James Dolfe, Deception > forgery, 16th October 1745.

Reference Number: t17451016-16
Offence: Deception > forgery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

379. + James Dolfe , was indicted for that he on the third day of this instant October , at the parish of St. Botolph without Aldersgate , London, did personate one Robert Masterson , as chief mate of the Prince Frederick privateer, and in that name did come to the shop of one William Threlkeld of London, goldsmith , and agreed with him to buy several goods and chattels of the said William Threlkeld , of the value of 29 l. 10 s. and for securing the payment of the said sum to the said William Threlkeld , he proposed to leave with him a certain promissory note under the hand of Capt. James Talbot , commander of the said privateer, made payable to the said Robert Masterson , for the sum of one hundred pounds sterling. And that the said James Wolfe did then and there feloniously utter and publish to the said William Threlkeld a certain false, forged, and counterfeit paper writing, with the name of James Talbot subscribed thereon, purporting to be a promissory note under the hand of the said James Talbot , as and for a true promissory note , which said paper writing is as follows: that is to say,

Twenty days after the arrival of the Marquis De Antin and Luovis Erasmus privateers in the river Thames, I promise to pay Mr. Robert Masterson , chief mate of the Prince Frederick private ship of war, under my command, 100 l. sterling, in default of returning him one hundred and ten ounces of Spanish pieces of eight lodged by him in my hands. As witness my hand this 20th day of August 1745. In Kinsale Harbour , James Talbot . with intention to defraud the said William Thelkeld . He the said James Wolfe at the time of his uttering and publishing the same well knowing it to be false, forged, and counterfeited, against the form of the statute, &c.

The said James Wolfe was further charged in a second count of the said indictment, for feloniously uttering and publishing as true the aforesaid paper writing to the said William Threlkeld , with intention to defraud the aforesaid James Talbot against the form of the statute, &c.

William Threlkeld . On the third of this month about seven o'clock in the evening I went out , and my servant brought me notice that a gentleman wanted to buy some goods of me; when I came in the Prisoner said, Sir, Do you know me? I said I did not remember him; said he, I have been your customer before, and have sold you some dollars a while ago [but I cannot remember it;] and he said he had since that belonged to the Prince Frederick privateer, Capt. Talbot commander, that his name was Masterson, and he was chief mate of the Prince Frederick privateer. I asked him what goods he wanted; he said he should want some watches, some buckles, some gold rings, gold buttons, &c. and desired to have the strongest I had in my shop. Accordingly while he was in the shop there was one pair of silver buckles looked out, four silver watches in double cases, and two pair of gold buttons.

Q. Was there any thing more laid out?

Threlkeld. Not while he was in the shop, but the knee-buckles were to be looked out to the shoes, and some plain gold rings; then this note was produced. I asked him what it was for; he said it was for my security. I looked at the note, and thought it to be a pretty good one, I did not question it in the least. The note was signed by Capt. Talbot. [The note was produced.]

This is the note the Prisoner at the bar gave me, and left with me as a security for the goods he was to have that night: then he said he was going to the Hermitage, and would be back again in an

hour's time. I thought after he was gone if this was a false note it would be a great loss; and I went to a house in the neighbourhood where some gentlemen were, and shewed it to them: they advised me not to deliver the goods, but to bring the person there, and they would talk to him. He came some time afterwards, and some of the gentlemen talked to him, and asked him what post he was in; he said he was first mate of the Prince Frederick privateer , that his name was Masterson, and Capt. Talbot was his commander; but as fortune would have it, there happened to be four gentlemen there who knew him; and the landlord said there were some gentlemen in the house who belonged to the ship, and should know him if he belonged to that ship; and one Mr. McNamar, who came over as a passenger, said he was a villain, for he never was on board the ship; then the Prisoner was for going out, and he did go out, and the landlord of the house brought him back again, and I charged an officer with him, and carried him to the Counter.

Prisoner. When I went into the shop, I asked him whether he would accept of that note as a security for goods; I mentioned no quantity or kind of goods. Mr. Threlkeld produced only one pair of buckles, and asked whether those were large enough. There is his apprentice, I desi re he may be sworn, to know whether there were any watches or rings produced, or any thing else.

[Capt. James Talbot appeared, but he being interested in the note, he was not admitted to give evidence.]

