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Notes and Queries: A Medium of Inter-Communication for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, Etc. Second Series - Volume Third. January - June, 1857

Page 85
2nd S. No. 57., Jan. 31. '57. [1857]

Queen Anne's Farthing

Your observation in 2nd S. iii. 20., respecting the real small value for purchase of a Queen Anne's farthing, is so just, that it cannot be too extensively made known. There have been instances to my personal knowledge of countrymen who had found, or in some way come into possession, of what was believed to be a genuine Queen Anne's farthing, but which, in two cases, turned out to be doubly erroneous; the farthings were counters struck in brass, forming an indifferent imitation of a Queen Anne's sixpence.

In one of the instances I allude to, the man had travelled six hundred miles, partly on foot, in full oonfidence that the sale of the farthing in London would make his fortune.

The other, who also came several hundred miles, had borrowed money of his neighbours to make the journey. The keenness of the disappointment on both occasions cannot need a comment.

The prevalence of the error of a Queen Anne's farthing being of extreme value seems to have extended even to Ireland, if we may judge from the accompanying cutting from a newspaper, the Morning Herald of Aug. 25, 1823.

"INSOLVENT COURT.- Dublin, Aug. 16.

"E.L. Winter opposed by Mr. Clark an behalf of several creditors.

"Mr. M'Mahon opposed her on behalf of a poor woman named Mary Molony, for defrauding her of a Queen Anne farthing.

"Mary Molony examined.-- Was in possession of a Queen Anne farthing, which had been in her family for several generations; it was left her by her mother; on the 5th June, 1817, pawned it with the insolvent's mother; witness got at sundry times 1l. Mrs. Winter was present when witness was offered some hundreds for it. Witness brought two gentlemen to Winter's house, and the brother of the insolvent offered her a farthing, which he alleged was her's, but which was a counterfeit.

"Cross-examined. -- Mr. Lamb, the auctioneer, offered her one hundred guineas for it; Mrs. Winter told witness she pawned the farthing with her son Albert for 200l.

"Anthony Molony. -- Is brother to the last witness; his sister had a genuine Queen Anne farthing; it was advertised in the newspaper, and Mr. Potts, of Saunders's News Letter, offered 100l. for it; Miss Huband, daughter of Counsellor Huband, offered 150l., and other offers were made; Major Sirr offered 150l.; his sister was in great distress, and pawned it with the Winters; witness went with a friend to releaae the farthing for his sister, and the insolvent told him a gentleman in Gloucester Street had it, but would not tell his name ; he was offered 250l. by a Kerry gentleman.

"Cross-examined. -- Mr. Baxter had the farthing in his possession for three days, and returned it; Mr. Baxter belonged to Saunders's Office; witness was not present when the counterfeit one was offered to his sister; two young gentlemen of the name of Dwyer were.

"Mr. Rhody White sworn. -- In consequence of an advertisement in the newspaper eight or nine years back, witness went to Montague Court, and saw the witness, Mary Molony, who showed him what she called a Queen Anne farthing, and asked 350l. for it.

"[It was here stated, that the farthing got into the possession of Home, of the Royal Arcade, wfo got 800l. for it.]

"Another gentleman, who, as well as Mr. White, happened to be accidentally in the Court, said he saw the farthing, and thought he would know it again.

"It was alleged, on the part of the insolvent, that his mother still had the farthing, and would give it up when paid the demand of about 20l., which she had against it.

"It was directed by the Court, and agreed to by the insolvent, that the farthing should be deposited with the Registrar to be inspected.

"Mr. Clarke now opposed. -- The insolvent, he said, had been a baker, and contracted debts with several flour merchants to the amount of upwards of 800l.; he has returned debts due to him to about the same amount, but affixed no dates to these debts; but it has been ascertained that a great number of them had been nine years due; that the persons are either out of the country or dead, so that none of them are available; he had charged his house-keeping, although a single man, at the rate of 365 guineas a year, with other extraordinary expenses, although he has returned no profit made by his business.

"George Fearon, Esq. -- He on his oath did not think it was the same that he saw with Mary Molony in Montague Court; it is not, according to his recollection, like it.

"The case was ordered to stand over to Monday week, to give an opportunity of inspecting the farthing, which was lodged with the Registrar in Court, and in order to have the insolvent's books lodged and inspected by the creditors."

L. B. M.

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