Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section


Newly catalogued collections:


November 2007

Society of Public Notaries of London

The records of the Society of Public Notaries of London (Guildhall Library Mss 38703-38) have recently been catalogued. The Society (now called the Society of Scrivener Notaries) has represented notaries public (members of the legal profession who can administer oaths and statutory declarations, and witness and authenticate documents and legal instruments) within the London jurisdiction of the Scriveners’ Company, since its formation in 1823. In London, as the majority of these legal instruments were of an international nature, and were usually required for international exchanges, notaries public have also been the translators of such documents.

All notaries public in London have to be members of the Scriveners’ Company, having served an apprenticeship. They then have to undergo additional examinations set by the Company (in conjunction with the Society and the Faculty Office). Notary appointments are then made by the Faculties Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The records comprise rules of the Society, minutes, some accounts, and extensive correspondence, especially on laws affecting the profession, qualifications required, attempts by solicitors and other professions to encroach on the notaries’ area of expertise etc. It should be noted that these records are subject to a 30 year rule.

October 2007

Eastern Bank

Records of the Eastern Bank Ltd, which have been deposited at Guildhall Library as part of the archives of Standard Chartered Bank since 1989, have recently been catalogued (Guildhall Library Mss 39001-159). The bank was established in London in 1909 as a new Eastern ‘exchange’ bank, to help finance trade with the East. Steady growth through the first half of the 20th century meant it had particularly strong presence in India, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Bahrain and many of the Arab sheikdoms of the Gulf. After World War II, piecemeal expansion continued in South East Asia, as well as further in the Gulf states.

In 1957 Barclays and the Sassoon family sold their controlling interest in the bank to Chartered Bank. It remained a wholly-owned subsidiary until 1971, when it was absorbed by Chartered Bank and its name disappeared.

The records include extensive information on branches and local finances (including detailed inspection reports and balance sheets), and also correspondence, accounts and staff records. However the collection does not include the board minutes or shareholders’ records, which have been retained by Standard Chartered.

The records are held off-site and require 24 hours notice for access. It should also be noted that access to the archive is subject to a 45 year rule, with a 70 year rule for records containing personally sensitive information.

June 2007

Gabriel, Wade & English

An additional deposit of records of Gabriel, Wade & English, timber merchants, was made in January 2007.

The business was established in 1770 by Christopher Gabriel, focusing on plane, looking-glass and chair manufacture. From around 1812, the company concentrated on the importation and sale of timber. The first batch of records of this company was received by Guildhall Library in 1995 (Mss 35740-58). This additional deposit has been catalogued as Ms 38514-25.

The recently-catalogued material includes a cash book, 1822-48 (Ms 38514); lists of town and country debts, 1822-46 (Ms 38515); rent accounts, 1786-1848 (Ms 38521); and photographs of tree-felling, logging and timber constructions, 19th-mid 20th century (Ms 38523-4).

Christ’s Hospital

The catalogue of the archive of Christ’s Hospital is now complete, the end of a 39-year project!

Christ’s Hospital was founded by Edward VI in 1552 in Newgate Street in the City of London for the education of poor children. It was known as the “bluecoat school” because of its distinctive uniform. Branches of the school existed at Hertford, at Hoddesdon (Herts) and at Ware (Herts). The boys’ school moved from the City of London to Horsham in 1902. The girl’s school was based at Hertford from 1778 to 1985, when it also moved to Horsham.

In 1968 Christ’s Hospital deposited a large collection of its records in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library, and further deliveries of material were added in later years. Cataloguing began in 1968, but the size and complexity of the collection meant that it needed to be tackled in several phases.

The recently catalogued material has been assigned the manuscript numbers Ms 13933-97 and Ms 22510-794. They include pupils’ discharge certificates, 1871-1910 (Ms 22552), which give details of the child’s conduct and performance in class. A series of reports, 1797-1894, give information about health and hygiene on the Newgate Street site (Ms 22568); and descriptions of meals served in 1737 and 1800 reveal the children’s diet (Ms 22569).

March 2007

The Association of Investment Trust Companies

The records of the Association of Investment Trust Companies, which were deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library by AITC in 2005, have now been catalogued.

AITC was formed in 1932 as the Association of Investment Trusts to represent the interests of investment trust companies, which have been in existence since 1868. Its General Committee met every second month, normally five times a year in London and once in Scotland.

The records in the collection comprise constitutional documents, minutes of various committees, annual reports and accounts and supporting papers, financial material, along with many files of correspondence on particular subjects. However the main series is that of membership files relating to companies who joined the Association.

It should be noted that these records are held off-site and require 24 hours notice for access.

