George Lancaster, Deception > forgery, 14th October 1747.

Reference Number: t17471014-3
Offence: Deception > forgery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

380. + George Lancaster was indicted for feloniously causing and procuring to be falsly made, forged, and counterfeited, the Assignment of George Price , of the Will of his Father Hugh Price , with intent to defraud John Girling , and for publishing the same, knowing it to be false, forged, and counterfeited, against the Statute, &c. June the 12th .

Attorney General. Please your Lordship, and you Gentlemen of the Jury, the Prisoner at the Bar, George Lancaster , stands indicted for a Crime of a very high Nature, and if it is proved against him, will subject him to a great Punishment; and 'tis a Crime of forging of an Assignment, and a Letter of Attorney, for receiving certain Wages due to a Seaman, and the Case is as I shall now state unto you. - One John Girling was applied to by the Defendant, the Prisoner, upon the 6th, or 7th, of last June, as on the behalf of one George Price : The Prisoner, at the same time, shewed to this Mr Girling, a Letter that was signed George Price , where in Price is made to desire of the Defendant, to sell out thirty six Pounds, as Wages of his late Father, late a Mariner. This Hugh Price had been a Mariner in the Service of the Crown, and he died, and at the time of his death, there were Wages due to him to the amount of thirty-six Pounds; he had made his Will, as it is said, and probably true, whereby he had made his Son, George Price , his sole Executor; so that his Son, by that Will, became intitled to the whole Estate of his Father. The Prisoner at the Bar, I think he was Clerk of the Ship to which Hugh Price belonged, and he got into his Custody this Will of Hugh Price 's, and the Use he made of it I am now going to state unto you. He went to the proper Office of the Prerogative Court, in order to get this Will proved, and at the same time that he brought the Will, in order to be proved, he pretended that he himself was the Person named as the Executor in the Will; and therefore he took an Oath, which is necessary for a Person to take who pretends to be an Executor, therefore he prays that a Probate might be granted to him. The Proctor had no Suspicion whatsoever that he was not the real George Price , accordingly did that which was necessary for that purpose; accordingly a Probate was granted to George Price , the supposed Executor: When he had got the Probate of the Will into his Custody, he then applied to Mr Girling to sell him that, which if he was an Executor, he had a Right to sell; he applied to him in June last; he did not apply to him as the Executor; but pretending he was employed by the Executor, George Price , to procure that Money for him. Mr Girling not apprehending that which comes out now to be the case, not doubting but this Man had a proper Authority from George Price , his Business was to enquire whether George Price was Executor of the Will, whether there was this Sum of Money due to the Testator, thirty six Pounds; accordingly he sent into the Country, to the proper Pay-Office at Portsmouth, to know whether there was such a Person, and so much Money due to him; he received for Answer, there was; upon that, the Prisoner comes again upon the 12th of June, and then produced to him the Probate of this Will of Hugh Price . Mr Girling then apprehended every thing was right; upon that he agrees to purchase these Wages for the Sum of 27 l. 5 s. For this purpose a Bill of Sale was filled up; the Defendant took the Bill of Sale away, pretending he must take that to George Price , whom he pretended lived at Twickenham; accordingly the Prisoner at the Bar

