George Watson, Deception > forgery, 30th May 1754.

Reference Number: t17540530-39
Offence: Deception > forgery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

344. (L.) George Watson was indicted for forging a certain bill of Exchange, signed by the name of David Thomas , and for publishing it with an intent to defraud Messrs Shewel and Fender of the sum of 40 l. 15 s. Feb. 8 . + .

Jacob Fender . I am a haberdasher in Milk-Street; I know David Thomas , and know his hand-writing very well.

Q. Look upon this, is this his hand? (the bill put into his hand.)

Fender. I do not think it is.

Q. Who wrote the body of the bill?

Fender. The prisoner Watson.

Q. How do you know that?

Fender. We compared it with his hand-writing: he lived servant with me about six months.

Q. Have you seen him write during that time ?

Fender. Yes, very often.

Q. Is Carmarthen his hand?

Fender. I take it to be so, and the figures too; I have seen him write figures very often.

Q. What use have you seen the prisoner make of that bill?

Fender. I was in the country.

Q. Do you believe it to be the prisoner's hand-writing?

Fender. I believe it all to be his hand-writing, but the acceptance of Child.

Q. How are you acquainted with the hand-writing of David Thomas ?

Fender. We do business for him.

Q. Did you ever see him write?

Fender. I have seen him at the desk writing, we have letters under his hand: I taxed the prisoner, he first of all denied it.

Q. When was it you first shewed it to the prisoner?

Fender. The beginning of February, I cannot say particularly what day; he seemed surprised I should charge him with any thing of that kind, but I thought we had sufficient

ground, and so had him before Mr. Alderman Alexander.

Q. What did you charge him with, having forged the bill, or the indorsement?

Fender. Forging the bill, but he denied it: he was carried a second time before Alderman Alexander.

Q. What did you charge him with then ?

Fender. He was upon the same charge; he had confessed it to Mr. Shewel, myself, and two or three more gentlemen, before we went before Mr. Alderman Alexander the second time.

Q. How long was that after the first time?

Fender. He was in the Counter about a week; he confessed it in Wood-Street Counter.

Q. Had you the bill at that time with you when he confessed?

Fender. No, I believe we had not, I shewed it to him when we first of all charged him with it.

Q. Did you ever shew it to him afterwards?

Fender. No, I believe not.

Q. What did he confess?

Fender. He confessed he had, at the instigation of other people, forged this bill upon us. I cannot say we produced the bill to him then, but he had seen it before.

Q. Had you the bill when he was carried the second time before the Alderman?

Fender. Mr. Ford had it.

Q. Did Mr. Ford produce it?

Fender. I will not say whether it was produced or not; there he related a very long story of an accomplice, and how they first got acquainted.

Q. Acquainted with who, name names?

Fender. With Mr. Allcroft; he related how they premeditated the thing.

Q. Did he speak particularly of that bill?

Fender. He did of that very bill.

Cross-Examined.

Q. Who is Mr. Allcroft you mention as an accomplice?

Fender. He lived formerly in Lothbury, and in Throgmorton-Street.

Q. What relation is he to Mr. Shewell?

Fender. He is his brother-in-law.

Q. How long had the prisoner lived with you as a servant?

Fender. Six months, I believe.

Q. Was he a clerk to you?

Fender. He would do any thing we set him about.

Q. Had he not a trust upon him?

Fender. Only to look after the shop; I have trusted him with bills, and found him honest.

Fender. You say you never saw David Thomas write.

Fender. I said, not to look over his writing, but I have seen him often writing at the desk.

Q. Was not his hand-writing very well known to Mr. Shewell your partner?

Fender. Yes.

Q. And to all the people in the shop (I mean the prisoner's writing.)

Fender. Yes.

Q. You talk of a confession, how long was it after he was charged that this confession was made?

Fender. I think he had lain in the Counter about a week.

Q. Was not he in great distress and necessity in the Counter, poor and hungry?

Fender. I do not know, he had money in his pocket as I was told.

Court. Did you make him any promises in order to induce him to confess?

Fender. No, nothing to that purpose, nor no threats: when I first of all charged him with it, I told him I was very sorry we could have the least suspicion of him; I believe I said, George, you could not do this yourself, you had better discover your accomplices, and things would go favourably with you?

Prisoner's Counsel. What did he acknowledge at that time?

Fender. He said he forged this bill.

Q. What part of the bill?

Fender. The body of the bill.

Q. Did you ask him if he wrote no part but the body of the bill?

Fender. I do not know.

Q. Did he say he wrote the words David Thomas at the bottom?

Fender. I do not know whether he was asked that particularly; he owned he forged the bill, and that I believe was the general confession.

