Crockford was originally a FISHMONGER, keeping a shop near Temple
Bar. By embarking in this speculation he laid the foundation of
the most colossal fortune that was ever made by play.
It was said there were persons of rank and station, who had never
paid their debts to Crockford, up to 1844, and that some of his
creditors compounded with him for their gambling debts. His
proprietorship had lasted 15 or 16 years.
Crockford himself was examined by the committee of the House of
Commons on the Gaming Houses; but in spite of his assurance by
the members that were indemnified witnesses in respect of pending
actions, he resolutely declined to 'tell the secrets of his
prison-house.' When asked whether a good deal of play was
carried on at his club, he said:--'There may have been so; but I
do not feel myself at liberty to answer that question--to DIVULGE
THE PURSUITS OF PRIVATE GENTLEMEN. Situated as I was, I do not
feel myself at liberty to do so. I do not feel myself at liberty
to answer that question.'
When asked to whom he had given up the house, he fenced in like
manner, saying that he had given it up to a 'committee' of about
200 gentlemen,--concerning which committee he professed to 'know
absolutely nothing'--he could not even say to whom he had given
up the house--he gave it up to the gentlemen of the club four
years before--he could not even say (upon his word) whether he
signed any paper in giving it up--he believed he did not--
adding--'I said I grew too old, and I could not continue in the
club any longer, and I wished to give up the club to the
gentlemen, who made their own arrangement.'