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From Chambers' Journal. ROBBING THE BANK OF ENGLAND.
that Vaughan had endeavored to induce one John Ballingar to cash some of them. The defence therefore failed, and Vaughan was hanged.
The imitation of the bank-note at that date was a much easier matter than it is at present, the note itself being a very rough affair and only partly engraved; the amount, the name of the payee, and the signature of the cashier being supplied in writing. Vaughan's appears to have been an extremely clumsy imitation, not even an attempt being made to imitate the water-mark, which is one of the special signs of a genuine note. Unfortunately, the feasibility of imitation once shown, there were plenty to follow and to improve upon his example. There was, however, no attempt at bank-note forgery on a large scale until the year 1780, when a note was one day presented at the Bank, and was cashed in ordinary course. The paper, the watermark, the engraving, and the signatures, all were in perfect order. Indeed, so complete was the deception, that it was only when the note was about to be posted to the ledger appropriate to returned notes of that particular date, that it was found to be a duplicate of a note already returned, and consequently a forgery.
It is somewhat remarkable, that until 1758 a period of sixty-five years from the foundation of the Bank - no attempt was made to imitate its notes; in other words, bank-note forgery was as yet uninvented. The doubtful honor of having led the way in this particular belongs to one Richard William Vaughan. There is an element of romance about his story, In August, 1757, a gentleman named Bliss, residing in London, advertised for a clerk. Among others, Vaughan, then aged twenty-six, offered himself, and was accepted. He was of good address and education, though he had made but an indifferent use of his advantages. He had started as a linen-draper in Stafford, with a branch establishment in Aldersgate Street, London; but had failed, and at the time of his engagement by Mr. Bliss, was an uncertificated bankrupt. This, however, his employer was not at first made aware of; and in the mean time, the young adventurer succeeded in winning the affections of a niece of Mr. Bliss, a young lady of some expectations. Mr. Bliss was induced, after some pressure, to consent to their marriage, conditionally upon Vaughan's first clearing himself from his difficulties and showing that he was in It may be here explained that all notes a position to marry. Vaughan expressed of any given date are always of the same himself confident of speedily meeting denomination, and that each issue conthese requirements; and shortly after-sists of one hundred thousand notes, numwards announced that his relatives had agreed to lend him a helping hand; that his discharge from bankruptcy would be forthwith granted; and that immediately afterwards he would start afresh in busi
bered from one (written o0o001) upwards. Thus, before us is a five-pound note bearing date the 30th of June, 1884. Any one conversant with the system on which the notes of the Bank of England are issued would know at once that no genuine note Meanwhile, in support of his assertions, of any other denomination (that is, of any he showed his lady-love, and indeed placed amount other than five pounds) can bear in her keeping, twelve alleged Bank of that particular date, and that of that date England notes for twenty pounds each. there have been one hundred thousand The wedding day was fixed for Easter notes printed, each for five pounds. To Monday (1758), some three weeks later. keep account of these, a ledger lettered In the mean time, however, an engraver, on the back to correspond with the parwhom Vaughan, under an assumed name, ticular series (say, "Fives, 30 June 1884") had commissioned to engrave part of the is prepared, ruled with horizontal and verplates for the notes, suspecting something tical lines, so as to form on each page two wrong, gave information to the police. hundred rectangular spaces. These are Vaughan was arrested, and spent his in-numbered consecutively throughout the tended wedding day in the "condemned cell," under sentence of death for forgery. At the trial, it was urged in his defence that the forged notes were not intended to be put in circulation, but merely to be used as a means of deluding Miss Bliss and her family. It was shown, however, that the twelve notes deposited formed only a part of those actually printed, and
book from one to one hundred thousand. As each note is returned to the Bank, the date of its return is entered in the corresponding space in this ledger. A forger, manufacturing, say, five-pound notes, will take care to use a date when a series of five-pound notes was actually issued; and will further take care that the number shall be one between one and one hundred
thousand, or the imitation would be at once detected by any skilled person. As suming that the note is so well executed as to pass the cashiers, it is sure to be discovered when it reaches the "Returned Note" department, if the true note bearing the same number has already been presented at the Bank, as it would then be seen that there were duplicate notes of that particular number.
