A Serious Offence

On 10th October 1886, The Surrey Mirror reported that a serious offence had taken place on the premises of Guildford Union Workhouse.  Frank Maplestone Riches, who been appointed Temporary Master of the Union owing to the death of the previous Master, Mr Hardwick, was charged with embezzlement of £10, the money of the Guardians.

Mr Riches was prosecuted by the clerk to the Guardians, Mr Mark Smallpeice.  Riches had disappeared after agreeing to a meeting to go through the accounts, to look for an explanation of ten pounds 9 shillings and 6 pence which was unaccounted for.  A specific amount of five shillings paid to Mr Riches by a coal merchant was not forwarded to the Guardians.

Frank Mapleston Riches had been taken into custody in Alnwick, Northumberland, from where he was taken to Guildford for judgement.  He was found guilty of embezzlement and was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment.
The former Cuckfield Workhouse

This was a sad termination of his lifelong connection to Workhouses.  In 1861 he was living at Thingoe Union Workhouse in Bury St Edmonds where his parents were Master and Matron.  By 1881 Frank was Assistant Master at Cuckfield Union Workhouse in Sussex, where his older brother Thomas T. Riches was Master so it would have been a natural progression for Frank to become Master of Guildford Union Workhouse.  What a pity that he succumbed to the temptation of dipping into the funds to which the responsible role of Master gave him access.

British Newspaper Archive

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