The Bank of Newcastle The First “Country Bank” in Australia

Australia. ‘Bank of Newcastle’ £10 circa 1828. Recto (Courtesy of Invaluable Site)


Australia. ‘Bank of Newcastle’ £10 circa 1828. (Courtesy of Invaluable Site)

Mr Ian Bowrey has brought to our attention the auction of an original banknote issued in 1828 by the Bank of Newcastle as reported the the Topics column of the Newcastle Herald (12/12/19).

The auction,held by Smalls Auctions, Paddington, Sydney, commenced 12 noon on Sunday 15 December 2019.

The starting bid was AUD15,000 with the estimated sale price being approximately AUD20,000 to AUD25,000.

According to S.J. Butlin, Foundations of the Australian Monetary System, 1788-1851. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1953 (pp.291-292)

“In November 1828 Frederick Boucher, then a general merchant of Newcastle, announced his intention “at the solicitation of the most respectable settlers in this district”, of opening the Bank of Newcastle as an offshoot of his store. His plan included the issue of notes, interest on three months deposits, and general banking business, and he proposed to have correspondents to cash his notes in various parts of the Hunter Valley as well as in Sydney. For a brief period the enterprise flourished, at least so far as note issue went, but his business methods were not above reproach and eleven months after the original announcement of the bank Boucher leased his premises, advertising them as “in the enjoyment of full trade”, without referring to any note issue or banking business, temporarily he abandoned his proposed visit to England, setting up as a wine and spirit merchant in Sydney, to which he added the function of “general Commission Agent”, whose activities included the arranging of liens and discounts. But Boucher had tasted the delights of finance and presently reappeared as Provisional Secretary at the bank of Australasia in London from which he dropped in obscure but suggestive circumstances; and again, as has been seen, in 1838 with his brother Charles in the formation of the Australian Agricultural bank in Adelaide and the British and Australian bank, but in the present context what is of interest is that the bank of Newcastle was the first “Country Bank” in Australia, a harbinger of developments which were to issue into the general adoption of branch banking in place of the unit banking with which Australian banking began.”

We share  Mr Ian Bowrey’s wish that there is some person or organisation wealthy enough who can help bring this important and significant relic home to the people of Newcastle and the Hunter Region.

TROVE References:

1828 ‘Classified Advertising’, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), 21 November, p. 3. , viewed 12 Dec 2019,

1828 ‘Advertising’, The Sydney Monitor (NSW : 1828 – 1838), 22 November, p. 1. (AFTERNOON), viewed 12 Dec 2019,

1828 ‘Classified Advertising’, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 – 1842), 24 November, p. 1. , viewed 12 Dec 2019,

To be continued.

Gionni Di Gravio
University Archivist & Chair, Hunter Living Histories

One thought on “The Bank of Newcastle The First “Country Bank” in Australia

  1. According to my reference book “Australian Bank Notes 1817-1963” Geoffrey William Tomlinson, A. A.S.A., A.C.E.S.
    (Published b The Hawthorn Press Melbourne 1963) the founder of the Bank of Newcastle was Frederick Bouchier.

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