The Newgate Calendar - AGNES ADAMS

AGNES ADAMS

Convicted at the Middlesex Sessions, 1811, and sentenced to Six Months' Imprisonment for uttering a "Bank of Fleet" Note

   BETWEEN 1808 and 1811 numberless impositions were practised upon the unwary in the metropolis in passing notes manufactured in imitation of the notes of the Bank of England. These were traced to have first originated in the Fleet Prison, a receptacle for debtors only. These notes were printed on paper similar to that used by the Bank of England; but upon the slightest inspection they were easily detected; which creates surprise at so many having been imposed upon. The great success of sharpers passing them chiefly arose from the hurry of business of those imposed upon, and from the novelty of the fraud. The shopkeeper would see the word one, two, three, etc., an exact imitation, but did not examine further, or he would have found that instead of "Pounds" the counterfeit expressed "Pence"; and this, with all the wisdom of our laws, was found not to be forgery. Instead of "Governor and Company of the Bank of England" the worthless paper substituted "Governor and Company of the Bank of Fleet." Such a gross deception we may be sure could not long be practised, and every tradesman, who had dearly been taught precaution, on taking a bank-note, convinced himself that it was not a "Fleet."

   The circulation of "Fleet Notes" was generally entrusted to profligate women, who cohabited with the men who made them. This mode was less suspicious, and in a single year had been carried on to a considerable amount.

   Of this description -- and we could adduce many such -- was Agnes Adams; who, in passing one of such notes denominating twopence as a two-pound Bank of England note to Mr Spratz, a publican of St John Street, Clerkenwell, was by him detected, seized, prosecuted and convicted. The punishment could only be extended to six months' hard labour in the house of correction.

   The fraternity of thieves about London have fabricated or cant names for the different articles which they steal. The "Fleet Notes" they called "Flash Screens."

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