Victorian London - Publications - Etiquette and Advice Manuals - Guide to the Unprotected in Every-day Matters relating to Property and Income, by a Banker's Daughter, 1874 - Chapter II - Money Transactions with Bankers, Cheques and Bills

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WHEN you have fixed upon a Banker, and placed some money in his hands, he will give you a book, called a Bank-book, or Pass-book.


The Banker will enter on one side of this book, all the money that is paid into the Bank by yourself or by others for you. These sums are called Credits, and that side of the book is called Cr., short for Creditor. On the other side, he will put down from time to time the money you have drawn out of the Bank, by Cheques, or Orders. [-34-] These sums drawn out are called Debits, and that side of the book Dr., or Debtor.
    Never write anything yourself in your Passbook, for it should be entirely written up by the Banker from time to time from his Ledger, of which it is considered to be a copy, and it is then legal evidence, as against him, of the state of your account. If you reside near your Banker, it is a safe plan to produce your Pass-book at the Bank, every time money is paid in to the credit of your account. If this is done, the Banker will enter the payment in the book, and the necessity for a Receipt will be obviated. Every six months, or, better still, once a month, your Pass-book should be sent to the Bank to be "made up;" that is, to have all money paid into the Bank, and all money drawn out of the Bank, entered into it. The sums of the entries on each page are carried forward to the next corresponding page, until the time arrives for balancing the book, which is generally done the 30th June, and 31st of December. By having the book made up frequently, you will [-35-] see that all is entered properly, you will be able to ascertain at a glance what money you have in the Bank, and you can avoid "overdrawing your account," that is to say, drawing a Cheque for a greater amount than you have in the Bank. An account should never be overdrawn, unless there has been a previous arrangement with the Banker to that effect.
    When you want your Bank-book "made up," write to your Banker, enclosing it, or take it yourself, and ask him "to make it up." The postage is so small, that a Pass-book, if its ends are left open, may now be sent by Book Post for a trifle. Bankers will, if desired, send a monthly statement of your account in a letter, as a substitute for a Pass-book. This is especially convenient to persons who travel frequently abroad.

Sums of Money in a Banker's hands. — Your Bankers gain nothing for receiving their customers' money, paying their Cheques, and running the risk of fraud, except the commission on Cheques, and [-36-] the interest they obtain from the use of the balance in money in their hands. It is therefore unhandsome if you leave less than an adequate balance. What the precise sum should be, depends on the number and size of your transactions.


Formerly it was not legal to draw a Cheque for a sum under One Pound, but there is now no restriction in this respect. It is better, however, not to be in the habit of drawing Cheques for very small amounts, say under 5, as it gives a good deal of trouble. You can easily pay small sums either in Cash or by Post Office Order; but when necessary, Bankers will not generally object to small Cheques, especially in those cases where a person keeps a large balance always in the Bank.
    No sum less than a penny is ever mentioned in a Cheque.
[-37-] A Cheque on a Banker is merely an order on the Banker to pay money to A. B. or Bearer, or to A. B. or Order. It is usually written length-ways on a half sheet of note-paper, when a printed form is not used. Suppose your name is Catherine Neville, that you bank with Messrs. Coutts, and wish to pay Mr. A. B. 15 2s. 6d. Write:—

London, Jan. 2, 1874.

Messrs. Coutts & Co.

    Please pay Mr. A. B. or Bearer, Fifteen Pounds Two Shillings and Sixpence.

15 : 2 : 6

Catherine Neville


The signature, or initials, is written across a penny receipt or draft stamp, not a penny postage-stamp. In some cases it is absolutely necessary to add the sum and date, i.e. on stamps required [-38-] to be affixed to Foreign Bills of Exchange. I have inserted specimens of each kind in this book. In every case in which a penny adhesive stamp is used, either in a Cheque or Receipt, it is a prudent plan to write your initials thereon, and to add figures showing the date, as in the above specimen, and, in the case of a Receipt, add figures showing the amount mentioned in the Receipt.
    By the Stamp Act of 1870, it is provided that an instrument stamped with an adhesive stamp, is not to be deemed duly stamped, unless the person bound to cancel the stamp writes on or across it his name or initials with the date, or unless it is otherwise proved that the stamp was affixed at the proper time; but the holder of a Foreign Bill of Exchange with an uncancelled stamp, may himself cancel it.
    Any person who may get possession of the Cheque in the preceding form, can procure its payment at Messrs. Coutts' Bank without question.
    [-39-] Suppose, however, you write—

London, Jan. 2, 1874.

