The Holdens: a Family of Utterers and Coiners in Nineteenth Century Lancashire – Stephen Minnitt

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?

2 thoughts on “The Holdens: a Family of Utterers and Coiners in Nineteenth Century Lancashire – Stephen Minnitt

  1. Congratulations on a truly fascinating article Stephen !
    Do you know if any of the counterfeit coins made or uttered have been identified as such, or indeed still exist in any collection ?

  2. Hi Steve,
    Many thanks for the very interesting article, all the more so because I am originally from Clitheroe. The thing that stood out for me was the mobility of the coiners and their families, moving both for their official jobs but also to find locations to offload their forgeries. The locations are all biggish mill towns, with large enough populations, many pubs and shops where an outsider can rent a room for a few days, and blend in whilst converting the counterfeits. The vast majority of the population in these areas at this time probably never went more than a few miles from their home which was within walking distance of where they worked and the nearest market.
    This lack of mobility of the majority did also lead to identifiable local accents in the various valleys in the Pennines. Thirty five years ago I could distinguish between the local accents of the indigenous people from Clitheroe, Blackburn, Accrington and Burnley.
    All the best,

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