16 December 2008

Walter the Forger

Back on the criminal lineage, here's one devious ancestor I'm not too proud of (or is that, of whom I am not too proud . .?).

When the 1901 census first came on line (and after it stopped crashing every few minutes), I discovered this chap, Walter T Staden, on the indexes. Being too mean at that point to pay for sight of the details, I noted that he was on the Isle of Wight and assumed he was having an early Spring break that year. Oh how naive!

(Young Walter was born in Shoreditch in 1861 and grew up to be a clerk (well, someone's got to)).

Once I'd discovered Ancestry, I found young Walter . . . in Parkhurst Prison. Some amusement ensued because he most certainly was not a Warder, but listed as "Convict, age 39, clerk banker's". Then I was able to follow it up via the wonderful Times online digital archive.

He first appeared at Guildhall in February 1900 charged with Forging and Uttering transfers of shares; he pleaded guilty to 14 charges, although only four indictments were actually "preferred". I'll be putting a transcript of the Times articles onto my website shortly (www.praeteritus.co.uk).

He was sentenced to five years' penal servitude - and presumably served them all at Parkhurst. Somehow I can't seem to like this guy - there's something far too underhand about forging.

Onwards, to christmas present wrapping.

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