The 1831 City Bank of New York Robbery

Sometime between when First Teller Lancaster S Burling locked up the vault in the City Bank of New York on Saturday, March 19, 1831 and when he opened the bank on Monday, someone entered the vault and stole the astounding sum of $240,000. It was not, as some newspapers at the time asserted, the first bank robbery in the United States. But is was the first large bank robbery in New York City.
This is original content based on research by The History Guy. Images in the Public Domain are carefully selected and provide illustration. As very few images of the actual event are available in the Public Domain, images of similar objects and events are used for illustration.
You can purchase the bow tie worn in this episode at The Tie Bar:
All events are portrayed in historical context and for educational purposes. No images or content are primarily intended to shock and disgust. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Non censuram.
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Script by THG
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  • Always good information. Always well-documented. Must you speak with that affect? Must you speak with that clipped enunciation and the dragging of final consonants. For God's sake, man. you sound like a preacher. Why don't you shed the Bowtie, start wearing a "four in hand" tie and see if it doesn't loosen your epiglottis.

    Mike GoodmanMike GoodmanӨдрийн өмнө
  • Hey “History Guy” it is Charles Karult, CBS or Paul Harvey, “Good Day”. These two gentlemen are brought to mind when I view you channel. Your the guy. ENJOY~

    Michael -Michael -2 өдрийн өмнө
  • This kinda reminds me of that saying : “locks are only for keeping honest people out”!

    roberto abramsroberto abrams3 өдрийн өмнө
  • Very nice, sir. Very nice.

    Frank GullaFrank Gulla4 өдрийн өмнө
  • Have you looked at the Triangle Shirt waist company fire? I teach industrial relations at a university in Australia, and yes I have degrees up to PhD level in history. I will often discuss it when teaching my students about Workplace Health and Safety.

    htmonaro1969htmonaro19695 өдрийн өмнө
  • How about the history of the WWII Nazi submarine detection crews along the US east coast and Florida. They used directional radio receivers to triangulate on the submarines. When triangulated, bombers were dispatched to the sub's location. The whole operation was secret and the bombing runs were listed as practice as the government didn't want to alarm the American public. If interested, I have a picture of one of the directional receiving towers.

    Kerry NavaraKerry Navara9 өдрийн өмнө
  • You make so much excellent content. My son and I talk about your videos every time they come out. Always something unique and interesting. Keep up the good work!

    Austin AlexanderAustin Alexander9 өдрийн өмнө
  • How were the impressions of the keys obtained? Was there someone on the inside? Were the original keys also stolen and returned after impressions taken and if so, how and by whom? It's a very incomplete story.

    Malcolm BacchusMalcolm Bacchus12 өдрийн өмнө
  • When it comes to the prose of the 19th century reporters from which you're reading vs. your own prose, I can't tell where one ends and the other begins!😀🤣 It's very formal! However, too many narrators dumb-down their language these days, and I'm glad that you're not one of them!

    Andrew EdenAndrew Eden13 өдрийн өмнө
  • Hayes is no Johnathan Wild.

    TheFreshman321TheFreshman32113 өдрийн өмнө
  • A pirate walks into a bar with a steering wheel sticking out of his zipper. The bartender asks: "What's with the steering wheel?" And the pirate says: "AAAARRRRRRGH, It's driving me Nuts."

    B AB A14 өдрийн өмнө
  • Ha! Ha! you and your pirates references crack me up.

    Michael GarciaMichael Garcia15 өдрийн өмнө
  • Is there an adage that goes, "Good criminal detective work depend on the stupidity of criminals?" Stupid criminals are, usually, quickly caught and put away. Smart criminals get wealthy and elected to public office. or Smart criminals get elected to public office and become wealthy.

    Andy WomackAndy Womack16 өдрийн өмнө
  • How dumb can you get. If you're going to do something, make sure you have a long term plan, clearly this moran had no plan from Monday onwards. There wasn't even telegraph then, he could have ran in any direction ahead of news, and far enough to never be found.

    Mark MarkMark Mark17 өдрийн өмнө
    • @Mark Mark As I mentioned before, good detective work depends on the stupidity or criminals

      Andy WomackAndy Womack15 өдрийн өмнө
    • @Andy Womack Carrying the trunks around for days, real smart ... First thing to do is to separate yourself from the evidence and act normal. They should have had a safe hide for the money and the trunks should have been disposed of within minutes, that's what did the idiots in. Did you know 9 out of 10 major crimes are solved because the Perps talk about it to someone? There's something in the human psych that they just can't help themselves, and all police do is wait and send lots of ears out to listen, usually doesn't take long.

