Webpage created: April 05, 2020
Webpage updated: April 05, 2020
The Plymouth Bank was formed in 1772 by Mr John Barings Junior under the name of Messrs Barings, Lee, Sellon and Tingcombe. The first premises were in Great Broad Street, Plymouth.
Sir William Elford joined the partnership in 1790 when he subscribed £700 as his third of the capital. Another of the early partners was a member of the Culme family but he had resigned by March 1794, when Mr Herbert senior and his son joined the company. They paid £300 to Sir William and £300 to Mr Tingcombe senior. Father and son took the remaining third share. In 1801 Sir William's son became a partner and in 1803 Mr John Tingcombe took his father's share when he came of age.
The Herberts left the Bank in September 1813 and a balance sheet was prepared which indicated that there was a deficit of £36,000. The Herberts' share amounted to £12,000 but they refused to pay more than £6,000. The Bank declined to sue them for the balance as this would damage their credibility and also, it is said, because the one third share was worth more to the remaining partners than the £6,000. However, the partners still took their "profit" on Ladyday the following year: £1,250 to Sir William, £500 to Jonathan Elford and £1,250 to John Tingcombe.
When Mr Jonathan Elford died in 1823, his account was overdrawn by £29,517. Furthermore, Sir William himself was overdrawn by £11,667. He had guaranteed his son's account up to £24,500 by lodging as collateral the deeds of his Bickham estate, valued at £25,000. This was not enough to cover the family's liabilities, which amounted to £45,184.
Mr John Were Clarke joined the partnership in place of Mr Jonathan Elford. In spite of a deficiency of £70,000 at that time, his admission to the Bank was expected to bring some stability. He had mortgaged his land at Hartley to raise the £70,000.
Following the collapse of the Devonport Bank on October 1st 1825, the Plymouth Bank posted a notice in the local press thanking the Ladies, Gentlemen and Tradesmen for their support during the difficult time. Public confidence was thus restored so that Plymothians were not prepared for what happened next. At 4pm on Friday November 25th 1825 the Plymouth Bank closed its doors as usual but the partners and the staff knew that it would not be reopening.
The creditors held meetings on January 6th, January 7th, and on February 4th 1826. The partners surrendered their estates, farming stock and household effects, which were all sold at auction. The Elford's Bickham estate went under the hammer on June 28th 1826 and in July a large collection of stocks and shares were offered for sale.