Samuel New Cassin was born in Bristol, his family amassed a great fortune through the importation and export of wines and spirits in particular sherry. Samuel’s grandfather James Cassin signed an ancient lease agreement with the city of Bristol in 1761 for land known as “The old market” and from there their futures were secured.
In November 1847, a little known event long since forgotten, took place that would even today, not be out of place in a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western movie such as a “Fistful of Dollars” …Samuel New Cassin, an imposing 6ft 2” man from Carmarthen – an Inland Revenue official, calmly rode, dressed in a black frock coat and top hat, on horseback into a small Welsh town called Cardigan, laden with golden guineas, sovereigns and silver coins, together with a large amount of paper money. Flanked by his officials, in a single transaction he deposited one of the largest ever single cash deposits ever recorded in a high street local bank, causing the cashier at the time to almost faint with excitement, unable to believe his luck or his eyes with the sight of so much money. The following article, written by one of the local reporters at the time gives a good description of the scene in question. It was however, an event that was to save the Bank of England from a very serious if not fatal blow had the panic stricken inhabitants of West Wales not been stopped from removing their life savings and thus spreading the panic nationwide. The Bank Charter Act of 1844 caused this situation to arise in the first place which gave the Bank of England a range of new powers and formalised the issuance of banknotes in the UK.
This Act of Parliament placed restrictions on any banks, companies or persons in England and Wales that issued their own banknotes, and stopped any new banks from starting to issue notes across the UK. Perhaps when the next five, ten or twenty pound note is designed by the Bank of England it should feature SAMUEL NEW CASSIN as its saviour! God bless him and may he rest in peace. Here then is but a small part of that story, lost in the midst of time – until now.
HOW TO STOP A PANIC, & SAVE THE BANK OF ENGLAND!
A useful lesson may be learned from the facts we are about to narrate, if the reader is of a philosophic or observant turn of mind. If otherwise, the gratification of his curiosity to learn the method by which the desirable result of “stopping a panic” can be arrived at, will be attained by the perusal of this paragraph. During the worst part of the late “Crisis” in the Money Market,- that is to say, about ten or twelve days ago,- there existed in Cardiganshire, and portions of the adjoining counties of Carmarthen and Pembroke, a total want of confidence as regarded all kinds of paper money. Notes of every description were voted all but worthless, and, if they could but have spoken, would have exemplified the truth of the old song by exclaiming “you’ll find no change in (for) me.” Bank of England notes were even less respected than the notes of our local bankers, some of our rustic quid nuncs saying that as several directors had already failed, it was not at all improbable that their Bank would follow their example. Indeed we have it on good authority that £5 Bank of England notes were in two or three cases offered for disposal at £4 each. This was a dreadful state of affairs, “but it is a long lane that has no turning.” Upon the arrival of the Collector of Excise for the district, at Newcastle Emlyn, he found the inhabitants in a state of consternation at the position of affairs, and knowing well that he was standing upon safe ground, he at once determined on a course which he imagined would put a stop to the groundless panic which was fast taking possession of all classes, to the total exclusion of their reasoning faculties. After looking at his compeers for some time in evident consternation, one of the excise men ventured to ask the collector, “Do you take notes, Sir?” “Notes!” exclaimed Mr Cassin, “to be sure I do, let me have as many as you can.” Joy lighted up the physiogs of all present, and the good news spread through the town and its environs like wild fire. “The Collector of Excise takes notes” one might be heard gladly exclaiming to another, and forthwith every publican who had money to pay to the Excise was requested to obtain change for his friends’ notes; many doubtless, chuckling and thinking that the Collector would eventually find himself “in the wrong box.” Still, however, the Collector continued to “change,” and “all went merry as a marriage bell”. Next morning the collector and suite departed for Cardigan, where he had scarcely arrived, when a horse-express followed him, with a note from a particular friend, assuring him “in confidence” that he had better not deposit his cash with any country bank, and expressing fears that he had acted wrong in changing so many on the previous day. The Collector immediately penned a reply saying that he had such reliance upon the stability of Messrs. Wilkins’ Bank, that he proposed at once depositing in it the whole amount that he had collected. Forthwith, the collector Mr Cassin, with a large bag of gold guineas and sovereigns in one hand and a bundle of notes in the other, together with two weighty bags of silver, slowly proceeded to Messrs. Wilkins’ bank in the sight of many of the population of Cardigan. (The Brecon Old Bank as it was originally known, was founded in Brecon in 1778 by Mr John Wilkins 1713-1784, who was highly regarded by the directors of the Bank of England)
On arrival, Mr Cassin dismounted from his horse, and with the help of his assistants proceeded to enter the bank whereupon the cashier Mr Jones took delivery of the money, beads of perspiration appearing on his brow as he did so. Amazement then seized upon all, as it had done upon the previous day at Newcastle Emlyn, and innumerable applications for “change for notes” were at once made and promptly acceded to. A similar scene transpired at Newport and Fishguard, and at each place did the Collector steadily persevere in his plan. The consequence in fact, was that confidence in the banks was in a great measure restored. Had, however, Mr Cassin refused to take notes in payment, “a run upon the banks” would have inevitably ensued, which would at all events have been productive of much unnecessary trouble and alarm, had no more disastrous results accrued. It is gratifying to learn that the Collector Mr Cassin lost nothing by the transaction, but we have no hesitation in saying that the bankers and commercial community in general are indebted to him for his energy and decision in arresting the panic, and saving the Bank of England from a serious if not fatal blow.
*** The “Nickname” of the Bank of England – commonly known as “The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street” owes its origin to Wales.
The cartoon below shows the Prime Minister of the day, William Pitt the Younger, pretending to woo an old lady, the personification of the Bank, but what he is really after is the Bank’s reserves, represented by the gold coin in her pocket, and the money-chest on which she is firmly seated. At the time, the Bank was a joint stock company operating under Royal Charter, and therefore essentially a private company – and so it was perceived as having been taken advantage of by the politicians. A series of events beginning with a landing in February 1797 by several hundred French troops at Fishguard on the Welsh coast and ending with an accusatory speech in the House of Commons by the opposition MP Richard Sheridan had prompted Gillray to produce the cartoon, forever known as the “Old Lady of Threadneedle Street”