Kettering's First Private Bank

This small attractive Georgian corner building was for sixty-seven years Kettering’s first private bank formed around 1790 and known originally as Keep & Company. Between 1789 and 1793 many country banks were founded locally in Northamptonshire.

This particular venture came from the partnership of 1786 of Thomas Gotch (1748-1806) and James Cobb who set up boot and shoe manufacturing business together. Cobb then encouraged Gotch to go into banking and Thomas Keep and a Mr Burton joined them. The bank was probably responsible for funding the expansion of Gotch’s shoe business in 1793.

As Thomas Gotch died in 1806 the shoe business was taken over by his son John Cooper Gotch. John was a well-respected deacon to the Baptist church in Kettering. He too became engaged in the banking business. In a Court Case of 1812 it is noted that the Bank had been burgled, this was stated by the burglar’s accomplice as evidence, but was totally unknown to the Bank owners! Not surprisingly the Bank failed in 1825.

It was soon reborn as John Cooper Gotch & Sons – Private Bankers. One of their clients was Reverend Allan Macpherson, the vicar of Holy Trinity Church in Rothwell. The Reverend appeared to have had some understanding with John Cooper Gotch and was able to regularly borrow to fund some of his more inventive ideas.

When John died in 1852, his sons Thomas Henry and John Davis Gotch took over the bank and found it was technically insolvent, with debts of over £28,000. It was found among the debtors that Macpherson owed the bank £2,900. Macpherson abandoned his parish and moved to Brussels “to retrieve himself,” as he put it.

The two brothers continued to run the Bank as best they could. Unbelievably in 1853 Macpherson got back in touch with the new owners. They started to lend him small amounts at first to support his new business ventures. Over the next four years he wrote over 450 requests to support what were no more than ‘get-rich schemes’ that never came to fruition.

Yet on his word alone the bank continued to honour cheques for anything from £20 to £200 right up to the point, on 9th June 1857, when they finally filed for bankruptcy with a deficit of £82,000. Of that enormous sum, Macpherson’s debt alone amounted to £25,000. In order to pay their creditors, the brother’s property and possessions had to be sold and the Gotch family had to rebuild their businesses and never engaged in banking again.

Researched by Ian Luck

error: Content is protected