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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/207-8

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1862-1989

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 958 production units.

Name of creator(s): Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Ltd | East India Merchants, bankers and London agents
Wallace Brothers and Co Ltd | East India Merchants, bankers and London agents


Administrative/Biographical history:

Wallace Brothers was established in London in 1862, and remained in business until 1989. It maintained its London headquarters at 8 Austin Friars, 1862-1908; 4 Crosby Square, 1909-79; 33/6 Gracechurch Street, 1979-80; 123/7 Cannon Street, 1980-2; 33/6 Gracechurch Street (again), 1982-5; 38 Bishopsgate, 1986-9.

The company has a complex history. Its origins lay in Bombay, India, where the merchant company of Frith and Company was renamed Wallace and Company in 1848. The first partners in Wallace and Company were Lewis Alexander Wallace and Framji Patel. They were joined by George Wallace in 1850, Robert Wallace in 1857, Alexander Falconer Wallace in 1858 and Richard Wallace in 1860.

All the Wallace partners were brothers; there was a sixth brother William who was not a partner in Wallace and Company but traded in Burma in his own name from ca. 1856. Wallace and Company was reconstituted under the same name in 1862, and opened a branch in Karachi in 1883. In its early years the company acted as shipping agents and exporters and importers of a variety of goods. It remained in existence until the second half of the 20th century, but by 1966 it had become inactive.

William Wallace's business in Burma was bought out in 1863 when the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited was founded. Originally called the Burmah Trading Company Limited, its name was changed shortly after its foundation. From 1863 until the 1950s the senior resident partner of Wallace and Company was its chairman, and Wallace and Company largely directed its affairs. Its head office was in Bombay, but its initial operations were in Burma and branch offices were opened in Rangoon and Moulmein in the 1860s or 1870s.

It expanded its operations into Siam (Thailand) in 1884, Java in 1905-6, South India in 1913, North Borneo in the late 1940s and East Africa in 1955. Its trading interests (some operated directly, others through subsidiary or associated companies) were in teak (and later other timbers too), and in other commodities including rubber (from ca.1907), tea and coffee (from the 1930s) and tapioca (from 1954). The timber trade declined in the mid 20th century and by the late 20th century the company's business was mainly in manufacturing and Indian tea plantations.

All the business activities of Wallace and Company other than the supervision of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited were transferred in 1886 to the newly founded Bombay Company Limited, in which the Wallace family also held a major interest. The main business of this company was the export of raw cotton and the import and sale of manufactured textiles from Lancashire. Its head office was in Bombay but it also took over the former Wallace and Company branch in Karachi. Further branches were opened in Delhi in 1893, Calcutta in 1903 and Madras in 1906. Bombay Company Limited ceased trading in 1969.

Each of these companies had close connections with London. In 1862 the London house of Frith, Sands and Company, which worked closely with Wallace and Company of Bombay, went into voluntary liquidation and was succeeded by Wallace Brothers, a partnership established on 31 December 1862. The first partners were George and Lewis Alexander Wallace. In 1911 the partnership was replaced by a private limited company and the London business became known as Wallace Brothers and Company Limited.

For tax purposes a new company, Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Limited, was formed in 1954. Wallace Brothers and Company Limited then became its wholly owned subsidiary. In May 1970 Wallace Brothers and Company Limited was renamed Wallace Brothers Trading and Industrial Limited.

Following the renaming of the "original" Wallace Brothers and Company Limited, a new company was incorporated on 24 June 1970, also with the name Wallace Brothers and Company Limited. The intention was that this new company should take over the banking activities of the Wallace Brothers group, but the company remained within the group for only two years. It was sold to Drakes Limited in November 1972.

In March 1972 Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Limited acquired E. D. Sassoon Banking Company Limited which then changed its name to Wallace Brothers Sassoon Bank Limited and took over the banking operations of the short-lived Wallace Brothers and Company Limited. Wallace Brothers Sassoon Bank Limited was renamed Wallace Brothers Bank Limited in 1974 and Wallace Brothers (London) Limited in 1981.

Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Limited and its UK subsidiaries were taken over by Standard Bank Limited (later Standard Chartered Bank Limited) in 1977 and were wound up over the following twelve years. Wallace Brothers Trading and Industrial Limited was sold to OSE Holdings (HK) Limited in 1979. Other companies in the Wallace Brothers group were closed down during the 1980s. Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Limited was liquidated in 1989.

In their early years Wallace Brothers described themselves as East India merchants, but they rarely dealt in merchandise. Most of the company's business in London was in undertaking commissions, chartering shipping, financing trade and banking operations|Its normal practice was to explore possible areas of new business and acquire concessions, but to assign trading ventures to associate or subsidiary companies when initial findings were favourable. Besides Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited and Bombay Company Limited, many smaller associate and subsidiary companies were established or acquired by the Wallace Brothers group between the late 19th century and ca. 1975.

