The Banking Records of George Quayle & Co. Search of iMuseum

The Banking Records of George Quayle & Co.

Posted on 12.10.2016

Project Archivist Eleanor Williams worked on an exciting project with the Manx manuscript archives. Here Eleanor tells us more:

Cropped image for display case

I have been researching, writing and promoting top level archive descriptions to Manx National Heritage’s iMuseum  and Archives Hub – a website which brings together descriptions of thousands of the United Kingdom’s (and now the Isle of Man’s) archive collections.

One of the archives selected for this project (and a personal favourite of mine) was the Banking Records of George Quayle & Co. Quayle is a well-known figure in Manx history; he was an MHK, inventor, traveller, captain of the 1st regiment of the Royal Manx Fencibles, owner of the Peggy and a banker.


Image ref: PG/3634

Quayle established his banking company in 1802 from a strong room within his residence of Bridge House, Castletown. The company was successful and ran for approximately 16 years despite trading through the Napoleonic wars. It was said that trusting the ‘Quayle note’ was as good as the Bank of England’s tender.  Throughout its 16 year existence the George Quayle had various business partners. For example, the first partnership consisted of Colonel John Taubman, commandant of the South Manx Volunteers. He was the son of Major John Taubman, merchant, advocate and Speaker of the House of Keys. Another partner was Mark Hildesley Quayle, younger brother to George. Mark was Clerk of the Rolls from 1797 to 1804. And the final partner was a man called James Kelly, who was possibly an advocate from Castletown, however further research is needed.

The partnership deed stated he bank would conduct business under the name of ‘The Isle of Man Banking Company’, however throughout its existence it was also known as Quayle’s Bank of Bridge House, Castletown and George Quayle & Co. By 1807 the original partnership had ended and George Quayle ran the bank single handily until 1810. In September 1810 a new partnership was established between himself, Patrick Townshend Lightfoot and Edward Cotteen (Castletown merchant). By 1817 this partnership ceased and Quayle sought another. The new partnership consisted of several prominent figures in Manx society such as Captain John Quilliam of HMS Victory and was also an MHK. John William Jeffcott was a well-known doctor on the Island and Paul Bridson was a Douglas merchant. Other partners were Calcott Heywood MHK and captain in the Manx Fencibles and Thomas Harrison, a prominent Manx landowner, MHK and resident of Spring Valley, Braddan.

During this era the Manx economy was also suffering from an influx of forged currency, due in great part to the laxity of the Duke of Atholl not coining money for Manx circulation. The illegal tender caused bankruptcy for many which in turn saw Quayle’s Bank suffer. Additional problems included the bank over-issuing its own notes and, by the end of 1816, having more money advanced to a small number of clients then money being deposited. By 1817 it was realised the bank could no longer continue, thus the bank’s mortgage was discharged and a re-conveyance made. Depositors were paid in full and Quayle’s Bank dissolved in 1818.

What fascinates me the most about the records was not only was this one of the first Manx banks on the island, but the potential information held within the client accounts.  I have been limited by time to research in depth; but what I have found has been very interesting. A great many characters were customers of the bank and it seems the bank was extremely popular with tradesmen and gentry of the Island. A greater study of Quayle Banking records could reveal a wealth of information about early nineteenth century Manx society. 3 notable clients that stood out to me were:


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  • Hugh Crow – a Manx captain engaged in the transatlantic slave trade. Crow was master of the Kitty’s Amelia, the last slaving ship to sail from Liverpool (whilst on the voyage abolition of the trade was enacted in 1807). He also wrote his memoirs published in 1830.
  • Thomas Brine, a prominent architect and agent for Lloyds in Castletown. He was responsible for remodelling the Old House of Keys, he constructed St Mary’s Church, and in 1824 he modified Castle Rushen to house a new rolls’ office, council chamber, jury’s room and secretary’s office. He was also designed the Castletown lifeboat house for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Brine an active volunteer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and in December 1828 he was involved in a rescue mission just off Derbyhaven. The ship was called the Earl of Roden. It had run into difficult weather and was stranded on rocks. Brine and other volunteers rescued all 60 passengers on board.  For his bravery he was awarded a silver medal by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. What was also impressive is that at the time of the rescue Brine was 60 years old.

MS 04953

Archive ref: MS 04953. Quayle’s Bank balance sheet (own photo) 

  • Sir John Bennett Piers (a personal favourite find of mine) was a rather colourful character within Manx society. Piers was an Irish nobleman and 6th Baronet of Tristernagh Abbey in County Westmeath. He was most famous for his scandalous behaviour. In 1806 Piers embarked an affair with Lady Elizabeth Georgiana Cloncurry. She was the wife of Piers’ friend Lord Cloncurry and the affair was conducted at the Lyons House, in County Kildare. It was said that Piers instigated the affair for a wager. It was said the affair was discovered by an Italian mural-painter called Gasper Gabrielli, who was working at the top of a ladder in the very same room as the preoccupied couple. It was said Gabrielli hastily painted what he witnessed and showed the evidence to Lord Cloncurry. The result saw Elizabeth confess, her husband took Piers to court for criminal conversation to seek compensation.  In 1807 Cloncurry secured damages of £20,000 (which is about £1.4 million in today’s money). The case attracted great publicity and was celebrated in contemporary caricatures as you can see in the slide.

Collection of the Knight of Glin

Image ref: Lady Cloncurry seduced by Sir John Piers in 1806, in full view of the mural-painter Gabriellie: a contemporary caricature. Collection of the Knight of Glin

Piers fled to the Isle of Man where he took up with an actress called Elizabeth Denny before apparently marrying her in 1815. Other scandalous activities Piers was involved in included holding a duel in Douglas. The duel was with a John Meredith Esq, and he was apparently challenged after a bet during a dinner. During the duel Meredith fired early, missing Piers. Meredith was later shot dead in another duel with a Mr Boyes who was one of Piers’ seconds.  Piers was also recorded in the Manx records of being hauled up before the Deemster for causing a fight within a theatre audience. Not much else is known about Piers on the Island but he apparently ended his days quietly in France.

For more information on this archive click here and for more Manx manuscript archives click here. The archive is available for consultation in Manx National Heritage Library & Archive Reading Room.

Eleanor Williams (Manx National Heritage Project Archivist)

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