Background detail

This guide was last updated in 2009

Before you investigate specific banking records, it is important to glean as much information as you can about your banking ancestor from discussions with family members and the usual genealogical resources.

If you are searching during the period of civil registration and the census, it is a good idea to collect as many certificates and census returns as possible that mention your ancestor, as they may indicate for which bank or banks they worked, for how long, and whether your ancestor made any progress in the hierarchy during the course of their career.

In the era before civil registration and the census, trade directories, wills and, increasingly, obituaries may play a greater part pinpointing details of your ancestor’s career. Several references for Thomas Whately at the Bank of England appeared in the trade directories on – a collection which has since been extended.

You can also find a large collection of trade directories at and These documents might also indicate what other business interests your ancestor had, and other details that will help guide your research.

Such resources will give you a good idea of where in the country your ancestor worked, and therefore, if appropriate, with which branch of the bank they were likely to have been involved. Always remember the customary genealogists’ rule to check alternative spellings of your ancestor’s name in these resources, as spellings become more flexible the further back you go.

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