Offence: Deception > forgery
Verdict: Guilty > lesser offence
Peter De la Fountain was indicted for feloniously forging and counterfeiting a Promissory Note, under the Hand of one John Baptist-Zannier , for the Payment of 220 l. to one Marie Legrand , Widow, or Order, three Months after Date ; which said Paper writing is as followeth :
January 9, 1746. I promise to pay to Marie Legrandd, Widdow, or Order, the Sum of Two hundred and Twenty Pounds, three Months after Date; for Value received, by me
L. 220 0 0
The second Account for feloniously uttering and publishing the same, knowing it to be forged, with an intent to defraud the said John Baptita Zannier , against the Form of the Statute, and against the Peace, &c.
Parry. I have seen him two or three Times. I saw him when he was confined in Newgate; he was under an Arrest, in an Action of Debt.
Q. What was the Sum he owed?
Parry. About 40 l. and the Gentlewoman (his Creditor) Mrs Portland, she had committed the Management of that Affair to me; to offer me some Satisfaction, he sent me several Messages, he desired me very much to come to him, by the Letter, telling me he had something to offer that might be satisfactory; at length I did go to him, then it was he offered me this Note; he offerrd it as a collateral Security; he said he had no Money to pay the Debt, or any Part of it.
Q. Then you received it of him?
Parry. Yes, Sir, he gave me this Note as a collateral Security for the Use of Mrs Portland.
Q. What Conversation had you upon the Note?
Parry. I hesitated a little at first about the taking it, not that I suspected a Forgery; but because the Drawer of the Note, and the Endorser, were both utterly Strangers to me. I knew nothing of either of them. I thought that it might be worth nothing, therefore I did not know whether it might be any Security at all or no. I asked him if it was a Note that he had fairly come by, or something to that Purpose; he told me it was; then I expressed my Doubt, as not knowing the Drawer, or the Endorser; at Length I did agree to take the Note, not in any great Confidence of recovering any Money upon it. I looked upon the Debt as desperate, and I thought I might as well take that as his own Security. He told me that Baptita Zannier was Purveyor to the British Forces abroad, and there was Money due to him from the Government. I did not accept of the Note as Payment, nor would I be liable to raise Money by it.
Q How long was it after the Note was given to you, that you took his Bond?
Parry I believe about two or three Days, he was discharged upon giving the Bond.
Q. Did you enquire any thing after the Endorser?
Parry. No, I did not, because I expected so little from the Note.
Council for the Defendant. Sir, I think when you had Discourse with De la Fountain, that you had no Suspicion of it's being forged?
Parry. I asked him if it was a fair and honest Note; he said it was. He said that he had it from Mrs Marie Legrand ; to the best of my Remembrance, he told me that Mrs Marie Legrand was not an English Woman, and that she was abroad.
Ryley. Yes, very well, I have received near an 100 Letters from him, so that I believe 'tis not his Hand writing, neither is it spelled as he commonly spells his Name. I believe this Note is an Attempt to counterfeit his writing, but not his writing.
Court Give the Reason why you believe that 'tis not his Hand.
Ryley. The cut of the Letters is not so stiff as his real Hand-writing.
Q. Is that the only Reason why you think that 'tis not his Hand-writing, because 'tis not so stiff?
Ryley. The Letters are straighter wrote than those he writes; he writes in an outlandish Hand, but writes it very well.
Q. Can you recollect any thing that past before the Justice?
Q. What is your Business?
Ryley. I am a Student in the Temple. I am not called to the Bar yet.
Ryley. I live by the Temple - near it.
Q. by the Council for the Defendant. Do not you know that he was acquainted with a French Lady, called Legrand?
Council. Then you never saw any French Lady at Mr Zannier's? Do you remember the Time that Mr Zannier was in Newgate? Did you never there see a Lady with him?
Ryley. There was a Gentlewoman that was Waiting-Woman to on Mrs Herald, a Lady of Fortune.
Mc Allester. I believe that Note is not his Handwriting, my Lord. I frequently saw him write, my Lord. In about September last, Mr. Baptita Zannier was arrested for 300 l. and he sent for me pretty early to come to him. I met him going with the Officer to the Officer's House; upon this I enquired of Zannier, if he knew Marie Legrand , or the Person to whom this Note was payable. I met Mr Parry at Guild-hall, and told him of this Arrest. Mr Parry then said, I have a Note by me, put into my Hand by the Prisoner; and if I don't mistake, 'tis signed by such a Person. I told him I believed that this Man (Zannier) had no Dealings with any such People; and if he would give me an Opportunity of seeing the Note, I would enquire into the Matter; the next Morning, Mr Zannier went with me, and we took a Note of 25 l. of Zannier's, and we compared it with this Note that we apprehended was counterfeited, accordingly we found it to be so; we then went to Sir Thomas De Veil , a nd a Warrant was issued out for apprehending the Prisoner, and he was brought before him; and he said to him, Did not you tell me upon your first Examination, that you had this Note of a Lady for a Favour done her: and in a solemn Manner, the Prisoner stood up, and said, if that was not signed by Zannier, there was not a God in Heaven, or to such Purpose.
