History


OUR HISTORY

Coutts has over 300 years’ experience that underpins how we operate today.

 


OUR HISTORY

Coutts has over 300 years’ experience that underpins how we operate today.

 

BLAZING A TRAIL


From serving Queen Anne in the 18th century to supporting the world’s most exceptional people today, we’ve been banking the best and brightest for over three hundred years.

Every step of the way, it’s our passion for innovation that’s kept us fresh and modern. In the 1920s we were one of the first banks to use machine-posted ledgers – cutting edge technology at the time – and in 1963 became the first British bank to use computerised accounts.

Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find us supporting forward-looking fledgling companies focused on anything from cancer treatment to drone data through the Coutts Investment Club.

Did you know we also have a working garden on the roof of our HQ? It’s run by our pioneering, green-fingered head chef and is home to the bees who make our special ‘Three Crowns’ honey. Keep reading to find out more…

OUR STORY SO FAR

  • In the spring of 1692, a young Scot, John Campbell of Lundie, set up business as a goldsmith-banker at the sign of The Three Crowns in Strand, London. Earliest records show that, in addition to supplying plate and jewellery, Campbell offered a comprehensive banking service – discounting bills, making loans and taking deposits. Many of his customers were his fellow countrymen, including his clan chief, the powerful Duke of Argyll. Royal patronage began when Queen Anne commissioned Campbell to make the collars and badges for the Order of the Thistle. In 1708, he took another Scottish goldsmith, George Middleton, as partner. John Campbell died in 1712, and in the same year Middleton married the founder's daughter, Mary.
     

  • George Middleton was heavily involved with the affairs of the French financier, John Law. Combined with the bursting of the South Sea and Mississippi bubbles in 1720, this involvement resulted in the ceasing of Middleton’s payment for three years. In 1727, George Campbell, the founder’s younger son, joined Middleton before welcoming a third partner, David Bruce, to the bank in 1744. The goldsmith practice had declined since the 1720s, so when Middleton died in 1747, the surviving partners called themselves simply 'Bankers of 59 Strand', the bank’s home since 1739.

  • The name Coutts first appeared in the title of the bank in 1755. James Coutts, a Scottish banker, was taken into partnership by George Campbell upon his marriage to Mary Peagrum, granddaughter of the founder. When Campbell died in 1760, James invited his youngest brother, Thomas, to join him and in January 1761 the bank became known as James & Thomas Coutts.

    When James retired in 1775, the bank’s title changed to Thomas Coutts & Company – remaining so until Thomas’s death in 1822. The bank flourished under the lead of Thomas and his partners Edmund Antrobus, Edward Marjoribanks and Coutts Trotter. In the final decade of the 18th century, the premises at 59 Strand were significantly extended and profits rose from £9,700 in 1775 to £72,000 in 1821.

  • The long reign of George III was a period of major political, social and economic change. Coutts clients were closely involved with such events as the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars and the opening up of India and the Far East. Thomas’s clients (many of whom were also friends) ranged from the monarch to the Covent Garden cowkeeper.

    When Thomas died in 1822, his estate and 50% share in the bank passed to his second wife, Harriot, and the bank assumed the name Coutts & Co. As senior partner, Harriot (later Duchess of St Albans) took an active interest in the business. She decided that the 50% share and Thomas’s fortune should revert to a family member at her death. Consequently, in 1837, Angela Burdett – who at 23 was the youngest of Thomas’s grandchildren – inherited the interest in a trust that included a half-share in the bank. Harriot’s will stipulated that Angela take the Coutts name, but forbade her from marrying a foreigner or interfering in the running of the business.

     

  • During the Victorian era, the bank had to face new challenges in a fast-changing world. Developing industries were hungry for investment and the new and successful joint stock banks meant fierce competition for the old-established private banking houses. There can be little doubt that the name, reputation and personal fortune of Thomas Coutts inspired confidence in the bank during his lifetime. As heir to the Coutts name and fortune, Angela Burdett-Coutts was seen as the public face of the bank during the Victorian period. In addition, the service of younger generations of Marjoribanks and Antrobuses, combined with new names in the partnership – Coulthurst, Ryder and Malcolm – sustained the high level of confidence enjoyed by Coutts.

  • The Baring crisis of 1890 forced a number of banks to re-assess their position, and after much careful consideration, Coutts & Co decided to change its status. In June 1892, the bank dissolved the partnership and became an unlimited liability company. More changes were on the way when in 1904, after 165 years at 59 Strand, the bank moved to its current site at 440 Strand.

    Angela Burdett-Coutts died in 1906. In 1914, Coutts acquired the City bankers, Robarts, Lubbock & Co, thereby creating its first branch at 15 Lombard Street and gaining a seat in the Clearing House. By 1919, it became apparent that Coutts could not take full advantage of the post-war market or compete with larger banks, so the decision was made to amalgamate with the National Provincial & Union Bank of England Ltd. Coutts maintained its name, management and style of service. Later, the merger of the Westminster Bank and the National Provincial in January 1969 meant that Coutts came to form part of the larger NatWest Group.