Messrs. Coutts & Co.

    Please pay Mr. A. B. or Order, Fifteen Pounds Two Shillings and Sixpence.

15 : 2 : 6

Catherine Neville


Then the Cheque cannot be paid, until Mr. A. B. has written his name on the back of it. Therefore, whenever you send a Cheque by Post, or Messenger, write it  "or Order," and not "or Bearer;" this shields you from any fraud except direct forgery. Indeed, you will find it a safe precaution to make all your Cheques payable "to Order," as you will thereby retain evidence of' the payment having been made, even if you lose your Receipt.

Crossed Cheques. But there is yet a further [-40-] precaution, if you write "& Co." across, as in the following form:-

London, Jan. 2, 1874.

Messrs. Coutts & Co.

    Please pay Mr. A. B. or Order, Fifteen Pounds Two Shillings and Sixpence.

15 : 2 : 6

Catherine Neville


Then, not only must Mr. A. B. first "endorse it" by signing his name on the back, but it will not be paid by your Banker unless it is presented for payment by some other Banker, or a known Customer. If a dishonest person should improperly obtain the Cheque, and forge Mr. A. B.'s name, the thief could not even then get the Cheque cashed, unless he happened to be in such good circumstances, as to have an account of his own with a Banker. This reduces the risk of fraud very considerably. If, instead of writing "and Company," or only "& Co.," you write the name [-41-] of Mr. A. B.'s Banker, the chance of fraud is still further reduced. Always adopt this or the last preceding form, when you cannot obtain a Receipt at the moment of writing the Cheque.
Never cross a Cheque intended to be presented for payment at your own Bank, by the Person in whose favour it is drawn, and never give a crossed Cheque to a Person who does not keep a Banking Account, as such Person may have a difficulty in getting it cashed.

Dating Cheques in advance of the day. — Never let a Cheque bear the date of a day after that on which you issue it — as it is unlawful.

Cheque, after a person's death. A Banker will not pay a Cheque if he is aware the Drawer is dead. He is quite justified in paying the Cheque if he is ignorant of the fact.

The "Drawer" is the person who signs the Cheque.

[-42-]  Cheque, when presented for payment A Cheque should be presented for payment as soon as possible after it has been received, as in the event of any undue delay and failure of the Bank, the holder will have no claim on the Drawer; besides which, the Drawer's death or bankruptcy may prevent the Banker paying or "honouring" it.

Cheque, if dishonoured. The Banker writes on it "No effects," or "Refer to Drawer," or "Not endorsed," or he gives some other reason for not paying it.

Writing distinctly — Cheques should be filled up distinctly and carefully, and as far as possible to prevent fraudulent alteration. Thus in drawing a Cheque for eight pounds be careful that the "t" at the end of the word "Eight should join on the "P" of the word "Pounds." No sum is so easily altered in a Cheque, if it should fall into the hands of a dishonest person. By [-43-] the simple addition of a "y," "Eight becomes "Eighty." The dots should be put very close to the figure 8, which should be written large, to prevent the figure O being added after. It is advisable not to allow room for a dishonest person to add anything before the sum written down. Thus, if your Cheque is for 60, you must not leave space enough to add "Two Hundred" before the "Sixty." Another safeguard is as follows :— Suppose your Cheque is for 8 15s. 6d.,. write across it in bold letters the words, "Under ten pounds."

Stamp. — All Cheques must have either an adhesive or impressed penny Draft or Receipt Stamp, not a Postage Stamp. When you write a Cheque on a piece of note-paper, you must affix a Stamp, and cancel it as already directed in page 38.

