On this day … 14 April 1888

The Preston Guardian reported the death in Chicago of Gerald T. Tully, who, in 1883, fled Britain when he was discovered to have swindled the Preston bank where he was employed as a sub-manager out of £29,500 (according to the National Archives’ historic currency converter that equates to more than £2 million in today’s money).

His sensational arrest in New York the following year was reported in papers around the world, as in the article below which appeared in The North Australian, published in Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory.

That article was selected because it was found in TROVE, the National Library of Australia’s wonderful on-line archive. It is a source that is relatively unknown but which can be mined it for the vast number of records it contains, not just Australian but also British, many of which are not found elsewhere. Although, worryingly, its funding will be reviewed in July.

𝐀 𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐬𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝

Gerald T. Tully secured a position as clerk in the Preston Banking Company’s office in Preston, England, nearly twenty-eight years ago, and became sub-manager. He held that position for sixteen years, when the manager died, and he endeavoured to secure the vacant position.

Another man was appointed, however, and Tully disappeared, and also £17,000 of the company’s funds. His peculations amounted to upwards of £20,000, and although his salary was £1200, he left little for the support of his wife and two children. Photographs were sent to America and a reward was offered, but the man was not found.

The last week in June Joseph Toulmin, a stockholder in the company, and a magistrate in Preston, arrived in New York with his wife. One night they were walking in Fourth avenue, when they met a man whom they recognised as Tully.

They waited until they met an officer, and then spoke to Tully, and received an indignant denial that he was the man. The stranger said that his name was J. T. Richardson, and that he had come from Panama. Mr. and Mrs. Toulmin insisted that they had known Tully for twenty years, and could not be mistaken, and the accused man was locked up, despite his protests that the “mistake” would be a costly one to those who caused it.

Tully is a large, fine-looking man, with mixed gray and black hair. Tully has since been convicted.

Newspaper reports in Britain gave his salary as £700 (roughly £50,000 in today’s money).

Days later, steps were being taken to extradite Tully and an extradition order was, in fact, issued. But Tully appealed the decision and won on a technicality, because the extradition treaty between Great Britain and the United States did not provide extradition for the offence of which he was accused.

Tully was then re-arrested when the Preston Bank started civil proceedings against him. He tried to persuade the court to release him without success, and he was not released from custody until after the Preston Bank won its case.

It is unlikely that the bank recovered any of its money, because at the end of the year his creditors were meeting at his bankruptcy hearing in Preston. The proceedings were adjourned ‘sine die’, which presumably meant no money could be found.

Meanwhile, in New York, Tully and his wife were prospering. He had a hat shop on Broadway and his wife had a millinery and baby linen shop nearby, presumably both were established with the thousands of pounds he had stolen from the bank.

Henry Kirby, whose four-volume digest of the Preston Guardian is the prompt for many of these ‘On this day …’ items, wrote a book on the case, The Preston bank fraud: a transatlantic tale retold. Lancashire Library has two copies available for loan, one in Chorley and the other in Fleetwood. Why not Preston?

TROVE: https://trove.nla.gov.au/
Henry Kirby’s Preston Guardian digest
Andrew Hobb’s The Diaries of Anthony Hewitson, Provincial Journalist, Volume 1: https://doi.org/10.11647/OBP.0262

Image: The Preston Bank on Fishergate: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rpsmithbarney/4062983100/

2 thoughts on “On this day … 14 April 1888

  1. At the first AGM of Ashton Freehold Land Society in October 1860, Gerald Tully was elected as one of the auditors. Presumably his reputation was solid at that point!

    He owned a plot of land on Beech Grove on the Ashton Freehold estate, and was still recorded as the owner in the Valuation Book for urban Ashton of 1885. It was probably plot 192, auctioned by HC Walton in June that year – if so, the £76 paid will have made a small contribution to his debts.


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