Graphical version

London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/207/CH07

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1928-1975

Level of description: sub-fonds

Extent: 0.57 linear metres

Name of creator(s): Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China | Chartered Bank


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, known from 1956 as The Chartered Bank, was established by Royal Charter in 1853. It was an overseas exchange bank, based in and controlled from the City of London. It was established to take advantage of the end of the East India Company's monopoly in 1853.

The bank operated in India and throughout the Far East - in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Siam [Thailand], Burma [Myanmar], Singapore, Malacca, Penang and the Malay States, the Philippines, Japan, Java, Sumatra, Ceylon [Sri Lanka], North Borneo, Brunei, Sarawak, Pakistan and East Pakistan. There were also branches in New York [United States of America] and Hamburg [Germany]. Despite its name, the bank never operated in Australia.

Further UK branches opened in Manchester (1937) and Liverpool (1948). The bank gained a second London office and additional branches in India, Pakistan, China and Ceylon with the takeover in 1938 of the P and O Banking Corporation.

The bank's activities in the Far East were severely disrupted by World War II and nationalist post-war governments in the region. The takeover in 1957 of rival Eastern Bank presented new opportunities. Eastern Bank was active in Chartered Bank's traditional areas of operation, but also had branches in the Middle East - in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Qatar, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman. In the same year, Chartered Bank purchased the Ionian Bank's interests in Cyprus.

The bank operated from various City of London addresses: 1852 first two meetings of directors at 8 Austin Friars; November 1852 offices acquired at 21 Moorgate. December 1853 - 1855 rented offices at South Sea House, Threadneedle Street. 1855 rented offices at 34 Gresham House, Old Broad Street. June 1857 - 1866 rented offices in the City Bank building at Threadneedle Street. 1867 Former Hatton Court building on Threadneedle Street. In 1909 they moved into newly built premises on the former site of Crosby Hall where they were still at the time of the merger with Chartered Bank in 1969.

For further information on the history of the bank see Sir Compton Mackenzie, Realms of silver: one hundred years of banking in the East (London, 1954) and Geoffrey Jones, British multinational banking 1830-1990 (Oxford, 1993).

The first branch to be opened was in Calcutta [Kolkata], India in 1858. The branches were initially established with a manager and an accountant with a number of clerks, all answerable to head office in London. The aim of the Directors was to open a network of branches across India and the Far East, especially in major ports and gradually the network was expanded to achieve this goal. By 1969 there were over 130 branches and agencies in 17 different countries.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China, later known as the Chartered Bank. Records date from 1851, just prior to the foundation of the bank in 1853 and include reference to the operation and management of the business covering both branches, agencies and head office. There is information relating to premises and staff, inspection of branches and customer accounts, some records of legal actions as well as general administrative records created and maintained by the secretaries and general managers.

Highlights include records relating to the bank during times of War, from accounts of local rebellions and riots through to the Second World War which saw two thirds of the banks' branches occupied by the Japanese and over 100 of the banks' European officers interned. There is a series of letters within the records of the Secretary and a number of personal reminiscences recounting the courageous actions of trustworthy staff members trying to salvage bank records from being seized by the Japanese, from those in internment camps and accounts of conditions in occupied countries (CLC/B/207/CH03/01/07) and a register of employees interned in prisoner of war camps or killed during enemy action (CLC/B/207/CH08/01/004).

There is a series of posterity files (CLC/B/207/CH03/01/09-13) consisting of over 1,300 documents which were retained by the Secretary as a research resource and for historical interest covering a remarkable range of subjects such as legal wrangles and reports on trading conditions in particular countries reflecting how the bank was responsive to early economic development and new trade when seeking to expand its network of branches.

The 'Realms of Silver' centenary publication research files are a valuable source on the history of the bank (CLC/B/207/CH03/01/14-17) covering a range of topics such as key commodities in particular areas, they show staff enduring disease, plague, famine and drought, rebellion and revolution, earthquakes, floods and fire and highlight how the activities of the Bank have touched upon events of world history as well as of local development, often reflecting creative solutions that the bank employed to overcome such problems and tribulations.

There is an extensive collection of premises records (CLC/B/207/CH09) including plans of the branches and often subsequent upgrades and developments of branches and agencies in response to growing business needs. There are also photographs which show not only bank premises but also create a pictorial history reflecting the international operations of the Chartered Bank as well as showing local flora, fauna and methods of trade, for example, in Cebu the use of Buffalo to move Hemp and in Burma the use of Elephants in the emerging logging trade. They also reflect local tragedies such as the effects of the Yokohama Earthquake in Japan in 1923 (CLC/B/207/CH09/08; CLC/B/207/CH08/04; CLC/B/207/CH03/01/16)

There is an extensive series of records relating to accounts and financial matters (CLC/B/207/CH04), including general ledgers; a comprehensive series of half yearly balance sheets from branches and records of the Taxation and Statistics Department (which appears to have fallen under the auspices of the Chief Accountant.

There are also records relating to staff (CLC/B/207/CH08), which give details on the bank's application and registration process, and progress and activities of named staff when they took up their posts. These records include registers of staff (1874-1920), some staff applications and employment agreements (1900-1930) and an extensive series of half-yearly schedules of staff in overseas branches (1863-1960).

These records were kept at the individual branches and include circulars sent by head office, general instructions for transacting business, a cheque book and a number of copies of authorised signatures. Generally only head office records of branches and agencies are held.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Arranged as follows:
CLC/B/207/07/01: Hong Kong Branch
CLC/B/207/07/02: Rangoon Evacuation Branch
CLC/B/207/07/03: Canton Branch
CLC/B/207/07/04: Shanghai Branch
CLC/B/207/07/05: Cyprus Branch

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

48 hours notice required for access.

PLEASE NOTE: Permission to access records less than 45 years old should be sought from the depositor.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The bank's archives were deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library in 1989 and after. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.


DESCRIPTION NOTES 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: Added January 2014

Overseas banks | Banks | Financial institutions | Finance

Personal names

Corporate names
Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China | Chartered Bank

Borneo | South East Asia
Brunei | South East Asia
Cambodia | South East Asia
City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Cyprus | Western Europe | Europe
Guangzhou | Guangdong | China | East Asia
Hamburg | Germany | Western Europe | Europe
Hong Kong | East Asia
India | South Asia
Japan | East Asia
Java | Indonesia | South East Asia
Liverpool | Lancashire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Manchester | Lancashire | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe
Melaka | West Malaysia | Malaysia | South East Asia
New York | USA | North America
Rangoon | Myanmar | South East Asia
Sarawak | Malaysia | South East Asia
Shanghai | Shanghai Shi | China | East Asia
Singapore | South East Asia
Sri Lanka | South Asia
Sumatra | Indonesia | South East Asia
Thailand | South East Asia
Viet Nam | South East Asia