A major part of Wallace Brothers' business was to act as the London agents of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited, developing markets in the United Kingdon and continental Europe for shipments of timber and providing finance to bring the cargoes from the Far East. A separate Teak Department was established within Wallace Brothers from 1905 to ca. 1955, with responsibility for arranging, overseeing and promoting sales of timber. Wallace Brothers also purchased machinery and equipment in London on Bombay Burmah's behalf. In practice, however, since the Wallace family were the senior partners in Wallace and Company of Bombay, who in turn were managers of Bombay Burmah, Wallace Brothers were more than Bombay Burmah's London agents. Until the 1950s, Wallace Brothers had the power to exercise control over Bombay Burmah's policy and operations. In the late 19th century Bombay Burmah's dividends and staff pay were decided in London, and until c 1960 its senior (European) staff were selected and appointed there.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Wallace Brothers and Company Limited, East India Merchants, bankers and London agents, later known as Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Limited. Most of the records emanate from the core business of the Wallace Brothers partnership and its successors; but some emanate from the business of associated or subsidiary companies which were based in London. The latter include the records of Wyer and Hawke, London agents of Bombay Company Limited, who operated from the London office of Wallace Brothers between 1912 and 1968.

The archive does not hold the papers of Wallace Brothers' associated or subsidiary companies based overseas. No lists of the papers of these companies are held, and their whereabouts and accessibility are unknown. However the archives transferred to Guildhall from Wallace Brothers' London office include a considerable amount of information about the activities of many of these companies, including numerous copy and original documents sent to London by the companies concerned.

Besides papers created or received in the course of business, the Wallace Brothers archives include some memoirs of partners, directors or members of staff, and notes of research into the history of Wallace Brothers and its associates and subsidiaries.

The business papers date from 1862 to 1989, and relate to all aspects of Wallace Brothers' operations, although few banking records are held, and only formal business records survive from the period ca. 1966-1989.

Access is subject to a 45-year closure period (70 years in the case of personnel records). Annual reports and other published documents are not subject to closure.

The associated and subsidiary companies whose activities are known to be reflected in the Wallace Brothers archives are (provisionally) listed below, in the order in which the records will be arranged in the catalogue:

- Arrancan Company Limited, Burma rice merchants;
- Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited;
- subsidiaries and associaties of Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited: Amalgamated Saw Mills Limited, Anamallais Ropeway Company Limited, Bombay Burmah Plantations Limited, East India Rubber Corporation Limited;
- subsidiaries and associates of East India Rubber Corporation Limited (Bombay-Java Trading Company, Indo-Java Rubber Planting and Trading Company Limited), Joint Timber Company Limited, Thailand, North Borneo Timbers Limited;
- subsidiaries and associates of North Borneo Timbers Limited (Wallace Bay Limited), Rangoon Mining Company, Sumatra Petroleum Company, Thai Tapioca Limited;
- Bombay Company Limited;
- subsidiaries and associates of Bombay Company Limited: BCL Limited, BMD Agency Limited, Dymes and Company, cotton mill owners and oilseed processors, Madras, Karachi Company Limited (formerly the Karachi branch of Bombay Company Limited; established as a separate company in 1952), Lakhshmi Cotton Manufacturing Company, Sholapur, India, Wyer and Hawke, London agents of Bombay Company Limited;
- Chrestian and Company, mica producers, India;
- DP Investments Limited;
- subsidiaries and associates of DP Investments Limited: Development Participations Limited;
- Glazebrook, Steel and Company Limited, textile manufacturers, Manchester;
- Hermes Securities Limited;
- subsidiaries and associates of Hermes Securities Limited: Hermes Credit Corporation Limited;
- Kerosene Oil Company Limited;
- Leslie and Anderson Limited;
- Malaysian Company Limited;
- Tannadine Company Limited, Sumatra;
- Wallace and Adam Limited, agricultural equipment importers, Kenya;
- subsidiaries and associates of Wallace and Adam Limited: Kiu Estate Limited, Ol Pejeta Ranching Company Limited, Pyrita Limited;
- Wallace and Company, Bombay;
- Wallace Brothers Developments Limited;
- Wallace Brothers Finance Limited;
- Wallace Brothers Nominees Limited;
- Wallace Evans and Company Limited (known as Wallace Brothers Commodities Limited from 1967).


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Access by appointment only. Please contact staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The archives of Wallace Brothers were deposited in Guildhall Library in 1974-6. The deposits were converted to a gift in 1988. Between 1988 and 1991 additional gifts of material were made to the Library. All were previously stored at the London office of Wallace Brothers, and all but a few of the papers were either created there or received there in the course of business. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.


Publication note:

For more detailed historical accounts see A. C. Pointon, Wallace Brothers (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1974) (available in Guildhall Library Printed Books Section); R. H. Macaulay, History of the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Ltd 1864-1910 (Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co., London, 1934); A. C. Pointon, The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited 1863-1963 (Millbrook Press, Southampton, 1964).


Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: January to May 2011.

Bankers | Bank employees | Business people | People by occupation | People
Banking | Occupations
Business records | Documents | Information sources
International trade | Trade
Merchants | Mercantile personnel | Personnel | People by occupation | People
Overseas banks | Banks | Financial institutions | Finance
Overseas trade | Trade (practice)
Banking x Banks

Personal names

Corporate names
Wallace Brothers and Co Ltd | East India Merchants | bankers and London agents
Wallace Brothers and Company (Holdings) Ltd | East India Merchants | bankers and London agents

Borneo | South East Asia
India | South Asia
Java | Indonesia | South East Asia
Myanmar | South East Asia
Thailand | South East Asia
East Africa