Page images


First mention of the Stock Exchange-Attempt at hoax-Daniel's fraudBerenger's fraud-Bubbles of 1825-The Railway Mania-30th Nov. 1845 at the Board of Trade-The fever at its height-The Marquis of Clanricarde pricks the bubble.

IN 1734 an Act was passed (7 Geo. II., c. 8) entitled "An Act to prevent the infamous practice of Stock jobbing," which provided that no loss in bargains for time should be recoverable in the Courts, and placed such speculations outside the Law altogether. It was a dead letter, but was in force till 1860, when it was repealed.


The first mention of the Stock Exchange as such, is in the Daily Advertiser of Thursday, July 15, 1773. Tuesday, the Brokers and others at New Jonathan's came to a Resolution that, instead of its being called New Jonathan's, it is to be named the Stock Exchange, which is to be painted over the door." And here they abode until, in 1801, the Stockbrokers laid the first stone of a building of their own: having purchased Mendoza's boxing room, the Debating Forum of Capel Court, and buildings contiguous to that site.

On May 5, 1803, an attempt was made to hoax the Stock Exchange, which was partially successful. On that day, at half-past eight in the morning, a man, booted and spurred, and having every appearance of having come off a long journey, rushed up to the Mansion House, and inquired for the Lord Mayor, saying he was a messenger from the Foreign Office, and had a letter for his lordship. When he was told he was not within, he said he would leave the letter, and begged the servant to place it where the Lord Mayor

should get it the moment of his return; which duly happened. The letter ran thus:

"Downing Street, 8 A.M.

"To the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor,—

"Lord Hawkesbury presents his compliments to the Lord Mayor, and is happy to inform him that the negotiations between this country and the French Republic have been amicably adjusted."

Thinking it genuine, the Lord Mayor published it, and wrote to Lord Hawkesbury, congratulating him; but the forgery was soon exposed.

Meanwhile, Consols opened at 69, and, before noon, were over 70, only to fall, when the truth came out, to 63. Of course, all transactions, that day, were made null and void. Although £500 reward was offered, nothing was ever heard of the perpetrators of this swindle.

Under date of Aug. 20, 1806, the Annual Register says: "A most atrocious fraud was committed on a number of gentlemen at the Stock Exchange, it being the settling day, by a foreign Jew, of the name of Joseph Elkin Daniels, who has, for a long time, been a conspicuous character in the Alley. Finding that, in consequence of the great fluctuation of Omnium, he was not able to pay for all he had purchased at an advanced price, he hit upon a scheme to pocket an enormous sum of money, and with which he has decamped ; £31,000 Omnium was tendered to him in the course of Thursday; in payment for which he gave drafts on his bankers, amounting to £16,816, 5s., which were paid into the respective bankers of those who had received them, to clear in the afternoon. Having gained possession of the Omnium, he sold it through the medium of a respectable broker, received drafts for it, which he cleared immediately, and set off with the produce. On his drafts being presented, payment was refused, he having no effects at his bankers."

A hue and cry was raised after him, and he was soon

discovered in the Isle of Man, whence he could not be taken without the Governor's consent. This was obtained, but there were so many similar rascals taking sanctuary in the Island, that it was not deemed prudent to execute the warrant in the daytime, and Daniels was arrested at night. Great was the uproar in the morning when the rogues found their companion had gone, and an indignation meeting was held to protest against the violation of their rights. He was brought before the Lord Mayor on 16th Sept., but, owing to some technicalities, he was let go, although he had to make his appearance at a Commission of Bankruptcy.

In 1814 there was an attempted fraud on the Stock Exchange, which was the most daring ever perpetrated. It was executed by one Charles Random de Berenger, a French refugee, and an officer in one of the foreign regiments. It was alleged that, with him, were associated Lord Cochrane, the Hon. Andrew Cochrane Johnstone, and several others. It appears from the evidence on the trial, that, early in the morning of the 21st of February, a gentleman, dressed in a grey greatcoat over a scarlet uniform, on which was a star, knocked at the door of the Ship Inn at Dover, and said that he was the bearer of very important despatches from France. This gentleman, all the witnesses swore, was Berenger.

He sent a letter, signed R. Du Bourg, Lieut.-Colonel, and Aide-de-Camp to Lord Cathcart, to Admiral Foley, the Port Admiral at Dover, advising him that he had just arrived from Calais with the news of a great victory obtained by the Allies over Bonaparte, who was slain, in his flight, by the Cossacks, and that the Allied Sovereigns were in Paris. Berenger posted up to London, which he entered, having his horses decked with laurels, in order to make a stir. It was felt on the Stock Exchange. Omnium, which opened at 27 rose to 33; but, as the day wore on, and no confirmation came of the news, they receded to 28. Business in that Stock was done, that day, to the tune of half a million of money. Lord Cochrane and others had, previously, given instructions to sell Omniums for them, on the 21st of

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

And he further deposed that he always considered that any business he did for Mr Butt was to be placed to Lord Cochrane's account.

Another stockbroker sold for the same three gentlemen £565,000 Omnium. Another had sold £80,000 on their account, and yet another had had instructions to sell a very large sum for the same parties, but had refused.

In the end, Lord Cochrane and Mr Butt were condemned to pay to the King a fine of a Thousand Pounds each, and J. P. Holloway Five Hundred; and these three, together with De Berenger, Sandon, and Lyte, were sentenced to imprisonment in the Marshalsea for twelve calendar months. Further, Lord Cochrane, De Berenger, and Butt were to stand in the pillory for one hour, before the Royal Exchange, once during their imprisonment. This latter part of their punishment was, afterwards, remitted. Lord Cochrane's name was struck off the Navy List, he was expelled from the House of Commons, his Arms were taken down from his stall, as Knight of the Bath, his banner torn down, and kicked ignominiously out of Henry VII.'s Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

By very many he was believed innocent, and, on his seat for Westminster being declared vacant, he was enthusiastically re-elected. He escaped from custody, was captured, and had to serve his time. On June 20, 1815, he was told his imprisonment was at an end, if he would pay the fine imposed upon him; and, on July 3rd, he reluctantly did so, with a £1000 bank note, on the back of which he wrote :"My health having suffered by long and close confinement,


and my oppressors having resolved to deprive me of property, or life, I submit to robbery, to protect myself from murder, in the hope that I shall live to bring the delinquents to justice."

On the very day he was released, he took his seat again in the House of Commons; and, in 1832, he received a "free pardon," was restored to the Navy List, gazetted a rear-admiral, and presented at a Levée !

The year 1825 was remarkable for the number of bubble companies which were floated or not, and for the dreadful commercial panic which ensued, during which over seventy banks collapsed in London, or the country. Over £11,000,000 were subscribed to foreign loans, and £17,500,000 to different companies. In Parliament there were presented 439 private bills for companies, and Acts were passed for 288. Horace Smith sings of them thus: "Early and late, where'er I rove,

In park or square, suburb or grove,
In civic lanes, or alleys,

Riches are hawked, while rivals rush
To pour into mine ear a gush

Of money making sallies.

'Haste instantly and buy,' cries one,
Real del Monte shares, for none
Will yield a richer profit;
Another cries-'No mining plan
Like ours, the Anglo-Mexican;
As for Del Monte, scoff it.'

This, grasps my button, and declares
There's nothing like Columbian shares,
The capital a million;

That, cries, 'La Plata's sure to pay,'
Or bids me buy, without delay,
Hibernian or Brazilian.

'Scaped from the torments of the mine,
Rivals in gas, an endless line,

Arrest me as I travel;

Each sure my suffrage to receive,

If I will only give him leave

His project to unravel.

« PreviousContinue »