took it with him, in order, as he said, to carry it to Price to be be executed by him. Accordingly, two or three Days afterwards, he comes back, and brings the Bill of Sale, and said, Mr Price had executed that Bill of Sale, and executed it in the Presence of two Witnesses. Upon the Credit of these Witnesses, not having the least Suspicion of it's being forged, accordingly he paid 27 l. 5 s. and the Prisoner delivered to him that Bill of Sale, appearing to be executed by George Price , and signed by two Witnesses. Presently after this, Mr Girling heard that there was another Person claimed the Benefit for one Margaret Price , as the Wife of Hugh Price . This we may easily imagine alarmed Mr Girling, that he had been imposed upon; upon which he applied to the Prisoner immediately, and asked, How it came to pass that he should get a Bill of Sale, When these Wages belonged to another? Upon that, he desired to know where George Price lived? He then told him, that George Price had signed that Bill of Sale, and that he lived at Twickenham. Upon that Mr Girling went to that Place; when he came there, he could not get the least Intelligence of such a Person; he enquired also after those two Persons that were named as Witnesses, John Chapman and Thomas Stillard ; upon enquiry, he could not find out any one of the Witnesses; however he applied again to the Prisoner at the Bar, to know what was the real Truth of the Case, and where Price was to be found; upon that he said, he could not tell where Price was to be found; but then he told him, the Money that he received for this Bill of Sale he had paid to a Waterman of Twickenham for the use of Mr Price, but he could not tell the Waterman's Name. Upon that Mr Girling arrested him, and he was in Custody. He went to him when in Custody, to know what was the Meaning of his imposing upon him in this Way. He then confess'd, that he himself, had sign'd the Name George Price to the Bill of Sale. That he had transacted the whole Affair himself. Then he offer'd to give Mr Girling a promissory Note, but Mr Girling had too much Honour and Honesty to let such a Crime pass without Punishment. Accordingly he was laid hold of by a criminal Prosecution, and he is now indicted upon a Statute made in the Second Year of his present Majesty, for the Benefit of all Mankind, to secure them against such Villains. Forgery was always, by the common Law of Nature, as well as the Law of this Country, a very great Crime indeed; but the Common Law did not punish it, as in some other Cases, with Death; and 'tis more material that it should be subjected to such a Punishment, because 'tis a Crime of that secret clandestine Nature, that it becomes extremely difficult to find it out; and therefore to prevent these Crimes, it becomes your Province to do Justice to the Publick, where the Fact is prov'd as 'tis charg'd. - it is enacted, '' That from and after the 9th of June, 1729 '' in case any Person shall falsely make, or counterfeit, '' or aid and assist in falsely making, forging, '' or counterfeiting any Deed, Will, Bill of Exchange, '' Promissory Note, or any Acquittance, for '' Money or Goods, with an Intention to defraud '' any Person; or utter the same, knowing it to be '' false and counterfeited, he is to suffer Death, without '' Benefit of the Clergy'' He stands indicted by this Law, and in two Respects, upon the Foundation of this Law: The one is, as the Forger and Maker of this Deed; the other is, that he has publish'd this Deed, knowing it to be forg'd; both of which are made Death, without Benefit of Clergy. So that the Fact we are to prove to you is. Whether that Deed we are to produce to you is a forged Deed? And in the next Place, whether this Person did forge or assist in the doing of it; and then, whether he did not utter it, knowing it to be forged and counterfeited?

Besides what have been mentioned, there are these Reasons to confirm the Charge, for the real George Price is an Infant of seven Years old; and to this he acknowledged that he did the whole himself, without any Authority from George Price .

I need not tell you of how much Use it might be to have Examples made of Persons of this Kind, that where a little Pittance of Wages, got at the Hazard of the Lives of Persons; I say, to have that taken away from a Family, by the Hands of these Sort of People, who, by the Trust reposed in them, are bound to take Care of it for the Wife and Children. This Crime especially, I say, from these Persons, is highly aggravating, &c.

Attorney General to John Redman . Can you tell what Ship Hugh Price belong'd to?

Redman. The Dorchester. He entered as an able Sailor, and dy'd on Board of her the 12th of July, 1746.

Attorney-General. What Wages were due to him?

Redman. The neat Money was 36 l. 6 s. and 7 d.

Attorney General. Was the Prisoner an Officer on Board of that Ship?

Redman. He was the Captain's Clerk on Board the same Ship.

John Herring . I belong to the Commons. This is the Will of Hugh Price , I had it from the Bishop of London's Office in Doctors Commons. This Will was swore to by the Prisoner.

Solicitor General to Benjamin Glanvill . Do you know any Thing of proving the Will of Hugh Price?

Glanvill. I am Clerk to Mr Henry Parrant , Proctor in Doctors Commons.

Solicitor-General. Give an Account of what you know of proving this Will of Price's; who brought this Will to be prov'd ?

Glavill. The Prisoner brought it, I remember his Face very well.

Solicitor General. What did he call himself?

Glanvill. He call'd himself the Son and Executor of Hugh Price , and he was sworn by Dr Chapman in my Presence, by the Name of George Price . The Oath that the Surrogate administer'd to him, as near as I can recollect, is, '' That he was the Son and the '' Executor in this Will. That he would pay the '' Debts. That he was the Son and Executor.'' Upon that I got the Probate of this Will out of the proper Office, and he came to me the next Day, and had the Probate, and paid me for it. The engrossing of the Will is all my own writing.

The Prisoner ask'd this Witness, how he could be certain it was him?

