“Coutts was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on 10 March 1733. He was the third son of Jean Steuart and John Coutts, the former Lord Provost of Edinburgh. Among his siblings were Patrick Coutts; John Coutts; Thomas Coutts and Steuart Coutts, and one sister, Margaret Coutts.
His maternal grandfather was Sir John Steuart, 2nd Baronet of Allanbank (son of Sir Robert Steuart, 1st Baronet and Jean Gilmour, a daughter of Sir John Gilmour). His great-uncle was Archibald Stewart, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.
Coutts was educated at the Royal High School, Edinburgh.
On his marriage, Coutts was taken into partnership by his wife’s uncle, George Campbell, head of the Whig bank in the Strand who counted John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute as a customer. Upon Campbell’s death in 1761, James took his brother Thomas into partnership with him. Lord Bute, as privy purse to George III, placed the royal account at Coutts’ bank. In 1762, Coutts received an allotment of £76,000.
On 27 February 1762 by-election, as a supporter of Lord Bute (who became Prime Minister of Great Britain in May 1762), Coutts was elected to replace George Lind as the Scottish representative for Edinburgh in the Parliament of Great Britain. Coutts supported the Grenville Administration, Bute’s successor, on Wilkes and general warrants. On 19 March 1764, when speaking on a motion to regulate Scottish banks, his language in the House was sometimes “strange and incoherent”. In response, his friends sent him an anonymous letter, a draft of which is preserved in the papers of Caleb Whitefoord.
“I am going to offer you my advice on a delicate point, I mean speaking in the House … It was with great concern that I saw you rise up to speak several times during the last session—the first time you spoke it was in some degree necessary—Would to Heaven you had stopped there, for indeed my dear Sir you are by no means qualified for speaking … If you regard your own peace and quiet, if you regard your political interest, if you regard the opinion of many eminent and worthy persons you will give up all thought of speaking in the House … The fair character you bore with everybody and your very becoming deportment in business and in every other situation of life made me feel the most sensible concern to see you appear so unlike yourself.”
“After the letter, Coutts continued to attend the House and its committees, but there is no record of any further speech by him.”
In 1768, he was succeeded by the Whig member Sir Lawrence Dundas.
In 1774, on the expiration of their 12 years partnership agreement, his brother Thomas took steps to protect the bank’s credit from James’ perceived “irresponsible actions.” Lord Bute, Stuart Mackenzie, Sir John Pringle and family friends signed a declaration that James was “an improper person to be connected with such a business” and he was forced to accept a financial settlement which he bitterly protested. In June 1775, however, he was forced to cut ties with the bank.
Coutts went abroad in July 1775 and, again, in November 1776. Between 1777 and 1778, he became so violent in Turin that he was kept under military guard. His keepers sent home aboard a ship but he died, while in confinement, at Gibraltar on 15 February 1778.
In April 1755 Coutts was married to heiress Mary “Polly” Peagrum at St George’s Hanover Square Church in London. Polly, a daughter of Elizabeth (née Campbell) Peagrum and John Peagrum of Elmstead, was the niece and heiress of London banker George Campbell. She was also the niece of John Campbell, 1st Earl of Breadalbane and Holland, the granddaughter Sir John Campbell of Glen Orchy and the great-granddaughter of William Graham, 1st Earl of Airth. Together, they were the parents of Frances Coutts (d. 1809), who married Sir John Steuart of Allanbank, 4th Baronet (1754–1817).
Through his only child Frances, he was a grandfather of Sir John James Stuart, 5th Baronet of Allanbank, who married twice, but had no children by either marriage, therefore, the baronetcy ended with his death in 1849.”
On 1st March this year, Kalyeena Makortoff reported for The Guardian:
“Workers at Coutts, the private banking division of NatWest, are used to booking lavish parties and vacations for their millionaire clients.
But once Covid struck, the Queen’s bank quickly became an upmarket emergency service, with staff in its concierge arm helping to repatriate clients’ children stuck abroad on gap years and arranging emergency evacuations for customers stranded overseas.
Since 2008 Coutts, which has served the Queen and every member of the royal family since George IV, has inhabited the strange role of serving the nation’s wealthiest households while also being 62% state owned after the rescue of NatWest.
As such, it has drawn the line at private medical care, leaving clients to book their own tests, jabs or GP checks. But at the start of the outbreak, Coutts staff were on call around the clock until clients were home safe and sound…
…While the bank does not confirm the names of its clients, British rapper Stormzy is believed to be among them, while Harry Potter star Emma Watson is known to have signed up for a Coutts course shortly after learning about the size of her wealth.
(Peter) Flavel said junior bankers have had to coach some of Coutts’ more experienced wealth managers on social media and digital trends that are behind new clients’ wealth. “The good thing is that our younger staff don’t need to be trained in these things because they’re of the same generation,” Flavel says. “It’s the more mature bankers that needed to be reverse mentored by the younger ones as to what this means. So it’s a good partnership,” he adds.
“So really it’s about making sure we’re relevant to a new style of doing business.” “