|Sir Wm. Forbes, J. Hunter & Co.|
Sir Wm Forbes, J. Hunter & Co., Edinburgh
John Coutts & Co. Established in Edinburgh in the 1720s, as corn dealers and commission merchants. They also negotiated bills of exchange on London, Holland, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
William Forbes and James Hunter (later Sir James Hunter-Blair) were both apprenticed to the firm in 1754. By this date it was run by the founder’s four sons, and was called Coutts Brothers & Co.
In March 1761, Forbes was made a junior partner in the business. Later that year, John Coutts died suddenly at the age of 30 and the running of the Edinburgh firm was increasingly left to Forbes and Hunter. They shifted the focus of the business, withdrawing completely from the grain trade to concentrate on banking.
Name altered in January 1773 to Sir William Forbes, James Hunter & Company and went on to become one of the most successful of the Edinburgh private banks. In 1782, the Company began issuing its own banknotes.
In 1838, the private bank reached an agreement with the joint-stock Glasgow Union Banking Company. Five years later, this resulted in a merger with the larger bank, by now renamed the Union Bank of Scotland. In order to maintain the valuable connections brought by the Edinburgh bank, its office in Parliament Close was designated the Union Bank’s second head office.