Paisley Banking Company

(1783-1837)

Early History

The town of Paisley expanded rapidly in the 1780s, rivalling Glasgow in both commerce and banking. Its population had risen sharply from 4,000 in 1738, to 25,000 by 1786. The town's main industry was the manufacture of textiles, including silk, gauze and muslin.

Against this background, the Paisley Banking Company was formed as a private partnership, in 1783. There were originally nine partners, including two local landed lairds, four Paisley merchants and two others from Glasgow.

One of the founding partners was Andrew Thomson of Faskin, a coal merchant. He had also been a partner in the Ship Bank since 1776. Faskin and his two sons went on to found the private banking firm of A. G. and A. Thomson in Glasgow, in 1785. But this failed in 1793, as a result of the economic crisis of that year.

Paisley in the 1820s, by John Clark.
Paisley in the 1820s, by John Clark.

Expansion and Rivalry

By 1787, the Paisley Banking Company had established at least one branch, at 13 Trongate in Glasgow. This was under the agency of Archibald Hamilton. Further branches were opened at Dundee, Stranraer, Irvine and Alloa. Indeed, the early success of the Dundee branch inspired the setting up in the town of other banks, such as the Dundee Commercial Bank (1792).

Paisley Banking Company one guinea note, 1826.
Paisley Banking Company one guinea note, 1826.

The Paisley Bank also operated through 'correspondent' banks in Edinburgh and London. Its Edinburgh correspondent was initially the Royal Bank of Scotland, while Smith, Payne and Smith fulfilled that role in London.

In September 1788, a second bank was founded in the town - the Paisley Union Bank. There was intense rivalry between the two, resulting in a banknote war.

Developments in the 19th Century

During the first half of the 19th century, a number of large-scale joint-stock banks began to emerge in Scotland. By the 1830s, the Paisley Banking Company could no longer compete. Its business was acquired by the British Linen Bank in 1837.

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Further Information

  • A small number of archives relating to the Paisley Banking Company are held by Lloyds Banking Group Archives in Edinburgh - for further information see our archive collections.