Edward Masterson . I know nothing of the Prisoner, or the note.

Q. Look at that, is that Capt. Talbot's hand-writing?

Masterson . That is not his writing, I have seen him write often.

Q. Can you take upon you to say, that is not his hand-writing?

Masterson . I do take upon me to say it is not his hand-writing.

Q. Is no part of the note his hand-writing?

Masterson . There is no part of the note like his hand-writing.

Thomas Comyn . The Prosecutor came to me the morning after the Prisoner was taken up, and brought me the bill, and asked me whether that was Capt. Talbot's hand-writing: I saw it was not his hand; said I, it is not his writing, for his name is not spelt right.

Q. Have you seen him write?

Comyn . Yes; I saw him write about six months ago.

Q. Look carefully at it, and see whether you are sure of what you say?

Comyn . I looked very carefully on it before, or I would not give my evidence so strong .

[The Court was informed that Mr. Ephraim Miller , one of the Grand Jury, was acquainted with Capt. Talbot's hand-writing, and he was sworn .]

Q. Are you acquainted with the hand-writing of Capt. Talbot?

Miller. Yes; I have seen him write, and have had letters from him.

Q. How long is that ago?

Miller. It is some years ago; I think it is about five years since I received a letter from him, and about seven years since I saw him write.

Q. Is that his hand?

Miller. I believe not; neither the body of the note, not the name; the name is not spelt right.

Q. How does he spell his name?

Miller. Talbot, and in the note it is with double (ll) and double (tt).

Q. to Masterson. How does Capt. Talbot spell his name?

Masterson. He spells it Talbot.

Stephen Flower . I was in the house with the Prisoner at the bar the night he was apprehended, and asked him how he came by the note; he said she had it of two men, and knew it to be a false note.

Prisoner. How can that be, when I never had any conversation with you?

Robert Harding . I was with the Prisoner at the Counter the next morning, and asked him some questions: I asked him how he came by the note; he said he had it from some people, but would not say from who, and that he would not trouble himself to prove who he had it from, for he knew it to be a bad note, and expected to receive no money at all but of Capt. Talbot.

Prisoner . I believe I might say it was a bad note, but I did not know it to be bad.

James Chariot (apprentice to Mr. Threlkeld.) I was in my master's shop when the Prisoner brought this note, and offered it to my master as a security for the goods.

Q. Did he ask for any goods in particular?

Chariot. No.

Q. Did he ask for no sort of goods?

Chariot. He mentioned rings.

Prisoner. Upon your oath I ask you, whether

your master asked me about any sort of goods? did not he ask me about watches? how did I know he was a watchmaker? I saw no goods but one pair of silver buckles.

Chariot. There were some watches shewed to you.

Q. What did the Prisoner say when he came into the shop ?

Chariot. The shop was shut, and my master was not at home. I asked him what he would please to have; he said he wanted my master; I said, will nobody do but my master? he said , no; and that he had sold some dollars to my master some time before, and wanted to see him; then I fetched my master; when he came, the Prisoner and he had formerly told him some dollars, and that he came home chief mate of the Prince Frederick privateer: my master said he was glad of it; and then he said his name was Masterson.

Q. Did I say my name was Masterson?

Chariot. Yes; you did.

Prisoner . Did your master deliver me any kind of goods?

Chariot. Yes; buckles.

Q. Did he deliver them?

Chariot. He shewed them to you.

Q. How many?

Chariot. One pair.

Q. Did he shew you any watches?

Chariot. Yes; he did.

Prisoner. Then upon my oath you tell a d - d lie, I never saw any watches, he delivered me none, and shewed me none, he only shewed me one pair of buckles; and when I gave him the note, he said, how shall I know whether it is a good note? and I bid him enquire about it, and satisfy himself. Pray, Mr. Masterson, is your name Robert Masterson ?

Masterson. My name is Edward Masterson .

Prisoner. The note says Robert Masterson , so this cannot be this man's money.

[The note was read, and is as in the indictment]

Prisoner. It is mentioned in the note first mate, or chief mate. Pray, Mr. Masterson, are you first mate of the Prince Frederick?

Masterson. I am first lieutenant.

Prisoner. Then there are two deficiencies between the note and the indictment.

The Jury found him guilty of uttering and publishing the note knowing it to be false, forged, and counterfeited. Guilty , Death .


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