British Museum guidebook, £3.50
Width: 190.000 mm
Height: 124.000 mm
Coins and Medals
£10 note, Alton Bank
Alton, Hampshire, England, around AD 1808
A bank with literary associations
At the foot of this unissued note of the Alton Bank, the partners' names are listed, 'Austen, Gray and Vincent'. 'Austen' was Henry Thomas Austen, the brother of the novelist Jane Austen (1775-1817).
On leaving the army in 1801, Henry Austen set up business in London as an army agent, handling the financial affairs for several regiments. Over time his range of business widened into more general banking. Henry also became a partner in three country banks, in the towns of Alton, Petersfield and Hythe. The note shown here is from the Alton Bank. It was probably printed around 1808, when the London partnership moved their offices to Henrietta Street in Covent Garden, London, the address given below the monogram to the left.
At this time Henry Austen's businesses were successful, and a few years later, he was made Receiver of Taxes for the county of Oxfordshire. However, he and his various banking partners made excessive and unwise loans, sometimes lending to each other. The Alton Bank stopped business in November 1815; in March the following year his London bank failed and Henry Austen was declared bankrupt. Once his debts were discharged he changed direction completely, to become a clergyman and schoolmaster.
Clive Caplan, 'Jane Austen's banker brother: Henry Thomas Austen of Austen & Co., 1801-1816', Persuasions, The Jane Austen J, 20 (1999), pp. 68-90