King George VI of England

George VI Rare Pardon Prisoner Convicted of Fraudulent Shelter Fund Scheme during London Blitz, WWII

George VI Pardons Prisoner Convicted of Fraudulent Shelter Fund Scheme during London Blitz


1p war dated document signed by George VI (1895-1952) as "George R.I." at top. The bold signature measures 3.5" x 1.25". Embossed "G.R." and bearing a crisp navy blue seal in the upper left corner. Also signed by British Home Secretary Herbert Morrison (1888-1965) as "Herbert Morrison" at lower right. Handsomely presented to the left of George VI's official royal portrait originally photographed by Bertram Park. Framed behind beveled taupe matting and glass. Not examined out of frame. Sight size of document is 7.75" x 12.75"; the frame size overall is 17.625" x 18.25" x .875". Catalog description from Kenneth W. Rendell Gallery, Inc. (New York, NY and Beverly Hills, CA) found verso.


On January 3, 1942 from his Court at St. James's, George VI remanded the sentence of prisoner Austin Gordon Lovell Pennock (ca. 1898 - ?). Pennock had been "convicted of three offences of larceny and three offences of fraudulent conversion of property and sentenced to imprisonment for eighteen months" in April 1941, but he was being pardoned after serving only eight months' imprisonment.


"GEORGE THE SIXTH by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith,


TO the Governor of Our Prison at Pentonville and all others whom it may concern




WHEREAS Austin Gordon Lovell Pennock was at the Sessions holden at Westminster for the County of Middlesex on the third day of April, 1941, convicted of three offences of larceny and three offences of fraudulent conversion of property and sentenced to imprisonment for eighteen months:


NOW KNOW YE that We in consideration of some circumstances humbly represented unto Us, are Graciously pleased to extend Our Grace and Mercy unto the said Austin Gordon Lovell Pennock and to pardon and remit unto him six weeks of the sentence imposed upon him aforesaid…"


The Cairns Post dated November 8, 1941 gives us some additional information about Pennock's crimes. Apparently, the aircraft inspector had "describ[ed] himself as secretary of the 'Acton Deep Underground Shelter Association,' obtaining subscriptions from people for the use of a shelter which was non-existent…Mr. J.H. Thorpe, K.C., deputy chairman, told Pennock: -- 'You are a common swindler who has chosen as your victims people who have reason to be frightened and want protection from enemy attack. You are a public danger and the people must be protected.'"


Pennock's original sentence--18 months' hard labor--illustrates how war-time civil crimes could be harshly prosecuted. Was Pennock's sentence especially onerous to deter others from similar stunts during a time of national crisis? The time and setting make this likely. During the London Blitz, German aircraft flew over the English Channel and conducted damaging air raids over major British cities almost continuously between September 1940 and May 1941. The official policy of the British government was against the use of communal underground shelters, but city residents still fled to tube stations during attacks. Fear was rampant, and maintaining high morale was paramount. "Deep shelter" schemes like Pennock's could have had disastrous consequences on the British war-time psyche.


Records indicate that Pennock had a past criminal history. In 1924, Pennock was pinched after misrepresenting the extent of his business dealings with the British Broadcasting Company, and he was also nabbed for pushing cocaine. The October 24, 1930 issue of the Edinburgh Gazette listed Pennock, a self-described wireless and electrical dealer, as a bankrupt. During a better phase of his life, Pennock applied for a patent for a new and improved galvanic battery in 1934. But he was back in the jug by 1941.


George VI never expected to oversee Britain during the waning days of its empire. His elder brother Edward VIII ruled for 11 months before abdicating in mid-December 1936. George VI, truly an accidental monarch, overcame a severe speech impediment and valiantly led the British people during six years of brutal warfare, 1939-1945.


Pentonville Prison was first opened in 1842 to house male convicts in northern London. An example of prison reform architecture, it was designed in a star shape to provide a more spacious and hygienic environment for Victorian prisoners. It is still in use today.



Item: 65143

Price: $750.00
King George VI of EnglandKing George VI of EnglandKing George VI of EnglandKing George VI of England
King George VI of England
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