Irish Banknote Guide: James Swift & Co (Dublin) 1721-1746


Introduction:

James Swift registered his bank in Dublin in 1721 but he was operating in Dublin beforehand, probably as a Goldsmith notory or banker of some description – as can be seen by this ‘sight note’ from Sir Francis Child (a London Goldsmith and banker).

1713 Sight Note (£28, 1s & 4d) James Swift. The Old Currency Exchange, Dublin, Ireland.

Sight note, 14 May 1713, ‘At three days sight pay to Mr James Swift…Twenty Eight Pounds, One Shilling and Four Pence sterl…from…Honorable Sir Francis Child’s House near Temple Barr-Gate, London’. Cancelled with spike hole

James Swift:

It is not known if James Swift was related to his famous contemporary Dean Swift of St Patrick’s Cathedral, although it is fanciful to think that he might have been. There is a famed anecdote and witty story of a shoemaker (Mr Bamerick) who was introduced to the Dean by James Swift, the banker, so they did (at least) know one another.

On 17th November 1715, Peter Ward leased one of the houses that he had built at Eustace Street to the merchant, James Swift. The house was number 17 Eustace Street and the date of the dwelling’s construction can therefore be pinpointed to sometime between 21st May 1708 and 17th November 1715.

  • Ward’s lease to Swift was for a plot of ground fronting onto Eustace Street by twenty-feet, together with the ‘new’ dwelling house, warehouse and improvements recently undertaken by Ward for the remaining duration of the three lives that had been named in the Chetwood’s original lease to Ward of 1708.

At the time of Swift’s release of the lease on 17 Eustace Street the property was described as a dwelling house with a brick warehouse, vaults and sheds behind Eustace Street. It is reasonable to assume that the warehouses and sheds at the rear of 17 Eustace extended as far as Temple Lane, which may have been used as a trade or delivery entrance for the buildings on Eustace Street.

James Swift resided and/or operated his merchant bankers business from the premises between c. 1715 and 1743 at which time the premises became occupied by the cider merchant James Newham.

  • Swift died in 1748 at which time he bequeathed the lease on 17 Eustace Street ‘forever to Mr. James Newham’.

James Swift founded his bank in 1722 at Eustace Street, Dublin. Not much is known of his banking activities but we do know he was primarily a merchant and operated his bank as a subsidiary of his mercantile business. In 1742 he moved his bank to Castle Street and, not long after that, he died (1748). His banking business was taken over by Thomas Gleadowe & Co.

Sir Francis Child:

Sir Francis Child (1642-1713) was a goldsmith and banker. Child’s Bank, which dates back to the 1670s, was originally located at the Marygold, near Temple Bar Gate, in London. He is buried in Fulham churchyard. He was also:

  • Alderman of London, 1689
  • Sheriff of London, 1691
  • MP for Devizes, Wiltshire, 1698 to 1713
  • Lord Mayor of London, 1699
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