Saving Shakespeare's Birthplace
7. A Shakespeare scam
In addition to the London and Stratford committees, the People’s Central Committee of the Shakespeare Memorial Fund, appeared and entered the race to save the Birthplace. The committee’s membership lists included people who belonged to the Stratford and London committees. Some of them later disclaimed all knowledge of the People’s Committee.
People’s Committee founder and chairman, actor George Jones, became a figure of fun in the newspapers. He was portrayed as a self-publicist, using the opportunity given by the auction to promote himself.
One halfpennyworth of Shakspeare to an intolerable quantity of Mr George Jones.
Punch Magazine, dated before 16 September 1847
John Langford Pritchard, Manager of the York Theatrical Circuit, became involved in a dispute with Jones over money. Pritchard initially supported the People's Committee but later came to doubt its existence, believing Jones had taken the money from fundraising performances for himself. The truth about the committee and monies raised is unknown, though intriguingly Jones was arrested for debt in 1849.
George Jones, 16 September 1847Sketched by Theodosius Purland
See below for published material about George Jones