      Mark MarkMark Mark16 өдрийн өмнө
    • Dumb criminals are an essential element in good police detective work. One would want escape-to-the-hinterlands plans in place however. And, if he and his accomplices were on foot, or reduce to cabs for hire, then they could not out-distance mounted scouts on the few roads at that time. The plan was FUBAR, almost by design. NYC in 1831 was little more than today's middling size town.

      Andy WomackAndy Womack16 өдрийн өмнө
  • Another totally engrossing story from my favorite history guy! This robbery occurred in 1831 BC. ( before 🚗 ) so this bank robber must have had some pretty high performance horses 🐎 to steal away into the night with his "booty!"💰 Because after all, isn't a Bank robber just a land-based pirate? ☠ Once again, thank you history guy for making covid-19 a little more bearable!

    Jakal9712Jakal971217 өдрийн өмнө
  • In the southern corners of Arizona and New Mexico, there is a tale of a lost gold train; Union soldiers from the west coast were transporting the gold east, but were under threat from a Confederate unit, and supposedly buried the wagons by dynamiting cliffs. In the 1950s I heard this story claimed by several of the community elder, I have always wondered if there is any actual documentation of this?

    Lewis DyeLewis Dye17 өдрийн өмнө
  • He had a PLAN, Arthur.

    Panzer ManPanzer Man17 өдрийн өмнө
  • Technically It's not a "robbery". It's a burglary. Burglary involves a person illegally entering a building in order to commit a crime while inside; robbery is generally when someone takes something of value directly from another person by the use of force or fear.

    QuantumRiftQuantumRift17 өдрийн өмнө
  • How’d they get the forms for the keys? I. Greatly appreciate your work and usually forget to hit like.

    Jon RettichJon Rettich17 өдрийн өмнө
    • False Keys were made using a skeleton key and a wax impression of the lock.

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered17 өдрийн өмнө
  • ...and it's History that Deserves to be Remembered!!!!

    Virginia HansenVirginia Hansen18 өдрийн өмнө
  • I am so pleased to see your videos again in my feed.

    DularrDularr18 өдрийн өмнө
  • Great story!

    Who EverWho Ever18 өдрийн өмнө
  • Funny part the insurance covered it and he was the one who stole it_ the bank manager

    Marcus MedinaMarcus Medina18 өдрийн өмнө
  • Wasn't this technically a burglary, not a robert?

    Noah SpurrierNoah Spurrier19 өдрийн өмнө
  • hey history guy you should do a video on the santa clause bank robbery that happened in cisco texas in 1027

    John MurphyJohn Murphy19 өдрийн өмнө
  • Either I'm having a strong case of deja vu or this a re-upload or did he do a story similar to this? I swear I heard of this bank robbery and the other stores broken into.

    ArmyGrunt1986ArmyGrunt198620 өдрийн өмнө
  • Great work

    Mat 37Mat 3720 өдрийн өмнө
  • It was a burglary. Robbery carries a threat of violence. No one was threatened. So, a burglary.

    TheScottytr6TheScottytr620 өдрийн өмнө
  • Nice to see Adam West on your shelf

    Radue LebiniRadue Lebini21 өдрийн өмнө
  • Yes, all good stories involve pirates. Can confirm.

    JD KJD K21 өдрийн өмнө
  • Rumor has it a passerby that night heard, "...and that's a click on one... Binding on two..."

    Platypi007Platypi00722 өдрийн өмнө
  • It wasn’t a robbery; it was a burglary.

    Joseph FeatherJoseph Feather23 өдрийн өмнө
  • The History Guy can work pirates into any story. And all the stories are great!

    Tom JahnesTom Jahnes23 өдрийн өмнө
  • To be pedantic, it was a bank burglary and not a bank robbery.

    James RosserJames Rosser24 өдрийн өмнө
  • When he read newspaper headlines about the constable it makes me smile and makes me sad, sad that so much in our written language has been lost to time and ignorance. Sad that so few people these days care to attempt to read more than seemingly comic strip level writings.

    Mister BeeMister Bee24 өдрийн өмнө
  • One point at question... How did they get the copies of the keys?

