Harmood Banner

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Harmood Banner (1782–1865), played a key role in the development of accounting and finance in Liverpool, establishing the foundation for the Liverpool Society of Chartered Accountants 1870, which, in turn, played a part in the formation of The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales 1880. He could be said to be the father of professional accounting in England. The origins of the unusual name lie in the family history. Royal Navy Captain Harmood’s daughter married into the prosperous Banner family, and their son was named Harmood Banner (Harmood Banner and Co, official history, published in 1974, page 5).

It has been reported that Mr Harmood Banner was practising as an accountant in Liverpool as early as 1805 (official history, page 5). He took on the role of “Corn Inspector” and “Commissioner for Special Bails” (see Google books, Parliamentary Papers). He acted in cases of liquidation, distributing the remaining assets to claimants. He was involved in banking as both auditor and liquidator. He acted as a share broker, including shares in Liverpool’s Liverpool Athenaeum Club, Liverpool Botanic, Botanic Gardens, Liverpool water companies, Manchester and Liverpool Railwayventures and Manchester, Liverpool and Hull marine insurance (see 19th Century British Newspapers archive).

He married in 1808 and the dowry included a piece of inherited land at the corner of North John Street and Harrington Street (Official history, page 7). The building known as “Harrington Chambers” was erected and Mr Harmood Banner practiced there as an accountant. When his son joined the firm, forming Harmood Banner and Sons, they remained there and the firm did not quit the building until 1962. The family home was at Dingle Mount (19th Century British Newspapers Archive), no longer standing, situated close to Harrington Dock.

During the 1960s and 1970s Harmood Banner and Co grew into a national firm with offices in major cities, including London (Official history). The clients including Martins Bank and London and County Securities. In 1974 Harmood Banner and Co. were merged into Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, and this firm was eventually merged in Price Waterhouse Coopers which has grown to become the world’s largest global accounting company(See ICAEW What's in a Name? PwC). In this way, the father of professional accounting in England laid the foundation for the world's biggest global accounting practice.

Mr Harmood Banner was a philanthropist being involved in Liverpool Ophthalmic Infirmary (1824), Liverpool Dispensary (1829), Liverpool Female Orphans Asylum (1841), Liverpool Eye and Ear infirmary (1845) and Liverpool Infant Orphans Asylum (1859). He was involved in raising the funds to build new hospitals and orphanages, and, as Treasurer and Auditor, he was involved in managing the operations of these institutions (19th Century British Newspaper Archive). Some of the buildings erected are still standing, but others, such as those on Myrtle Street, have been demolished. The orphans’ provision was moved to Salisbury House in South Liverpool, not far from the Beatles beloved “Strawberry Fields”, but this building was itself eventually demolished. In Pen and Ink Studies of Liverpool Councillors, Shimmin noted: "Day by day, Mr. Banner may be found visiting the fatherless in their affliction, and giving to hundreds of destitute orphans that paternal council which he well knows how to bestow."

As early as 1814 Mr Banner was on the committee of Liverpool Lyceum Library and rose to be President (19th Century British Newspapers Archive). Cholera is an acute onset water-borne disease, leading to death by diarrhoea, and there were outbreaks in Liverpool in 1832, 1849 and 1854. Liverpool's water at the time was drawn from wells, the disease spreading due to seepage of sewage. Mr. Harmood Banner was involved with Liverpool and Harrington Water Company, one of two companies that had been granted rights to supply water. Criticisms of Liverpool water supply were voiced publicly, and Mr Harmood Banner answered them in a pamphlet in 1845 "Water". A copy can be found in Liverpool Central Library and Archive, alongside a reply "Want of Water".

These public pronouncements combined with philanthropic work and involvement in rapidly expanding industries, such as banking and railways, all combine to suggest that Mr Harmood Banner was a public figure in Liverpool. The historical records show he was much loved and trusted (Obituary, Liverpool Central Library) and here lies the foundation for the professional status bestowed on Chartered Accountants. Mr Harmood Banner’s funeral in April 1865 was a major event, attended by firemen, orphans, accounting clerks, and five carriages of his extended family and local notables. In the early morning the cortege passed slowly through the beautifully laid out Georgian and Victorian streets, passing through Belvedere Road, Catherine Street and Canning Street, and eventually arriving at St James' Cemetery. Mr Harmood Banner’s grave can be seen close to the cemetery entrance and not far from gravestones recording the all too brief and heartbreaking lives of many Liverpool orphans.