Fraud at the Charitable Corporation and a Jacobite plot

An answer to an audacious letter from John Angelo Belloni, dated Rome the 4th of May, 1732. N.S. Being an antidote to the seditious principles endeavoured to be instilled by the same. To which is annexed, a true copy of the transcription of the said letter, which was burnt (by order of both Houses of Parliament) on Friday the 26th of May 1732, before the Royal-Exchange, London, by the hands of the common hangman. Also a faithful copy of a paper of seven proposals sent by John Thomson, to the committee of Parliament of Great Britain, stipulating the conditions for delivering up the books and papers relating to the Charitable Corporation.

London, [n. p.], 1732.

Folio, pp. 8; a few small tears and losses to margins, central horizontal crease, some cockling, foxing and light soiling; bound in modern marbled paper covers.

£450

Approximately:
US $564€526

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An answer to an audacious letter from John Angelo Belloni, dated Rome the 4th of May, 1732. N.S. Being an antidote to the seditious principles endeavoured to be instilled by the same. To which is annexed, a true copy of the transcription of the said letter, which was burnt (by order of both Houses of Parliament) on Friday the 26th of May 1732, before the Royal-Exchange, London, by the hands of the common hangman. Also a faithful copy of a paper of seven proposals sent by John Thomson, to the committee of Parliament of Great Britain, stipulating the conditions for delivering up the books and papers relating to the Charitable Corporation.

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An extremely rare pamphlet of economic and political interest, relating to fraudulent activity in the Charitable Corporation and to one of the chief culprit’s rumoured links to the Old Pretender.

The Charitable Corporation was established in 1707 to provide low interest loans to the ‘industrious poor’, with money being raised through the sale of shares to stockholders. A Parliamentary investigation into the Corporation in the early 1730s revealed a massive fraud perpetrated chiefly by its warehouse keeper, John Thomson, who promptly fled the country. A staggering £500,000 was discovered to be missing, only a decade on from the South Sea Bubble disaster.

What happened next is revealed in this pamphlet. Giovanni Angelo Belloni, a Bolognese nobleman with links to the Old Pretender (James Francis Edward Stuart), wrote a letter to the Parliamentary Committee investigating the Corporation claiming that Thomson had been apprehended in Rome with his books and papers, which Belloni would hand over if certain conditions were met. Thomson claimed to have discovered £26,000 among his own effects and that his papers would reveal more. The letter so outraged Parliament that it was publicly burnt to ‘loud huzzas’.

For ‘Publicola’, the anonymous author of this tract, Belloni’s letter hid a Jacobite plot ‘for the publick ruin’ and Thomson’s claim to have important information was mere bluff. Parliament’s snubbing of Belloni and Thomson was, therefore, entirely justified.

Thomson negotiated his return to England in 1733 to testify before Parliament, and a lottery was organised to help those ruined by the fraud, although this only recovered 15% of the losses. For more on the Charitable Corporation see B. Lemire, The business of everyday life (2005) p. 56-72.

Not in Goldsmiths’; ESTC T225828, which records only one copy at the British Library.

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