FNB can trace its origins back to the Eastern Province Bank, which was formed in Grahamstown, South Africa in 1838. By 1874, the bank had four 4 branches - Grahamstown, Middelburg, Cradock and Queenstown.
Due to a recession, the bank was bought out in 1874 by the Oriental Bank Corporation (OBC). However, as a result of financial difficulties being experienced in India, the OBC decided to withdraw from South Africa. The Bank of Africa was subsequently formed in 1879 to take over OBC's business in South Africa.