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Graham, William, 1855-1922 (banker)



  • Existence: 1855 - 1922


William Graham was an Edinburgh-based banker and writer. He was the younger son of George Graham, printer, and Mary Lyle. William was educated at Robertson's Academy on the south side of the town and at 16 entered the Haymarket branch of the Union Bank of Scotland. Thereafter, he progressed upwards at various town branches of the bank. At 28, he was prizeman in the examinations of the Scottish Institute of Bankers, and in the same year he got married to Euphemia Cargill Anderson. The wedding took place in her home at 8 Dryden Place, Edinburgh, and they continued to live there with her old father, Charles William Anderson. They had four children: Euphemia Cargill Graham, Mary Lyle, Charles William and George Urquhart.

William was appointed agent or manager to the Bank in Bernard Street, Leith, and the Grahams moved to Dundurn, a large detached house in Trinity Road. During this time, William was made Secretary of the Scottish Bankers' Literary Association and he became known as a keen critic; as Honorary Treasurer to Leith Hospital, he wrote a short history of that institution.

In 1897, William went to Head Office of the Union Bank in Aberdeen as joint manager-cashier, a new arrangement made to restore confidence after the previous manager, Mr Cook, had embezzled £7000 of the Bank's funds. In 1900 William was appointed Secretary to Head Office at 64 George Street, Edinburgh. So the family packed up and moved south again. A few years later, William became General Manager of the Union Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh, and the family moved again to 7 Bruntsfield Crescent overlooking the Links.

William enjoyed writing - poetry, diaries of Norwegian holidays, addresses to societies, some of which were published - but his fame in banking circles rests on his book ‘The One Pound Note in Scotland’ published in 1911. He also wrote ‘The Rise and Progress of Banking in Scotland’ published in 1886 by Thin. In 1920, Anderson published another book by him, ‘The bank note circulation of Scotland’.

After researching ancient Celtic manuscripts, he wrote a book called ‘Deirdre and the Sons of Uisneach’ which tells the tragic story of a Scottish-Irish romance of the first century A.D. William subscribed to the Old Edinburgh Club for several years, was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, a member of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and of the Liberal Club. William was also a member of a Tract and Colporteur Society, and he was made a Justice of the Peace for Midlothian and for the City of Aberdeen.

After his wife’s death, he married Amy Spire. In 1920, William retired after nearly fifteen years as Manager of the Union Bank, aged 65. Two years later he developed cancer of the throat and died in October 1922.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Papers of, and relating to William Graham (1855-1922), 1907-1960

 Sub-Fonds — CLX-A-348
Identifier: Coll-1835/3
Scope and Contents

The folder contains one letter to William Graham announcing his appointment as Manager of the Union Bank in Edinburgh (1907), a letter from William to his son George Urquhart Graham and his new wife (August 1922), and newspaper clippings about the history of Scots Banking and about William Graham as the Secretary of the Union Bank.

Dates: 1907-1960

Sketchbook albums of William Graham (1855-1922), 1880s-1899

 Sub-Fonds — CLX-A-347
Identifier: coll-1835/2
Scope and Contents 1. Sketchbook of William Graham containing sketches of Scottish and foreign landscapes, poems, photographs, humoristic illustrations, and illustrations of old bank notes. Also contains sketches by Charles Altamont Doyle (father of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and George Smith-Graham (brother of William Graham). 1880s.2. 'Norway Sketch Book' by William Graham. Travel diary of William Graham when he visited Norway in 1889. Contatins some sketches, photographs, and newspaper...
Dates: 1880s-1899