Glanvill. On the 8th of June he was sworn. He came the next Day for the Probate. I had taken a Guinea of him in part, and he came the next Day and paid the other. Soon after, as I was walking with a Friend in Cuper's Gardens, I said to my Friend, There is a poor unhappy Man, that apply'd to me to get Wages due to his Father, and now he is squandering of it away. I went into Newgate since, and I knew him as soon as ever I saw him.

Attorney-General to John Girling . Do you know the Prisoner at the Bar?

Girling. Yes, Sir, I know him very well, too well; I have known him for this Half-Year. About the 5th or 6th of June, I can't be sure, he comes to my House and ask'd for Benjamin Clap ; I told him he was in the House, and I sent him up to him, and I follow'd him. I went up Stairs, and he produc'd a Letter, that, he said, he receiv'd from George Price , directed to himself. The Contents of this Letter was, That George Price , who lived at Twickenham, that he had some Wages due from the Dorchester; and he desir'd him, that he would dispose of it. I said to Mr Clap, if he thought it was a good Thing I did not care if I had it. He told me, that he was a Witness to the Will himself. I told him, that I would write to my Agent at Portsmouth, and in case the Ticket was there I would deal with him. He produc'd the Probate of the Will. So accordingly I sent a Letter that Day or the next. Benjamin Clap wrote the Letter, and it was some time before I could have an Answer about it. I think the Bill of Sale was the 12th. The Prisoner brought the Probate of the Will. Mr Clap fill'd up the Bill of Sale, every Thing in order, all but executing, which the Prisoner said he would go that Day and get the Son to do. The Prisoner took the Bill of Sale, and the Probate along with him. In three or four Days he comes to ask me, if I had got an Answer from Portsmouth? I said, I did not care to buy the Thing. I told him I had no Answer. I did not say a great deal about it. So on the 23d or the 22d he came again, and I told him I had got a Letter from Portsmouth, and the Answer was, that the Ticket was in the office at Portsmouth, belonging to Hugh Price, and the Sum of Money was mention'd. Then I thought it was all safe. Then he produc'd the Bill of Sale, and the Administration, sign'd George Price. As he said, sign'd by George Price , and two Witnesses. So I thought myself very safe. And more than that, he gave me another little Paper, of his receiving the Money for George Price , sign'd George Lancaster .

'' Receiv'd of Mr John Girling the Sum of 36 l. '' 5 s. for the Use of George Price , due from his Majesty's '' Ship the Dorchester. ''

Q. Did you pay that 27 l. to the Prisoner?

Girling. I did.

Q. Upon what Foundation?

Girling. Upon the Foundation of the Bill of Sale and Probate together.

Q. Where did he deliver this to you?

Girling. It was in my own House, in Crutched Fryars. The first Suspicion I had, was of the Handwriting being alike. I carried it up to Clap, and ask'd him, if he did not think so too?

Attorney-General. Given an Account of this Circumstance; of your Suspicion of a Similitude in the Hands. What gave you doubt about it ?

Girling. George Price sign'd it, as he told me, but the main Thing that gave the Suspicion, that I received another Letter from Mr Stanniford, that there were two claimed these Wages besides me? then I applied to Lancaster, to know where this Son lived; he said at Twickenham. On Sunday I hired a Horse, and went there to see if I could find George Price . I enquired for George Price , or either of the Witnesses, but I could not find there was any such Person, or ever was, or either of the Witnesses; then the first time that I had an Opportunity, I applied to Mr Lancaster, and threatened him pretty sharply; I told his Mother, that I would advertise him, and Mr Clap sent him a Letter; he then would have given me a Note of his Hand; I told him, If he would bring me Security, I did not care if I did; but the Attorney I applied to, advised me to arrest him. When I was to have taken the Note, I had a Writ, and carried him to the Compter. The next Morning I goes to him, and I told him, Mr Lancaster,

you have done so and so, you know best, let your Friends know the worst; I told him, if he could raise any Friends in any shape, I told him to make a Gathering among his Friends, and I would give him a Guinea towards it; I told him the thing was bad; he owned he had transacted this thing himself, and he really did not know any such a Person at Twickenham; but then he told me in particular, that this Man made his Will two or three Days before he died; and he said, when a Will is made aboard a Ship, in case we are not paid for it, we put it in our Pockets; he said he shewed it to several of his Friends, who said, he could but administer, he might return the Money at last. I was advised to acquaint the Navy with it, and they took the Prosecution upon themselves.

