Robbery at the Old Bank
At the beginning of November I received a letter from Harriet Maunsell OBE whose mother lived in Oxford for 65 years & who wrote a book about private country banks; amongst her papers a little booklet was found entitled The Old Bank, Oxford. The booklet contains a fascinating & detailed historical account of the bank.
There is a strongly held tradition that the Old Bank Oxford began in the year 1771. What does seem to be certain is that in 1765 William Fletcher, one of the founders of the Old Bank was running a business as a mercer at 93 High Street. Mercers and drapers were often the providers of banking services at that time.
I would like to share a timely excerpt from this booklet with you.
‘On Christmas Eve 1802 the Old Bank suffered a serious loss. Richard Hemming informed his sister of “a loss of our notes to the amount of £2270 which were stolen from one of our London Banker’s clerks as he was going along Fleet Street about 3 o’clock on Christmas Eve. The alarm instantly became pretty general through the city and the next morning an express arrived to bring us the unwelcome intelligence. We were instantly employed writing to most of the County Bankers and distributing papers of the numbers by means of letters through many of the principal towns in the Kingdom. It was also advertised in all the London papers and many of the Country ones, and the means we have used have hitherto prevented their circulation. It is the occasion of an unknown trouble to me as I have to fill up all new notes that we issue as well as many other ways troublesome, so you see I have not been idle this Christmas entirely”.’
There is a tablet to Richard’s memory on the vestry wall of St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, adjoining the south porch.
We can imagine the extra work that this robbery created for Richard.