The making and use of counterfeit coins was a particular problem in nineteenth century England. In spite of this, relatively little has been published on the subject. This paper was written as a consequence of research into convicted counterfeiters in the first half of the nineteenth century. As nobody was convicted of counterfeiting in this instance the Holden family fell outside my remit. However, the family’s involvement with counterfeit coins over a period of twenty years and the circumstances that led to it, time and again, are exceptionally well documented making their story worth telling.
The Holdens lived in Lancashire. They moved around periodically, sometimes to seek legitimate work and sometimes to reduce the risk of arrest for producing or uttering counterfeit coins. John Holden, the head of the family, claimed that he wanted to cease involvement in the activity and that circumstances repeatedly undermined his attempts. Was this true or was he seeking sympathy and justification for his criminal activities?