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  • Charles Hammersley, Banker (1817 - 1890)
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The 'London Hammersleys' - A banking dynasty

The Ham(m)ersley family were bankers from the very earliest days of banking in the United Kingdom, from a period when there were no banks in the modern sense (which generally date from the late 1600s onwards) and banking and financial services were primarily provided by goldsmiths, merchants and others.

There can be little doubt that Sir Hugh Hamersley (1565-1636) himself was a financier and one of his grandsons, another Hugh (1663-1692), is recorded as a 'citizen [of London] and goldsmith'.

We have a Hugh Hamersley who was a goldsmith at the sign of the Three Cups in the Strand in 1685 and a Richard Hamersley who was a goldsmith at the sign of the Sun and Marygold in the Strand (possibly the same place) in 1695 (Source: 'A Handbook of London Bankers', Price, 1890)

but it was not until 1796 that Thomas Hammersley (1747-1812) founded what became Hammersley & Co, as described below.

(Source: "A Richer Dust - the Descent of Hughes". http://www.peerage.org/genealogy/tree.htm

THOMAS HAMMERSLEY (1747-1812) was the second but eldest surviving son of Hugh and 3rd gr grandson of Sir Hugh Hammersley (1565-1636), Lord Mayor of London (1627), He married Anne (nee Greenwood) sister of Charles Greenwood (partner with Cox & Co. Bankers for the British Army).

Banking Career Thomas founded what became Hammersley & Co, as described below "Thomas joined the London bank of Herries, Farquhar & Co. on its foundation in 1772, selling the Cadeby and Ouslethwaite estates at this time. (Source: extract from Pat McSwiney's “McSwiney Family History”) Author R.G. Thorne says Thomas Hammersley got his start “as a clerk at Herries’ bank, where he learnt the operation of their celebrated promissory notes system used by English travellers on the Continent and put his knowledge into effect when he embarked in business on his own account (1786) in partnership with William Morland* and Ransom at 57 Pall Mall under “Ransom, Morland & Hammersley & Co.” Their clients were the Duke of Cumberland and, in July 1786, the Prince of Wales. In 1789 they became the joint receiver of the Duchy of Cornwall (which contributed to the income of the Prince of Wales). “These responsibilities caused endless worry for Thomas Hammersley, but he remained devoted to the Prince, even when the latter fell out with Lord Kinnaird, one of Hammersley’s partners, and transferred to Coutts.

The Prince of Wales (later George IV) was loaned money by the company, which held a casket of royal jewels as security, as evidenced by a letter from the Prince Regent to W. Morland and T. Hammersley dated 10 May 1791 which states '... in order to secure the payment of the said sum of £25,000 … his said Royal Highness hath delivered to the said William Morland and Thomas Hammersley … a casket covered with red morocco leather containing a diamond epaulette, a diamond star, a diamond George, a diamond garter and sundry diamond trinkets and ornaments belonging to his Royal Highness …'. Note that £25,000 in 1791 is equivalent to about $5-10m today.

Hammersley entered into a new partnership (1796) at 76 Pall Mall with Greenwood, his brother-in-law, Montolieu, Brooksbank and Drewe - which became Hammersley, Greenwood, Drewe & Co. in 1806.

This bank, which subscribed, £40,000 to the loyalty loan for 1797, made the mistake of being too accommodating at its outset. In order to attract custom, and in the year of his death, 1812, Thomas Hammersley wrote to the Prince, begging him to patronize the bank, which was in difficulties. He said that the two fabrics he had raised, after 40 years in banking, were in pieces. His fortune was small, he had never gambled or had a stroke of good fortune and had had 16 children to bring up. (Source: Author R.G. Thorne)

Hammersley became a partner and placed his eldest son Hugh in Hammersley & Co. (as well as another son George), In 1809/10 Hugh was in the Mediterranean. In the month of his father’s death (October 1812) he returned to Helston in the interest of the Duke of Leeds.

HUGH HAMMERSLEY, became a parliamentarian and invariably supported Catholic relief. In his maiden Parliamentary speech, 26 Mar. 1813, he said he would prefer additional taxation to touching the sinking fund, but hoped peace would render it unnecessary. After five years, Hammersley did not contest the election of 1818 and was never again in Parliament.

For the remainder of his life he was engaged in attempting to liquidate the encumbrances he had inherited from the family bank.

In 1823 the bank became Hammersley, Greenwood, Brooksbank & Co. and moved to 69 Pall Mall.

Hammersley & Co., as they were later known (after the death of Charles Greenwood in 1832), were bankers to the royal family or members of the royal family, including George IV from when he came of age.

Hammersley & Co. were also bankers to the UK Secret Service for a time (Source: 'Coutts & Co. 1692-1992', Edna Healey, 1992).

In 1838 a merger with Coutts & Co was proposed, but did not proceed. When Hugh Hammersley died, 19 Sept. 1840, aged 65 or 66, he was the only remaining partner. On the death of Hugh, Hammersley & Co. was discontinued, Coutts & Co. having acquired the bank’s assets, and paying ten shillings in the pound to its creditors …………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Other Banking Connections

The Hammersley family were connected by marriage with two other great banking families, the Barings (Barings Bank founded 1762) and the Hambros (Hambros Bank founded 1839).

Cox & Co – Lloyds TSB. Hugh’s father.Thomas Hammersley had married Charles Greenwood's sister, Ann Greenwood, and Charles Greenwood's great aunt, Mary, had married Joshua Cox of Quarley Park and Grantley, near Andover, the father of Richard Cox of Aspenden Hall, Hertfordshire, founder of Cox & Co. - so the families of Hammersley, Greenwood and Cox were closely related. Thomas Hammersley's son Charles Hammersley joined Cox & Co. In 1922 Cox & Co., who by then had been long-established as 'bankers to the British Army', merged with Henry S. King & Co. to become Cox's & King's and moved into newly-built head offices at 6 Pall Mall. By 1923 the banking side of the business was taken over by Lloyd's Bank, now Lloyds TSB (there is still a branch/office of Cox's & King's at 7 Pall Mall, London SW1), while the rest became Cox & Kings, the travel company, which still exists today. (Source: Author: R. G. Thorne, Volumes: 1790-1820)