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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/186
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1814-1960
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 17 production units.
Name of creator(s): Ralli Brothers Ltd | merchants


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Ralli family, originally from the Greek island of Chios, were involved from the 18th century in the mercantile trade between the Levant and Europe with bases in several European and Mediterranean ports. In the early nineteenth century, two brothers, John Stephen Ralli and Eustratio Stephen Ralli, established an arm of the merchant business in London. "Eustratio Ralli and Company, merchants" appears in London directories at various addresses, chiefly 4 Billiter Square, 1819-27, together with "Ralli and Petrocochino, Turkey merchants, 5 Union Court, Broad Street", 1820-1; "PG Ralli and Company, merchants", also at 5 Union Court, 1821-3; and "Ralli Brothers, merchants", again at 5 Union Court, 1823-6, but from 1826 chiefly at 25 Finsbury Circus, where the firm then remained for nearly 150 years, to 1961.

Three further brothers were based abroad, Augustus in Marseilles, Thomas in Constantinople and also Pandira Stephen, who in 1826 came to work in London, shortly before John Stephen left London to take up business in Odessa in 1827. The five brothers worked in partnership, trading with Europe and particularly in the Mediterranean. The records refer to various countries, including Austria, France, Greece, Italy, Persia, Russia and Turkey, and also to the Baltic, and to a wide variety of commodities, including grain, silk and wool.

The company also traded in cotton piece goods, and a Manchester branch was opened in 1827, a Calcutta branch in 1851, and a Bombay branch ten years later. The firm remained a family partnership until 1931, when it became a private limited company, Ralli Brothers Limited. In the meantime, it had expanded its operations into a number of other countries, but little of this is reflected in the surviving archives, which date mostly from before 1860. Ralli Brothers Limited became a public company in 1941, and in 1959 was taken over by General Guarantee Corporation Limited. It subsequently became part of the Bowater Group.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Ralli Brothers Limited, merchants, comprising printed annual reports 1953-60; financial records 1814-1857; powers of attorney 1839 and 1847; correspondence 1868-1872; business papers 1836-1866 and 1908, and report on organisation 1939; letting agreement 1843 and historical notes 1902-1952.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, Greek, French, Italian, and Russian.

System of arrangement:

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

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Mss 23826-831 and 23833-836 were rescued from the basement of 25 Finsbury Circus by Sir Godfrey Ralli after the building had been bombed in World War II; Ms 23832 was presented to the company in 1954. They were presented to Guildhall Library by Sir Godfrey Ralli in 1984. Ms 29916 was presented to the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library by Baring Brothers Limited in July 1995. The records were catalogued by Guildhall Library staff in 1989 and 1995. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

One further item was presented to the Cambridge University Centre for South Asian Studies. This was volume II (only) of a printed handbook produced by the firm in 1888 for its Calcutta branch, giving details of local trading conditions and practice.

Publication note:

For further details of the family and the firm see Ralli Brothers Limited (1951); History and Activities of the Ralli Trading Group, Commodity Merchants for 160 years (1979); and Pandias Stephen Ralli, 1793-1865, the Founder of the Greek Community in London, by Timotheos Catsiyannis, Bishop of Militoupolis (London, 1986). More general details of the early Levant trade can be found in The Commerce of Smyrna in the Eighteenth Century, by Elena Frangakis-Syrett (Athens, 1992). All these works are held in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

Description Notes

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.

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