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British Banking History Society


Greenways were bankers at Warwick, and elsewhere, and appear to have left something for everyone - debts apart - so the collector may choose from cheques; banknotes and paying-in slips. Accordingly the opportunity is taken to update the entry in the Standard Catalogue of Provincial Banks and Banknotes as follows:-

Whitehead, Weston & Co 1791 1821
Whitehead, Weston & Greenway 1821 1824
Whitehead, Weston, Greenway , Greeves & Weston 1824 1826
Whitehead, Weston, Greenway & Greeves 1826 1830
Kelynge Greenway and Edward Greeves 1830 1855
Edward Greeves, Kelynge Greenway & William Smith 1855 1861
Greenway, Smith & Greenways 1861 1867

Information on the associated banks remains obscure. For Shipston-on-Stour, it is now clear that the title shown (Whitehead, Greenway, Lowe and Gillett), applied only for 1821 (when Gillett joined), and 1822, when Gillett left. Incidently, Gillett was Joseph A Gillett, his arrival being his first formal banking venture and his departure in connection with the purchase of Tawney's Bank at Banbury, which then became Gilletts there, and later at Oxford. Lowe had married a Whitehead and was also related to Gillett's wife; and therefore to the banking Gibbons.

The Stratford-on-Avon Bank certainly opened in 1791 as Whitehead, Weston & Co, but its subsequent history is unknown. On very slender evidence, it existed in 1821, but not in 1887 and it now seems unlikely that Lowe and Gillett were ever partners.

The Leamington Bank was opened on 1 January 1863, and was at all times a branch of Warwick.

To revert to Warwick, much of the following is culled from the Three Banks Review (No 58 - June 1963), Glyn's having been the Greenway's London agents.

Thomas Whitehead was a Quaker resident at Barford near Warwick. With Weston, he provided storage and loan facilities for local farmers, and on this basis, they opened a bank at Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon in 1791. Greeves was Whitehead's grandson, and Smith an employee in the bank, who progressed from junior to partner. The Greenway connection is not explained. The first Greenway died in 1855 (as is implied by the change of order of names that year), leaving his interest in the bank to his nephew. Uncle and nephew were both named Kelynge Greenway.

Up to 1855 the bank had been very strong, indeed unusually so, for it survived the withdrawal of 30,000 capital under the terms of the elder Greenway's Will. However, thereafter, the way was all downhill, primarily owing to the banking methods of the junior Greenway. Indeed, his habits led to the withdrawal of the Greeves interest in 1861, together with their capital of 25,000 leaving just 7 capital remaining to the credit of the continuing partners.

Greenway's response was to bring in his brothers, Thomas, George and Charles. The first was a Colonel serving in India. He came home to work in the bank, but his total lack of banking experience saved him from a gaol sentence in the end. George was the Town Clerk of Warwick. Probably for this reason, Smith became County Treasurer, and the bank's eventual collapse added 3d in the to the rates. Charles, an architect, died soon after becoming a partner. The brothers brought little money, but in the 1870s a deliberate decision was taken to run the bank with no capital at all.

Thereafter, each partner operated a large overdraft, and the profits they shared were largely composed of nominal interest on these overdrafts. By December 1886, on paper the bank was barely solvent, but of 278,000 assets, 210,000 were the partners overdrawn accounts. This included money for extensive tramway speculation. George was Chairman of the Magdeburg Tramway Company. Paradoxically, a rescue bid for tat tramway, made necessary by Greenway's closure, provided much of the funds for the eventual payout to the bank's creditors. Another venture was the Kenilworth Tannery. This had been a doubtful debt in1855, with 14,000 owing, so the bank took it over and installed Greenway's cousin, a schoolmaster, as manager, with the result that by 1887, the Tannery owed over 200,000 to the bank, or to the partners personally.

The Bank closed on 6 September 1887, as a result of Glyns, the London agents, refusing to pay the cheques presented through the clearing house. The bank's local reputation had not suffered during the years of decline, and the closure was a shock to the town. There are reports of torchlight processions and burnt effigies. No doubt the local papers of the time carried long reports of the closure and the subsequent trial, which opened on 27 October 1887.

George was sentenced to five years penal servitude and Kelynge to twelve months hard labour. A number of dividends were paid, to a total of ten shillings in the pound.

Evidently, the Staffordshire Bank took over the good business, presumably to get some good value for the 46,000 it had lent the bank shortly before the close. The Staffordshire Bank eventually found its way into the Midland.

Geoffrey L Grant

Click here for pictures of Greenways cheques.

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