In the late 17th century the City of London was filled with goldsmith-bankers. One such business was founded by John Freame and his partner Thomas Gould in 1690. The name Barclay became associated with the company in 1736 when James Barclay married John Freame's daughter and became a partner. The leading partners of the new bank, which was named Barclay and Company, were already connected by a web of family, business and religious relationships.
The new bank had 182 branches, mainly in the east and south-east of England. Deposits totalled £26 million - a substantial sum of money in those days. Barclay and Company expanded its branch network rapidly through bank acquisitions. Acquisitions included Bolithos in Cornwall and the southwest in 1905 and United Counties Bank in the Midlands in 1916.
In 1918, the bank amalgamated with the London, Provincial and South Western Bank to become one of the UK's 'big five' banks. By 1926 the bank had 1,837 branches.
The development of the global business of today’s Barclays began in 1925, with the merger of three banks - the Colonial Bank, the Anglo Egyptian Bank and the National Bank of South Africa. With this, Barclays added businesses in much of Africa, the Middle East and the West Indies.
In 1981, Barclays became the first foreign bank to file with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and raise long-term capital on the New York market. In 1986 it became the first British bank to have its shares listed on the Tokyo and New York stock exchanges.
In 1986, Barclays global expanded with the creation of an investment banking operation, which today is known as Barclays. In 1995, Barclays purchased the fund manager Wells Fargo Nikko Investment Advisers. The business was integrated with BZW Investment Management to form Barclays Global Investors.
In July 2003, Barclays completed the acquisition of Banco Zaragozano, one of Spain's largest private sector banking groups.
In July 2005, Barclays Bank PLC announced the completion of a landmark deal that saw the company acquire a majority stake of Absa Group Limited. Absa was South Africa’s largest retail bank with over seven million customers.
In 2008 Barclays acquired Lehman Brothers' North American investment banking and capital markets businesses. This acquisition cemented Barclays position for its clients with a leading presence in all major markets and across all major lines of business including equities, credit, fixed income, mergers and acquisitions, commodities trading and foreign exchange.
Today, Barclays has grown from a group of English partnerships to a global bank represented in Europe, the USA, Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, the Middle East and Australasia.
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