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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/207/ST11
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1863 - 1974
Level of description: sub fonds
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Extent: 0.5 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Standard Bank of South Africa xx Standard Bank of British South Africa Limited xx Standard Bank Limited


Administrative/Biographical history:


On 3 June 1857 a prospectus committee met in Port Elizabeth, led by John Paterson, to draft a prospectus for a new bank in the region. This early prospectus was reviewed over the next two years to create a vision of a bank which would be established in Port Elizabeth and which would grow through the acquisition of as many of the existing unitary banks in the region with a head office in London. In 1859 Paterson travelled to London to promote interest in the venture. On 15 October 1862 'The Standard Bank of British South Africa Limited' was incorporated and the first formal meeting of the inaugural board of directors was held on the 18 October 1862. The bank commenced buiness on 20 February 1863 in premises in Port Elizabeth - formerly offices of the Commercial Bank of Port Elizabeth with which the Standard had merged, the branch under the management of James Tudhope, also formerly of the Commercial Bank. In reflection of the growth of the network of branches and a change in the articles of association to allow the bank to operate outside of British controlled areas in 1881 the name of the bank was changed to 'The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited'. In 1962 the name was changed to 'The Standard Bank Limited' for operations outside South Africa with 'The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited' continuing to run as a wholly owned subsidary in South Africa.


The bank expanded its network with branches across South, East and Central Africa responding to the economic development and growth of the regions. From the first branch in Port Elizabeth the bank expanded quickly across Cape Province and by 4 January 1864 the first branch at Cape Town had opened. Outside of Cape Province the bank expanded into Natal [South Africa] opening the first branch in the region at Durban on 22 June 1863 (Manager James Alexander). The first branch in the Orange Free State opened at Bloemfontein in October 1863 (closed March 1865, reopened 26 March 1900). The Standard Bank was the first to open on the Diamond Fields in Griqua Land West [South Africa] with a branch at Klipdrift [Barkley West] opening on 12 November 1870 and the first on the Gold Fields in Transvaal with a branches at Potchefstroom and Pretoria opening in May 1877 (Manager Hugh Crawford); On 16 January 1890 the bank opened in Bechuanaland [Botswana] with a branch at Mafeking. In Rhodesia the first branch at Salisbury opened on 29 July 1892 (Manager John Boyne) and a branch opening on 4 May 1894 at Bulawayo was the first in the Matebeleland district (Manager Alexander Thain). A branch was opened in Portuguese East Africa [Mozambique] on 20 August 1894 at Delagoa Bay, Lourenco Marques. The first branch in Basutoland [Kingdom of Lesotho] opened in 1901. On 29 April 1901 the bank opened in Nyasaland [Malawi] with a branch at Blantyre (Manager H T Lewis); In Northern Rhodesia [Zambia] the bank opened at Kalomo in March 1906. In January 1911 the first branches in British East Africa [Kenya] were opened at Nairobi and Mombassa by J. J. Toogood, closely followed by further East African expansion with a branch opening on 20 August 1912 by J J Swanson in Uganda at Kampala. In August 1915 the bank opened branches in the former German territories in South West Africa [Namibia] at Luderitzbutch, Swakopmund and Windhoek and the former German East Africa [Tanzania] opening in 1916 at Dar-es -Salaam. Outside Africa agencies were opened at Hamburg in Germany (15 November 1904) and in New York (1 February 1905); a branch in the City of London was opened at London Wall and on 2 December 1918 a further branch was opened in the London West End at Northumberland Avenue.


In the City of London the bank first had premises in Moorgate Street and then at 101 Cannon Street before acquiring permanent premises in 1867 at 10 Clement's Lane.

In Africa the offices and operations were established at Port Elizabeth [South Africa] in 1863; In 1883 on the appointment of Joint General Managers a second administrative head office was opened at Cape Town. On 31 December 1885 the Port Elizabeth headquarters were closed and all administration transferred to Cape Town. In 1952 headquarters moved to Pretoria and in 1959 moved again to Johannesburg.

In Africa daily operations were managed from the administrative head quarters. Robert Stewart (General Manager 1864 - 1875) increased headquarter control over the early network of branches and erradicated the initial system of local boards of directors and local autonomy instead making himself the conduit implementing all executive orders issued from London and ensuing all regions were answerable to the South African General Manager. Decentralisation of Cape authority began in 1926 when the East African Superintendent began reporting direct to London rather than via the Cape and continued in the 1950s when, in 1953 a number of local boards were established. In 1956 the local board for Rhodesia and Nyasaland began to report direct to London. In 1962 the banks operations in South Africa were transferred to a subsidiary Company retaining the name, 'Standard Bank of South Africa Limited' whilst across the rest of Africa the name was changed simply to 'Standard Bank Limited'


The progressive expansion of the bank had been aided by its acquisitions of a number of local banks. In 1863 the Standard acquired the Commercial Bank of Port Elizabeth, Colesberg Bank, British Kaffrarian Bank and the Beaufort West Bank. In 1864 the Fort Beaufort and Victoria Bank was acquired. The 1870s saw the acquisition of the Albert Bank (1874), the Swellendam Bank (1877), The London and South Africa Bank (1877), the Caledon Agricultural Bank (1878) and the Malmesbury Agricultural and Commerical Bank (1878). In 1890 the Wellington Bank was acquired, in 1920 the African Banking Corporation was acquired and in 1966 the bank merged with the Bank of West Africa. In 1969 the Standard Bank merged with the Chartered Bank to create the Standard Chartered Banking Group Limited.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of Standard Bank of South Africa Limited including printed published material, including pamphlets and newsletters, research files for J A Henry's published history of the bank, unpublished notes and newspaper cuttings.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

CLC/B/207/ST11/01 Printed material
CLC/B/207/ST11/02 Research files for J A Henry published history
CLC/B/207/ST11/03 Unpublished material
CLC/B/207/ST11/04 Newspaper clippings

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 for access to records less than 45 years old should be sought from the depositor.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright is held by depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

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.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

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:
Added January 2014

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