From the Mill to Monte Carlo: The Working-Class Englishman who Beat the Monaco Casino

Many thanks to Anne Fletcher for sharing the wonderful story of her great-great-great uncle Joseph Hobson Jagger in her fascinating talk in Bradford Local Studies library at Bradford Festival on Saturday.

Based on her newly published book, Anne told the story of a man who went from Bradford mill worker to Monte Carlo millionaire. Amongst the men ‘who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’, Joseph Hobson Jagger is unique. He is the only one known to have devised an infallible and completely legal system to defeat the odds at roulette and win a fortune. But he was not what might be expected. He wasn’t a gentleman or an aristocrat, he wasn’t a professional gambler, he was a Yorkshire textile worker who had laboured in the Victorian mills of Bradford since childhood.

Joseph Jagger was an exceptional man who travelled nearly a thousand miles to the exclusive world of the Riviera in a time when most people lived and died within a few miles of where they were born. The trains that took him there were still new and dangerous, he did not speak French and had never left the north of England. His motivation was strong. Joseph, his wife and four children, the youngest of whom was only two, faced a situation so grave that their only escape seemed to be his desperate gamble on the roulette tables of Monte Carlo. Today Jagger’s legacy is felt in casinos worldwide and yet he is virtually unknown.

In  this true-life detective story, Anne uncovers how he was able to win a fortune, what happened to his millions and why Jagger should now be regarded as the real ‘man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’.

‘From the Mill to Monte Carlo’
By Anne Fletcher






The Land!  By  Joseph COCKIN.   Printed by Henry D. & C. Tapp, 1895.  32 pp.
JND 187/19 (Please quote this number if requesting this item)

Throughout the nineteenth century, and earlier, there were many attempts by groups of people to live a communal life by the common ownership of land. The following ‘treasure’ records one such attempt that was made in Bradford.



The title page continues:

A Proposal
form a Company
Buy and to Hold Land
as a
Common Possession
for the
Benefit of the Shareholders
who shall
use and enjoy their respective portions
in severalty, and their descendents after them
for ever. When the State shall act on
the Principles on which
the Company is founded, the Company shall
hand over its work to the
State and then Dissolve


“At the present time there is much distress arising from want of employment and the unprofitableness of agriculture and commerce. Part of the evil comes from temporary and part from more permanent causes. These latter I propose to inquire into, and to point out one remedy.” Mr Cockin’s solution is complex but the character of his thoughts are indicated by some of the section headings:

  1. Proposal to Form Home Colonies.
  2. What form should the Movement take, and by what Machinery shall the Work be done.
  3. The Commoners’ Occupation of their respective Individual Land should be Hereditary.
  4. Trustees to watch proceedings on behalf of the Public.
  5. State Rents and Homage Money.
  6. The Character of the Pioneer Commonists and the Engagements which they should be required to enter into.
  7. Successive Purchasers of Land.
  8. Buildings.
  9. Help to People of Small Means.
  10. How to Provide Land Sufficiently for a Growing Population.
  11. Overseas Colonies.
  12. Missionary Colonies.

Today, the attempt seems impossibly idealistic and the faith in government naive, but the motive was common currency at the time. Indeed, some small-scale attempts were made: the author quotes Haxby, near York and some French experience. In Bradford, the growth of the allotment movement and the rise of the Independent Labour Party could be cited in this context.

“Correspondents wishing for answers must send stamps.” (Joseph Cockin, 20 Spring Gardens, Bradford)