    Brett HessBrett Hess24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I must respectfully disagree with your estimate of the value of the money stolen. You state it to be about 7 million. It was probably worth more like 24 million. The average working man made about $200 a year. Most people made less than this, both city dwellers and rural poor.

    Brett HessBrett Hess24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I would call this a burglary, robbery is usually defined as theft by force or fear (stealing money by mugging or holding victim at gunpoint). It's typical, someone returns home or to their business to find it was broken into, and then call police, "we wuz robbed." A 911 call-taker first needs to determine if it was an actual robbery (code 3 response) or a burglary (not requiring emergency response). However, getting burglarized can feel very violating particularly if your home was left in shambles.

    wrightmfwrightmf24 өдрийн өмнө
  • 3:10 don't all good stories involve pirates?

    aegisofhonoraegisofhonor24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Thank you, it it amazing how bad of job the government schools do on teaching history, thank you for helping..

    Mark BeckerMark Becker24 өдрийн өмнө
  • I was half expecting the bank robbing partner of "Edward Jones" to go by the alias of Charles Schwab

    jimminy bunkwhackjimminy bunkwhack24 өдрийн өмнө
  • Sir, You look as though you might have lost some weight to me. I hope you are well or on the road to recovery. I enjoy this channel very much.

    vidabluebelfordvidabluebelford25 өдрийн өмнө
  • We need old Hays now

    Brer RabbitBrer Rabbit25 өдрийн өмнө
  • I worked in "banking" from the edges for a couple of decades. Citi Bank, Chemical.were always known as money laundering groups. Wells Fargo, , Chase and B of NY are new comers but just criminal groups with lots of money. Deutsche Bank et al are and have been openly money launderers

    Timothy DingmanTimothy Dingman25 өдрийн өмнө
  • And to this very day, Edward Jones is still stealing money.

    riverraisin1riverraisin125 өдрийн өмнө
  • Inside job long time planned; no doubt in those times fewer people almost no telecommunications, fewer street-lamps, no0 cameras only a handful of cameras.

    Edgar AraujoEdgar Araujo25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Boston Bruins former goalie Eddy Johnston's brother Mike was nabbed for a safety deposit robbery in Vancouver for the sum of 2.8 million (10 million in today currency) His other brother Billy was a guest of Vito Rizzuto as police managed to steal the seating list with his name, seated with him was Alain Charon who was reputed to have killed 43 men and was recently sentenced for his part in a 43 tonne of hash seizure in Montreal and Spain.. Eddy Johnston who is the only brother still alive went on to manage the Pittsburg Penguins under Mario Lemieux.. Vitto Rizutto was head of a family to rival any in N.Y. and was convicted of the shootings depicted in the Donnie Brasco movie, he was caught only after more than 20 years and only done five years on it because the statute of limitations had run out, and they called it a RICO murder for which there was no limitations, it was a plea deal..

    Mike McGomerMike McGomer25 өдрийн өмнө
  • "the moral cast of his continence is decidedly bad". I will sue you for slander. Citi Bank of New York was robbed 190 years ago. The bank would go on to rob its customers for the next 190 years now at 26,000 locations in 19 countries.

    V SohnV Sohn25 өдрийн өмнө
  • High Constables, night watchman, for something that happened less than 200 years ago, this stuff sounds positively medieval.

    LessCommonKnowledgeLessCommonKnowledge25 өдрийн өмнө
  • Well, God would never trust an Englishman in the dark, so what do you expect?

    knight Owlknight Owl25 өдрийн өмнө
  • A simple time with simple solutions.

    David StewartDavid Stewart26 өдрийн өмнө
  • was the gold recovered? where do they suspect the unrecovered loot is?? I metal detect and I need info!!!LOL

    peter okeefepeter okeefe26 өдрийн өмнө
    • It was unclear, in the news stories, whether the doubloons were part of the recovered amount. The assumption seems to be that the unrecovered amount was spent. There were rumors of graft by Hays or the constabulary, although that was discounted both by the papers and the thieves. Honeyman claimed that it had been placed "beyond the reach" of police. In general, the consensus seems to have been that enough was recovered to vindicate Hays and the constabulary's efforts.

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered26 өдрийн өмнө
  • The finely dressed pirates of today can be observed running the largest banks.

    Dunno AnyoneDunno Anyone26 өдрийн өмнө
  • Compelling as always! Before your channel I never imagined that learning these stories from history could be both enlightening and hypnotic at the same time. I wonder if one day you might tell the story of whatever happened to Western Auto stores. Growing up in the 1970s it was a place of wonder to browse. Everything from hardware to radios, bicycles and go carts. Their catalog was a veritable wish book. Looking back they were always there, until one day they weren’t.

