Society hears of world’s first savings bank
Members of the Arran Historical Society welcomed Kay Kingstone of the Scottish Savings Bank Museum at Ruthwell near Dumfries for an informative talk on the history of the savings bank and its founder, the Reverend Henry Duncan at their August meeting in Brodick Hall.
Rev Henry Duncan was born in Lochrutton in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1774, the son of the parish minister. He was 16 years of age when he had to decide what his interests were and what profession, if any, he would take up. He first went to St Andrews University but left after two sessions.
He then got an apprenticeship in a commercial bank in Liverpool but this did not suit him either, and he came back home after a couple of years.
He then decided to become a minister and went to Glasgow and Edinburgh Universities for six years to get the necessary education. His patron had him ordained as minister near his home at the parish of Ruthwell in 1799 at the age of 25.
In 1810 Rev Duncan opened the world’s first commercial savings bank in his parish to cater for the parishioners who would not usually have access to established banks. At the time banks only catered for those with substantial wealth. His bank was a great success and was eventually copied by others locally before spreading all over Britain and across the world.
Many of the reverend’s exploits are recorded in the Scottish Savings Bank Museum at Ruthwell, which provides an insight into his enquiring mind which embraced issues ranging from historical to social and scientific issues.
Rev Duncan’s life ended rather tragically. Having joined the free church during the church disruption in 1843, he was then barred from his parish. He died soon afterwards and before the new free church building was completed. His grave is unmarked.
The next society meeting is on Monday September 17 at 2pm in Brodick Hall when Bob Tomlinson will talk about his life in journalism. He was, at one time, ‘The Hon Man’ for the Sunday Post.
Kay Kingstone from the Scottish Savings Bank Museum at Ruthwell.