Q. Did he tell you to whom he had paid the Money?

Girling. He said to a Waterman of Twickenham, but he could not tell his Name.

[ Cross Examination ]

Q. Did you not promise that you would not prosecute in any shape, if he would raise the Money?

Girling. To the best of my Knowledge I did not.

Q. Did you not say, that for this 36 l. you paid 17 l. for it; I don't wonder that poor Sailors are taken in so.

Girling. As to that, Sir, it may not be paid this two or three Years.

Sollicitor-General to Benjamin Clap. Give an Account of what you know of this Affair ?

Clap. About the 5th or 6th of June, the Prisoner came to Mr Girling, and produc'd a Letter that one George Price had sent him, in order to dispose of some Wages that was due to his deceased Father; I heard the Letter read, and I thought the Contents thereof seemed feasible; I acquainted Mr Girling, that there was an Offer of some Wages due from the Dorchester; upon the 12th, the Prisoner brought the Probate of the Will of the Deceased Hugh Price , he said he would agree for the common Premium for these things. We sent a Letter to Mr Stanniford, and on the 22 d he acquainted us, that the Ticket was there, and the Wages amounted to 36 l. Mr Lancaster said he had been at Twickenham, and he was ready for us. Lancaster came on the 23d, and we were satisfied of the contents, and we paid him that Morning 27 l. and he delivered to us the Probate, and the Bill of Sale; this is the Bill of Sale, I wrote it myself.

Sollicitor-General. What happened afterwards?

Clap. Then we sent the Probate down to Mr Stanniford in order to receive the Wages; in about ten Days afterwards we received a Letter to acquaint us, that there were two Administrations, one from the Widow of Hugh Price , and the other from Robert Parsons as the principal Creditor; I said, the Will seemed to be a good Will, but how far Lancaster may have deceived us, I said to Mr Girling, the best way for you is to get your Money of him; accordingly Mr Girling found him out in about a Week; and he arrested him for the Money, and he was carried to the Poultry Compter.

Sollicitor General. Do you know any thing material that passed there?

Clap. Nothing material passed before me.

Q. to Margaret Whithal , late Wife of Hugh Price . Have you any Son besides George Price ?

Whithal. I never had any Son but George Price .

Sollicitor General. Do you know any thing of his executing any Deed?

Whithal. He is but a Child, he cannot read nor write; he lives at Haverick in Cumberland, near Millam Castle; I was in Cumberland all that Month.

Q. How long has Hugh Price been gone to Sea?

Whithal. He has been on board six Years; I have Letters from him.

Prisoner. I knew nothing of forging the thing laid against me; a Person brought the thing to me, and Mr Girling was to have five Shillings in the Pound.

Court. Where had you this Assignment from;

Prisoner. It was sent to me, in a Letter to Mark-lane, from Twickenham.

Q. to Issac Pinot. Do you know Mr Girling? Did you ever hear any Conversation pass between Mr Girling and the Prisoner at the Bar ?

Pinot. I call'd to see the Prisoner when he was first in the Compter, and this Gentleman came in, and he said, if he did not pay him the Money he would prosecute him.

Q to Joseph Barnet . What do you say on the behalf of the Prisoner?

Barnet. I have known the young Man these five or six Years, and I never knew any Harm of him in my Life. I went to see him when he was in the Compter, and the Prosecutor told him, if he did not pay him his Money he would prosecute him.

John Hancock . I have known him for about a Year and a Half, and he has a very good Character. I never heard any Thing amiss of him.

Thomas Cock . I have known the Prisoner about six Months, and I never heard any Harm of him. The Prosecutor own'd, that he had arrested him for a Debt; but if he could raise the Money he would make it up.

John Marmuch . I have known the Prisoner about fourteen Months, and he always behaved very well.

Martha Crasley . I have known him very near four Years, he ever behav'd himself very handsomely; I never knew any Harm by him; he has lodged in my House, and he always behav'd very well.

Uriah Sutton . I have known him two Years. I never heard any Thing but a good Character of him.

Thomas Bushy . I have known the Prisoner nine Months. I have seen him every Day but Sundays. He behav'd very honestly; and I have heard Mr Girling and Clap offer to make it up.

Guilty . Death .


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