This article by Peter Symes describes a Welsh businessman's 1969 fight with the banking system and the interesting private notes he issued. -Editor Over thirty years ago the threatened interests of Wales prompted a Welshman to challenge the authority of the British Government and the British banking system. The issues by the Chief Treasury of Wales and the Black Sheep Bank managed to attract the interest of Welsh nationalists and gained great notoriety in Great Britain. Today, the notes issued by the two authorities are amongst the most sought after of all private banknote issues.
The man behind both ‘issuing authorities’ and their note issues was Richard Williams, a Welshman who had been employed in the banking industry for many years and who was an Associate of the Institute of Bankers. In 1968 there was some debate in Wales concerning the possibility of establishing a Bank of Wales, which would be used to promote trade and industry in the principality. While the debate carried on around him, Mr. Williams wrote to the Prime Minister of Britain asking that the name ‘Bank of Wales’ should only be used for a company that promoted the best interests of Wales. His letter passed through official channels and he received several replies. One of the replies was a letter from the Board of Trade, which stated that no company would be permitted to use the title ‘Bank of Wales’ unless they really deserved the name.
Richard Williams, as will become apparent, was not overly impressed with the bureaucratic government of his day and so he immediately devised a response to the letter from the Board of Trade. His response was to register a company with the name ‘Prif Trysorfa Cymru Limited’, with shares of £100 split between himself and his wife. The Board of Trade duly registered the company, apparently unaware that the Welsh name of the company was translated as ‘Chief Treasury of Wales Limited’.
Having embarrassed the Board of Trade, Mr. Williams then wrote to the Secretary of State for Wales, stating that it was unnecessary for the debate on the formation of the Bank of Wales to continue, as he had taken the necessary steps in establishing his company, which would look after the interests of Wales. Having taken his enterprise to this point, the next logical step was to produce some form of currency. Aware of the law and the restrictions placed on him, Mr. Williams decided to print and issue bills of exchange.
Within several months the ‘Prif Trysorfa Cymru Limited’ was issuing ‘payment orders’, which looked and worked in a manner similar to cheques. The payment orders were used to transfer money and pay bills, and they were cleared through the clearing banks just like cheques.
The front of each note was designed by Francis Llewelyn Traversi, a commercial artist from Llandudno, and his name is printed at the bottom left of each note along with the date ‘1969’. The drawing of the Menai Bridge is adapted from line engraving by J. W. Amrose of Bangor, which was published about 1830.
The details of the Chief Treasury of Wales and the Welsh Black Sheep Company to this point have been garnered from book by Ivor Wynne Jones called Money For All, The Story of the Welsh Pound. The book was published in May 1969 and does not complete the story of the enterprises launched by Richard Williams.
Although the book describes several other challenges undertaken by Mr. Williams, such as creating a million-pound note and trying to get his notes recognized as legitimate instruments for sterling currency, the end of his story remains untold in the book. However, it is possible to identify some of the later issues of Mr. Williams’ Black Sheep Bank.
To read the complete article, see: Private Issues – The Chief Treasury of Wales and the Black Sheep Company (www.pjsymes.com.au/articles/Private03.htm)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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