    TastySurrealBowlTastySurrealBowl26 өдрийн өмнө
  • The New York Philharmonic is older than the NYPD. Think about that.

    David TeitelbaumDavid Teitelbaum26 өдрийн өмнө
  • pleaeeeeeeease could you do a video aboot raisins? Because i hate them and cant understand why they are still popular today

    D MD M26 өдрийн өмнө
  • The biggest inside bank robbery in world history was the creation of the Federal Reserve.And these robbers will never be prosecuted.💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰💰

    vern wallenvern wallen26 өдрийн өмнө
  • Good episode! Perhaps you can do an episode on the Tri State Tornado of 1925...

    Deacon BlueDeacon Blue26 өдрийн өмнө
  • This was really a great video. thx

    Gary MillerGary Miller26 өдрийн өмнө
  • What do you do when you steal more than you can possibly spend in a life time? Hang around town and hope nobody notices the huge trunks of money.

    GrandeTacoGrandeTaco27 өдрийн өмнө
  • The Watch Men AKA Militia

    Michele Conley EckertMichele Conley Eckert27 өдрийн өмнө
  • It was a burglary, not a robbery. Any story worth telling is worth using the correct terminology.

    Steven KolbSteven Kolb27 өдрийн өмнө
    • I used the terminology used by the papers reporting it at the time. “Robbery” is what it was called. The term “bank burglary” is simply not commonly used.

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered27 өдрийн өмнө
  • The History Guy always reminds me of that guy who used to be on CBS who played the piano and commented on politics -- Mark Russell

    Ty WillinganzTy Willinganz27 өдрийн өмнө
    • Mark Ressell was a genius...and funny as all get out!

      Matthew HamerslyMatthew Hamersly14 өдрийн өмнө
  • ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️👀

    HomefrontHomefront27 өдрийн өмнө
  • Another fine revisit and excellent forensic history.

    InfoScholarInfoScholar27 өдрийн өмнө
  • After watching... I took a minute to reflect... I'm glad I found this channel - Excellent production on all the THG video's...

    Bill GlennBill Glenn27 өдрийн өмнө
  • Robbery or Burglary?

    Benjamin ArmstrongBenjamin Armstrong27 өдрийн өмнө
    • The act is more properly a burglary, but it was referred to as a robbery at the time. In fact, all sorts of theft from banks are generally referred to as bank robberies. The term “bank burglary” is simply not commonly used.

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered27 өдрийн өмнө
  • Wonderful video, as usual. FYI, "false key" is just an old-fashioned way to say "lock pick" and 'robbery' requires the victim to be present during the crime.

    Glide McDonaldGlide McDonald27 өдрийн өмнө
  • I love learning about history. I especially like learning the history of NYC.

    Alex MartinezAlex Martinez27 өдрийн өмнө
  • Was George Clinton any relation to the future President Bill Clinton?

    Sam EyersSam Eyers27 өдрийн өмнө
  • Waiting for a heist film of this event, akin to the Great Bank Robbery.

    Exit OnlyExit Only27 өдрийн өмнө
  • Suggestion for a topic: Colonel Timothy Matlack (1730 - 1829) - the "writer" of the Declaration of Independence and other important historic documents. (And also my first cousin, 7 times removed!)

    Galilla SinatraGalilla Sinatra27 өдрийн өмнө
  • the best youtube channel

    pedmanga2pedmanga227 өдрийн өмнө
  • Another good story HG ! Now, what's the story about the model of that Corsair behind you?

    Chief PontiacChief Pontiac27 өдрийн өмнө
    • It was left as part of an estate to our local library, who sold it at their book sale. I wish I knew who the original owner was, but it is a very nice piece by the Toys and Models corporation of Bergenfield NJ. The company is still in business, but I don't think they sell this exact model anymore.

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered27 өдрийн өмнө
  • I would have left NYC has fast as possible if I did it, not stay

    R LR L28 өдрийн өмнө
  • Always fascinated me how innovations and advancements in law enforcement through the years have been brought about by the criminals. Formation of agencies, techniques for investigating, etc. Criminals (the minute percentage that get away with it) always seem to be one step ahead of the law, pull off an incredible crime, and then eventually law enforcement catches up. The style and procedures work once, but the standard was set by the one crime.

    Dirk DitmerDirk Ditmer28 өдрийн өмнө
  • You cannot rob an inanimate object, like a bank vault. Only a person can be robbed. This was a burglary.

    rpbajbrpbajb28 өдрийн өмнө
  • wouldn't this technically be burglary not robbery?

    ThomasCaldwell74ThomasCaldwell7428 өдрийн өмнө
  • Worth today $6,983,475.17

    Brian O'HaraBrian O'Hara28 өдрийн өмнө
  • Great story as always. I waited to hear about the act of the robbery but came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a robbery at all. It was a burglary.

    Ol’ SargeOl’ Sarge28 өдрийн өмнө
  • The adventurous fan congruently flash because trousers regretfully overflow out a dashing chalk. lamentable, hurried country

    Vi TrongVi Trong28 өдрийн өмнө
  • Since this seems to come up in a lot of history videos, I will comment: To suggest that $240k would be worth about $7M today is a pretty big under estimation. One easy example to show this is that a beer then was 3 cents and an average days pay was about $1. An inflation rate of 30x in 200 years doesn’t track. Today. a beer isn’t 90 cents, and the average days pay is not $30. A decent farm was a $1000 at most then. You cannot buy a farm for $30k today. Nothing from that time costs only 30 times as much today . No job from that time only pays 30x as much today. I see this a LOT in history videos.

    MomentsInTradingMomentsInTrading28 өдрийн өмнө
    • I use the calculation tool at This is the explanation: $240,000 in 1831 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $7,255,558.62 today, an increase of $7,015,558.62 over 190 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 1.81% per year between 1831 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 2,923.15%. This means that today's prices are 30.23 times higher than average prices since 1831, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 3.31% of what it could buy back then.

      The History Guy: History Deserves to Be RememberedThe History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered28 өдрийн өмнө
  • They met at Botany Bay ? Oh no. They must have been on Australia's First Fleet , which was sent to Botany Bay but didn't disembark there as it was too much of a swamp. Instead they disembarked where Sydney CBD ( more precisely ,near Sydney Opera House ) is now,for its solid land and fresh water .

    LeonGLeonG28 өдрийн өмнө
  • Anyone else subbed to both The H****** Guy channels?

    TheSpoonKingTheSpoonKing28 өдрийн өмнө
  • As Willy Porter sings: "that's how you rob a bank".

    998SBayliss998SBayliss28 өдрийн өмнө
  • Robbery is not the correct word to use. Bank burglary word be more accurate

    angus mathesonangus matheson28 өдрийн өмнө
  • I have a good idea for a show! Look into the Onion Futures Act, which is the United States law banning the trading of onion future contracts on the market. It is an excellent story about two brothers that cornered the entire Onion market in the US!. Love your show!

    Dizzyy 6Dizzyy 628 өдрийн өмнө
  • Citi-Bank...screwing people over since 1830. Knew they'd try to Welch on the reward!

    Dan HarrisDan Harris29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Sounds like a script for a movie!

    jim kinkadejim kinkade29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Hayes = Vimes ?

    Christian EllegaardChristian Ellegaard29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Shouldn't this be called "burglary" rather than "robbery"?

    MatambaleMatambale29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Great!

    wpbshowwpbshow29 өдрийн өмнө
  • I love history, I really appreciate your gift of telling a historical story.

    Ryan JohnsonRyan Johnson29 өдрийн өмнө
  • I was just reading about that time in 1944 when a B-17 bombed Miles City, Montana. Sounds like your kind of story.

    AbozTheUntidyAbozTheUntidy29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Is there any history, or known reason behind our use of John and Jane Doe for unknowns or name examples?

    Tim DumlerTim Dumler29 өдрийн өмнө
  • I wonder how the duplicate keys were made.

    Andy DAndy D29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Smart.

    Gerald JyrkinenGerald Jyrkinen29 өдрийн өмнө
  • How did the robbers get copies of the keys?

    Paul MeakinPaul Meakin29 өдрийн өмнө
  • To return to Britain from Botany Bay made those lifers returning liable to automatic execution,so the men took a big risk.Interesting to know how they managed to escape in the first place.

    Marc Milton-TalbotMarc Milton-Talbot29 өдрийн өмнө
  • Me,early in the video :They will never solve this!No fingerprints,security footage,DNA back then Me,end of video: Dumbest criminals ever!

    gerry o sullivangerry o sullivan29 өдрийн өмнө