Such was the case with the note in question. The attention of the cashiers once called to the matter, it would have been thought that either the presentation of the forged notes would cease, or that the detection of the forger would be an easy matter. But it was not so. Similar notes continued to be presented; but the identity of the forger remained a mystery. Lotteries were in vogue at that day, and the notes were generally traced to one or other of the lottery offices; but there the clue failed. At last, however, a note being traced to one of these offices, the keepers reported that they had received it from a young man named Samuel, living in a street off the Strand. The police went to the address given, and found the young man, who admitted changing the note at the lottery office as alleged, but declared that he had merely done so by order of his master. He stated that having seen in the Daily Advertiser an advertisement for a servant, he applied for the situation, addressing his reply, as directed, to a certain coffee-house; and that, a day or two later, he was called out from his lodgings, to see the advertiser, who was waiting in a coach outside. He found in the coach an aged gentleman, with a patch over one eye, and with one foot swathed in bandages, as if from gout. The old gentleman informed him that his name was Brank; that he required a servant for a ward of his, a young nobleman, just then absent from town; and after a few preliminaries, made an appointment for Samuel to call upon him at his lodgings in Great Titchfield Street. He did so; when the soi-disant Brank informed him that his ward had an unfortunate mania for specu lating in lotteries, and that one of Samuel's chief occupations would be purchasing tickets for this purpose. By way of beginning, Brank handed him a note for twenty pounds, with instructions to purchase an eight-pound chance in the draw ing then commencing, and to meet him with the ticket at the door of the Parliament Street Coffee-house. This done, he gave him two more notes, to be used in the
same way, telling him to meet him afterwards at the City Coffee-house, Cheapside. On his way thither, he was hailed from a coach by his venerable employer and intrusted with four hundred pounds more, to be expended in like manner at different offices; and at the end of the day, notes to the amount of fourteen hundred pounds had been thus placed in circulation. The next day, notes for twelve hundred pounds were got rid of in like manner; and the day following, five hundred more. In ne gotiating this last parcel of notes, Samuel was asked to write down his name and address; and this led, as we have seen, to his arrest.
The police being satisfied that Samuel spoke the truth, left him in his lodgings, instructing him to report to them when he next heard from his mysterious employer. A day or two later, he received a letter, requesting him to meet Mr. Brank at a certain coffee-house at eleven o'clock the next day. He went to the coffee-house indicated, two officers in disguise closely following him. He was a few minutes late, and was told that a porter had been inquiring for him. He waited at the coffee house for some time; but in vain. The mysterious Brank had somehow taken the alarm. A raid was made upon the lodgings in Great Titchfield Street; but the supposed Brank had not been there for some days. Rewards were offered for his apprehension, and his description — in the "patch" disguise - circulated in the public prints; but in vain.
For five years paper forged by the same hand continued to be presented, and the Bank authorities were at their wits' end, when, fortunately for them, the ingenious forger hit on a new form of fraud, which led to his capture. A custom at that time prevailed at the Bank of England, that when a person paid in gold to be exchanged for notes, he did not in the first instance receive the notes themselves, but only a ticket showing the amount, which was exchanged at another counter for the notes. "On the 17th of December" (1785), it is stated in a newspaper of the day," ten pounds was paid into the Bank, for which the clerk, as usual, gave a ticket to receive a bank-note of equal value. This ticket ought to have been carried immediately to the cashier; instead of which, the bearer took it home, added a o to the original sum, and returning, presented it so altered to the cashier, for which he received a note of one hundred pounds. In the evening, the clerks found
The numbers of the notes issued had, in usual course, been taken down, and it may be imagined that their return was watched for with much interest. At last one of them was presented, and was traced to a highly respectable silversmith. He was interrogated, and stated that he received the note from a gentleman who gave frequent entertainments on a grand scale, and was in the habit of hiring plate in large quantities of him for that purpose. A police officer was stationed in the house; and at his next visit the hospitable customer was arrested, and was found to be the forger who had so long baffled all attempts to discover him.
