Forgery and embezzlement in Winslow Provident Benefit Society, 1862

From Jackson’s Oxford Journal (31 May 1862)


FORGERY AND EMBEZZLEMENT. A charge of forgery and embezzlement was brought against George Tredaway, of Winslow, National Schoolmaster, who for several years has been acting as Clerk and Secretary to the Winslow Provident Benefit Society, and been carrying on a systematic course of robbery, by forging the signatures of the Stewards and substituting fictitious ones to orders on the Savings Bank, for the withdrawal of the several sums of 25£, 15£ and 6£ respectively, and purporting to have been signed by the officers of the club. He was likewise charged with receiving several sums from the Honorary and other members, and not accounting to the Treasurer for the same. The following witnesses for the prosecution were examined:

Mr Rich. Carter, Manager of the Buckingham Savings Bank, produced the bank books, shewing an account with the Winslow Provident Benefit Society, and the various sums withdrawn by the prisoner. The first sum of 25£ was withdrawn on the 31st of May, 1858, by an order purporting to be signed by Stacey Keys and William Roads, Stewards, and witnessed by John Scott, a member; the prisoner's receipt for that amount was produced. A similar order for 15£, withdrawn on the 28th of February, 1859, purporting to be signed by Wm. Scott and Richard Viccars, and witnessed by Thos. North, with prisoner's receipt for the amount, were also produced, and likewise an order signed by Wm. Warr and Thomas Bonner, as Stewards, and witnessed by Matthew French, for 6£, were likewise produced. He also proved, upon referring to the Society's voucher book (he not having the ledger), that there had been no deposit made on the Society's account since the 7th of January, 1856.

Stacey Keys, a member of the Society, deposed that he was not Steward of the Society in 1858; was never Steward with William Roads; that the signature, "Stacey Keys," to the order of the 25th of May, produced, was not his handwriting, and that he had never authorised any one to sign for him.

John Scott, another member, whose evidence corroborated the last witness, denied the signature to the order as his handwriting.

William Roads also denied the signature to the same order as his handwriting.

Richard Viccars, also a member, denied having signed any order for the withdrawal of money from the bank, and that the name to the order, dated February, 1859, was not in his handwriting. - Thomas North likewise denied that the name "Thomas North" was his writing.

Wm. Warr and Thomas Bonner deposed that the signatures purporting to be theirs, to the order of the 23rd of November 1861, were forged.

Alfred Barton, of the George Inn, deposed that he was Treasurer to the Society; that the Prisoner acted as Clerk, and that it was his (prisoner's) duty to hand over to him all monies received on account of the club; the three sums of 25£, 15£ and 6£, had not been paid to him by the prisoner; he had not seen the bank book for several years until Thursday last; the prisoner requested him to meet Mr. Willis, Dr. Newham, and Mr. Deene, at his house in the evening; when there the prisoner, on entering the room, began making a disclosure of his guilt, when Mr. Willis cautioned him as to what he might say. He (prisoner) then said he had committed great crimes, and had taken the money out of the Savings Bank; that he had misrepresented the accounts, and applied the monies to his own use.

Evidence was then gone into respecting the charge of embezzlement, and the following witnesses were examined:-

David Thomas Willis, solicitor, Winslow, deposed that he had been an honorary member of the Winslow Provident Society for several years; he had regularly paid his annual subscription of 1£ 1s. to the prisoner, who called upon him for it; on the 31st of March, 1858, he paid his subscription to the prisoner, as also in each of the years 1859, 1860, and 1861 respectively; he had since the commemcement of the present year paid the prisoner his subscription for the year 1861, and produced the receipts for the five years' payments; on the 22nd instant he (witness) met the Committee at prisoner's house, by his request, where he met Mr. A. Barton, Mr Denne, and Dr. Newham, whom he believed were also honorary members; when prisoner entered the room, he said he wished to acknowledge his crimes, but witness cautioned prisoner on his making use of the word "crime," not to say any thing as to any criminal proceedings unless he had well considered what he was going to say, as it would be acted upon and used against him; he (prisoner) wished to acknowledge every thing, and throw himself upon their mercy; prisoner went into some explanations about the withdrawal of the monies from the bank; he (prisoner) had received his (witness's) subscriptions up to the present time, but had not accounted for them to the Treasurer, but applied them to his (prisoner's) own use; he (witness) asked prisoner whether Mr. McCreight, Mr. Selby Lowndes, and Mr. S.B. Dudley were not honorary members, and whether they had paid him their subscriptions, when prisoner admitted receiving them, but had not paid them to the Treasurer; witness then alluded to the number of members in the club, and the amount of contributions falling short of what they ought to have been, when the prisoner said he was sorry he had misapplied the money. Witness then asked whether he (prisoner) meant the Committee to understand that he had falsified the monthly accounts; he said he had done so for about two years, but could not state to what amount; witness asked prisoner if there were not some annual accounts kept, with the names of all the members and the respective amounts contributed by each monthly; the prisoner said they had been destroyed. When asked whether he had any books to shew the sums paid monthly, prisoner said that he put them on small pieces of paper, and afterwards destroyed them.

The prisoner here remarked that Mr. Willis must have misunderstood him, as he could not have destroyed the accounts, because there had been none kept since Mr. Thomas left, meaning a former Curate of the parish.

The Rev. Wm. W. McCreight, Vicar, and Mr S.B. Dudley, both produced receipts, in the prisoner's handwriting, for five years' subscriptions, the former of 1£ 1s. and the latter of 10s. 6d. annually. Mr. Dudley, as agent for W.S. Lowndes, Esq., lord of the manor, stated that he had paid annually the sum of 2£ 2s. for him, at the same time that he paid his own.

Alfred Barton, the Treasurer, proved by his accounts that none of the above annual subscriptions (except Mr. McCreight's for 1859 which was paid by the prisoner in March, 1861, and Mr. Lowndes's for 1859, paid in 1859, and for 1859, paid in March, 1861, were accounted for to him by the prisoner.

The prisoner, who appeared deeply to feel his painful position, was committed for trial at the next Assizes for Bucks, Mr. A. Barton, the Treasurer, being bound over to prosecute on behalf of the Society.

According to a report in the Bucks Herald of 19 July 1862, George Tredaway pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years' penal servitude. His wife Sarah seems to have remained in Winslow as schoolmistress until 1866.

1861 Census:

George Tredaway, 43, National Schoolmaster, b. Iver, living at the Girls' School, Church Yard, Winslow, with his wife Sarah and 4 children.

1871 Census:

George Tredaway, 53, Schoolmaster, b. Windsor, living at Church Street, Middleton, Warws, with his wife Sarah and 5 children born at Winslow.

On 8 March 1930 the Buckingham Advertiser published a letter from W. Tredaway of Buckingham Road, who had recently come to live in Winslow and wanted to find out more about his parents' time there; evidently no-one had told him the true story. A.J. Clear responded in the next issue to say that Mr Tredaway "had some unpleasantness with the school authorities and left".

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Copyright 26 November, 2015