An inside job

William Edwards probably felt guilty when he sent his former employer a number of bills of exchange from his Brighton address by the Two-Penny Post. It was, however, a calamitous decision on his part.

A few days previously the London agent of Haddon & Sons, an Aberdeen based company who had warehouse premises in Bow Churchyard Lane, discovered that his small safe had been opened and emptied. More than £30 worth of gold and silver was missing along with bills amounting to over £1,000.

The spotlight fell on Edwards who had disappeared. He had known about the money and had been let into the building on the night of the theft by Ann Neal, the company’s housekeeper. Edwards claimed that the ‘gentlemen’ had forgotten a package and he needed access to the counting house to collect it. Knowing his face Ann trusted his word.

The case was sent to the Old Bailey where Edwards pleaded his innocence and said he had left the employee of Haddon & Sons a week earlier. It was a pathetic attempt to escape justice and the jury saw right through it. Had he not had the decency to return the cheques (which were useless to him anyway) he might have escaped with his cash. But his employer recognised his handwriting on the envelope which sealed his fate.

He was transported to Australia for life.

           [From The Morning Chronicle , Saturday, May 6, 1837]

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