a deficiency in the accounts; and on ex-ison, originally a watchmaker at Gretna amining the tickets of the day, not only Green. Having acquired, as a recreation, that, but two others were found to have the art of engraving, he developed unusual been altered in the same manner. In the skill therein. He had also an extraordione, the figure I was altered to 4, and nary facility for imitating handwriting. in another to 5, by which the artist re- These accomplishments he employed in ceived upon the whole near one thousand imitating, first, the notes of the Darlingpounds." ton Bank, then those of the Royal Bank of Edinburgh; and finally, coming to London, he began upon the notes of the Bank of England. As a proof of his extraordinary energy, we may mention that within ten days of his arrival in London, he had begun to utter forged notes, having in the mean time bought the copper, engraved the plates, forged the watermark, and printed the notes. He paid frequent visits to the bank, exchanging gold for notes, or notes of one denomination for another, to serve as models for his fraudulent imitations. On one of these occasions a large sum of money was being paid in by the excise. A question was raised by the teller as to the goodness of one of the notes. Mathison, standing by, pronounced, without hesitation, that it was a good one, which proved to be the case. So remarkable a display of knowledge on the part of an outsider called attention to the volunteer expert. The clerk remembered Mathison as a frequent changer of notes; and this incident led to his apprehension and subsequent conviction. He offered, if his life were spared, to reveal the secret of his process for imitating the watermark; but the offer was not accepted, and he suffered the usual penalty for his offence.
This man, Charles Price, the son of a slopseller in St. Giles', had in his time "played may parts." He first appears as a runaway apprentice; then as a gentleman's servant, in which capacity he travelled all over Europe, and doubtless picked up much useful information. He then started as a brewer, became bankrupt; then a distiller, and was sent to the King's Bench prison for defrauding the revenue. He then turned brewer again; then lottery-office keeper; then stockbroker; again became bankrupt; and then opened another lottery office, this, his last public venture, being in King Street, Covent In the year 1797, in consequence of a Garden. From this date (1780) he disap- scarcity of gold, the Bank of England was pears from public life, preferring thence- for the first time authorized to issue oneforth to blush unseen," and to devote pound notes, and this led to an enormous his whole energies to his lucrative warfare increase in the number of forgeries. Duragainst the money bags of the Bank of ing six years prior to this date there had England. His only assistants were his been but one capital conviction for forgery. wife and a Mrs. Pounteney, a relative of During the four years next following this his wife, in whose house he executed the issue of the one-pound note there were mechanical part of his forgeries, and who eighty-five. This was doubtless attribu acted as a spy to watch the person em- table to the increased number of notes in ployed to utter the notes, that Price might circulation, the freedom with which they be warned in time of any hitch in the pro- passed from hand to hand, the length of ceedings. When Price was taken, he time during which they circulated without made a full confession. It appeared that presentation, and the fact that, unlike the during the five years 1780-1785, he had five-pound notes, their circulation was not passed under no less than fifty different confined to the well-to-do and educated names, and nearly as many different dis- classes, but was in a great degree among guises. Now, however, the game was up, poor and ignorant persons, who were not and Price felt that it was so. Before the likely to detect a spurious imitation. In date at which he should have been brought 1808, the police unearthed, at Birming to trial, he hanged himself in his cell. ham, a regular factory of these notes, Another eminent forger was John Math- | whence they were issued wholesale at six
shillings in the pound on their nominal value. The forgers, thirteen in number, were arrested; and notes to the amount of ten thousand pounds were seized on the premises.
