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dc.contributor.authorBenson, John
dc.date.accessioned2016-11-29T15:32:21Z
dc.date.available2016-11-29T15:32:21Z
dc.date.issued2017-04-25
dc.identifier.citationBenson, J., (2017) 'The office boy’s triumph': deceit and display in early twentieth-century Wolverhampton, Midland History, 42(1), pp. 58-71.
dc.identifier.issn0047-729X
dc.identifier.doi10.1080/0047729X.2017.1311518
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/2436/620298
dc.description.abstractInsofar as the ‘Varley affair’ of 1917 is remembered today, it is the preserve of local historians and those interested in the development of local government. There is only one extended study. In the edited volume Corruption in Urban Politics and Society, Britain 1780-1950, that John Smith and James Moore published in 2007, Smith contributed a chapter on the affair which he entitled ‘”Ingenious and Daring”: The Wolverhampton Council Fraud 1905-17’. He begins by setting out the key points of what happened. The case in question concerned Jesse Varley, accountant clerk to Wolverhampton education committee who between 1905 and 1917 defrauded the Corporation of a total of £84,335 (about £5 million in today’s values). His crime eventually came to light when an office boy reported his suspicions to the town clerk. Varley was arrested, tried and found guilty of larceny, falsification of accounts and forgery: he was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. There was an element of serendipity, it must be said, in Varley’s downfall. Although those working in his office had harboured their suspicions about him for some years, it was apparently only when one of them, Osmond Richards, decided to check how much teachers at his old school were taking home that he discovered payments (supposedly) being made to members of staff whom he knew had never existed. The uncovering of the ‘Varley affair’, trumpeted the Wolverhampton Chronicle, was ‘The Office Boy’s Triumph’. In fact, as we shall see, Richards worked as a ‘Junior Clerk’ (or ‘Junior Assistant’) rather than as an ‘Office Boy’. The misunderstanding presumably arose either because local journalists knew a good headline when they saw one or because junior staff in the Education Department were sometimes referred to collectively – and dismissively – as ‘the office boys’.
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherTaylor & Francis
dc.relation.urlhttps://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0047729X.2017.1311518
dc.subjectOffice work
dc.subjectfraud
dc.subjectspending
dc.subjectrespectability
dc.subjectWolverhampton
dc.subjectlocal government
dc.title'The office boy’s triumph': deceit and display in early twentieth-century Wolverhampton
dc.typeJournal article
dc.identifier.journalMidland History
dc.date.accepted2016-11-01
rioxxterms.funderUniversity of Wolverhampton
rioxxterms.identifier.projectUoW291116JB
rioxxterms.versionAM
rioxxterms.licenseref.urihttps://creativecommons.org/CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
rioxxterms.licenseref.startdate2019-04-25
dc.source.volume42
dc.source.issue1
dc.source.beginpage58
dc.source.endpage71
refterms.dateFCD2018-10-18T15:47:00Z
refterms.versionFCDAM
refterms.dateFOA2019-05-02T14:57:18Z
html.description.abstractInsofar as the ‘Varley affair’ of 1917 is remembered today, it is the preserve of local historians and those interested in the development of local government. There is only one extended study. In the edited volume Corruption in Urban Politics and Society, Britain 1780-1950, that John Smith and James Moore published in 2007, Smith contributed a chapter on the affair which he entitled ‘”Ingenious and Daring”: The Wolverhampton Council Fraud 1905-17’. He begins by setting out the key points of what happened. The case in question concerned Jesse Varley, accountant clerk to Wolverhampton education committee who between 1905 and 1917 defrauded the Corporation of a total of £84,335 (about £5 million in today’s values). His crime eventually came to light when an office boy reported his suspicions to the town clerk. Varley was arrested, tried and found guilty of larceny, falsification of accounts and forgery: he was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude. There was an element of serendipity, it must be said, in Varley’s downfall. Although those working in his office had harboured their suspicions about him for some years, it was apparently only when one of them, Osmond Richards, decided to check how much teachers at his old school were taking home that he discovered payments (supposedly) being made to members of staff whom he knew had never existed. The uncovering of the ‘Varley affair’, trumpeted the Wolverhampton Chronicle, was ‘The Office Boy’s Triumph’. In fact, as we shall see, Richards worked as a ‘Junior Clerk’ (or ‘Junior Assistant’) rather than as an ‘Office Boy’. The misunderstanding presumably arose either because local journalists knew a good headline when they saw one or because junior staff in the Education Department were sometimes referred to collectively – and dismissively – as ‘the office boys’.


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