Council for the Prisoner. You seemed to be acquainted with the Transactions of Business about the Treasury? What is your Business? I would ask you whether you are not an Attorney or Sollicitor?
Mc Allester. 'Tis a Question I am not bound to answer.
Q. What Country are you?
Mc Allester. I am an Irishman.
Q. to - Backhouse. Have you often seen the Prisoner write?
Backhouse. I have often seen him write, and I believe the Note is not of his Writing.
Court. There is an Affadavit which was made the last Sessions, which was the 15th of October, 1746. 'Twas made in order to put off the Trial, which was to have come on against this Person the last Sessions; it is an Affadavit made by the Prisoner and Benjamin Stephens , a Man produced as a Witness, and he swears, that Mrs Marie Legrand was residing in Paris; and that Mary Patridy , her Servant, was a material Witness in his Cause. Farther he says, that the said Marie Legrand , and Mary Patridy , did, in June last, go from London to Paris, but are not yet returned; but that they would come to London in November, or the Beginning of December next; and he believes they are now there and not returned: at the Time of their going, they said they would return in a few Months; he swears that he believes they will come to London in a little Time. This was made use of the last Sessions, to put off the Trial.
Q. to Mr Parry. What Conversation had you with the Prisoner?
Council for the Prisoner. We have several Witnesses to prove that this Note was written by Mr Baptita Zannier, we shall confirm that Evidence, that it was given by Mrs Legrand, to Mr De la Fountain.
Gotee. My Lord, I have several Papers of his Hand writing; he brought me two Sailors, pretending that they had large Shares in Prize-money. I laid out a great deal about them; and it was but about five Pounds that they had to receive: they gave me Bills of their Shares.
Q. Do you think this is Zannier's writing?
Gotee. I believe in my Conscience - I believe 'tis his Hand-writing. The Freedom of Letter is the same I have seen him write in my House.
Q. Do you know the Character of Zannier?
Gotee. Sir, I can't say any thing for him, as he hath deceived me in Money about these Shares.
[This Evidence produced two Bills of Sale, which he knew to be the Hand writing of Zannier; and upon inspecting this Note, he believes it to be his Hand-writing ]
- Lameneer. [ Answers by an Interpreter.] Ask him if he ever saw Zannier write?
Interpreter. Yes, my Lord.
Q. How often?
Interpreter. Very often.
Q. Have you seen him write his Name?
Q. Do you believe this to be the writing of Zannier?
Interpreter. I can't absolutely say whether it is his signing or not.
Q. Do you believe it to be his writing?
Interpreter. He says there is a great Appearance, but he can't absolutely affirm it.
Q. Ask him whether he believes that to be his Hand, or he believes that it is not his Hand?
Interpreter. He cannot testify the one nor the other.
Interpreter. Yes, my Lord.
Q How often?
Interpreter. Many Times. I have seen him write often.
Q. Ask him if he believes that Note to be the writing of Zannier's.
Interpreter. He believes that to be of his signing.
Court. Ask him this Question, Whether he believes that to be Zannier's Hand writing or not?
Interpreter. He says 'tis like it.
Daniel. I have seen him write very often, both abroad and in England.
Q. Do you believe, Sir, this Note to be the writing of Zannier or not? [This old Gentleman looked very carefully over the Note, then the Question was put to him again.] Well, Sir, can you form any Judgment?
Daniel. I believe it is Zannier's Hand disguised; the first Part is altered, the latter Part grows more fluently, and more like his Hand, when I compare it with a Letter from him; besides I have heard frequently that he writes his Name, when it is of no Import, then he writes only his Sirname; and when he writes his Sirname, then he abridges Batist, and at Length Baptista.
Q. Sir, I ask you whether or know you do believe that 'tis Zannier's, or 'tis not?
Daniel. My Lord, I do believe it is, though I believe 'tis disguised in Part.
Q. Let me know your Reason why you think it disguised?
Daniel. The first Part seems to be writ steadily, and with a Design to alter his Hand; then when he goes to the latter End, then he comes more freely.
Q. What Reason can you give why he should disguise his Hand?
Daniel. I will give you my Opinion about it; I know the Man so well, as perhaps most do, he has been a Cheat in every Thing; he is a Man of a bad Character, and may be capable of counterfeiting and disguising his own Hand.
