ADY, Joseph. 17370



An original Autograph Letter Signed ‘Jos: Ady, Accountant’, informing his unsuspecting correspondent that Ady “is able to inform you of something he believes considerably to your advantage on receipt of twenty shillings for his trouble by Post Office order or otherwise on a promise of one fourth part when recovered.” 7 x 7 inches, in worn condition, laid down. 7 York Street, Charlotte Street [London], undated, c.1850. A remarkable surviving manuscript record of Victorian low life. Joseph Ady (1770–1852) was a notorious English impostor. His career is recorded by De Quincey in an essay on Secret Societies. Ady was at one time a hatter in London, but failing in that business he hit upon the device of raising funds by means of circular letters. He would look up the lists of unclaimed inheritances, dividends, and bequests, and then write, without stamping his letters, to any people of those names that he could find, offering to produce ‘something to their advantage’ on payment of 20/-. In numerous instances he evaded the law and baffled the magistrates and post-office authorities.