Printed Cheque-book — Ask your Bankers for a Cheque-book ready stamped ; it saves trouble. [-44-]  You will have to pay a penny for each Stamp: the smallest-sized book contains about three dozen, it will therefore cost about 3s. Your Cheque-book should be locked up, never left about. Before using any Cheque, see that the whole of the Cheques are numbered in a regular series. The same number should be printed or written on the Cheque, and in the margin or counterfoil, on the left-hand side of the Cheque-book.
    In another page is a specimen of the Cheque-books ordinarily given.
    The margin on the left-hand side is for setting down the particulars of the Cheques that have been drawn and torn off.
    Sometimes, though not frequently, the words "On demand" are printed in the form of a Cheque, but they are wholly immaterial, as every Cheque is payable on demand, i.e. on presentation to the Banker on whom it is drawn.
    If your printed Cheque is to "Bearer," and you wish to make it to "Order," put your pen [-45-]  across "Bearer" and write "Order," as thus, Bearer

London, 3d April, 1873.

Messrs Coutts & Co.

    Please pay Mr. A.B. or Bearer 

Twelve Pounds.

12 : 0 : 0

Frank Smith


If, however, your printed Cheque is to "Order," and you wish to make it to "Bearer," it will be necessary not only to put your pen across "Order" and write "Bearer, but also to write your initials opposite the alteration.



_ day of __18 __

to ___________



No.I            Liverpool _____ 18___

Messrs. A.B.&Co. Bankers, Liverpool

    Pay _________________ or Bearer,



We will suppose that Mrs. A Bushe banks with Messrs. Edwards of Newcastle, and that she wishes to pay Mrs. Mary Collins, on May 4th, 1867, the sum of 27 6s. 8d. for furniture:—



4th day of May1867

to   Mrs Collins


27 : 6 : 8_____

No.16            Newcastle, 4th May,1867

Messrs. Edwards, Bankers, Newcastle

    Pay __Mrs Mary Collins_____ or Bearer,

_Twenty-seven Pounds Six Shillings and Eightpence.______

27 : 6 : 8

Ann Bushe


In the margin, or "counterfoil," of your Cheques a useful reference may be made to know when, and to whom and for what, they were severally paid.

[-48-] To procure money fi-om your Banker for yourself  — Write a Cheque "to Self or Bearer."

To procure money from your Banker for yourself by Post. — Write a Cheque "to Self or Bearer;" cross it with the name of your Banker, and send it by post to him with the accompanying letter. Suppose your Banker is Messrs. Coutts — 

To Messrs. Coutts.

    Please to send the amount of the enclosed Cheque for 20 : 0 : 0, in five-pound notes, in a registered letter to my address as below, viz.

{State address.}

London, March 13, 1873.

Messrs. Coutts & Co.

    Please pay to self, or Bearer

Twenty Pounds

20 : 0 : 0

Ellen Strange


[-49-] Or, it is sufficient to write a letter, without sending a Cheque, but a penny Receipt Stamp must be affixed to the letter and properly cancelled, as on a Cheque, thus:— 

London, March 13, 1867.

To Messrs Coutts & Co.

    Please to send Twenty Founds (20 : 0 : 0) in five-pound notes, in a registered letter to my address as below, viz.

{State address}

Ellen Strange


N.B. - Remember there must always be a penny Receipt Stamp on every Cheque, whether written on a sheet of paper or on a printed Form. Always use the printed form in preference to a written one. 

Transferring Money. — It is often convenient to write a note to your Banker, to transfer money [-50-] you owe to another, who banks at the same Bank as yourself. In this case there is no possibility of fraud or loss from the miscarriage of your letter. You may write thus

London, March 4th, 1867.

To Messrs Barclay & Co.

    Please transfer Six Pounds Five Shillings (6 : 5:  0) to Mr. Francis Mark's account with you, and charge it to my account.

Emily Wilson


It is safer to send the letter as above, than to enclose a Cheque to your Bankers, requesting them to place the amount mentioned to Mr. Mark's account.
    If the person in question does not bank at the same Bank as yourself, this is the form:—  [-51-]

Norwich,4th Sept. 1866.

