What records do you hold?
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.
Are there any restrictions on access to the records?
For reasons of confidentiality and sensitivity not all of the files in the Archive are currently open to researchers. See more information on access to records
When are records made available to the public?
As a result of changes in legislation, from 2013 it is the policy of the Bank to make most records over 20 years old available to the public for research. The change from the current 30 year closure period to 20 will be achieved through an accelerated release of material over a ten year period, between 2013 and 2022.
It is however necessary to keep some records closed for longer. These decisions consider any sensitivities in relation to the release of material including, for example, personal information, customer confidentiality, information given in confidence, received for the purposes of banking supervision, and relating to the security of the Bank and its operations. Additional considerations may take into account material which is restricted by other organisations or relating to matters of national security.
As part of the annual sensitivity review the Archive routinely releases several hundred files, after the appropriate closure period has expired. A large proportion of the files, totalling over 56,000, are available to the public for research. To see descriptions of these please follow the link on the right to the Archive Catalogue.
Is the Archive Catalogue available online?
Yes. There is a fully searchable catalogue containing all of the records that are open to researchers.
Who can visit the Archive to do research?
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:
- John Orbell and Alison Turton - 'British Banking: A Guide to Historical Records' Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.
- Bankers’ Almanac. Register of bank name changes and 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?
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.
Has the Bank of England ever had any overseas branches?
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).