Friday, 25 January 2013

Five guinea note from the Boroughbridge Bank

This is a photograph of a photograph.

It shows a five-guinea (£5 5s 0d) note from the Boroughbridge Bank. 

A note on the reverse of the framed photograph records that at the end of the 19th century the original banknote was in the possession of Joseph Stubbs of Boroughbridge.  He was a grandson of the Thomas Stubbs named on the note.

Thomas Stubbs (1761-1838) was a grocer, tea dealer and wine & spirit merchant.  His home and business premises were known as the Bridge Foot – they are the buildings depicted on the bank note.  According to Bishop Stubbs of Oxford, the house stood on the site of the Battle of Boroughbridge 1322.

Stubbs was one of the four partners who owned the Boroughbridge Bank.  The others were Hugh Stott of Boroughbridge, Humphrey Fletcher of Minskip, and Thomas Dew of Boroughbridge.  The articles of partnership establishing the Bank were signed on 8 May 1814, but the bank may have been in existence for some time before that date – the partnership agreement may have been a formalisation of an existing situation.  The bank had branches in Boroughbridge and Northallerton.

From The Genealogical History of the family of the late Bishop William Stubbs pub. Yorkshire Archaeological Society 1915 (p73):
Fletcher, Stubbs & Co Articles of partnership May 8, 1814: dissolution of partnership 18 Oct 1837.  Fletcher, Stubbs, Dew and Stott, drawing upon Sir Richard Carr Glyn Bart  Mills & Co 12 Birchin lane.  Banks at Boroughbridge and Northallerton.  Partners Humphrey Fletcher of Minskip, Thomas Stubbs, Thomas Dew and Hugh Stott of Boroughbridge.
Thomas Dew died Dec 10, 1832: Humphrey Fletcher Mar 20, 1839 and Hugh Stott Sept 7, 1851.
Local banks arose out of urgent practical necessity.

In the late 18th century there was a national shortage of silver and copper coins.  This caused serious difficulties, and so tradesmen began to issue their own notes.  These notes might be for sums as small as sixpence. 

At this time Boroughbridge was a very prosperous town. 

With the building of the Ripon Canal in 1770-3, it had become an important inland port on the river route between Ripon, York and Hull.  It was also a major staging post for coaches and other traffic on the Great North Road, with numerous inns, and accommodation for many horses.  The Scottish drovers came through the town and it is said that nearly 2,000 head of cattle might pass through in a day.

Thomas Stubbs’ premises at the Bridge Foot were conveniently situated beside both the road and the river.  Across the road stood The Crown Inn, run by Thomas's partner Hugh Stott (1780-1851).  It was said to be one of the most comfortable coaching inns in the whole length of the Great North Road, with its own well-chosen library for guests’ use.

We can easily imagine that Thomas Stubbs and Hugh Stott would find their businesses badly affected by a shortage of coin and so decide to establish their own bank.

Local banks became increasingly necessary, and by the time of the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815) there was an established framework of them in Yorkshire.  They came into their own with the economic difficulties that arose during the war, when in 1797 cash (ie. gold) payments from the Bank of England were suspended.  Britain in effect went over to a paper currency and the trusted network of local banks became vital.

From the 1830s onwards, the local banks began to disappear.  They were replaced by joint stock banks, which had the great advantage of being less vulnerable to failure.

The Boroughbridge Bank was taken over in 1833 by the York City & County Bank*, and the partnership between Fletcher, Stubbs, Dew & Stott was dissolved formally on 18 October 1837. 

Trade in Boroughbridge was badly affected by the railways.  The coaching trade disappeared.  River and canal traffic dwindled to nothing.  The Stubbs business steadily declined.  Joseph Stubbs, who had taken over from his father, finally gave up trading in 1893.  The Bridge Foot is now a care home; visitors can still enjoy a stay at The Crown.

* cf Banking in Yorkshire by W C E Hartley

The Bridge Foot

No comments:

Post a Comment