Henry Fauntleroy (12 October 1784 – 30 November 1824) was an English banker and forger.
After seven years as a clerk in the London bank of Marsh, Sibbald & Co., of which his father was one of the founders, he was taken into partnership, and the whole business of the firm was left in his hands. In 1824 the bank suspended payment. Fauntleroy was arrested on the charge of appropriating trust funds by forging the trustees’ signatures, and was committed for trial, it being freely rumoured that he had appropriated £250,000, which he had squandered in debauchery.
He was tried at the Old Bailey, and, the case against him having been proved, he admitted his guilt, but pleaded that he had used the misappropriated funds to pay his firm’s debts. He was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. Seventeen merchants and bankers gave evidence as to his general integrity at the trial. After his conviction, powerful influence was brought to bear on his behalf, and his case was twice argued before judges on points of law. An Italian named Angelini even offered to take Fauntleroy’s place on the scaffold. The efforts of his many friends were, however, unavailing, and he was hanged in November 1824, one of the last few to be executed for forgery before it ceased to be a capital crime in 1836.
A wholly unfounded rumour was widely credited for some time subsequently, to the effect that he had escaped strangulation by inserting a silver tube in his throat, and was living comfortably abroad.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Blithedale Romance a minor character who is mentioned in the background is a banker named Fauntleroy.
Henry Fauntleroy is a major character in Susan Grossey’s novel Fatal Forgery.
Samuel Warren recalled witnessing Fauntleroy’s hanging in the section of his “Miscellanies” entitled ‘My First Circut’.
Griffiths Chronicles of Newgate, ii. 294-300
Pierce Egan, Account of the Trial of Mr Fauntleroy, 1824
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “article name needed”. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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