Lichfield branch, originally Stevenson Salt, & Co., c.1920
The origins of Stevenson, Salt & Co. are similar to those of many early private banks, which evolved as ancillary businesses of established traders and manufacturers. The firm was founded by Stafford-based mercer, John Stevenson, in 1737. Stevenson continued his existing business alongside that of the bank. He was soon joined by Thomas Salt as a partner.
Much of Stevenson, Salt & Co.’s early work was concerned with the management of ‘brief money’.
This was cash collected from local parishes for the Church of England, under instructions from the Crown. The money was used to fund charitable good causes. The bank continued in this role until George IV all but abolished the brief system, in 1828.
The firm also had strong links with merchants and businessmen in Stafford. It held the accounts of many of the shoemakers, for which trade the town was well-known.
In 1787, the Stevenson and Salt families established a parallel private bank in London, styled Stevenson, Salt & Sons. This bank, whilst run by the same families, was independent of the Stafford-based firm. However, it too would eventually become part of Lloyds.
It was not until 1857 that the Stafford bank finally established its first branch, in Lichfield. The success of this expansion quickly prompted the opening of two more branches, in Rugeley and Eccleshall.
Stevenson Salt & Sons ledger
By the 1860s, smaller private banks such as Stevenson, Salt, & Co. were finding it difficult to compete against the emerging joint-stock banks. In 1866, it agreed to sell to Lloyds.
One of the firm’s partners, Thomas Salt, went on to become a director, and later Chairman of Lloyds. His chairmanship, which ran from 1884 to 1896, oversaw a period of rapid expansion.This resulted in the establishment of a branch network across the country. Salt also became an MP, and held a junior post in Disraeli’s government.