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Addis, Sir Charles Stewart

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0102 PP MS 14
Held at: School of Oriental and African Studies
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Full title: Addis, Sir Charles Stewart
Date(s): Created 1881-1945
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 56 boxes
Name of creator(s): Addis | Sir | Charles Stewart | 1861-1945 | Knight | banker


Administrative/Biographical history:

Charles Stewart Addis was born in Edinburgh on 23 November 1861, the youngest son of the Reverend Thomas Addis, a minister of the Free Church of Scotland. He was educated at the Edinburgh Academy. Between 1876 and 1880 he worked for Peter Dowie and Co., Grain Importers of Leith.

In 1880 he joined the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in London. In 1883 he was posted to Singapore, then to the HSBC head office in Hong Kong. In 1886 he became one of the first western bankers to reside in Peking, when he was posted there as Acting Agent. During this time, he also began his experience as a writer when he was invited to contribute material to the Chinese Times by its editor, Alexander Michie. After Peking, Addis undertook assignments in Tientsin (1889), Shanghai (1889-1891), Calcutta (1891) and Rangoon (1892). While on home leave in 1894 Addis met and married Eba McIsaac, the daughter of the Provost of Saltcoats, a small town in Scotland. They were to have thirteen children.

Following his marriage, Addis was posted to Shanghai. He was appointed Agent in Hankow (1896), Calcutta (1897), and served as Sub Manager in Shanghai (1898 and 1900). In 1905, he was appointed to the HSBC London Office as Junior Manager and also to the Board of Directors of the British and Chinese Corporation and the Chinese Central Railways. In 1908, he received his first official government appointment as British Censor of the State Bank of Morocco, a post he held until 1944. In 1911 he was appointed Senior Manager of the HSBC London Office. From 1912, he began his work to bring competing national banking syndicates together to form the Six Power China Consortium, transforming the policy of competition for loans to one of co-operation. The height of the Consortium's success came in 1913 when it issued a Reorganisation Loan to Yuan Shih-Kai's Republican Government. The British Government awarded Addis's efforts with a knighthood in that year. In 1917 he was appointed to the Cunliffe Committee on Currency and Foreign Exchanges After the War. In 1918 he became Director of the Bank of England, and in 1919 a member of the Bank's Committee of Treasury upon which the Governor of the Bank of England relied for advice. In that year he was also appointed to the Council of the Institute of Bankers and the India Currency Committee. In 1920, he served on the War Relief and China Famine Relief Committees, and visited New York to organise the Second China Consortium, which included banking groups from the USA, France, Japan and Great Britain. He was awarded a K.C.M.G. in 1921. In that year he retired as London Manager of the HSBC, but continued as Manager of the British Group of the China Consortium and Director on the Boards of the British and Chinese Corporation and the Chinese Central Railways. He was also elected President of the Institute of Bankers. In 1922, he was appointed Chairman of the London Committee of the HSBC, and attended the British Alternate Genoa Conference as the British financial expert. In 1923, he became Chairman of the Exchange Committee, Imperial Economic Conference. In 1924 he became a member of the Montagu Mission to Brazil; was appointed to the Colwyn Committee on National Debt and Taxation; gave evidence to the Chamberlain-Bradbury Committee and was appointed British representative on the General Council of the Reichsbank. In 1925, he served as a member of the China Advisory Committee, Boxer Indemnity, and in 1926, on the US Debt Committee. In 1929 he was the British Delegate on the Committee of Experts for Reparations in Paris. In 1930 he was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements, and also attended meetings of the Cabinet Economic Advisory Sub-Committee on China.

He retired from the HSBC London Committee in 1933, and in the same year became a member of the Royal Commission on Canadian Banking. In 1944 he resigned as Manager of the British group of the China Consortium and from directorships of the British and Chinese Corporation and Chinese Central Railways. He died at Frant, Sussex on 14 December 1945.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers, 1881-1945, of Sir Charles Stewart Addis, comprising diaries kept by Addis, 1881-1945; correspondence with his family, colleagues and friends including Alexander Michie, 1886-1902, and Montagu Norman, 1921-1943; business papers, 1886-1945; speeches and articles, 1880-1941; newspaper cuttings, c1860-1949; and photographs. In addition to documenting Charles Stewart Addis's role as a leading financial adviser and negotiator, the collection gives an important insight into the development of international finance and monetary policy.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection has been divided into the following sections: diaries (1881-1945); letter books (1886-1904); letters to Addis and Lady Addis from their families (1872-1929); letters from various friends and colleagues (1873-1944); letters from Alexander Michie (1886-1902); correspondence with Dudley Mills (1885-1937); correspondence with Murray Stewart (1891-1922); letters exchanged between Addis, Lady Addis and their children (1895-1941); personal papers (1876-1952); business papers (1886-1945); papers relating to the Bank of England, including correspondence with Montagu Norman (1921-1943); letters from John Shield Nicholson (1916-1925); speeches and articles (1880-1941); newspaper cuttings (c1860-1949); papers relating to the Rev William Addis (1905-1917); photographs of family, HSBC premises and miscellaneous views; blue books; additional papers and photographs donated by Lieutenant-Commander C P Addis, RN, MBE. Within each section, the arrangement is broadly chronological.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:

No publication without written permission. Apply to archivist in the first instance.

Finding aids:

Published catalogue: Margaret Harcourt Williams, Catalogue of the Papers of Sir Charles Addis (SOAS, 1986). Detailed catalogue available at

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Donated 1981-1983.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The School of Oriental and African Studies also holds correspondence of John Mansfield Addis with his father Charles Stewart Addis (Ref: PP MS 25/1-9).

Correspondence and papers (1915-1945) are held at the Bank of England Archive Section, Archive Section HO-G, Threadneedle Street, London (Ref: ADM16). The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Group Archives, PO Box 64, Hong Kong, archive contains correspondence generated by Addis within the files of semi-official letters originating from the London Office, and a photographic collection with pictures of Addis as a member of the Bank staff. Correspondence between J O P Bland and Addis (1906-1908) is held at the University of Toronto Library, Toronto, Canada. Among the India Office Records, British Library, is material concerning currency and banking matters from Addis's period as London Manager, 1905-1921, kept in the Finance files, for example see IOR L/F/7/21, L/F/8/71. The Public Record Office, Kew, Surrey, holds China files from the Foreign Office, the Treasury and the Colonial Office containing material on Addis. Correspondence and papers of Robina Scott Addis are held at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, Contemporary Medical Archives Centre (Ref: PP/ADD). For details of other collections containing material on Addis, see Margaret Harcourt Williams, Catalogue of the Papers of Sir Charles Addis (SOAS, 1986).

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Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
15 May 2000

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