Frederick Craufurd Goodenough (1866-1934), was born in Calcutta, son of an East India merchant. Educated at Charterhouse and at Zurich University, he qualified as a solicitor and began an illustrious career with the Hudson’s Bay Company and then joined the Union Bank of London. At the 1896 merger which created Barclay and Company Limited he was recruited as its first company secretary, and rose rapidly to become the first general manager in 1903, a director of the bank in 1913, and finally the successor to Francis Bevan as Chairman. This set a precedent for appointing, on merit, a figure from outside the historic banking families to the chief executive position in the group.
He is credited largely with shaping the modern Barclays, by preserving the inherited private country banking ethos, with its local connections, whilst introducing the systematic methods of joint stock banking. The years 1918 and 1919 saw Goodenough securing the last big acquisitions that gave Barclays truly country-wide coverage, before the Treasury put a block on major bank mergers, the most significant of these being that of the London, Provincial and South Western Bank which by then almost rivalled Barclays in size.
Goodenough’s other main achievement was the creation, in the face of some opposition by the Bank of England, of an overseas subsidiary intended to bring Barclays a direct banking connection with the sterling area. This was Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas), created in 1925 by the acquisition and merger of the Colonial Bank, the Anglo-Egyptian Bank and the National Bank of South Africa. This brought Barclays a direct presence in the then British territories of Africa, the West Indies and the Mediterranean, and formed the basis for most of the bank’s subsequent overseas operations.
Goodenough lived partly ‘above the shop’ in a flat created for the purpose at Kinnaird House, then the prestige West End local head office of Barclays. His country house was near Oxford. For his efforts in assisting the Bodleian Library, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University in 1933. He also founded London House, a hostel for visiting students from the overseas territories.
At the golden jubilee of the 1896 merger, a commentator paid tribute to Goodenough thus: "There has been no more conspicuous figure in our history than he, and to his vision, constructive genius and power was mainly due the creation of Barclays Group and especially the formation of Barclays Bank (DC&O), of which he was first chairman...."