The Well-Behaved Embezzler

Eight years separated Henry SPINK and his wife Martha DOUGHTY but a few months after he reached his allotted span in 1858 Henry died. Martha followed suit in 1867.Mid-way between their passings, in December 1863, daughter Sarah Doughty died in London. She is remembered on her parents’ stone but was buried in South Hackney, London.


Sarah left six children, aged five up to 20, and a husband in Wakefield Jail. Convicted of embezzlement in April that year, he was transferred to Portland in the summer of 1864.

Sentences for embezzlement in Victorian Britain varied from less than a year with hard labour to 7 years or more – with transportation.

John Hendry NORTH was sentenced to 5 years penal servitude and because of the rocky nature of Portland, I expect there was a hard labour component. His quarterly reports indicate that his behavior as a prisoner ranged from Very Good to Exemplary, which may account for him marrying Frances Ann Elizabeth SHAILER almost a year before he was due for release.

His sentence may initially have been a stiff one because he stole a lot of boodle. He had worked for the Hull Banking Company for 20 years, “had always borne a good character” and confessed to the crime the moment he was challenged about “the deficiency”. He wrote the following memorandum to his employers:-

Sir, With great regret and sorrow, I beg to inform you that my cash account as assistant cashier to the Hull Banking Company is deficient to the extent of £3163 15s. 2d., which sums I have at various times surreptitiously extracted from the company’s cash drawer, which is under my charge and control, and applied to my own purposes, – Yours, &c., J. H. NORTH.

The purposes specified were “the education of his children, the support of his family, and to meet losses by railway speculations”. The sum taken is today worth from about £260,000 (real price of commodities) to £2.4 million (income value).

I wonder if Sarah or her parents had any suspicions. Martha’s death was registered in the same quarter as John Hendry North’s marriage to a woman 23 years his junior. I hope the old lady was unaware of his liaison, 250 miles or so away in the Great Wen.

In 1871 John’s occupation was given as “Verger of St Paul’s Church, Old Brentford”. Ten years later he declared himself a “Retired Banker’s Clerk”. Frances rose a little from Milliner and Dress Maker to Dress and Mantle Maker, giving board to two dressmakers, who were perhaps her employees.

John and Frances had two children, Arthur Guildford and Ethel. The few records I have accessed so far give no indication that the children from his first marriage played a part in his life after release from prison.

John had a presence on FST already. I have added his second wife and a few sources but there are quite a few duplicate IDs to merge.

Today at Speakers’ Corner

Tommy Robinson hasn’t made the BBC News web pages yet but amidst a certain amount of chaotic pushing, shoving and shouting he managed to read Martin  Sellner’s speech, as he had promised to do. As far as I could tell from the rough video footage available (as I write), nobody was hurt, and nobody was arrested. A hard-won victory for Free Speech then. Thanks be to God, Allah, the British police, the government – and all the people who turned up to listen and support ‘oor Tommy’.

Meanwhile, the BBC is informing its viewers/readers that the Russians are stockpiling chemical weapons in Syria. Boris Johnson says so. Chemical weapons will be deployed in Gouta soon, I expect. Russia and Assad will get the blame but the perpetrators will, more than likely, be the terrorists that the Syrian government is trying to remove from the country. Something the United States is doing its worst to prevent.  What a crazy world we live in.

Cornered Speakers

A few days ago, an Austrian, a Canadian and an American were refused entry to the United Kingdom. They wanted to stay for a few days, to talk with other young people concerned about the erosion of everyone’s right to free speech. This is not a joke.

Martin Sellner planned to talk tomorrow at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. While in detention at Luton Airport – he was held there for three days with Brittany Pettibone – he re-wrote the speech he had intended to give. At three o’clock tomorrow, Tommy Robinson may be afforded the freedom to speak Martin’s words. It doesn’t matter if anyone disagrees with what Martin has to say. He has the right to be heard.

Meanwhile, in the House of Commons this week, our elected representatives have been delivering their anti-Russian propaganda. Asserting THEIR rights and privileges. They are taking the British people for fools. A simpleton knows that you really shouldn’t accuse someone of a crime and not provide any evidence for it. “The Russians” have asked for a sample of the Novichok poison so that they can run tests on it, put their hands up and say “fair cop” – or perhaps point to the actual perpetrator of the foul deed. The doziest amongst us are aware that Porton Down, where the British manufacture chemical weapons in many varieties and, quite possibly, prodigious amounts, is a few miles from where the traitor/spy and his daughter were struck down.

We have short memories. We were told Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction. It wasn’t true and over a million people died horribly and unnecessarily in consequence.

We will continue to be told that President Assad is using chemical weapons against his own people. Anyone brave enough to speak truth to power will tell you this is a lie – and back this up with evidence.

So, while war criminals walk free, enrich themselves and talk sh*te, young people of intelligence, courage, and determination are treated as suspected terrorists and refused entry to this benighted nation.

Maybe it is a joke.

I just hope that there is no trouble in Hyde Park tomorrow afternoon. Sticks and stones and all that. The truth sometimes hurts but it can set you free. Swallow the UK government lies and you are pretty much asking to live under tyranny – and to go off to war again.

Speakers’ Corner

Martin Sellner, Brittany Pettibone, Tommy Robinson

Lauren Southern, Tommy Robinson

Vanessa Beeley

Eve Bartlett