To Mr. Henry Somerset,
    Manager of the Norwich Bank.

    Please to order the payment of Twenty Pounds (20 : 0 : 0) to the account of Mr. Eli Smythe, with Messrs. Lloyds, Bankers in Birmingham, charging it to my account.

Jane Gubbins


When Interest has to be paid — 

Banbury, March 26th, 1867.

To the Manager of the Banbury Bank,

    Please to transfer to Mr. Richard Norfolk's account with you, the sum of Thirty-four Pounds, and also interest at the rate of five per cent. per annum, on the same from January 1st to March 25th, charging the amount to my account.

Julia Edwards



Cheque for Executor accounts — 

Weymouth, Nov. 6th, 1873.

To the Sheffield Banking Company, Sheffield.

                        Pay to selves, or Bearer,

Nine Pounds Six Shillings. 

9 : 6 : 0

9 : 6 : 0

Henry Allport.
Jane Richards.
Executor for the late Mrs. A. Burns.

Cheques — When required to be signed by a friend in case of necessity.
    When a person is afraid that he may be unable for a time, through illness, to sign any Cheques he may want, he can write to his Banker and request him to honour all Cheques [not exceeding in the whole      ] signed by his friend — say A. B —  in his name; but he must at the same time enclose the signature of A.B., who will sign the Cheques thus:— 

 A. B.
for C.D.


    On his recovery he should write to the Banker and cancel the above order.

    Payment of Calls and Annual Subscriptions. The following forms may be useful.

    Payment of Calls. 

London, 1 st December, 1862.

Messrs. Hoare,
     I request you to pay to Messrs. Attwoods, Bankers, Chester, the sum of Sixty Pounds, in payment of the enclosed Call of the Chester Waterworks Company. When you receive their Receipt, please forward it to me.

E. S. L.
Emma S. Lagton


Or —

Warwick, 5th Nov. 1873.

To Messrs. Lloyds & Co.
        Pay Birmingham and Midland Bank, for Birmingham Waterworks Company, Twenty Pounds, being the amount named in the enclosed Call Circular of that Company.

20 : 0 : 0

S. E. G.
Sarah E. Gregory



Payment of Annual Subscriptions.—

6th Jan. 1863.

Messrs. Hoare,
     Please pay Two Pounds (2 : 0 : 0) to the account of the Derby Infirmary with Messrs. and continue the payment of the same on each succeeding January 1st until further notice.

M. G.
Mary Green.


To open an Account with a Banker.— It is sometimes convenient to have a Banker in London, as well as one in the country. If you wish "to open an account," that is, to begin banking with one, obtain an introduction, and arrange, either verbally or by letter, with the Banker for the opening of the account; but the person who introduces the customer to the Bank is expected to have some knowledge of his friend's monetary affairs, and of his moral responsibility, as a protection to the Banker.


    If you have occasion to remit money to your Banker, the following forms may be useful:—

(Put date and full address.)

To Messrs.
Gentlemen , Please to place the enclosed Cheque to the credit of my account with you.
                    Caroline Smith


(Put date and full address.)

Messrs. Coutts.

Gentlemen,—  I have this day desired the Bath Bank, Messrs. James, to transfer Four Hundred Pounds to my credit with yourselves (400).
Yours obediently, 
                 Caroline Smith

Then you must write to your old Banker, Messrs. James —

Birmingham, 1st Jan. 1864.

To Messrs. James, Bath Bank.
     Please pay Four Hundred Pounds to my account with Messrs. Coutts in London.
Your obedient Servant,

400 : 0 : 0

C. S.
Caroline Smith



Money at Interest. Many Bankers allow Interest on Deposit, and some also allow Interest on the credit balance of a large current account. If you have money in your Bankers' hands, and wish some of it to be placed at Interest, write —

 (Date and place.)

    Gentlemen - I shall be obliged by your informing me whether you allow Interest for money left on Deposit, what is your present rate and what notice you require for the withdrawal of the same.
         Yours obediently,
             Caroline Smith.

