Alton Bank £10 note

Object name: Alton Bank £10 note

Object number: CHWJA: JAH368.1

Category: Object

Description: This is an unissued note of the Alton Bank with the partners’ names listed. The first ‘Austen’ was Henry Thomas Austen- Jane’s brother, with whom she had a special connection.

The full wording on the note is as follows:

ALTON BANK promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of TEN POUNDS, here or at Messrs Austen, Maunde & Austen, Bankers, London
Value received Alton the ………. day ………. of 180…..
For Austen, Gray & Vincent

In 1801 Henry had embarked on a new career as a banker, partnering with Henry Maunde and James Tilson, setting up offices in London. His brother Francis also invested and is the second Austen name to appear on the banknotes they issued, including the one here.

In 1806 Henry opened a branch at 10 High Street in Alton (about two miles from Chawton), from where this note was issued. A blue plaque now marks the site. The main premises in London were then at Henrietta Street and the bank seal features prominently on the notes issued from their branches.

Bank notes from this period were considerably larger than modern equivalents.

Made: Between 1807 and 1815

Context: Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the demobilisation of many of Europe’s armies caused a financial slump which led to the collapse of the Alton branch. The others followed, notes from the banks became worthless and in March 1816 Henry was declared bankrupt. He was not the only victim within the family. Jane lost £13 of her profit from Mansfield Park, Edward £20,000 and an uncle £10,000. Shortly after, Jane’s health began to fail; yet her affection for Henry never faltered and she left him £50 when she died. He published Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in 1817/18, finally revealing the author to the world.

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