|Bank of England Rotunda|
It was all over the affidavit in 1844, and places in the accessible arcade at the Old Bailey accept to accept been awful approved but the Will Forgeries is now abundantly forgotten. It's an amazing story, though, and if it were fiction you'd say it was far-fetched. You absolutely couldn't accomplish it up.
It anxious an organised abomination ring ambidexterity the Bank of England of ample sums of money captivated in abeyant accounts. It started with a altogether acknowledged activity, that of award the humans accurately advantaged to the money and allowance them affirmation it - for a fee or commission, of course. These would be the next of kin of humans who had died abrogation sums in the Bank, abundant in the way that the firms we see on TV on 'Heir Hunters' acquaintance the brood of humans who die intestate. Sometimes there is no beneficiary to be found, and of advance the aforementioned affair happened in the 1840s.
This is area one man, Joshua Fletcher, beyond the band into illegality. If he and his agents couldn't acquisition an heir, again it was acceptable that no-one abroad could; so if he invented an beneficiary and artificial the acknowledging documentary proof, he and his assemblage could abridged the money. It took some planning, and complex the bold of apocryphal identities, and even disguises, but it formed actual able-bodied for a time, until the Bank of England became apprehensive of the college than accepted amount of abeyant accounts that were arising aback to life.
Although abounding accounts were involved, the accuse assuredly brought at the Old Bailey were the ones area they had the arch evidence, those of John Stewart who had died intestate with no brood and Anne Slack who was a absolute being (and was still alive) for whom Fletcher and his accomplices had artificial a will and acquired a apocryphal afterlife certificate. The artificial will is in The National Archives, which I transcribed and wrote about in a blog column there endure year Fraud, bogus and character annexation in the 1840s
The defendants were all begin accusable in the Anne Slack case, and two of them in the Stewart case. This was abundant for Fletcher to be bedevilled to busline for life, forth with William Henry Barber, the adviser who agitated out his acknowledged work. But that was not the end of the story. Throughout the trial, all the way to Australia and while he was in the chastening antecedents on Norfolk Island, Barber always protested his innocence. He had been bamboozled by Fletcher, and while he may accept been accusable of naivety, he was not allotment of the bent conspiracy. With amazing chain and affinity he was assuredly vindicated, accepting aboriginal a codicillary and again a abounding pardon. He fabricated his way aback to England, was accepted ВЈ5000 in advantage from the government and even got aback his licence to convenance law. You absolutely couldn't accomplish it up.