These days, banks and bankers regularly get in the news. It was no different at the beginning of the 20th century, as is clear from this story about Willem Truffino, a banker in The Hague with a love for carriages.
Banker in The Hague
Willem Joannes Joseph Antonius Truffino (1863-1963) was the son of a Leiden brick manufacturer. He joined the Zuid-Hollandsche Credietvereeniging (Credit Union) in 1881. The purpose of credit unions was lending to members, often small traders and industrialists. Truffino started as a bookkeeper and rose to become a director. In 1887 he married a major’s daughter, Margaretha van Engelen. The couple remained childless.
He became quite wealthy and spent his money on expensive horses and on a carriage with which he could participate in four-in-hand competitions. Incidentally, he had bought this carriage on impulse, when he entered a Brussels showroom for the purchase of a new car.
He lived at Prins Mauritsplein 27 and had his stable at Ten Hovestraat 10.
From 1915 to 1919 Truffino was a notable feature at the distinguished Concours Hippique in The Hague. Although a relative newcomer to the sport, he immediately stood out from the more established participants. He came with an ‘impeccable’ four-in-hand team of Hackneys, an English horse breed. And his carriage was of the type then known as an “omnibus. Shown in the photo, his vehicle is now in the National Carriage Museum in Leek.
In 1922 things went completely wrong. The Zuid-Hollandsche Credietvereeniging went bankrupt and Truffino was charged. The accusation: while he had known that the bank was going bankrupt, he had favored creditors and had purposely published incorrect balances to hide the fact that things were going badly with the bank. He could have spent two years in prison. However, in 1923 he was sentenced to a 9-month prison term for ‘fraudulent bankruptcy’.
The receivers of the bankruptcy held Truffino liable and demanded NLG 1,700,000 because he, as director of the Zuid-Hollandsche Credietvereeniging, had granted loans above NLG 30,000, while he was not authorized to do so. Truffino fought up to the High Court of The Netherlands, but the receivers won.
How it ended
Willem Truffino lived for a short time at Wassenaarseweg 39 and was then ‘without a permanent place of residence’ — although he appears to have lived for a time in Brussels. In the meantime, Margaretha had died, after which Willem married the 27-years-younger Christina Maria de Fraiture. In 1935 he relocated from Brussels back to The Hague. Here, at nearly one hundred years old and still childless, he died in an old people’s home.
Do you want to learn more about colorful residents of The Hague? Bring family, friends or colleagues on a guided tour.