Leyland and Bullins

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About this collection

Leyland and Bullins was established in Liverpool in 1807. It was acquired by the North and South Wales Bank in 1901, which was subsequently purchased by Midland Bank (now HSBC UK) in 1908. Midland was acquired by HSBC Holdings plc in 1992.

The private banking firm was established by Thomas Leyland and his nephew Richard Bullin. Leyland moved to Liverpool as a young man and developed a profitable merchant business trading in a variety of commodities. In 1798 he was elected Mayor of Liverpool for the first of three times.

Recent research has deepened our knowledge of the historical links of some predecessor banks to the transatlantic trade in enslaved people. As a merchant and ship-owner Thomas Leyland helped finance 72 transatlantic slavery voyages. His involvement in the trade contributed directly to his own substantial personal wealth, part of which was invested in the setting up of Leyland and Bullins. Leyland become a partner in the local bank of Clarkes and Roscoe in 1802. This experience led him to start his own private partnership with Richard Bullin, who had also invested in 11 slave voyages.

Their bank opened for business in York Street in 1807. Richard’s brother, Christopher, joined the partnership in 1815 and the bank moved to King Street the following year. There was a much later move to Castle Street in 1895, with King Street retained as a branch, operating alongside another office in Bold Street.

The business continued under the guidance of the Bullin brothers after Leyland’s death in 1827. Christopher Bullin retired from the partnership in 1847, but other family members stepped up over the years. The private bank remained independent during decades of stiff competition from joint stock banks backed by strong shareholder bases. At the turn of the century the North and South Wales Bank was looking to extend its operations in Liverpool and made an offer. It was accepted by the partners in 1901. One partner, John Naylor, went on to join the North and South Wales board.

Further reading: A Hundred Years of Joint Stock Banking by J. E. Wadsworth and W. F. Crick (Hodder & Stoughton, 1936).