A Deposit Account means an Account, kept by your Banker, of money left in his hands, on the understanding that he is to pay you a certain rate of Interest agreed upon, and that he will require you to give him a specified notice [-57-] before the money is withdrawn. The Banker will give you a receipt, which should be carefully kept.
    When you wish to withdraw money from your deposit account, write —

 (Date and place.)

Gentlemen,-I hereby give you notice that I wish to withdraw from my deposit account, the sum of     at     days from this date.
         Yours faithfully,

To Messrs.

The usual notice required by Bankers is fourteen days, but the time is always stated in the deposit receipt, as well as the rate of interest to be allowed.
    The deposit receipt is given up to the Banker on the withdrawal of the money.

Receiving Cheques. —  When a Cheque is received  [-58-] by you, and your Banker resides at a distance, cross it with the name of your Banker, if it be not already crossed, and send it in a letter, which you should register if the Cheque be of much value, and write —

April 6th, 1867.

Messrs. Coutts & Co.

    Please place the enclosed Cheque for 15 : 12: 6 to the credit of my account.

Emma Gregson.

    N.B. — On receiving a Cheque, or any remittance of money, acknowledge its receipt by return of Post, specifying in your letter the amount. But before sending the Cheque to your Banker see if it is made payable "to Order." If so, endorse it — that is, sign your name behind it. Otherwise you give great trouble to your Banker, who will have to return it to you, to make the endorsement  If your Banker [-59-] lives near to you, and you intend paying the Cheque to him yourself, the endorsement had better not be made until you call upon him.

    Payment of money at a distance — If you have no Banker, and want to repay a Loan, ask a Banker in the Town in which you live, for a Bank Post Bill for — payable to —. If the Draft is made payable on demand, there would probably be a small commission charged for it. But if drawn at seven or ten days after date, there would be nothing to pay (see Bank Post Bills).

    Never destroy a  Cheque — If a Cheque is given you, and you do not wish to use it, tear off and destroy the signature, then enclose the Cheque (which, having no signature, is useless) to the person who drew it.


    Cheque book.—  If lost or stolen, write at once to your Bankers —

London, Nov. 6th, 1873.

To Messrs.              , Bankers, Bristol.


My Cheque-book has been lost or stolen. I shall feel obliged by your forwarding me another. I will also thank you not to honour any more cheques from my old book, unless it be one drawn yesterday in favour of  Mr.         for 18 : 6 : 0, and which may not yet have been presented.
         I remain, yours,
                 D. Fraser.

    On the death of a customer. — The Banker will not part with any balance standing to his credit, till he has seen the probate of the Will, or letters of administration, in order to register it in the Bank books. Then the balance is at the disposal of the Executor or Administrator.



    When a person is going to travel on the Continent he usually takes with him a letter of Credit, or Circular Letters, generally both. In order to obtain the former, he deposits with his Banker the sum he wishes to have entered in his Letter of Credit, and names the Towns where he may probably wish to draw money.

    Letters of Credit — Suppose Mr. A— is going to Rome, and thinks he may possibly want 500, and may wish to draw money in Paris, Basic, Florence, Rome, and Frankfurt. He writes to his London Banker (or else asks his Country Bankers to write to their London Banker), to send him a Letter of Credit for 500 upon those places. Should he mention to him two or more Towns, he must sign his name on the like number of slips of foreign or thin paper, and enclose them at the same time.


    The London Banker writes to each of the Towns specified, and encloses Mr. A—'s signature. Mr. A— will see that those particular Towns are mentioned in his Letter of Credit, and what Bankers he can go to; also the full sum he may draw for. If Mr. A— finds he wants 50 in Paris, he refers to his Letter of Credit, and takes it to the Banker mentioned, and asks for that sum in the coin of the country. He is requested to sign his name, and if the signature is like that on the slip of paper sent from Mr. A—'s London Banker, the money is immediately paid to him, and the Banker inserts in the Letter of Credit how much Mr. A has received from him, which enables other Bankers to see how much remains, of the 500, when he asks for more money. On Mr. A—'s return to England, he sends the Letter of Credit to his Banker, that he may know how much has been drawn.


