Martin’s Bank

Martin’s Bank

Martin’s Bank was a private bank in Lombard Street, London. It is believed that an English merchant and financier called Thomas Gresham founded the bank in 1563.

The premises were originally an inn called The Grasshopper (the grasshopper was part of the Gresham family heraldic symbol) and in its early years of trading the bank was popularly known as the Grasshopper. It is not clear when the inn became a bank, though John Martin purchased the freehold of the Grasshopper in 1741.

The Martin family were among the early London goldsmiths and successive generations of Martins were to run the bank until the 1930s.

Martin’s Bank became a limited company in 1891.

Martins agreed to its acquisition by the Bank of Liverpool in 1918. The Bank of Liverpool wanted Martins to give it a London presence and a seat on the London Clearing House. The title of the enlarged bank became the Bank of Liverpool & Martin’s Limited. The title was shortened to Martins Bank Limited (without an apostrophe) in 1928. The head office and managerial control remained firmly in Liverpool, meaning that Martins became the only British national bank to have its headquarters outside London.

Between 1958 and 1967 Martins Bank owned and operated Lewis’s Bank which had branches in each of the Lewis’s department stores and also in Selfridges in London.

In 1969 Martins was taken over by Barclays Bank. At the time, Martins was the sixth largest clearing bank in the UK with a staff of over 6,000 people.