The history of Farnham bank divides neatly into three phases: Bristow & Smith, up to 1804; James Stevens, 1804-1828; the Knight family, 1828-1886.

The bank was originally known by the name of Farnham and Surrey Bank .  Its earliest history is uncertain, however the earliest known mention is in 1793 when the partnership of Mr Daniel Bristow, Richard Carpenter Smith & Richard Carpenter Smith jun. is listed.

£15 note by Farnham & Surrey Bank (unissued but numbered and dated for 1788)

On 6th October 1804, the banking partnership was dissolved with Daniel Bristow, Richard Smith and Joseph his son dropping out of the business.

James Stevens was a wool stapler and hop-grower; he sold hops at an annual fair at Weyhill, near Andover.  A story is told that, after a narrow escape from highwaymen he decided, in future, to have an armed servant accompany him when attending.  His friends subsequently entrusted their money to him as well.  Feeling that if anyone was going to be held up by highwaymen it would now be him, Stevens decided to start a bank with the purpose of engaging in paper transactions rather than the carriage of cash.  In 1804, he appears to have bought out the firm of Smith and Co. The bank is listed in various directories from 1806 to 1823 as J. Stevens & Co. but James was the only partner.

£1 note issued by Farnham & Surrey Bank (Stevens & Co.)

Despite surviving the 1825 national bank panic, James Stevens seems to have thought banking too hazardous a business and, in 1828, sold the business to George Coldham Knight, a farmer and hop grower.   It is at this time that the name was changed to Farnham Bank.  George Knight later brought his sons John & James into the partnership.

One of the earliest £5 notes issued by Farnham Bank under George C Knight

George Coldham Knight died in 1833 and his sons, who also owned a brewery in Farnham, continued the business. Around 1855-60, John seems to have dropped out and James and his sons carried on.

£5 note issued by Farnham Bank

£10 note issued by Farnham Bank

James Knight & Sons sold their business, on 17th July 1886, to Capital & Counties Bank for £9,000.


Farnham Old Bank was started in 1793 by John Cock and James Lamport, alongside their drapery business.  In 1810, James Lamport withdrew from the partnership.  John Cock continued to run the bank until his death in 1817.

£1 note issued by Farnham Old Bank


In 1793, France declared war on Britain.  The resulting shortage of currency (due to stockpiling of gold by the populace) led the Government, in 1797, to lift the restriction on banknotes of less than £5 in value.  There was also a shortage of small change.  The partnership of Wilkins, W. Trimmer, M. Page & Co. took advantage of this lifting of the restriction and made a sundry issue of banknotes of 2d denomination that same year.

2d note issued by Farnham New Bank