Banking, Henry Fauntleroy
Henry Fauntleroy (1785-1824), banker and forger. His father in 1782 was one of the founding members of the banking house of Marsh, Sibbald and Co. of Berners Street. His young son entered the business aged 15 and became a partner on the death of his father in 1807. The young Fauntleroy was said to be extremely knowledgeable and very soon the running of the bank was left in his hands.
He was arrested on September 11th 1824 and three days later the bank announced in the press its foreclosure with a suspension of payments “due to the extraordinary conduct of one of our partners, Mr Fauntleroy”. When the whole story came out it appeared that he had been forging signatures for a ten year period. During this time he had continued to pay the bank’s dividends to its shareholders whilst at the same time selling off the stock of anything up to £46,000 at a time. Not surprisingly, the press had a field day with this story, with the newspapers competing for more and more lurid accounts of his life. The alleged story circulated that he had appropriated trust funds to the value of a quarter of a million pounds which he had spent on establishing various mistresses in town and country and also on gambling. When the case came before the Old Bailey on 30th October, the prosecution based its attack on a case whereby he had forged the signature of his sister-in-law to transfer £5,480. The prosecution also found the receipt book in his name, listing all the fraudulent deals that he had carried out. In his defence, Fauntleroy claimed that he had only acted in this manner to save the bank at a time of instability. He also rejected claims of loose living and any ill treatment of his wife.
Fauntleroy was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Newgate on 30th November before a crowd of some 100,000 people. Presumably these coins were engraved to be sold at the event. A number of these coins with certain varieties are known to exist, all clearly engraved by the same hand. An erroneous story circulated at the time that he had evaded strangulation by inserting a silver tube in his throat and after being cut down from the gallows had fled abroad.
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