James Martin & Son


 “In the year 1760 and 1761, the price of the English funds being low, most of the Scotch capitalists employed their money there.  A scarcity of specie in Scotland was the consequence, and the banks were compelled to take advantage of the famous optional clause and postpone payment for six months on paying interest; thus the notes which were regularly paid were equivalent to cash, became mere securities for payment, and men observed that the currency of the notes was in no degree retarded.  Private speculations, without the smallest capability of payment, now issued great quantities of notes; and as their own names were generally obscure and of no weight, left the public to infer the connection of some more responsible partners by the additional words “and Company.”  Banks of this character sprung up at Dundee, Port Borrowstounness, and Kirkliston; and at Glasgow, George Keller, a French schoolmaster, who had turned merchant, failed and compounded with his creditors – again set up in business and issued (in the years 1764-5) notes 5s., 10s., and 20s. – afterwards fled the country, and left the holders of his notes to seek payment from the company which never had an existence.  He took £5000 sterling with him. 

But perhaps none of the companies were so contemptible as the one at Falkirk, under the form of Martin and Son.  James Martin was a tailor, who had a son a clerk in one of the banks in Edinburgh, by whom he was instigated to take advantage of the mania and issue notes; and he issued notes as low as 1s Scots, and he sat cross legged at his employment on the top of his bank chest, which also served him for a shop board.  The bank was declared broken on a Saturday night by old Robin Fisher, a cholori carle, [man of the common people?] to whom he repaired to change a 20s note; the public soon discovered the general cheat on which Keller absconding, and no notes were taken unless they were marked payable also at some of the Edinburgh banks.  Martin and others scrupled not to adopt this qualifier, but the imposters were exposed, and among others it was declared that the notes of James Martin and Son were not paid at any of the banks in Edinburgh.”

Extract from the Scots Magazine of 1765-6: