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Joseph Hobson Jagger

Joseph Hobson Jagger, from the village of Shelf, the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo!

Monte Carlo or bust!

Joseph Hobson Jagger was from the village of Shelf. He is reputed to be the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo.

Referred to in an old music hall song:

"As I walked along the Bois Bologne with an independent air. You can hear the girls declare, he must be a millionaire.

You can hear them sigh and wish to die. You can see them wink the other eye, at the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo."
Pen Drawing of a gaming table of the time

Jagger was born in September 1830 and was employed as an engineer at Bottomley's Mill in Shelf. In the 1870s he went to Monte Carlo and while there, watched the roulette wheels in the Casino. Jagger had a theory that the wheels at certain tables had a tendency to favour particular numbers. With the help of a group of spectators, Jagger put his theory to the test.

He placed his first bet on July 7th 1875 and won a large amount of money. The Casino officials were suspicious about Jagger's success and security men were told to keep an eye on him.

Joseph realised he was being watched and made sure he did not always win. On the second night, Joseph won even more, this time from the same wheel. The Casino authorities decided to outsmart Joseph by changing the wheel. Unfortunately for them, Jagger had anticipated this and somehow had secretly marked the winning cylinder.

Eventually, the management realised that the key to Joseph's success was in the cylinder and they replaced it. However, over eight days, Joseph had won two million old francs, at the time it was worth about £400,000.

On his return to England, Joseph gave up his job at the mill. He invested his money in property at Little Horton, Bradford. Joseph died in 1892, aged 61. When he died, he left £200 for the upkeep of his grave. He is buried at Bethel Church, Shelf.

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