Author Topic: The Swindler Asgill  (Read 33131 times)

Offline Winjoy

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The Swindler Asgill
« on: Tuesday 17 February 15 12:47 GMT (UK) »
Hi, it’s been four years since I asked for help here and your help then was terrific, so if I may I would like to ask another question.

I have been researching a certain “William Charles Asgill” in the British newspaper archives and have discovered something pretty astonishing – this man was not born with that surname – he acquired it in order to swindle merchants, and others, out of large sums of money.  His descendants of today have found this extremely hard to deal with, and it would help enormously if I could find out just exactly who William was.  The family of today are completely in the dark as to who were the parents of this man, from whom they are now descended.  The newspapers suggested he was from a “good family” who had “disowned him” because of his ill-gotten gains. Since William’s descendants believed themselves to be “Asgills” they have spent decades researching the “ancient Asgills” – one of whom turned out to be a one-time Lord Mayor of London.  That particular Lord Mayor commissioned the golden coach which is still used today by the Lord Mayor for ceremonial occasions.  Today’s “Asgills” were very proud of their ancestry – from which they have now been severed like a felled tree.

In 1823 William portrayed himself as a “nephew” of General Sir Charles Asgill, from whom he expected to inherit the baronetcy.  I have found 6 newspaper articles, all saying that he changed his name to “Asgill”.  He forged letters purporting to have been signed by the General, thus giving himself apparent credence.  His fraudulent activities were carried out during the final 6-8 months of the General’s life.  Even after the General had died one swindled merchant contacted the General’s Executors to ask if William was who he claimed to be – and the answer was an emphatic “no”.

Once having changed his name to “Asgill” William stuck with it for the rest of his life. It is doubtful this name change was done by virtue of a deed poll – rather he simply assumed it.  His marriage, 3 months after the General died, was in that name.  He also shows up on all the census returns through his life as William Asgill.  However, no baptism record has ever been found for his birth circa 1800 in Ewell, Surrey, though – which is hardly surprising as no baby by that name was born there then.  His mother has never been known – which is of course understandable now.  The story William’s wife and children passed down to the present day descendants is that he was the disinherited heir to the General, being the General’s “second son” (this was how he was described in his death announcement in a Lancashire newspaper). That was quite clever since no “second son” would inherit the baronetcy, thus explaining why he was not Sir William Asgill!  The transparency  of these claims shows up now though, since it stated the General had lived in Regents Park – that was never an address connected with the General, so clearly the family member who entered the death notice was ill-informed of the truth.

It was reported that William had been to a public school – even suggesting he had attended Eton – following on from which he went to Oxford university.  These two facts may be true of course – or equally part of the charade he was playing out.  I once enquired of Eton whether a William Asgill had ever been a pupil – they replied in the negative of course.  But even if William had been to Eton, his surname at that time would be the one he was born with!

The reality is that in 1832 William Asgill was in the Debtors’ Jail applying for release since his debts had apparently been paid off – by whom is not known.  It is also not known why he was jailed – either for his crimes of 1823 - or similar, later on.  Personally I think it more likely that he got away with his crimes in 1823 because had he been caught then I think it would have made it into the newspapers – all of which were very keen to know who he really was. Some reports speculate that the press knew, but couldn’t say. Others suggested he was known to the police.

William Charles Asgill died intestate and having only £19 to his name.  He was buried in a pauper’s grave at a church in Liverpool.

Is there any way at all which will lead me to knowing William Charles’ real surname?

Thank you for reading this far!

P.S. I don't know if it is possible to attach a pdf file, but if someone could advise me on that I might be able to attach a transcription of one of the newspaper articles, should you be interested.

Offline miriamkinga

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 14:51 GMT (UK) »
Fascinating story Winjoy, I do hope you get to the bottom of it :)
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Offline Winjoy

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:09 GMT (UK) »
Thank you miriamkinga  :)

Offline lizdb

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:29 GMT (UK) »
Baronet Sir Charles Asgills 1823 Will can be viewed. Makes interesting reading. Most of the estate seems to go to a Sir Charles Ogle, but also provision for his two sisters and his nephews and nieces (children of the sisters).
Mention made of his late wife, Sophia, as he wants to be buried with her.

So, who is Charles Ogle?
Is he a relation from his wife side, as reference is made to something bequeathed from a late Sir Charles Ogle (so an earlier one) to his late wife.

Looks from the will (though I did only skim it so might have missed something) that there were no children.

Maybe William was either a) an illegitimate child who thought he would be acknowledged in the Will  or b) thought he may be an illegit child , maybe his mother spun him that yarn, and hoped he would be acknowledged in the Will or  c) was a nephew other than those named in the Will and felt hard done by that he was not included or d) something else!

I see by 1851 William is a teacher - seemingly settled in a respectable lifestyle.

Edmonds/Edmunds - mainly Sussex
DeBoo - London
Green - Suffolk
Parker - Sussex
Kemp - Essex
Farrington - Essex
Boniface - West Sussex

census information is Crown Copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk


Offline miriamkinga

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:35 GMT (UK) »
The General's wife was Jemima Sophia Ogle  :)

Brother? the peerage.com has a brother for Jemima - Admiral Sir Charles Ogle 1775 - 1858
GOATER, LAN, ALL
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LONERGAN, TIP
McGREAL, MAYO
FLAHERTY, GALWAY/ ALL
HOUGH, LAN/ ALL

Offline lizdb

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:37 GMT (UK) »
The General's wife was Jemima Sophia Ogle  :)

Thats what I wondered - thanks!!

And I see she died 1819
Edmonds/Edmunds - mainly Sussex
DeBoo - London
Green - Suffolk
Parker - Sussex
Kemp - Essex
Farrington - Essex
Boniface - West Sussex

census information is Crown Copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Winjoy

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:47 GMT (UK) »
You've all got here before me (!), but I was about to say Thank you lizdb for going to the trouble of looking at the General’s will. It’s long! 

Admiral Sir Charles Ogle was his best friend and also his brother-in-law (brother of his wife). He and his wife were buried at St. James’s, Piccadilly – they lived in York Street, just behind the church.  The General left his portrait to Charles Ogle, his brother in law, who was also his chief Executor. His portrait was exhibited at The Royal Academy the year before he died – i.e in 1822 - and had been painted by Thomas Phillips. I have tried to find the whereabouts of it now, with no luck.  I think it perished in a fire about 100 years ago.

There was an earlier Sir Charles Asgill – the General’s father (he was the Lord Mayor of London I mentioned earlier).

You will have noticed that there is no mention of a William Charles Asgill (or any other William Charles for that matter) in the General’s will.

Offline catfordcrooner

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:48 GMT (UK) »
The General's wife was Jemima Sophia Ogle  :)

Thats what I wondered - thanks!!

And I see she died 1819

Is that The Jemima Sophia Asgill that died 5 June 1919 Piccadilly?
If so why was she Asgill and not Ogle?
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Offline lizdb

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Re: The Swindler Asgill
« Reply #8 on: Tuesday 17 February 15 15:50 GMT (UK) »
Because she was married to Sir Charles Asgill, the baronet.
Ogle was her maiden name. They married in 1790
Edmonds/Edmunds - mainly Sussex
DeBoo - London
Green - Suffolk
Parker - Sussex
Kemp - Essex
Farrington - Essex
Boniface - West Sussex

census information is Crown Copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk