Attempted fraud at the penny bank, 1884

Penny banks were philanthropic organisations intended to help working people save. It's not clear if the one in Winslow was part of the National Penny Bank (1859-1914) or a local initiative.

Fanny Holt was aged 20. The family were living in Bell Alley in 1881.

Buckingham Express, 21 June

At a Special Petty Sessions on Friday, June 13th, before E. W. S. Lowndes and G. R. Greaves Esqrs. Fanny Holt of Winslow, single woman, was charged with endeavouring to obtain money from the Winslow Penny Bank, by means of forged entries in the deposit book.

  The Rev. H. A. Douglas-Hamilton, Vicar, stated that he was treasurer of the Winslow penny bank- Alfred Holt brother of the prisoner had an account with the bank, and his book  was numbered 61, there was an entry in the book of 2s. 3d. on February 25th, but according to his Ledger 3d. only was paid in on that day – and on the 31st of March there was another entry of 3s. 8d. being paid in, but his ledger only showed a payment of 8d. on that day.

  Miss Margaret Beatrice Dockray, Trustee and Secretary of the penny bank, gave evidence that on the 25th of Feb. she attended the Yeates’ School and received 3d. on Alfred Holt’s account, and that on the 31st March she also received 8d. – the entries of the 2s. and 3s. in the shillings column was not in her handwriting.  On the evening of the 3rd of June the book was brought up to her house to withdraw the money, on the 5th of June witness called at prisoners house and told her she could have the money if she came to the bank between 12 and 1 on the 9th of June.  At that time witness had not compared the deposit book with her cash book and ledger.  Prisoner did not come to the bank on the 9th of June but came to witnesses house in the afternoon for the money.  Witness sent a message to the prisoner by the servant stating that Mr. Hamilton had the books and she must apply to him.

  Alfred Holt, grocers’ porter gave evidence that the prisoner was his sister, and that different times he gave her the sums of 2s., 2s. 6d., and 3s. 8d. to put into the bank.  In cross examination by the prisoner he said he forgot whether he gave her 3s. 8d. altogether or 3s. and then 8d.

  Sergeant Bowden deposed: that on the 11th if June he apprehended the prisoner when she said she knew nothing about it, she only went to Miss Dockray’s for the money and did not know the figures had been altered.  After she had been in the cells two hours she said ‘I know the figures were in the book, my little sister Norah put them in on Whit Monday’ witness told her he did not ask her to say anything.  She said ‘I’ll tell no more lies about it, I put the figures in myself on Whit Monday, Alf gave me 3s. to put into the bank, I only sent 8d.  My mother knows nothing about it.  I went to Miss Dockray’s on last Monday and asked for Alf’s money.’

  Prisoner who said I am very sorry for what I have done, and hope Mr. Hamilton and Miss Dockray will forgive me’ was committed for trial.

  The charge against Emma Holt mother of prisoner was withdrawn.

Bucks Herald, 5 July: Bucks Assizes

  Frances Holt, 21, was charged with forging and altering a certain Winslow Penny Bank Depositor’s Book, the property of the Rev. H. A. Douglas-Hamilton, at Winslow, on the 2nd June, 1884; and with endeavouring, on the 9th June, to receive the sum of 5s., the monies of the said H. A. Douglas-Hamilton, by means of a certain forged instrument, to wit, the said Winslow Penny Bank Depositor’s Book, she then knowing the said instrument to be forged.

  Prisoner pleaded guilty.

  Mr. Bullock, who prosecuted, said the promotor of the Bank, the Rev. H. A. Douglas-Hamilton, desired to recommend the prisoner to mercy.  It appeared that there was a book in which items of money received were entered by the young lady who kept the Penny Bank.  The prisoner was entrusted by her brother to deposit the sum of 3s. 8d. for him, and she only paid in 8d., keeping the balance, and subsequently adding the figure 3 in the shillings column herself.  She did this twice and afterwards attempted to obtain the money by the process of withdrawal.  It seemed, however, as if she was scarcely aware of the serious nature of the crime she was committing.

  His Lordship said he thought he should like to take time to read the depositions.

  The prisoner made a piteous appeal to have the matter settled at once, and expressed her deep sorrow for what she had done.

  His Lordship said he was asked to deal summarily with a case, of the merits of which he knew nothing.  Sometimes forgery was one of the most serious offences, and in other instances it amounted to a mere nothing.  It was a very anxious case to have to deal with a crime which might be of a great magnitude or most trumpery.

  The Rev. H. A. Douglas-Hamilton said he had been acquainted with the prisoner since he came into the parish.  The mother lived in the same house, and got their living by charing.  The brother was employed as an errand boy by a grocer in the town.

  His Lordship said, judging from the entries in the deposit book, he seemed to be a saving lad.

  Mr. Bullock said he thought it was a trumpery case, and explained several salient points to his Lordship.

  His Lordship after another passionate appeal from the prisoner, said he was very sorry for her indeed.  She had pleaded guilty to a charge of forgery, and that was a crime ranging from the highest to the lowest degrees.  In some cases it was a  heinous and in others – as Mr. Bullock had said – of a trumpery nature, for it was sometimes committed in order to obtain a trifling sum of money, which seemed to be the fact in this case.  However sorry he might be for the prisoner, she should have thought of her friends and her position before she committed this act, and persons who yielded to such temptation must be punished, or what would become of those who resisted temptation?  The most lenient sentence he could pass would be one of three months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

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Copyright 21 February, 2021