Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 146,909 pages of information and 232,835 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Norwich and Norfolk Bank

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1775 The bank was opened by Quaker brothers, John and Henry Gurney. They had made their money as worsted, linen and yarn merchants.

As banking became more profitable than cloth, their business expanded and they established partnerships in Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn, Wisbech, Fakenham, Ipswich, Colchester and Halesworth.

By 1838, the Gurneys were described as "exercising an influence and a power inferior to that of no banking establishment in Great Britain - that of the Bank of England alone excepted".

Like many successful Quakers, some of the Gurneys found it difficult to reconcile their faith with their wealth. Joseph John Gurney chose to become a "plain Friend", dedicating his life to his bank, his religion and good causes. Like his sister, Elizabeth Fry, he campaigned for prison reform. He also campaigned against slavery.

1866 The London bill brokers, Overend, Gurney and Co failed. The Gurneys' East Anglian banks came through remarkably unscathed, due mainly to quick thinking and shrewd judgement by their Barclay cousins who injected new capital and new partners into the Norwich Bank, effectively distancing it from the bill-broking business just one month before it crashed.

Merged with Samuel Alexander, another East Anglian bank.

1896 Gurney's was the biggest country bank to take part in the amalgamation which formed Barclay and Co.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Barclays history