Q. Did he own he wrote the name David Thomas ?

Fender. I understood it so.

Q. Was there no distinction made at that time between the body of the bill and the name signed at the bottom?

Fender. I cannot tell.

- Shewel. I never saw the bill till after it was paid, having left a draught for it.

Q. Look upon the bill (which he did).

Shewel. That was the bill.

Q. In whose custody did you first see this bill?

Shewel. It lay upon the desk when I first came home, but I do not know who brought it.

Q. To whom was that draught payable?

Shewel. It was payable to the bearer, and I took it to be David Thomas 's bill till some time after.

Q. Who did you leave the draught upon?

Shewel. Nightingal and Ransom.

Q. Did you give that draught to any body?

Shewel. I left it upon the desk, for the bearer of the bill to take it.

Q. Do you know who had that draught?

Shewel. No, I do not.

Q. Was the prisoner your servant at that time ?

Shewel. He was. I left it upon the desk for him to pay the bill when it became due.

Q. Did you ever shew that bill to the prisoner?

Shewel. I was present when it was shewn to him, and he then denied it.

Q. Did you ever see it shewn to him a second time?

Shewel. No, never, as I remember; but it was produced before the Alderman the first time, and he denied it then. I was not before the Alderman the second time.

Q. Was you present at any time when the bill was shewn to the prisoner?

Shewel. No; but I was present when he confessed it.

Q. Was the bill produced then?

Shewel. No, it was not.

Q. You said you left the draught payable to the bearer of the billwho received that draught?

Shewel. They could not tell the namenor who they paid it to, but said it was paid chiefly in moidores. That was all the account they could give.

Q. Did you charge the prisoner with any other bill than what was shewn him before?

Shewel. No.

Q. Was the prisoner servant to you at that time?

Shewel. Yes, he was, and he laid the bill in the compting-house witnessed in this manner.

Q. Did you ask him how it came there? and what did you say to him?

Shewel. I told him I believed it was a forged bill; he replied he believed so likewise, and added, that a person, whose name was Smith, brought it from Child and company (I saw it witnessed for Child and company): I said it was not David Thomas's hand-writing, and I believed it to be a forged bill; he answered, he believed it to be one too. I went to Child's but no such person ever lived there.

Q. Then that draught was to go to Child and company?

Shewel. Yes, to go where we received the bill. The prisoner said he compared it with David Thomas 's hand-writing, and said he did not think it the same, but that, however, he had paid the bill. He confessed there were three people concerned, and that they equally divided the money.

Q. Where did he confess that?

Shewel. In Wood-Street Counter.

Q. Was you a talking of the bill at that time?

Shewel. Yes, we were.

Q. Was there any thing of this said before the Alderman?

Shewel. Yes.

Q. Was the bill produced before the Alderman?

Shewel. I cannot say whether it was or not.

Q. Was it produced at the Counter?

Shewel. No, it was only produced once, as I remember.

Q. Could any body, except you two and the prisoner, get into your compting-house? was it locked?

Shewel. They might, for it was not locked.

Cross-Examined.

Q. Did not you know the prisoner's hand-writing?

Shewel. I did.

Q. How came you not to know his hand-writing then?

Shewel. I suspected it was immediately.

Q. Then how came you to leave the draught for the payment of it?

Shewel. I never saw the bill till it was paid.

Q. Do you know David Thomas 's hand-writing ?

Shewel. I do.

Q. Did you ever see him write?

Shewel. No.

Q. You cannot take upon you to swear there was no such man as Smith in Child's shop?

Shewel. They said so.

Q. Should you have paid the bill if you had seen it?

Shewel. I should not.

Q In what manner did you pay this bill?

Shewel. I did not pay it myselfbut left the draught upon the desk. I said so before.

Q. How came you to know there was such a bill ?

Shewel. The prisoner said it was there.

Q. Is that witnessing the prisoner's hand-writing ?

Shewel. No, it is not; he owned there was another person concerned.

Q. What person was it?

Shewel. He said one was Allcroft.

Q. He is your brother-in-law, is he not?

Shewel. He is; but he appeared before Alderman Alexander, and was honourably cleared.

Q. Did you shew the bill to the prisoner when he confessed it?

Shewel. He confessed the whole.

Q. What were his words?

Shewel. He confessed forging that bill of forty pounds sixteen shillings.

Q. Did you hear him say the sum?

Shewel. I will not swear that; I cannot say.

Q. Did you ever mention the name of Thomas to him?

Shewel. I cannot be certain.

Court. Did not you tell him it was not like Thomas's hand?

Shewel. I did tell him that, he said he was of the same opinion, that he thought it was a forgery.

Q. How long was that before you took him up?

Shewel. Five weeks.

