Royal British Bank

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The Royal British Bank was a British joint-stock bank, established under a Royal Charter in 1849, that collapsed in 1856, causing a scandal. The circumstances were described by The Economist as "an extraordinary example of the little trouble the public take to think for themselves".[1]

In 1858 the eight directors — excluding the bank's founder, John MacGregor, Member of Parliament for Glasgow, who had left the bank in 1854 and died in 1857 — were put on trial in February 1858 for conspiracy to defraud the bank's customers at the Court of Queen's Bench before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Campbell. On the first day of the trial the Prince of Wales attended and sat on the bench next to the Lord Chief Justice. The jury found each of the defendants guilty of the charges and they were given sentences ranging from a nominal fine of one shilling to imprisonment for up to one year. By July 1858, however, only one of the convicted, the former manager of the bank and arguably the least influential person among the convicted, yet remained in prison; the contrast with the treatment of the directors in the City of Glasgow Bank collapse is perhaps instructive.

The collapse gave rise to new legislation tightening banking regulation, including the publication of balance sheets and the auditing of accounts.[2]

See also[edit]


  • Annual Register 1858. Longmans Green and Co. 1859. pp. 330–339. Retrieved 2008-03-02. 
  • Antonio, Robert J. (2003). Marx and Modernity. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-631-22550-8. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  • The Times, Monday, Mar 01, 1858; pg. 9; Issue 22929; col B
  • The Times, Monday, Jul 05, 1858; pg. 5; Issue 22890; col F
  1. ^ Economist, 22 June 2013 p. 29
  2. ^ Economist, 22 June 2013 p. 29