1660s banking ledger

Contributed by RBS Archives

1660s banking ledger

This ledger was kept by the London goldsmith-banker Edward Backwell (c.1618-83). The origins of Britain's modern banking system date from this period and Backwell was one of the first generation of bankers. Goldsmiths had for centuries handled valuable items of gold, silver and jewellery for clients, and by the 1660s were offering safe custody for such items and also accepting money deposits, providing loans and issuing and accepting bills of exchange, cheques and banknotes.

Backwell was one of the most important bankers of his day, providing substantial finance for King Charles II and his Restoration government, and supporting merchants trading throughout the world. He was heavily involved in the bullion and foreign exchange markets, and undertook special government commissions. At the same time he served hundreds of private clients.

Nine of Backwell's ledgers survive along with various other records of his business, dating from the 1650s to the 1670s. They include accounts of a wide range of clients, including Samuel Pepys, whose diary often refers to Backwell; Sir George Downing, after whom Downing Street is named; and 'The King's Most Excellent Majestie' Charles II himself.

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