William Williams (looks at the bill). I saw this bill once before, I saw it at Mr. Shewell's house. I know David Thomas .

Q. Have you ever seen him write?

Williams. Yes, I have, for he was my servant thirty years ago, or thereabouts, and he lives now in Carmarthen in Wales. I have transacted business for him to the amount of a great many thousand pounds.

Q. Whose hand do you take that to be?

Williams. It is in imitation of his, but I do not think it is his.

Q. Look upon the indorsements, do you know any thing of them?

Williams. No, I do not.

Q. Did you ever see that bill in any body's possession excepting Mr. Fender's?

Williams. No.

Mr. Alderman Alexander. I remember the prisoner was brought before me, charged by Mr. Shewel and others for forging a bill of forty pounds sixteen shillings they related the story, that the bill was brought by one of Mr. Child's men; that the gentleman left the draught, and the partner was out of town; that when he came home, and came to compare notes, they thought it was the prisoner's hand-writing; they brought several of his letters, and it appeared to be his hand-writing; upon which we suspected he had forged the bill, and committed him to the Counter.

I at that time sat at the Mansion-House for my Lord-Mayor. After that he came to make a declaration that he forged the bill; that he was acquainted with Mr. Allcroft, who was a relation in the familyand who asked him what wages he had; he said he told him; to which the other replied, that was but a small matter, therefore he would put him into a better method. Accordingly this was struck up; that Allcroft put him upon making this note; that he made two or three before Allcroft approved of any one, but this he did approve of. He said he told his master that Mr. Child's man had been there for the payment of this note; that his master came down (for he was abed he said) and left the draught; that there were three persons concerned; that they met by chance in Holborn; that they had two meetings, one in the fields by Pancras, and the other at Pancras-Wells, and also at several other places. Mr. Allcroft appeared, but this man could not bring one thing to corroborate what he had said was true, so I discharged Mr. Allcroft with great reputation. I remember the bill was produced, both the first and the second time; that he looked at the bill at that time, and said it was forged, and by him.

Mr. Ford. I was present before the Alderman the second time, for Mr. Shewel and Mr. Fender desired I would go with them to the Mansion-House to attend upon a very extraordinary examination. Upon their request I went. They said they would do the young fellow all the service they could, if he would make a discovery. I went there to serve him, and this bill was read to him; it was also produced upon the table, and shewn to him, and he said that that very bill he forged by Mr. Allcroft's direction, which gentleman was then present before Mr. Alderman Alexander. He mentioned many circumstances concerning Mr. Allcroft, nothing of which he could prove, and Mr. Allcroft appearing there, with a great many persons of credit to his character, he was discharged with a great deal of honour.

Pris. Counsel. to Alderman Alexander. Sir, when this young fellow was brought the second time, and charged Mr. Allcroft with being present when the bill was forged, did he not declare that the words David Thomas , and the body of the bill, were not wrote by one and the same person?

Ald. Alexander. I do not remember any thing of that mentioned; he did not say any thing in particular, but that he had forged that note by the contrivance of Mr. Allcroft.

Pris. Counsel to Shewel. When this young fellow was in the Counter upon suspicion, did not you desire him to write a letter to Allcroft?

Shewel. I believe I did.

Q. Did not he receive an answer from Mr. Allcroft?

Shewel. I believe none at all.

Q. Did you see that letter before it was sent away?

Shewel. I did; the purport of it was for him to come to him. Allcroft came to me, and I took him to the Counter face to face.

Q. Did not you stay there till twelve o'clock at night?

Shewel. We did not stay above half an hour, or three quarters?

Q. Did not you make a sort of sham there that you would leave Mr. Allcroft behind?

Shewel. No, but I desired he would get bail for his appearance; and some people passing their words for him, we took it.

For the prisoner.

Mr. Townsend. I have known the prisoner above two years and an half; he was a footman to me about a year and eight months; he behaved well in my service during that time, and was a very sober industrious lad.

William Palmer . I have known the prisoner three years and an half; he lived with one Mr. Crapper, who lives within two or three doors of me, where he behaved well, and bore a very good character.

Mr. Weston. I have known the prisoner four or five years, for his master that brought him up lodged in my house, and he behaved well while he was there. I had a very good opinion

of him, and would have trusted him with all I was worth without dispute.

Mr. Butler. I have known the prisoner about two years, and never heard of a blemish in his character before this. I have done work for him, and he was very punctual to his time of payment.

Anne Rider . I have known the prisoner between five and six years, and never heard any thing but what was very good and honest. His character was exceeding good.

Mary Howell . I have known him ever since December last, and I always heard he was a very sober, honestand industrious young man.

Guilty , Death .


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