The oldest banking-houses in London are Child’s, at Temple Bar; Hoare’s, in Fleet-street; Strahan’s, (formerly Snow’s), in the Strand; and Gosling’s, in Fleet-street. None date earlier than the Restoration of Charles II. The original Bankers were Goldsmiths — “Goldsmiths that keep running cashes “—and their shops were distinguished by signs. Child’s was known by “The Marygold”—still to be seen where the cheques are cashed ; Hoare’s by the “The Golden Bottle”—still remaining over the outer door ; Snow’s by “The Golden Anchor”—to be seen inside ; and Gosling’s by “The Three Squirrels”—still prominent in the iron-work of their windows towards the street. The founder of Child’s house was John Backwell, an alderman of the City of London, ruined by the shutting up of the Exchequer in the reign of Charles II. Stone and Martin’s, in Lombard-street, is said to have been founded by Sir Thomas Gresham ; and the Grasshopper sign of the Gresham family was preserved in the banking-house till late in the last century. Of the West-end banking-houses, Drummond’s, at Charing Cross, is the oldest; and, next to Drummond’s, Coutts’s in the Strand. The founder of Drummond’s obtained his great position by advancing money to the Pretender, and by the King’s consequent withdrawal of his account. The King’s withdrawal led to a rush of the Scottish nobility and gentry with their accounts, and to the ultimate advancement of the bank to its present footing. Coutts’s house was founded by George Middleton, and originally stood in St Martin’s-lane, near St. Martin’s Church. Coutts removed it to its present site. The great Lord Clarendon, in the reign of Charles II., kept an account at Hoare’s ; Dryden lodged his 50l., for the discovery of the bullies who waylaid and beat him, at Child’s, at Temple Bar ; Pope banked at Drummond’s ; Lady Mary Wortley Montague at Child’s ; Gay at, Hoare’s ; Dr. Johnson and Sir Walter Scott at Coutts’s ; and Bishop Percy at Gosling’s. The Duke of Wellington banks at Coutts’s ; the Duke of Sutherland at Drummond’s ; the Duke of Devonshire at Snow’s, or Strahan’s.
Source: A Handbook for London, Past and Present. Peter Cunningham. Published by John Murray 1849.