picion, and the document was acted on in ordinary course. From this date up to 1824, the presentation of such powers by Messrs. Marsh & Co. became a matter of frequent occurrence, and very large sums were thus obtained. At last a crash came. Henry Fauntleroy was joint trustee with some other gentlemen of certain moneys
In the mean time, a fraud of even greater magnitude had been perpetrated within the bank itself by one of its most trusted servants. In 1803, a Mr. Bish, a stock-invested in the three per cents. One of broker, was instructed by Mr. Robert Astlett, cashier of the Bank of England, to dispose of some exchequer bills, which, from certain circumstances, Bish knew to be in the official custody of the bank. His suspicions being thus aroused, he communicated with the directors; and it was found that Astlett, who had charge of all exchequer bills brought into the bank, and should have transferred them, in parcels properly docketed, to the custody of the directors, had succeeded in diverting a large number of them to his own uses, his defalcations amounting to no less than three hundred and twenty thousand pounds. Astlett was tried for his offence, and was sentenced to death; but the sentence was never carried into effect. The prisoner remained in Newgate for many years; but whether he died in prison, we do not find recorded.
Passing over the great Stock Exchange frauds of 1814, as a matter in which the bank was only indirectly interested, we come to the forgeries of Fauntleroy, which, from their magnitude and the position of the offender, produced an extraordinary sensation. Henry Fauntleroy had succeeded his father as a partner in the banking firm of Marsh, Stracy & Co. The firm was unfortunate; and Fauntleroy speculated largely on the Stock Exchange in the hope of improving its fortunes, but actually involved himself thereby in still greater difficulties. To meet these, he forged powers of attorney enabling him to deal with funded securities belonging to various clients, from time to time replacing one fund by the proceeds of a later forgery. He began in May, 1815, with a power of attorney empowering Messrs. Marsh & Co. to sell out a sum of three thousand pounds consols. It is an every day occurrence for clients to give such powers to their bankers, and the one in question appeared to be in perfect or der. It purported to be executed by the fundholder, one Frances Young, of Chichester, and to be attested by two of the clerks of Messrs. Marsh & Co. The power was presented at the Bank of England. There was nothing to excite sus
the trustees chancing to call at the bank to make some inquiry respecting the trust fund, found, to his horror, that it had been sold out, under an alleged power of attorney, by Mr. Fauntleroy. In consequence of his communication to the bank authorities, the whole of the powers acted upon by Marsh & Co. were investigated, and a great part of them were found to be forged. On the 9th of September, 1824, Fauntle roy was arrested in his own banking-house. He offered the officer who arrested him ten thousand pounds if he would connive at his escape; but in vain. On searching his private office, a box was found containing a long list of forgeries, with a memorandum in the following words: "In order to keep up the credit of our house, I have forged powers of attorney, and have therefore sold out all these sums, without the knowledge of any of my partners. I have given credit in the accounts for the interest when it became due. (Signed) HENRY FAUNTLEROY." It is said that at the moment of his apprehension he had ready a fresh power of attorney, by means of which he would have been enabled to replace the stock whose absence led to the discovery. The amount of loss to the Bank of England by Fauntleroy's forgeries is said to have been no less than three hundred and sixty thousand pounds. He was executed at Newgate on November 30, 1824.
For some years after this date, forgery continued to be a capital offence; but there was a growing feeling against the severity of the punishment. In 1832 a bill was passed abolishing the capital penalty in the case of all forgeries save those of wills and powers of attorney; and in 1837 these also ceased to be capital offences.
