The Royal Bank of Australia - a Trading Name With an Enduring Appeal

The "Royal Bank of Australia" is a trading name that has been chosen no less than three times over the past 180 years - twice by legitimate businesses (the second more legitimate than the first), and most recently (September 2017) by a budding "sovereign citizen" who is keen to test the legitimacy of the Australian legal system.

Royal Bank of Australia #1 - Benjamin Boyd’s Private Bank (1842 ~ 1849)

The 19th century entrepreneur Benjamin Boyd has been described as a “swashbuckling entrepreneur” in the same vein as some of the “buccaneers” that followed him 140 years later - Christopher Skase; Alan Bond and Robert Holmes a Court.

Ben Boyd (1801 - 1851) was a British stockbroker who foresaw great profits in the colonies of Australia. He raised £200,000 in funds from a wide range of Scottish investors, bought several steamships (a relatively new technology at that time), and embarked for New South Wales.

Boyd's arrived in NSW with a higher profile than he had at the time of his departure: “The arrival of Benjamin Boyd in Australia marked the beginning of a period of hitherto unknown commercial adventuring his exit, and subsequent mysterious disappearance, occasioned much conjecture, and, incidentally, cost the Government and a section of the business community of Sydney a considerable sum of money.”

Despite its name, the Royal Bank of Australia Episode 1 has been described as "...never having functioned as an ordinary bank, and was probably never meant to. Instead, Boyd himself became the bank’s chief debtor. From the first, he used its funds as if they were his own to invest in New South Wales." A paper published by RBA (the Reserve Bank of Australia) staff on the history of banking in Australia also states that "The bank, formed in 1839, never carried out more than cursory banking operations."

Boyd had decided to invest the funds of the Royal Bank in three industries: steamships, whaling and squatting. Without wanting to steal the thunder of any of the four books written on his life and times, Boyd was spectacularly unsuccessful in each of these areas.

Royal Bank of Australia #2 -  (1888 ~ 1927)

As Benjamin Boyd had died in Guadalcanal in 1851, when the Royal Bank of Australia was restructured in 1888, it was completely free of any link to a buccaneer or swashbuckling of any kind. The second iteration of the Royal Bank of Australia proved to be far more successful than the first as a result - it survived the 1893 banking crisis, and merged with the English, Scottish & Australian Bank in 1927, which is now part of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ).

Royal Bank of Australia #3 -  (2017?)

The trading name "Royal Bank of Australia” proved its enduring appeal yet again when it rose to public notice via a court case in Canberra in September 2017. It appears that a chap from the Northern Territory was charged with stealing more than $3,000 worth of stock from a number of Woolworths supermarkets across Canberra.

John Krieg Ashlee Russell (44) and his accomplices allegedly filled their trolley with groceries, then when at the checkout handed over a "Royal Bank of Australia” voucher as payment, and left with the items.

In the subsequent court hearing, Russell claimed to have come to the ACT to use the vouchers to test the lawfulness of his alternative system, and further that he was not an Australian citizen, and did not recognise the Australian courts.

After completing his shopping rounds, Russell posted the AFP a letter stating he would be visit AFP headquarters, which he did later that week (armed with a "dossier" of information), at which point he was duly arrested.

Whether Mr Russell is linked to this website providing information on the Royal Bank of Australia or this website providing information on the Australian Imperial Crown Corporation is yet to be determined.