1845 Mitcham Savings Bank Suicide

Source: Sussex Advertiser – Tuesday 22 April 1845

Suicide of the Vestry Clerk of Mitcham.—

Considerable excitement was occasioned in the parish of Mitcham, on Friday morning, in consequence of its being generally rumoured that Mr. William John Chart, jun , the officiating vestry and parish clerk of Mitcham, had committed self-destruction. This report, unfortunately, was but too well founded, as the following particulars obtained on the spot will show:

Previous to detailing the facts connected with the suicide, it may be as well to state the exact position held by the deceased in the parish of Mitcham. The family of the Charts have been in this parish for the last hundred years, and for more than two-thirds of that period the office of vestry and parish clerk has been held by the head of their family. Mr. W. Chart, an undertaker and builder, residing on the Fair green, the parochial functionary and has been so between forty and fifty years, but, being for some years past, his son (the deceased) transacted the parochial business ; and as it was understood that at the father’s death the duties would devolve upon the son, he was recognised and addressed as the vestry and parish clerk.

Independent of these situations, he was an auctioneer, house-agent, and actuary of the Mitcham Savings’ Bank. His business was very extensive, and supposed to be very lucrative. In fact, great confidence was placed in him by the inhabitants of Mitcham. Mr. Hoare, the banker, who has a country house at Morden, and is trustee of the Mitcham Savings’ Bank, thought the deceased a proper person to be actuary.

No suspicion, it appears, was entertained that the deceased was appropriating the money of the savings’ bank, or any parish funds to his own use until Thursday last, when Mr. George Hoare, who had made an appointment to meet the deceased, came over to Mitcham, but the deceased was not in the way. This intentional absence on the part of the deceased it is supposed first led Mr. Hoare to believe that something was wrong, and he left a positive direction for the deceased to meet him at nine o’clock on the ensuing (Friday) morning. The deceased, who was fifty-one years of age, and has been twice married, rose on Friday morning between seven and eight, leaving his wife, who is not more than twenty-two years of age, in bed with an infant child, daughter, and proceeding direct to a room he used an office, wrote a note, and left it on the table, after which he quitted the house. His absence at the breakfast table alarmed his wife, who went into his office and there discovered a note addressed to herself. In it the deceased stated that it was impossible for him to exist any longer, and by the time she bad read that he would be dead. Mrs. Chart, who was almost distracted, sent messengers in all directions to search for the deceased, but until ten o’clock nothing could be gleaned respecting him. It was then suggested to search the back premises belonging to the father, and the result was the deceased was found hanging by rope from beam in one of the sheds. Information has been forwarded to the coroner, and the inquest was to be held yesterday (Monday).

Sussex Advertiser – Tuesday 10 June 1845



For some weeks past the greatest excitement has prevailed in the village of Mitcham, Surrey, in consequence of the discovery of defalcations to a very large amount in the books of the late actuary of the savings’ bank in that place. Trade has been at stand-still, and hundreds of families believed themselves utterly ruined.

It will be recollected that about a month since a report appeared in this journal of the suicide of Mr. W. J. Chart, an auctioneer, builder, and parish clerk of Mitcham. This person was highly respected by his fellow parishioners, and at different times had filled all the parochial offices. About ten years since he was made actuary of the savings’ bank, and so great was the confidence reposed in him that the managers of the savings’ bank never suspected anything could be wrong in his accounts. This circumstance accounts for the fact that Mr. Chart was enabled to embezzle during the last ten years a sum little short of £7,000.

It will be remembered that the deceased had to meet Mr. G.M. Hoare, the brewer (who resides at Morden, and is the treasurer of the savings’ bank), on Friday, the 18th ult., upon business respecting the bank. Instead of keeping that appointment the deceased went into loft and hanged himself. The fact of the deceased committing suicide at such a particular period caused it to be inferred that he was behindhand in his accounts, and had not the moral courage to Mr. Hoare.

At the inquest it was stated that his affairs were in satisfactory state. Such, however, was unhappily proved not to be the case. As soon as the deceased was buried, a meeting of the trustees and managers (the latter consisting of tradesmen in Mitcham) was held at the infant-school house, Lower Mitcham ; Mr. G. M. Hoare, the treasurer, Mr. Chambers, of Morden, and Dr. Bartley, of Mitcham, being the trustees present. The proof of embezzlement having been made apparent, and to a much larger extent than had been anticipated, it was determined forthwith to communicate with Mr. Tidd Pratt, the revising barrister for banks of savings and benefit societies. The learned gentleman met the trustees on the 28th of April. After several hours’ investigation, in which the learned barrister was greatly assisted by Dr Bartley, he adjourned the further investigation until the following Monday. In the interval Dr. Bartley was taken dangerously ill. Several of the leading members of the faculty attended him, but he never rallied, and died within a week. It is stated that mental anxiety produced by the unfortunate bank transaction was the sole cause of the death of this gentleman, who was only in his 50th year, and previously in very good health. The deceased was a most benevolent gentleman, and deeply respected by all classes.

The investigation was ultimately proceeded with and brought to a close on Friday week, when the total deficiency in the bank assets was declared to be £6,557, some odd shillings. There were many societies that deposited their money in this bank, and amongst them two lodges of Odd Fellows and the Mitcham Tradesman’s Club, held at the Buck’s Head. Of this club the deceased was secretary. The latter club had deposited £124, and in the deceased’s ledger they were credited with 5s. 1d. Thirty Odd Fellows had deposited £10 each, and were credited £1 each. Mr. Tidd Pratt stated that the actuary must have paid per annum out of his own pocket as interest to the depositors to lull suspicion. It is now decided that the amount deficient shall be made up by the treasurer, trustees, and managers,— Mr. G. Hoare paying £4,000, Mr. Chambers, £1,000, the widow of Dr. Bartley, £1,000, and the widow of the deceased actuary, £100, the amount of his security. Sir T. Ackland and his lady have subscribed £150 towards relieving the managers, who are chiefly poor tradesmen, of their burden.

Inflation adjusted amounts

1845 2015
£100 £12,000
£1,000 £120,000
£4,000 £480,000
£6,557 £740,000

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