Arthur Brown and Company

A small collection of records of the firm Arthur Brown and Company, traders in naval stores, turpentine, tallow etc, have recently been catalogued. The records were given to Guildhall Library by a private individual in 2007.

Arthur H Brown founded the company in 1860. In 1871 the firm was bought by William Thompson Burningham, when it is listed as a firm of petroleum and colonial brokers. On Burningham's death the firm was taken on by his son, W J Burningham. The firm expanded significantly after World War I when they became one of the first importers of Russian oil. In 1968 ABCO Petroleum Ltd, as it had become known, became a subsidiary of the Sinclair Oil Corporation.

Amongst the handful of ledgers and financial material, there are two interesting sketch books of staff, with caricatures and cartoons dating from 1931-47.

August 2006

Harrisons and Crosfield Ltd

The records of Harrisons and Crosfield Ltd, which were transferred to Guildhall Library between 1990 and 1998, have recently been catalogued (Mss 37001-38277).

Harrisons and Crosfield was established in 1844 in Liverpool as tea and coffee merchants. In 1854 it moved to London, and soon became one of the largest tea traders in Britain. In the mid-20th century the company was increasingly involved in rubber and plantation estates and acquired shareholdings, often acting as agents and secretaries, in a number of plantation companies. Harrisons and Crosfield Ltd managed plantations in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Southern India, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It also had interests in timber, palm oil and chemicals, and insurance and shipping. In the late-20th century, Harrisons and Crosfield Ltd began to concentrate on chemicals. Since 1998 the firm has been known as Elementis plc.

The records include agreements, annual reports and accounts, correspondence, share records, accounts, operational records, and some staff records. Most of the collection relates to Harrisons and Crosfield Ltd’s subsidiary or secretarial companies, including Harrisons Malaysian Estates Ltd; Harrisons, King and Irwin Ltd; Harrisons Ramsay Proprietary Ltd; London Sumatra Plantations Ltd; and Sabah Timber Company Ltd.

There is a 30-year closure period on the collection. Records which contain personally sensitive information are closed for 70 years.

July 2006

Venables, Tyler & Co (Ms 35999)

A private ledger (1900-9) of Venables Tyler & Co, a long-established City of London wholesale stationery firm, was advertised for sale on eBay by a seller in the Netherlands, and was successfully bid for by the Manuscripts Section. Venables, Tyler & Co first appear in the City of London trade directories in 1817. Partners in the firm included two Lord Mayors of London, William Venables (1825) and Sir George Robert Tyler (1893). Inside the ledger were discovered some loose invoices of Gibbons & Co, printers, in which Venables, Tyler and Co held stock.

July 2006

Smith, MacKenzie and Co (additional) (Ms 36444-71)

This firm was established as a partnership in Zanzibar in 1875. As agents of the British India Steam Navigation Co, the company was involved in the import of British and British Indian goods (including rice and cotton) and the export of locally produced goods such as cloves, chillies, coconuts, copra and ivory. It was also responsible for supplying coal to British and German naval vessels in the area. In 1994, a private individual deposited some records of Smith, MacKenzie and Co in the Manuscripts Section, to complement the records already held as part of the Inchcape Group archive. This private deposit includes agreements and powers of attorney 18887-1945 (Ms 36444, 36446), correspondence 1888-1950 (Ms 36447-52, 36456), employment contracts 1907-37 (Ms 36457), and papers concerning property holding in Zanzibar and Kenya 1874-1936 (Ms 36458-60). Note: 24 hours notice required for access

July 2006 

Thorne and Company (Mss 36472-88)

This firm of cotton and linen merchants, trading with China and Hong Kong, first appears in the London trade directories in 1865. In 1959 it was acquired by Haighton Dewhurst Ltd. The collection includes partnership deeds 1876-84 (Ms 36472), letter books of Augustus Thorne 1849-82 (Ms 36473-4), ledgers 1845-76 (Ms 36479), and leases of land by the company in the English settlement at Shanghai with related correspondence and plans 1875-95 (Ms 36487). Note: 24 hours notice required for access

July 2006 

Union Discount Company of London (Ms 36496-8)

In 1885 the Union Discount Company of London was formed from the amalgamation of the General Credit and Discount Corporation of London and the United Discount Corporation. It soon became the largest London discount house in terms of turnover and deposits; a position it held until the 1980s. The Manuscripts Section holds an agreement for the formation of the Company in 1885, annual general meetings minute book 1885-1987, and notes on the financial position of businesses and individuals with which the Union Discount Company of London had contact, 1886-1988. The notes are particularly interesting as they contain information on the capital, share-holdings, directors and general financial position of the businesses.


Last updated May 2008

Newly catalogued collections 2002-2003

Newly catalogued collections 2004-2005

Newly catalogued collections 2008

Newly catalogued collections 2009

Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section