Copyright © 2011-2017 John N. Lupia III

Ernest Henry Neville (1830-1911), was born in England in 1830. He appears to have arrived in San Francisco, California, no later than 1867 working as a clerk for steamships at the wharf. The San Francisco City Directory of 1868 lists him as a clerk working for the Steamship Montana. The San Francisco City Directory of 1867 and 1869 lists him as  a freight clerk at Pacific Mail Steamship Co.'s wharf, San Francisco, California. 
            He had married Annie Murray (1839-1870), who died at San Francisco at the age 41 on April 10, 1870. They had no known issue. He never remarried.
            On October 2, 1876, Philip A. Cohen filed a lawsuit for defamation of character against Neville for the amount of $3,500 allegedly in damages resulting from libelous words. According to the San Francisco City Directory of 1876 he was still working as a clerk for Pacific Mail Steamship Co.'s wharf, San Francisco, California. Nothing is known of the outcome of the suit. It would seem that he did not suffer grievously since within months as destiny would have it he was in business for himself operating as an exchange broker.
            According to the San Francisco City Directory of 1877, he became partners with George R. Sanderson forming the firm of Neville & Sanderson, an Exchange Brokerage at 140 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California. The partnership was dissolved in 1878 since we find him listed as a money broker at 138 Montgomery, and residing at 776 Howard Street. The San Francisco City Directory of 1880 lists him as a stock and money broker at 116 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California, residing at 776 Howard Street. He most probably knew his fellow Englishman and neighbor also working in the gold coin trade, Nathan Joseph
            On September 12, 1881, Neville received a bogus letter from a scam man pretending to be an attorney named F. M. Willard of the firm of Pierson & Edwards, Walla Walla, Washington Territory, purporting that a certain Burtis Neville bequeathed him $2,000 in Bonds with the stipulation that he advance $500 as a donation to the San Francisco Free Library in order to receive the money. Neville doubted the veracity of the letter and made inquiries with the Trustees of the Library and a Senator in Walla Walla, Washington Territory only to confirm no such law firm, will, etc ., existed. 

Fig. Neville's old gold coins : a ducat of Philip II of Macedon, a Rose Noble of Edward III of England, coins of Ferdinand & Isabella, Vladimir of Poland, a double ducat of Philip of Spain and England, James I of England, and a Dionysian coin are all highlighted in an article about rare coins in local collections. San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, November 7, 1886, page 3

            Neville corresponded with the Chapman Brothers from 1896 until 1910. Before he died he seems to have sold his stock of coins since no mention of any collection is made in his last will and testament except the cash deposited in the bank. The are currently six pieces of correspondence sent by Neville to the Chapman Brothers catalogued in the Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. When the digital catalogue is completed for the remaining years 1909 to 1910 spanning Neville's lifetime the update on the total will be published.
Fig. Neville's correspondence with the Chapman Brothers postmarked Registered, November 21, 1900, San Francisco, California, franked with a strip of three Scott#268 and a Scott#279. On the back the wax seal of his firm and rubber stamped corner card "E. H. Neville, Stock & Money Broker, 112 Montgomery St., San Francisco." The notation by Henry Chapman relates that he received $8.75 in cash for certain coins won in the Dr. Edward Maris sale that closed on the 17th. Courtesy Lupia Numismatic Library, Special Collection, The Chapman Family Correspondence Archive. 

            On or about December 20, 1901, a well dressed man of about 35 years of age entered his brokerage and at gunpoint attempted to rob him of the $600 in face value of gold coins in his money tray. Neville refused to surrender the gold and told him to shoot, but that he would not get any of the gold. The would-be thief began to sob and left. Later that day he received a letter from the assailant with the words, "I have at last met the rarest of creatures, a brave man. I salute you." With the letter published in the newspaper Neville commented that if the young man were to return to his office, "I'll try to help him."

            Farran Zerbe visited San Francisco and the brokerage house of Neville in April 1905 writing "Among the local dealers I found E. Neville and Sutro & Co., in possession of some good coins." In the August issue of The Numismatistpage 263, Zerbe reported on the coin dealers who suffered severe losses from the San Francisco earthquake and fires and E. H. Neville was amongst those who suffered the worse.

            At the time of his demise Neville lived at 2705 Pine Street, San Francisco, California.  He died on January 26, 1911. He bequeath all of his estate in the cash amount of $1,522, to the Crocker Old People's Home, 2507 Pine Street, San Francisco.

Bibliography :

"Deaths-NEVILLE," San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, April 10, 1870, page 8
San Francisco City Directory of 1871 
"Court Notices," San Francisco Bulletin, Monday, October 2, 1876, page 3
"New Suits," Weekly Alta California, Saturday, October 7, 1876, page 6
San Francisco City Directory of 1877, page 652 
"A Plan Only Half Worked Out, The Record-Union, Monday, September 26, 1881, page 3
"Early Coinage. Rarities Found in Local Collections--Gold of All Ages," San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, November 7, 1886, page 3
"Robber Thanks Intended Victim," San Francisco Call, Friday, December 20, 1901, page 12
"A Brave Man," Daily Illinois State Register, Tuesday, January 7, 1902, page 6
"Praised by a Robber: An Old Man's Courage Wins the Admiration of a Gentlemanly Hold-Up Man," Arkansas City Traveler, Monday, February 12, 1902, page 3
Farran Zerbe, "Notes Enroute," The Numismatist, May (1905) : 149
Farran Zerbe, "A Jaunt Across the Continent : Retrospective and Personal," The Numismatist, August (1906) : 263
"Legacy to Crocker Home," San Francisco Chronicle, Friday, February 10, 1911, page 16