In 1844, a very ingenious fraud was perpetrated, with the curious result of restoring to the rightful owner a large sum of money of whose very existence she was not aware. In the year 1815, a Mr. Slack died, leaving a Mr. Hulme his executor. Mr. Hulme, in the course of his duties as such, transferred into the name of Ann Slack, of Smith Street, Chelsea, six thou
The last great fraud by which the Bank of England has been a sufferer was that of Austin Bidwell and his accomplices. On the 18th of April, 1872, Austin Bidwell called upon a tailor named Green, in Savile Row, and under the assumed name of Warren, gave him a handsome order. On May 4, he paid Mr. Green another visit. He was then professedly on his way to Ireland, and having about him a large sum of money, asked Green to take charge of it during his absence. Green hesitated to take the responsibility, but remarked that the branch Bank of England was in Burlington Gardens close by, and offered to introduce Warren there. This was done; and Warren opened an account by a deposit of twelve hundred pounds. He gave his name as "Frederick Albert Warren," and his address as Golden Cross Hotel. He paid in and drew out moneys to a considerable amount, and shortly began to offer bills for discount. They bore the best of names, and were discounted without hesitation. On the 17th of June, 1873, a bill of Rothschild's for four thousand five hundred pounds was offered, and was discounted in due course.
sand six hundred pounds consols, and three thousand five hundred pounds three per cent. reduced annuities. During Mr. Hulme's lifetime, he received the dividends on both funds, and Miss Slack drew on him for money as she needed it. Upon his death in 1832, Miss Slack resolved thenceforth to receive her dividends herself, but only did so as regarded the six thousand six hundred pounds consols, not being aware, apparently, that she was also entitled to the three thousand five hundred pounds. This state of things continued from 1832 to 1842, when the three thousand five hundred pounds reduced annuities, with ten years' dividends, were transferred, as unclaimed, to the commissioners for the reduction of the national debt. The fact of the transfer being known to a clerk in the bank, one William Christmas, he communicated it to one Joshua Fletcher, who forthwith concocted a scheme for possessing himself of the amount. With the aid of a solicitor named Barber, he ascertained that Ann Slack was still alive, and managed to obtain a specimen of her signature. He then registered Ann Slack as deceased, first, how ever, forging a will in her name purporting to bequeath the sum in question to a sup posed niece, Emma Slack. This will was duly proved, and the probate lodged at the Bank of England. A woman named Sanders personated the supposed Emma Slack, The three thousand five hundred pounds was sold out, and the proceeds paid to her, together with the unclaimed dividends, amounting to about eleven hundred pounds. The conspirators had car-count without suspicion. Naturally, howried their plan through very cleverly; but ever, it paid in its own notes, of which the they had overlooked one point. The will numbers were recorded, and which, when only professed to bequeath the reduced it was discovered that the bills were annuities, and consequently these only forged, would be difficult to realize. Bidhad been dealt with; but as the bank au- well, in order to dispose of these and to thorities knew that Ann Slack had also diminish the chances of identification, possessed a fund in consols, they, in ac- opened an account in another name (Horcordance with their usual practice, placed ton) at the Continental Bank. Here he "deceased" against her name in the title paid in the notes received from the Bank of that account. When an account is of England, taking French and German "dead" — that is, stands in the name of money in exchange; Hills-under the a deceased person no addition can be name of Noyes-acting as his clerk. made to it. Ann Slack, shortly afterwards, Sometimes, by way of variety, Hills desiring to add more stock to this account, changed notes into gold at the Bank of was informed, to her astonishment, that England itself, alleging that the coin was she was dead. To prove that she was not for export; but the gold so obtained was so, she presented herself at the bank with brought back again by Macdonnell, and ample proof of her identity. Fletcher and exchanged for fresh notes, which, thus Barber were tried, and found guilty. The obtained, would have no obvious connecmoney was gone; but Ann Slack notwith-tion with the original fraud. George Bidstanding received her full due, the loss being borne by the government.
Having thus gained, by transactions in genuine bills, the confidence of the Bank authorities, the supposed Warren commenced operations of another kind. Bills came in thick and fast for discount, still bearing the same first-class names — Rothschild, Blydenstein, Suse and Sibeth, etc.; but they were now cleverly executed forgeries. The Bank continued to dis
weil undertook what may be called the manufacturing department, namely, the