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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Trade and Communications

Banking and Finance

By Charles Munn

David Dale's House Banking in Glasgow made enormous progress during the Industrial Revolution. The major event of this period was the opening of a branch by the Royal Bank in 1783. The agents were David Dale, the cotton manufacturer, and Robert Scott Moncrieff. For a long time this was the Royal Bank's only branch but it was so successful that it was soon doing more business than its head office in Edinburgh. Indeed it was said that in the 1790s its only rival for sheer scale was the Bank of England.

Tait's Directory p16 The commercial and political crisis of 1793 caused by the French Revolution saw not only the failure of the Arms Bank, but the Glasgow Merchant Bank was also so weakened that it gave up business a few years later. The other Glasgow banks grew at quite a pace and when problems arose, as they did in 1797, the banks were sufficiently mature to provide support to one another and to defend what was fast emerging as a banking system.

James Dennistoun Further competition came to Glasgow banking in the shape of branches of other provincial banks and in 1809 there were ten organisations providing banking services in the city. In that year the Glasgow Banking Co was formed. This was really an offshoot of the Dundee New Bank, but it had a number of major Glasgow businessmen as partners, including the brewer John Tennent.

Moore, Carrick & Co cheque Probably the most famous of the Glasgow bankers at this time was Robin Carrick of the Ship Bank who had a reputation for toughness and a rather grim visage. His bank was highly successful. Nevertheless the days of the small local bank were fast drawing to a close.

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