What records do you hold?
Are there any restrictions on access to the records?
We hold over 80,000 volumes, files and individual records relating to the Bank of England’s history, past business and decision-making dating from its foundation in 1694. These include customer and staff minutes and papers of the Court of Directors, the Bank’s governing body, correspondence from the Bank’s regional branches on developments in local trade and industry and modern files detailing changing policies, day to day work and relationships with international central banks and governments.
Records in the Archive generally become open for research after 30 years, but some are closed for longer periods where they contain information relating to customers, staff, the security of the Bank and some aspects of its work.
The Bank has, in fact, negotiated with many of its more important customers agreement to the release of records concerning them. These customers include the majority of other central banks, most major UK banks and Government customers.
Is the Archive Catalogue available online?
Yes. There is a fully searchable catalogue containing all of the records that are open to researchers. To access the Archive Catalogue please click on this link: Archive
Who can visit the Archive to do research?
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Anyone, provided that they are doing bona fide research using open records which are held by the Archive and can produce identification if required. Access is by appointment only. You will need to give details of the nature of your work and what you wish to study. Demand is high throughout the year and so we recommend booking several weeks in advance of an intended visit. We cannot guarantee space so it is advisable to book an appointment before making travel arrangements. Contact us if you would like to make an appointment or ask about our records.
Can you do research on my behalf?
We do not have the resources to undertake extensive research projects, although we can usually check salary ledgers or small numbers of customer account indexes. If you are unable to visit in person, you are welcome to send someone on your behalf.
Can I request copies of records?
We do not take photocopies from our files because of the damage this causes. However, we do allow researchers to make copies for private study or non-commercial research using their own camera. Camera stands are available.
Do you have records about other banks?
The Archive only holds records created by the Bank of England. If you are interested in a particular bank or branch, it is advisable to first contact the individual bank or its successor for information about surviving records. The contact details of other bank archives can be found using The National Archives’ ARCHON directory (see 'External Links').
If the bank is no longer operating, the following sources are also useful for tracing surviving records held elsewhere:
ORBELL, John, & TURTON, Alison. British banking. A guide to historical records. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.
BANKERS’ ALMANAC. Register of bank name changes & liquidations. Amalgamations, absorptions and liquidations of international banks since 1750. East Grinstead: Bankers’ Almanac, 1992.
NATIONAL REGISTER OF ARCHIVES, maintained by The National Archives on its website (see 'External Links')
Do you have accounts for everyone who had bank accounts in London?
Has the Bank of England ever had any overseas branches?
No. We only hold account ledgers for customers of the Bank of England from 1694 to 1899. Customer records of other banks are not held by the Archive. If you know which bank you are interested in, you can find out where the records are held using the section above on records about other banks.
What are the Bank of England will extracts?
The Bank used to maintain records of extracts from the wills of stockholders, detailing how their stocks should be disposed of. These ‘will extracts’ have been donated to the Society of Genealogists (see 'External Links') and can be used to trace stock accounts. If you know that an ancestor held stocks and want to confirm how they were disposed of, you should first use the will extracts to identify the type of stock that was held. This is because our ledgers are arranged according to the specific stocks held.
Do you hold personal papers of former senior officials?
No. Personal or family papers of former Directors or Governors are not generally added to the archive. You can search for personal or family papers held by other archives using the National Register of Archives (see 'External Links').