Early Irish Banknotes: The Silver Bank, Malahide (6 shillings)

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Talbot & Co (Malahide Bank)

By the Act of 1799, banks within the City of Dublin were forbidden to issue notes for less than 5 guineas (£5 and 5 shillings). Banks outside this boundary were not subject to this restriction and, consequently, many new entrants to the banking sector chose rural Dublin villages outside of the canals to locate their businesses.

  • The Malahide Bank was founded in 1803 by Richard Wogan Talbot (1766-1849)
    • He later became Lord Talbot de Malahide (2nd Baron Talbot of Malahide)
      • MP for Dublin County in the Parliament of Ireland in May 1790, sitting until March 1791 when it was ruled that he had not been duly elected
      • He was returned to the Parliament of the United Kingdom as one of two representatives for County Dublin in 1807, a seat he held until 1830
        • Colonel, 118th Regiment of Foot (Fingall’s Regiment, 1794-95)
          • It saw service as marines at the Battle of Groix, June 1795
          • Disbanded, October 1795
  • His partners were:
    • The Hon. John Leeson – 2nd son of the Earl of Milltown
    • Edward Glascock

The Silver Bank

At this time, all banknotes with a face value of less than one guinea were known as silver notes. This reflected the fact that most coins used in larger transactions were silver, thus the term ‘silver notes’ and the Malahide Bank became known as The Silver Bank – and some of it notes actually bore this name.

The irony is, of course, that silver coinage was in such short supply in 1803, that:

  • the Bank of Ireland had to buy silver bullion and pay the Royal Mint to produce semi-official tokens for circulation in Ireland.
  • Others also privately produced silver tokens for ‘unofficial’ use.
  • Some even ‘over-struck’ foreign silver coins for commercial usage.
  • The public had no choice but to accept these ‘silver notes’
1804 Malahide, Co Dublin - The Silver Bank, Six Shillings, payable in Notes of the Bank of Ireland (large)

1804 Malahide, Co Dublin – The Silver Bank, Six Shillings, payable in Notes of the Bank of Ireland (large)

In 1804, a new Act (44 Geo. III, c.91) declared all banknotes under 20 shillings invalid. This meant that all private banks issuing these small denomination notes had to find a way to withdraw them immediately. The obvious (and most common method) was:

  • go into voluntary liquidation
  • pay all creditors (note / bill holders) in full
  • re-open with a different name
  • issue larger denomination notes

Leeson had retired in early 1804, so when the Act of 1804 took effect, the Malahide Bank went into voluntary liquidation and all creditors (note / bill holders) were paid in full. The bank never re-opened.

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