Helen Child

A high heeled walk through history…

Child & Co Fleet Street

The oldest private bank in the UK is Child & Co, now part of RBS; providing personal, private and business banking services to clients in the UK, including many of the UK’s biggest law and accountancy firms.   This hasn’t always been the case.  It was once run by one of my very distant ancestors a leading lady. One ahead of her time РSarah Sophia Child.

Once the bank to King William III, now with its Fleet Street premises are close to the law courts and the legal heart of London, Child & Co is considered the bank of choice within legal circles. Many barristers and lawyers join Child & Co as they’re starting out in their careers and remain with the bank throughout their working lives.

We love a little romance in the Child family…

Sir Francis Child and family resided at Osterley Park as featured in the book ‘And so to Bath’.  One chapter tells the wonderful story; an evocative imagine of a determined and high spirited Sarah Anne Child eloping with the Earl of Westmorland.  Her father and aides followed in their horse drawn carriages in hot pursuit.  The couple made it across the Scottish border and married in Gretna Green.  And yes they actually did live happily ever after!

It’s with a wry smile that I note these female characteristics are still seem to be hard wired into our genes three centuries later!!

So let’s delve a little deeper into the history of Child & Co…

It was one of the oldest independent financial institutions in the UK, and can trace its roots back to a London goldsmith business in the late 17th century. Sir Francis Child established his business as a goldsmith in 1664, when he entered into partnership with Robert Blanchard.

Sir Francis Child married Blanchard’s stepdaughter and inherited the whole business on Blanchard’s death. Renamed Child and Co, the business thrived, and was appointed the “jeweller in ordinary” to¬†King William III.

After Child died in 1713, his three sons ran the business, and during this time, the business transformed from a goldsmith’s to a fully fledged bank. The bank claims it was the first to introduce a pre-printed cheque form, prior to which customers simply wrote a letter to their bank but sent it to their creditor who presented it for payment. Its first bank note was issued in 1729.

Image result for child & co fleet street

By 1782, Child’s grandson¬†Robert Child¬†was the senior partner in the firm. However, when he died in 1782 without any sons to inherit the business, he did not want to leave it to his only daughter,¬†Sarah Anne Child, because he was furious over her elopement with¬†John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland earlier in the year. To prevent the Earls of Westmorland from ever acquiring his wealth, he left it in trust to his daughter’s second surviving son or eldest daughter. This turned out to be¬†Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, who was born in 1785. She married¬†George Child-Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey¬†in 1804, and upon her majority in 1806 she became senior partner. She exercised her rights personally until her death in 1867. At that point the Earl of Jersey & Frederick William Price of¬†Harringay House¬†were appointed as the two leading partners.[2]¬†Ownership continued in the Jersey family until the 1920s.

Child & Co. at 1 Fleet Street, London

In 1923,¬†George, 8th Earl of Jersey¬†sold the bank to¬†Glyn, Mills & Co., a London-based commercial bank.¬†Williams Deacon’s Bank¬†acquired Glyn’s in 1939 (both subsequently taken over by the¬†Royal Bank of Scotland¬†and known as¬†Williams & Glyn’s Bank¬†from 1970 to 1985), retaining Child & Co. as a separate business, as which it continues to this day at No. 1 Fleet Street, EC4.

Did you know?

  • The bank‚Äôs ‚ÄòMarygold‚Äô logo is based on a sign first referred to in 1544. At that time, and into the 18th century, pictorial street signs were common as illiteracy was widespread and street numbers rare. By 1661 the ‘Marygold’ sign was hanging outside premises in the Strand occupied by the goldsmith Robert Blanchard which survived the Plague and the Great Fire of London. In 1673 Robert Blanchard took the sign with him when he moved to part of the bank‚Äôs current site in Fleet Street.
  • In 1988 Child & Co adopted a new logo, based on the Marygold¬†symbol. The flower and sun motif remains at the heart of the brand‚Äôs identity today, as it has done since at least 1661.

So a little walk through history, interesting stuff and a few interesting comparisons…

Striding Edge, the name for my Payments Consultancy is as it happens the name is taken from the highest peak in the UK which is in what was the old county of Westmorland.

I am however still patiently waiting for an Earl to whisk me off my feet…my destiny seems to be the alternative route!! ¬†So I‚Äôll continue rolling up my sleeves and innovating within banking and finance sector.¬† J

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Images courtesy of RBS and Wikipedia who retain copyright