Administrative History

Laws of 1838, Chapter 260, known as the "Free Banking Law," provided that the Secretary of State should issue a charter to a bank which filed articles of association in his office and deposited with the Comptroller securities for the redemption of its circulating notes in case it failed. Subsequently the Secretary of State's duties in respect to banks were assumed by the Superintendent of Banks, an office established by Laws of 1851, Chapter 164. There were already some banks operating under charters granted by acts of the Legislature, most of them under the "Safety Fund" Banking Act of 1829. When these charters expired the banks often applied to the Secretary of State or the Superintendent of Banks for authorization to convert into "free banks" under the act of 1838.

In 1865 an act of Congress established a national banking system and imposed a tax on the notes of state banks. This caused most of the banks in New York to convert to national banks, which they were permitted to do by Laws of 1865, Chapter 97. After the Civil War state banks began to multiply again. Over the years the Banking Department obtained authority to charter other types of banking institutions: savings banks (Laws of 1875, Chap. 371), safe deposit companies (Laws of 1875, Chap. 613), trust companies (Laws of 1887, Chap. 546), cooperative savings and loan associations (including building and lot associations) (Laws of 1892, Chap. 689), personal loan associations (licensed lenders, really incorporated pawn shops) (Laws of 1895, Chap. 326), and mortgage loan and investment companies (Laws of 1896, Chap. 452). Starting in 1914 the department issued certificates authorizing private bankers to continue business (Laws of 1914, Chap. 369).

The authority to liquidate failed banking institutions was originally within the jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery. When that court was abolished in 1847, the equitable jurisdiction of the Court of Chancery to supervise and liquidate banks passed to the Supreme Court, which appointed a receiver to settle the affairs of a failed institution. After 1908 the Superintendent of Banks took possession of failing state chartered banking institutions and appointed special deputy superintendents to carry out the liquidation proceedings. Starting about 1930 a special Liquidation Bureau performed this function, and maintained separate liquidation files (see series 13858). Copies of Supreme Court orders pertaining to bank liquidations are filed in the county clerk's office in the county where the liquidated institution had its principal office.