Stephens. It was the latter End of May, or the beginning of June, I cannot be certain.
Q. Who did you go with?
Q. Upon what Account did you go with her to Newgate?
Stephens. She called at my House, and she desired me to go a little Way with her to see a Friend in Distress; so I waited on her, and went with her to Newgate, and it was to Captain De la Fountain.
Q. What was it you saw her do in Newgate?
Stephens. I saw her endorse the Backside of the Note, and give it to the Prisoner at the Bar, and said in broken English, I give you this to get your Discharge, and this Note is as good as the Bank. That is all that I know of it.
Q. What was the Money?
Stephens. Two hundred and twenty Pounds.
Q. For what Purpose was it that she endorsed or gave the Note to Mr. De la Fountain? I suppose it was in a friendly Manner, as he was an Acquaintance of her's for some Years. Was there an Intimacy and Friendship between De la Fountain and Legrand?
Stephens. Yes, she was a foreigner, she lodged at my House for two Months in Queen-Street.
Q. Do you know where she is now?
Stephens. I heard that she was gone to France.
Q. Had you ever seen Mr De la Fountain before you went to Newgate?
Stephens. Never in my Life
Q. What Business did Mrs Legrand follow?
Stephens. She appeared as a Gentlewoman.
Q. Did you ever see her in Company with Zannier?
Stephens. I never did.
Q. Had Mrs Legrand any thing to supply Zannier for this Note?
Stephens. She had no Goods or Business at all; I never saw Zannier.
Q. Where do you live?
Stephens. I live at No. 3. in Prescot-street; I am Partner with my Brother.
Council for the Prosecution. Stephens, you told us before, you lived at Bull-Wharf in Thames-Street, had two or three Houses of your own, that you let two, and lodged with the other Tenant youself. Now let us know the Names of your Tenants.
Stephens. Phillips and Sharp.
Q. Which of your Tenants did you lodge with?
Stephens. At the hither one.
Stephens. I told you Phillips.
Q. When did you receive the last Rent?
Stephens. Why I have sold them; I have employed threescore Men for three Years together in Fleet street.
Council Canst tell me any of the Names of the Parish-Officers that you paid your Taxes to? What is the Minister's Name of the Parish? Tell me the Name of any one Person that was a Parish-Officer while thou hadst these House, before thou soldest them? What Rent did they pay?
Stephens. One went at 16 l. and the other at 7.
Council. Who were Tenants of those Houses?
Stephens. Phillips is one, and Sharp the other. My Father left them to me.
Q. What did you sell the three for?
Stephens. Sharp gave me 70 l. for the three.
Council. Where did you live when Mrs Legrand lodged with you?
Stephens. At the Corner where my Father did.
Council for the Prosecution. If such Doctrines and Evidences had not been advanced, that I never heard before, I should have no Occasion to give you any Trouble. It is an amazing Thing to me, that in proving the Hand now before you, which is wrote more regular and large than any one that has been produced, &c. The learned Gentleman says, he thinks it is his Hand-writing disguised, because the End looks as if it were real, and the Beginning and Middle bad. Would not the Party, would he not have taken care that it should have been written proper? The Bond and Powers that are produced, they are as convincing Evidence, that it cannot be his real Hand; they are not spelt the same, not turned the same. It shews the Man wrote an even, regular Hand in general; and how he could be induced to write so now, is very strange. This wicked Witness you have called up, how, when the Man has prevaricated as he has done, whether he is a Man to be credited or no? The last Time he was examined here, it was enquired where he lived; he then gave an Account it was at Bull-Wharf; there was no such Person ever there, Landlord or Tenant. What do they make further? why, that Mrs Legrand, the French Gentlewoman, came into Newgate, and this Fellow is so hard as to say, he saw the Woman write the Name Legrand while she was in Newgate. These Gentlemen are more fortunate than other People, that Ladies should be so much in Love with them. I do not know any thing so charming they could see in his Face, to induce them to do such Favours as these. Our Inquiry is after Truth. I desire nothing that may bear hard against him.
Backhouse. One Day the last Sessions I went to almost all the Inhabitants thereabouts. I had lived in Queenhithe five or six Years before.
Backhouse. The Account I had was, that there was no such Person ever known. I asked twenty People; I asked all the old Inhabitants that must needs have known a Person that had an Estate of three Houses.
Court You did not enquire at the Hoop-benders?
Backhouse. No, but over the Way I did.
[The Witness ( Stephens ) was very severely censured by the Court, as he appeared to be notoriously perjured, and instead of his Evidence availing any thing to the Prisoner, it helped to prove fatal to him.]
Guilty of feloniously uttering the Note, knowing it to be stolen, but not of the Forgery .
Guilty, Death .