  • Throughout the 20th century, Coutts opened more branches and significantly extended its regional footprint. The first West End branch outside 440 Strand was opened in 1921 in Park Lane, and in 1961 Coutts moved outside the capital, opening its first out-of-town branch at Eton. Coutts also embraced modern technology, becoming one of the first banks to bring in machine-posted ledgers at the end of the 1920s. In 1963, Coutts became the first British bank to use a fully computerised accounting system.

    In 1987, Coutts gained international representation by establishing its operations in Geneva. In October 1990, to strengthen their representation internationally, Coutts and NatWest merged their existing subsidiaries (which included Handelsbank) to create the Coutts Group. The acquisition of the NatWest Group in 2000 established Coutts as the private banking arm of The Royal Bank of Scotland.

    In 2020, we were quick to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. We offered clients repayment holidays on mortgages, supported businesses with loans of up to £50 million through government schemes, and ran virtual events with leading public speakers from the worlds of science, politics, property, education and more.

COUTTS TODAY

We’re extremely proud to be one of the best known private banks in the world – an exceptional organisation that serves exceptional people.

 


First-CLASS SERVICES
 

We provide first-class, day-to-day banking services such as current accounts, mortgages and credit cards, as well as flexible, innovative lending services. We're also an established investment house, providing a range of portfolios and funds underpinned by disciplined, data-driven processes designed to help clients grow their wealth over time.  

But we're much more than just a bank and have a clear purpose. We're committed to helping our clients reach their potential and contribute to wider society. We do this primarily in three ways: supporting entrepreneurs and businesses; focusing on sustainability – particularly climate change; and promoting the importance of financial planning.

Our people are diverse, skilled and passionate, and we invest time and resource in supporting them as they balance busy work lives with equally busy home lives.

We currently have 14 offices across the UK, and also offer our services in the Channel Islands.


STILL AT HOME ON THE STRAND
 

Today you’ll find our HQ on The Strand in London, where it all began in 1692. We’ve been based at number 440 since 1904. The building has seen three renovations in that time, two of which were officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Remember the Skyline Garden we mentioned above? We opened it in 2012, since when it’s gone from strength to strength, flourishing into a fully-working roof garden which grows sustainable produce for our client dining facilities. Our mantra is ‘two hours from garden to plate’.

But it’s more than that – we’re also providing a green environment for wildlife in the heart of London.

We introduced beehives in 2017 and make our own ‘Three Crowns’ honey. When the pandemic forced our staff to work from home, we kept the garden going and donated the fresh produce to a food charity.

 

 

Advice and product fees may apply. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise, and you may not recover the amount of your original investment.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Over-18s only. Terms and conditions apply. You may not be eligible for all Coutts mortgage solutions. Security may be required.

COUTTS TODAY

We’re extremely proud to be one of the best known private banks in the world – an exceptional organisation that serves exceptional people.

 


First-CLASS SERVICES
 

We provide first-class, day-to-day banking services such as current accounts, mortgages and credit cards, as well as flexible, innovative lending services. We're also an established investment house, providing a range of portfolios and funds underpinned by disciplined, data-driven processes designed to help clients grow their wealth over time.  

But we're much more than just a bank and have a clear purpose. We're committed to helping our clients reach their potential and contribute to wider society. We do this primarily in three ways: supporting entrepreneurs and businesses; focusing on sustainability – particularly climate change; and promoting the importance of financial planning.

Our people are diverse, skilled and passionate, and we invest time and resource in supporting them as they balance busy work lives with equally busy home lives.

We currently have 14 offices across the UK, and also offer our services in the Channel Islands.

STILL AT HOME ON THE STRAND
 

Today you’ll find our HQ on The Strand in London, where it all began in 1692. We’ve been based at number 440 since 1904. The building has seen three renovations in that time, two of which were officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Remember the Skyline Garden we mentioned above? We opened it in 2012, since when it’s gone from strength to strength, flourishing into a fully-working roof garden which grows sustainable produce for our client dining facilities. Our mantra is ‘two hours from garden to plate’.

But it’s more than that – we’re also providing a green environment for wildlife in the heart of London.

We introduced beehives in 2017 and make our own ‘Three Crowns’ honey. When the pandemic forced our staff to work from home, we kept the garden going and donated the fresh produce to a food charity.
 

Advice and product fees may apply. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well as rise, and you may not recover the amount of your original investment.

Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Over-18s only. Terms and conditions apply. You may not be eligible for all Coutts mortgage solutions. Security may be required.
 

Become a Client

When you become a client of Coutts, you will be part of an exclusive network.