Thomas Coutts

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Thomas Coutts
Portrait, Thomas Coutts, banker Wellcome L0038428.jpg
Portrait of Thomas Coutts by William Beechey
Born(1735-09-07)7 September 1735
Died24 February 1822(1822-02-24) (aged 86)
EducationRoyal High School
Known forFounder of Coutts & Co
Elizabeth Starkey
(died 1815)

(his death 1822)
Parent(s)John Coutts
Jean Steuart Coutts
RelativesJames Coutts (brother)
Angela Burdett-Coutts (granddaughter)

Thomas Coutts (7 September 1735 – 24 February 1822) was a British banker who was the founder of the banking house of Coutts & Co.[1]

Early life[edit]

He was the fourth son of Jean (née Steuart) Coutts and John Coutts (1699–1751), who carried on business in Edinburgh as a corn factor and negotiator of bills of exchange, and who in 1742 was elected lord provost of the city.[1] The family was originally of Montrose, but about 1696 one of its members had settled at Edinburgh, where in due course Thomas received his education at the Royal High School.[2]


Soon after the death of John Coutts the business was divided into two branches, one carried on in Edinburgh, the other in London. The banking business in London was in the hands of Thomas and his brother James, an MP. Following the death of his brother in 1778, Thomas, as surviving partner, became sole head of the firm; and under his direction the banking house rose to the highest distinction. His ambition was to establish his character as a man of business and to make a fortune; and he lived to succeed in this aim and long to enjoy his reputation and wealth. A gentleman in manners, hospitable and benevolent, he counted amongst his friends some of the literary men and the best actors of his day. Of the enormous wealth which came into his hands he made munificent use.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Soon after his settlement in London he married Elizabeth Starkey, a young woman of humble origin, who was in attendance on the daughter of his brother James. They lived happily together, and had three daughters:[1]

His wife died in 1815. Soon after her husband married the popular actress, Harriet Mellon.[7] He died in London on 24 February 1822, leaving his entire fortune to his widow.[7] In 1827, his widow married the William Beauclerk, 9th Duke of St Albans, who was 23 years her junior.[8] She died ten years later, bequeathing her property to Angela, youngest daughter of Sir Francis Burdett, who then assumed the additional name and arms of Coutts. In 1871, Angela was created Baroness Burdett-Coutts.[1]


A 19th century merchant ship, the Thomas Coutts, bore his name.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e ‹See Tfd› One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain‹See Tfd›Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Coutts, Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 337.
  2. ^ C. Rogers, Genealogical Memoirs of the Families of Colt and Coutts (1879); and R. Richardson, Coutts & Co. (1900).
  3. ^ "Guilford, Earl of (GB, 1752)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 5 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Lodge, Edmund (1833). The Peerage of the British Empire as at Present Existing: Arranged and Printed from the Personal Communications of the Nobility. Saunders and Otley. p. 75. Retrieved 5 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "Bute, Marquess of (GB, 1796)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 5 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Sir Francis Burdett, 5th Baronet | British politician". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 5 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b Perkin, Joan. From Strolling Player to Banker-Duchess History Today Volume 50 Issue 10 (October 2000).
  8. ^ "St Albans, Duke of (E, 1683/4)". Heraldic Media Limited. Retrieved 5 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Frank, Sanello (1 January 2007). The Opium Wars : the addiction of one empire and the corruption of another. Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1402201493. OCLC 77257394.

External links[edit]