Child and Co., the Model for Tellson’s Bank in Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”

This is the logo for Child and Co.

This is the logo for Child and Co.

Child & Co. is a formerly independent private bank that is now a separate wholly owned subsidiary and branch or brand of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group. It is based at 1 Fleet Street in the City of London. It is authorised by the Financial Services Authority as a brand of the Royal Bank of Scotland for regulatory compliance purposes.

Child & Co. was one of the oldest independent financial institutions in the UK, and can trace its roots back to a London goldsmith business in the late 17th century. Francis Child established his business as a goldsmith in 1664, when he entered into partnership with Robert Blanchard. Child married Blanchard’s stepdaughter and inherited the whole business on Blanchard’s death. Renamed Child and Co, the business thrived, and was appointed the “jeweller in ordinary” to King William III. In 1923, the bank was acquired by Glyn, Mills & Co., that eventually became part of RBS.

After Child died in 1713, his three sons ran the business, and during this time, the business transformed from a goldsmith’s to a fully fledged bank. The bank claims it was the first to introduce a pre-printed cheque form, prior to which customers simply wrote a letter to their bank but sent it to their creditor who presented it for payment. Its first bank note was issued in 1729.

By 1782, Child’s grandson Robert Child was the senior partner in the firm. However, when he died in 1782 without any sons to inherit the business, he did not want to leave it to his only daughter, Sarah Anne Child, because he was furious over her elopement with John Fane, 10th Earl of Westmorland earlier in the year. To prevent the Earls of Westmorland from ever acquiring his wealth, he left it in trust to his daughter’s second surviving son or eldest daughter. This turned out to be Lady Sarah Sophia Fane, who was born in 1785. She married George Child-Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey in 1804, and upon her majority in 1806, she became senior partner. She exercised her rights personally until her death in 1867. At that point the Earl of Jersey and Frederick William Price of Harringay House were appointed as the two leading partners. Ownership continued in the Jersey family until the 1920s.

In 1923, George, 8th Earl of Jersey sold the bank to Glyn, Mills & Co., a London-based commercial bank. Williams Deacon’s Bank acquired Glyn’s in 1939 (both subsequently taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland and known as Williams & Glyn’s Bank from 1970 to 1985), retaining Child & Co. as a separate business, as which it continues to this day at No. 1, Fleet Street.


Child and Co. at 1 Fleet Street, London, UK

Child and Co. at 1 Fleet Street, London, UK

Over their 350-year history Child & Co has attracted an exclusive client base including The Honourable Societies of Middle Temple and Lincoln’s Inn, and numerous landowning families. Scholars of the Inns receive their awards by cheques drawn on Child & Co, and many Barristers continue to use the bank throughout their professional lives. Several universities including The London School of Economics, Oxford University, and Imperial College London are reported to hold accounts. Until 1979 there was a ‘representative office’ (technically not a branch) at St Giles Street Oxford.

Relationship with Royal Bank of Scotland
Child & Co. is authorised with the Financial Services Authority for the purposes of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme as a brand of the Royal Bank of Scotland. When the 311 Royal Bank of Scotland branches in England and Wales are sold to another organisation (a requirement of the financial services regulators of the UK and EU), Drummonds Bank and Child & Co. will remain part of RBS.

Literary Reference
Child & Co. was the model for Tellson’s Bank in “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens.


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
This entry was posted in British history, Georgian Era, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, Scotland and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Child and Co., the Model for Tellson’s Bank in Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”

  1. Oddybobo says:

    Omg!!! I am writing a P&P variation, in which the Child family/ real and fictional, are pivotal. I started laughing when I saw this entry. My story needed an Almack’s patroness and Lady Sarah and her home at Osterley Park are key players. Teehee! I will not likely ever publish but I just thought this entry was perfect!

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