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Wakefield Link…

1800 s Wakefield Crewdson Logo x - S Walker MBA

The Kendal BankIt is not every day that you get the chance to meet someone with a direct connection to the past.  On a cold winter’s night early in 1967, Kendal Staff are given a lesson in the history of their Branch, the former Kendal Bank - whose name remains carved into the front of the building to this day. Their guide is one of the direct descendents of the Wakefield Family, Mrs M A Gordon.  In the late eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, Messrs Wakefield Crewdson – The Kendal Bank, was a major force in local finance, with branches across the South of the Lake District and North Lancashire.  The visit to Mrs Gordon’s house, is described in the following article from ‘Northern District News’ in the Spring 1967 edition of Martins Bank Magazine…


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1963 Wakefield Crewdson Kendal Bank Timeline 1 MBM--Au63P361967 01 MBM.jpgOn a dark, chilly evening early in the New Year many of the Kendal staff, some ac­companied by their wives and husbands, were royally entertained at Lane Head, Helsington by Mrs M. A. Gordon, a direct descendant of the Wakefields who inau­gurated banking business in Kendal in days gone by. The visit to Lane Head became a journey into the distant past for many of our newest recruits as well as their older colleagues, for Lane Head is a veritable treasure chest and Mrs Gordon was a most faithful and able narrator of the history of the Wakefield family and their banking beginnings. She very kindly produced a self-drawn family tree showing her direct descent from Roger Wakefield who married Hannah Preston in 1665, and proudly displayed what is, per­haps, her most treasured possession—a silver tankard of ample proportions which belonged to the same Hannah Preston.   The Prestons were indigenous here, the Wakefields being the ‘off-comers’, and after Roger’s marriage his holdings with those of his wife formed some ten miles within a ring fence: on the security of this property the original banking business was founded.

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1801 John Wakefield and Sons Cheque 4CBII-P42.jpg1800 ca John Wakefild One Guinea Note 4CBII-P43.jpgTheir son, Roger, began lending money against mortgages from his home, Challon Hall, and later from the house in Strickland-gate still standing opposite the County Hall. Thus banking started, to be continued as the years went on from a block of three rooms, one above the other, set aside in the Stricklandgate house. We were told of a time of depression following the Battle of Waterloo when a run on the bank was feared and John, son of Roger, foreseeing an insufficiency of funds to pay out his customers, hastily sent messengers by stage coach to Lancaster to obtain more money while he successfully employed delaying tactics by well heating the gold available.  It proved so hot to handle that valuable time was wasted counting it, thus allowing the messengers time to complete their journey and save the day.

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The Kendal Bank in the care of Martins Bank Limited, 1967

Image © Barclays Ref 0030-1458


John Wakefield the first married a Margaret Hodgson who brought banking connections to add to their wealth, which was fully utilised in the banking business and not left idle to pass down from father to son. We were told of the bank lending money on the security of a woollen mill in a time of depression when many in the town were workless. Margaret Hodgson had the brilliant idea of employing the local people on the then silent spinning wheels, thus serving the three-fold purpose of providing work for idle hands, paying off the bank and putting the borrower back on his feet. Could 1967’s bankers do better?  Among Mrs Gordon’s treasures was a silhouette of Jacob Wakefield, a son of John the first, and Mrs Gordon recalled his coachman, Dobson, who as an old man of 92 when she herself was but five years old told her of a sedan chair used for his master’s transportation within his recollection.

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1967 Mrs M A Gordon shows Kendal staff Wakefield History MBM-Sp67P39We were also shown a glass case con­taining old guinea notes, probably issued on the security of Wakefield land, bearing the symbols of sheaves of corn, sickle, etc. and showing our affinity to the land from whence cometh our daily bread. A Day Book begun in January 1792 and still in excellent condition shows entries of £5. 5s. a fortnight to E. W. Wakefield. Mrs Gordon’s great grandfather.


The banking business passed from Mrs Gordon’s great, great grandfather. John Wakefield, to his son Edward William. succeeded by his son William of Birklands and then by his son Captain E. W. Wake-field, who became Mrs Gordon’s father and carried on the business jointly with Frank Crewdson after amalgamation with the Crewdson banking business. She related somewhat regretfully that they sold out to the Bank of Liverpool ‘there being no male descent to take the reins’.


Had things been different we might indeed have been directly indebted to Mrs Gordon for our annual rises, and her male counterpart might similarly have been seated with the general management. Mrs Gordon’s memory bridged the gap between past and present and her hospitality extended to chocolates and cigarettes followed by a feast of proportions suited to a past day and age, but giving obvious pleasure to the modern generation. A more cordial welcome could not have been extended and we hope she enjoyed our invasion even half as much as we appreci­ated her kindness, for we have a great regard for this charming lady whose active mind and keen eye would do credit to many half her age.