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A guest post by LH member Sean Gay.
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A Very ‘City’ Problem – Banking

Forgery was one of the most common offences for which people were hanged in the 19th century
One morning early in the 1820s the caricaturist George Cruikshank witnessed two women being publicly hanged outside Newgate prison for passing £1 forged notes, a number of which were in circulation.
He was so appalled at this level of overkill he designed a grim parody of a £1 banknote adorned with a scaffold and a hangman’s rope and signed J.Ketch on behalf of the Bank of England which was the nickname (after Jack Ketch) given to the notorious hangmen of Newgate.

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It was titled as a ‘Bank Restriction Note’ circulated ‘During the issue of Bank Notes easily imitated and until the resumption of Cash Payments or the Abolition of the Punishment of Death’

The parody note was printed and circulated by the radical pamphleteer and bookseller William Hone from his shop in Old Bailey.

This absolutely infuriated the Governors of The Bank who attempted to forestall it but the notes sold as quickly as they were printed and they achieved their aim – never again was anyone hanged for passing forged banknotes.

cruikshank note

The note on display at the Bank of England Museum. Image. M. Paterson.The moral of the story must be never to underestimate the power of black humour !
(source Criminal London – Mark Herber)

Difficult Apprentices

Whilst touring the Livery hall of The Tallow Chandlers recently we were seated in their 17th century formal Court Room.

courtroom tch

The Court Room, Tallow Chandlers’ Hall.

Apparently their apprentices who had misbehaved (drunkenness, theft, foul language, laziness) from time to time presented themselves in the Court room to receive corporal punishment which whilst unpleasant and painful was a better option that losing one’s apprenticeship and finding oneself out on the streets with no references for another job.

The punishment was administered by a member of The Court who wore a mask during the proceedings to hide his identity – has the overtones of a Venetian S&M party!

Given that many apprentices were rumbustious young men this must have been fairly common practice amongst Livery companies over the centuries when their trades were active and their members had their own apprentices.

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