National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Henry Duncan (1774-1846)

Henry Duncan (1774-1846)

Founder of the first savings bank run on business principles

Henry Duncan was known as the 'Father of Savings Banks' during his lifetime. He was minister for the parish of Ruthwell in Dumfriesshire, involved in schemes to alleviate poverty and instituted the first savings bank in 1810. He became Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland but moved to the Free Church at 'The Disruption' in 1843. He discovered and restored the Ruthwell Cross. He died in Ruthwell on 12 February 1846. The building which housed his first bank is now the Savings Banks Museum.

Birth in 1774

Henry Duncan was born on 8 October 1774, the son of Mr Duncan, minister of Lochrutton. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for that parish gives the date of baptism as 16 October but doesn't give his mother's name.

Birth and baptism entry for Henry Duncan

Birth and baptism entry for Henry Duncan (19 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 875/1, page 5

Marriage in 1836

The Reverend Doctor Henry Duncan, minister of the parish of Ruthwell married Mrs Mary Grey or Lundie on 24 October 1836. The entry in the Old Parish Register for St Cuthbert’s, which has been crammed in at the bottom of the page, shows that they had been three times 'regularly proclaimed in order to marriage in the Parish Church of St Cuthbert's and no objections offered'.. It gives her address as 29 Warriston Crescent in this parish. Her father was the late George Grey of West Ord, North Durham and her first husband, the late Reverend Robert Lundie, had been minister of the parish of Kelso.Marriage entry for Henry Duncan

Marriage entry for Henry Duncan (16 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-2/43, page 390

1841 census

In 1841 Henry Duncan, aged 67, was enumerated at Ruthwell Manse. His occupation is given as parish minister of the gospel. The census schedule shows that he wasn't born in the county of Dumfriesshire (N) and that his wife, Mary, was born in England (E).

1841 census record for Henry Duncan

1841 census record for Henry Duncan (57 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1841/846/4, page 5