In the early 1950s the attic light in 1 Westmoreland Street regularly burned late into the night. Students in nearby digs assumed one of their number was swotting for exams. Edward Charles Windeyer was indeed a reader of books. In the Mitchell Library he consulted works on printing and engraving before returning to his one-room fl at to conduct practical experiments on a home-made printing press. By the time of his arrest in September 1953 Windeyer had circulated more than £4000 worth of counterfeit £10 notes. The forger’s habit of passing only one note at a time, mostly to bookmakers at night trots and greyhound meetings, had earned him the nickname ‘Mr One-By-One’.
The search for the Glebe counterfeiter had begun in September 1951. Over the next two years reports of forged notes, their quality steadily improving, were received from banks and race meetings Australia-wide. In July 1953 City Council workmen concreting a lane discovered an old sock in an air vent of the Westmoreland Street house. The sock, attached by string to a bolt in the vent, contained 185 counterfeit notes. Relays of police kept watch on the street for weeks before an arrest was fi nally made.
While on remand in Long Bay Gaol Windeyer was hospitalised for a week after receiving injuries which he maintained were the result of being kicked and bashed by arresting detectives R Ladkin and G McLean. The pair, who maintained that Windeyer had fallen down a fl ight of steps, were cleared. Despite a plea of not guilty, on the grounds that he had signed a confession ‘to save being kicked to death’, Windeyer was convicted and sentenced to seven years’ gaol. Defence Counsel Malcolm Hardwick hoped that he might be sent to a prison farm where he could continue his experiments into cosmic rays and ‘things in the atmosphere’. Crown Prosecutor Charles Rooney said he too felt sorry for Windeyer and would like to assist him.
Windeyer, a ‘labourer’ in court records but an ‘engineer’ on electoral rolls, showed considerable ability as a forger and in his methods of evading discovery. He placed single bets with bookmakers too busy to examine the notes on the spot, and devised an elaborate system of keeping the counterfeit money at arm’s length. His method was to place forged notes in envelopes which he addressed to himself in fi ctitious names at various post offi ces. When he needed money he collected the letters, took out what he wanted and reposted the rest to other post offi ces. Judge Curlewis found the fraud ‘extremely clever and cunning’.
Ironically, Edward Windeyer, in trouble with the law, came from a family closely associated with the profession. Born in 1913 at Port Macquarie, he was the son of Septimus Macquarie Windeyer (1884-1946), grandson of Henry Watts Corey Windeyer (1830-1922) and great-grandson of Charles Windeyer (1780-1855) a prominent magistrate and Sydney’s fi rst mayor. A granduncle, Richard Windeyer, founded a legal dynasty.
Australian Dictionary of Biography
NSW cemetery records
NSW electoral rolls
NSW register of births, deaths, marriages Sands directories
Sydney Morning Herald 11.8.1953; 16.9.1953; 1.12.1953; 2.12.1953; 3.12.1953.