and London, both survive. There are printed lists of shareholders/subscribers from 1697-1950 and it is possible to track sales and purchases of shares.

Most complete for the Bank of Scotland, partial for other businesses, but generally very good. They go back to the 1730s but tail off by the 1920s/30s. To use these records you need to know the branch at which the ancestor was employed as that then gives access to information on their role, salary (from the 1830s) and any transfers, so it could be possible to work forward or backward. You may also be fortunate enough to find a staff report: “writes a fair hand” and “well qualified for manager of a country branch” were some of those we saw. These reports were for staff below the level of agent (manager) and occasionally contain rather controversial information!

The agent was responsible for entries in the branch procedure books, a log of the branch activity, detailing hiring and firing, repairs, new furniture and the like. Not all survive but they can include information on customers and loans made to them.

The Widows Fund (Bank of Scotland only) records, 1821 to 1883 could be a good source for pre-1855 births.  It was a contributory scheme so as well as employees’ details, names of wives’, date of marriage, names and birth dates of children were also listed.
Where do we start?? (J. Russell)

In general
For ancestors with bank accounts or an insurance policy (does the inventory after they died mention one?), or, even better, who worked in a bank, there is probably lots to discover here. Armed with dates and places and perhaps time to do detailed searches, you could discover gold (sorry couldn't resist that pun). Find out more