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The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives


The financial sector today is a global industry, but many of its most influential roots lie here in Scotland. Over the centuries Scots have played a central role in inventing, establishing and spreading banking and insurance practices all around the world.

At the root of the financial sector in Scotland lies the banks. Scotland’s first bank - The Bank of Scotland was founded in 1695. Most other European nations established their first banks at around the same time. In 1727, however, Scotland did something quite different; it established a second publicly-owned bank - The Royal Bank of Scotland.

As the eighteenth century progressed, more banks were established across Scotland - by 1850 there were 18 banks. Together they formed a competitive, resilient, multi-bank financial system which played a vital role in supporting Scotland’s rapid economic development. It was a system that was copied in whole or in part in many other areas of the world.

The general insurance, life assurance and pensions sector in Scotland also has a strong reputation and an enviable history of success. Most of the life offices were founded in the first half of the nineteenth century and were a dynamic business sector with agents and agencies across the globe.

Scots at Work

The Scots at Work exhibition ran from April to June 2013 at General Register House, National Records of Scotland. Vistors had the opportunity to view the following items which were on display in the 'Finance' case:

  • Bank of Scotland staff salaries, 1733 - courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group Plc Archives
  • Royal Bank of Scotland home safe, c.1950 - courtesy of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives
  • British Linen one pound note & printing plate, 1968 - courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group Plc Archives & Museums
  • Constitution of the Institute of Bankers in Scotland, 1875, and essay competition certificate 1887 - courtesy of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives
  • Sir Walter Scott’s life assurance application, 1824 - courtesy of Lloyds Banking Group Plc Archives
  • Standard Life insurance plaque - courtesy of Standard Life
  • The Glasgow offices of Standard Life Assurance Company, c.1950s - courtesy of Standard Life Archive

Financial Records in Scotland

There are nearly 500 archive collections relating to the financial sector in Scotland. These range from the large corporate collections of Lloyds Banking Group Plc Archives, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives and Standard Life Assurance Company to smaller collections held in local repositories and privately.