Autograph Letter Signed ('J Crowe') by John Crowe, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Norwich Union Fire & Life Insurance Societies, to Major-General John Hall, regarding 'the misconduct of the Secretary Mr Thos Bignold Senr.'

John Crowe, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Norwich Union Fire & Life Insurance Societies [Major-General John Hall (1770-1823) of Park Hall, Mansfield Woodhouse; Thomas Bignold (1761-1835)]
Publication details: 
16 November 1818; Union Office, Norwich.
SKU: 10633

Folio, 2 pp. On the rectos of the two leaves of a bifolium. On laid paper watermarked 'Gilling & Allford 1816'. Text clear and complete. Good, on lightly-aged paper. The first page contains a letter addressed to 'General Hall' from 'Union Office | Norwich 16th Novr. 1818', forty lines long and signed 'J Crowe'. The second page is headed 'Norwich Union Life Insurance Society | Statement of the particulars of the misconduct of the Secretary Mr Thos Bignold Senr.' It contains a six-point indictment of Bignold, totalling thirty-seven lines. The habitually aggressive and contemptuous behaviour of the founder of the Norwich Union is described in Thomas Bignold's entry in the New DNB, where the background to this item is explained as follows: 'By 1818 Norwich Union had recruited 70,000 fire policyholders by applying the mutual principle on a massive and unprecedented scale. But claims had also increased after 1815 and were threatening bonuses during the post-war recession. [...] rivals were paying up quietly, while tightening up on underwriting. Bignold did neither, and legal costs rose while new business slumped. Rather than sink with their intransigent father, his sons backed Norwich Union's directors and took over.' On 30 December 1817 Hall had chaired a meeting at the Mansfield Moot Hall, founding the Local Committee of the Mansfield District of the Norwich Union. The present circular informs Hall that he will be receiving a 'Copy of the Report of the London Committee appointed to investigate the charges lately preferred against the Societies in the London District'. Bignold's conduct is described as 'indecorous & reprehensible and the Directors are well assured that nothing but his being displaced from both Departments will preserve the credit of the Institution or satisfy the minds of the Insured'. Hall is asked to add his signature 'to those which you will find already at the foot of the form of removal'. The points against Bignold on the second page include, having 'vexatiously & wantonly arrested Mr C. A. Hacket, one of the Society's Agents for a large sum of Money viz. £2,500 upon an Affidavit that the said C A Hacket was indebted to him in that sum for money had and received for his use altho' the Directors are assured that the said C A Hacket had had no transactions with he said Thos Bignold but as the Agent of this Society'. Bignold is also accused of 'Having by litigiousness, intemperate & improper conduct in his official capacity entirely forfeited the confidence & good opinion of the public'. Bignold subsequently set up a range of strange businesses (including the manufacture of shoes with revolving heels), went backrupt and spent sixteen months in King's Bench prison.