A Letter of Credit is worded much in this way:—

            Messrs. L,   Geneva
            "            F
,   Turin
            "           M
,   Vienna

London, 9th July, 1862


        We have the pleasure to establish a credit in favour of X. Y., Esq., who will present to you this letter, and we will thank you to supply him with Cash to the extent of One Hundred Pounds (100 sterling), or such part thereof as may not have been previously paid upon  this credit, writing off on the back of this letter the sum advanced, and taking his drafts on us in your favour, for your reimbursement, which we engage duly to honour.

            We are, Gentlemen,

                Your very obedient Servants,

                        A. B. & Co. 

    Circular Notes, for ten pounds and upwards, can be obtained from many London Bankers [-64-] and the intending traveller's own Banker will obtain them for him. They have this advantage over a Letter of Credit; the traveller can receive his money at many different places, instead of one or two fixed towns, and even innkeepers will frequently cash them.
    "The traveller, having determined how much money he will require for his journey, pays in that sum to the Banker, and receives in exchange, without any charge, notes to the same amount, each of the value of 10 or upwards, together with a general letter or order, addressed by the House to its foreign agents, which serves to identify the bearer. The letter is addressed to nearly two hundred agents and correspondents in different parts of Europe, so that wherever the traveller may be, he cannot be very far removed from his supplies.
    "The value of the Notes is reduced into Foreign money, at the current usance of exchange on London, at the time and place of payment, subject to no deduction for Commission, or to any [-65-] other charge whatever, unless the payment be required in some particular coin which bears a premium. They are drawn to Order, and the traveller will naturally, for his own security, not indorse them till he receives the money; besides which, such checks are so concerted with the agents as to render a successful forgery of his name scarcely possible." See Murray's "Handbook." On the traveller's return to England, should he still possess any of the Circular Notes, and wish to have them changed into English money, he must take them to the London Bank which issued them, or send them through his own Banker. In either case, each of the Circular Notes must be signed before being delivered up.


    Bank Post Bills. The Bank of England issues Bills at seven days' sight, and Country Bankers also issue similar Bills at various dates, not exceeding 21 days' date. All these Bills are made payable to Order, and as they require endorsement [-66-] by the "payee" (that is to say, the person to whose order they are made payable) they afford a safe means of remitting money by post.

    Bills of Exchange, and Promissory Notes, so seldom enter into the experience of the "Unprotected," that it is unnecessary, and perhaps useless, to explain the technicalities belonging to them in this work. The best plan is to take them to your Bankers at once, and you will then obtain any explanation or information that may be required. I add a form of each.


100 : 6 : 0

Bristol, 15th March, 1863.

On Demand [or   days, or   months after date or sight], I promise to pay C. D. or Order the sum of One Hundred Founds and Six Shillings, value received.

                           Jane Smith.

Money Transactions wit/i Bankers. 67



500 : 10 : 0

Liverpool, 6th May, 1863.

Three months after date  [or any other period of time], pay to my Order Five Hundred Pounds Ten Shillings for value received.


To Mr. C.D.

    Every Promissory Note and Bill of Exchange must be written on an impressed Bill Stamp, according to the amount of the Bill. You will see the amount of Stamp Duties applicable to Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes, in most Almanacs.


An I.O.U. is an admission that the signer thereof owes the money. stated therein, to the person to whom it is directed, and may frequently be found convenient. For instance, if in travelling [-68-] abroad, one's money runs short, and a relative or friend lends a sum, it is the simplest way of acknowledging the debt. It can be written on a visiting-card or any slip of paper.

London, March 14th, 1867.

I. O. U. Two Hundred Pounds
                                        Anne Brown.

An I.O.U. requires no stamp, and is admissible in evidence, because it merely affords proof of a debt, and is neither a Promissory Note nor a Receipt. Be careful to adhere strictly to this form, and not to add more words, for if a person goes on to state when it will be paid, for instance, "I.O.U. 200, to be paid on July the 10th, 1863," the latter words amount to a promise to pay upon a particular day, and the paper must be stamped, as a Promissory Note or an Agreement.