Richard Butler, Deception > forgery, 27th February 1751.

Reference Number: t17510227-30
Offence: Deception > forgery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

221. (M.) Richard Butler , was indicted for falsely causing and procuring, and willingly assisting in making and counterfeiting a seaman's will, with intent to defraud , Jan. 26 . ||

John Redman . I am clerk to the navy-office. He produced the Namure's book, by which the men are paid their wages.

Q. Where did you bring that book from?

Redman. From the Navy-office.

Q. Do you find one Thomas Williamson's name in that book ?

Redman. There is Thomas Williamson , able seaman on board the Namur.

Q. What wages were due to him?

Redman. Here is due to him about 38 l. he entered July 1, 1746, and the 13th of April, 1749, the ship was cast away in Port St. David's road.

Q. How do you know but he ran from the ship before ?

Redman. Here is no mark put down for run: it appears by this book he was able seaman on board this ship the time she was lost. Had he died before, or ran away, it would have been expressed in this book.

William Pinsent . I am clerk to Mr. John Smart , a proctor in Doctor's Commons. On the 29th of January the prisoner brought a piece of paper in his hand to our office, and desir'd I'd search the office, and see if Thomas Williamson 's will was proved, or any administration passed in the name of Thomas Williamson , of his majesty's ship the Namur. I had not time just then. He came the next morning, about ten. I told him I had not then searched, but if he would wait I would go and search; which I did, and told him there was no administration, nor no will brought. Catharine Gannon was then waiting at the Paul's head. The prisoner said the woman was the widow of Williamson, and had got a will. I desired him to bring it to the office, and I'd get her sworn. She came to my master's office, and produced the will, (I have it now in my hand;) he before had told me her name was Mary; she told me her name was Mary Williamson , she wanted to have a probate of this will. I ask'd her where she was married. She said at the fleet, and she had got a certificate at home. I carried her to Dr. Paul, and got her sworn; he administered the oath to her in the presence of Butler and me. I told them they should have the probate on Monday, the jurate is wrote on the back of the will, and Dr. Paul signed his name. On the Monday I went to the office to see if the probate was fill'd up. I was there told, there were four caveats enter'd. On the 30th of January the prisoner and the woman came again. I told them there were four caveats enter'd. They desired to know who they were enter'd for. I immediately went to the bishop of London's office. I found a caveat enter'd by one Mr. Hughs, a proctor, and another by Mr. Chafilen, and another by one Richard Lee , and another, by another person. I told them I had warn'd the caveats, and on Wednesday following I would know what had been done. I found Mr. Hughs had got another will, bearing date the same day; then I had a great suspicion of them. The next day Herne came to search for another will; I told him to bring the woman, saying, I was ready for her. They came accordingly, I took them to the Fleece alehouse; I tax'd them with its being a forgery, and that they must know it to be such : they denied it. Butler was there. I called him up and talk'd with him; he denied it. Upon this I carry'd them before my Lord Mayor. The woman confess'd Butler and Herne brought the will to her, and she was to have four or five pounds for coming to swear; and before my Lord Mayor she confessed she knew nothing of Thomas Williamson , and likewise swore, that Butler and Herne brought the will to her, and she was to swear, she was the executrix of the deceased; his Lordship thought proper to let us go to a tavern, to see if we could get something more out of them. We went to the Dog tavern ; there Herne and Butler both confessed, that the whole was but a forgery; that Herne wrote it in the presence of Butler, and that Butler wrote the name Thomas Brown , one of the subscribing witnesses to the will: this confession was made before the constable, Mr. Hughs, the proctor and myself.

Prisoner. I did sign it to be sure; Mr. Herne bid me make a, i and an o, &c. letter for letter; I did not think there was any hurt in that.

The will was read.

In the name of God, amen. I Thomas Williamson mariner, belonging to his majesty's ship the Namure, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, do hereby make this my last will and testament, &c. making my beloved wife Mary Williamson , of St. Paul's Covent Garden, sole executrix, &c. Dated Oct. 29, 1747.

Tho Williamson , his mark [x].

Witnesses, John Kelley ,

Thomas Brown .

Edmund Herne . [The will is put in his hand.]

Q. When did you see that will last ?

Herne. The last time I saw it was about the 26th of January in Doctor's Commons, and the first time I saw it was in December last, then the prisoner at the bar brought the blank to me, to fill it up in the name of Thomas Williamson , in order to obtain his wages, to get the probate out of Doctor's Commons; he got me another will to fill it up by. I wrote it by his directions, and if he got the wages, I was to have a full share, the woman was to have four or five pounds for her part, the prisoner was to have a full share after the expences we had been at were deducted.

Q. Who wrote Thomas Williamson his mark?

Herne. I did.

Q. Who wrote the name John Kelley ?

Herne. I did.

Q. Who wrote the name Thomas Brown ?

Herne. The prisoner at the bar wrote that.

Q. Are you sure of that ?

Herne. I am positively sure of it.

Q. Where was it done ?

Herne. At his own house, in Short's Gardens, next door to the Bull-head ; when it was done, I delivered it to the prisoner, he and I went then to Catherine Gannon's house; this was about the latter end of January, in order to get her to go to the Commons to obtain a probate of the will.

Q. Where is her house?

Herne. She lives in Higin-Lane ; she agreed to it, and went there by the name of the widow of Thomas Williamson , the prisoner at the bar and I directed her; they two went to the Commons and left me at the Paul's-Head ; they came to me again, and the prisoner said the woman was sworn, and that he believed it would be done. We were all stop'd on a Saturday morning, it was about the latter end of January or the beginning of February, I cannot be exact as to the day. We were together after we made the will almost every day; the woman knew the prisoner before she knew me; they were both taken before I was; then the people came to me at the Paul's-Head; I had a tankard of purl before me, they took me and carried me before my Lord Mayor, there the prisoner owned the name Thomas Brown on the will was his own hand-writing, and also at the Dog-Tavern before all then present.

Samuel Taylor . I am the constable; I took the prisoner up the second of February and had him before my Lord Mayor; I heard him own he wrote the name Thomas Brown on the will, and I remember he acknowledged it at the Compter to me again.

Catharine Gannon . The latter end of January the prisoner came to my house, he said I might as well do this as another woman that was to go along with him to the Commons, to swear I was the wife of Thomas Williamson , saying, he would give me four or five pounds the next time he came. I went along with him to Herne, Herne pulled out the will from his pocket, and bid me go along with Butler; I never saw the will before. We went directly to the Commons to Mr. Smart's office, and after that to the proctor's, I swore to that will as the widow of Thomas Williamson , Butler was present, I think there was a shilling paid. I and the prisoner went again on that day, they told me the probare was I heard the sister to the Mr. Hughs's house, and another man with the right will; I was then taken up, they desired me to tell the truth, which I did.

Q. Are you a married woman?

C. Gannon. Yes, I am, my lord. Butler was the first man that ever put me upon this way of life, saying, he could not get the money except he could get women to swear.

Guilty , Death .

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