285. (M.) Eleanor Eddowes , spinster , was indicted for feloniously forging a paper writing, purporting to be a bond to Anna Maria Edwards , in the penalty of two thousand pounds, for the payment of one thousand pounds, and publishing the same with intent to defraud Robert Bridge .
The prisoner had knowledge of Mr. Ralph Bridge, the person who is supposed to execute several instruments, so long ago as between thirty and forty years, when she lived servant with Sir Richard Grosvenor , Mr. Bridge then acting as steward to Sir Richard; so early did she begin to display her genius of this kind. Mr. Bridge at that time was instrumental in discovering her transactions, and bringing her to justice, and she was committed to Newgate, where she lay about fifteen months. When she got out she kept a bagnio in St. James's-Street, where she lived for some years; but in the year 1739 she became greatly indebted to many people, and her creditors came upon her, and she was sent to the Fleet, where she lay from 1739 to 1748, when she was discharged by the Insolvent Act. It was not long after before she set to work. She began within a month after her confinement with Mrs. Mulder, and filed a bill in chancery against her; several transactions in pursuance to that are not at an end. I shall not take notice of that transaction any farther than as it has a connection with this. She never had any demand on Mr. Ralph Bridge during his life time, who died in March 1747. In July following she sent one Boucher, an attorney, to the present Mr. Robert Bridge, his representative, to whom he left the greatest part of his fortune; and he never was without great sums of money in bankers hands, and India bonds. She sent to demand of him the sum of 750 l. and produced a bond, which she said was executed by Mr. Ralph Bridge, and given to her; this was a demand in her own right. Mr. Bridge was a good deal surprised, and could not think that his uncle, a man of affluent circumstances, could owe that sum to any person whatsoever; but when he came to understand who this creditor was, (a woman in the Fleet for a debt of 180 l.) it was impossible he could conceive the debt genuine. It is remarkable that bond is witnessed by two persons; one her brother John Eddowes. a poor necessitous man, who was sometimes a bailist's follower, sometime a day labourer, and at last was obliged to her for bringing him into a scrape, for which he was committed to Newgate, where he died, not being able to pay 40 s. The other was Peter Phillis , a person in the Fleet at the same time, in circumstances which in every shape convinced Mr. Bridge this must be forged; therefore he soon afterwards filed a bill in chancery against her and the witnesses, in order to discover the circumstances attending the execution of it; for she brought an action on it immediately after he had refused payment. She in June, 1748, put in her answer, where she says, in order to give an account of it, Mr. Ralph Bridge was an acquaintance of her's, that she had advanced 400 l. to him, and some other person had advanced 400 l. more in her favour, and that Mr. Bridge undertook to purchase an annuity for her with that sum; but an opportunity not falling out immediately she had received several sums of money from him back again, and at the time this bond is supposed to be given he came to her in the Fleet. They settled accounts, and upon the ballance this sum of 750 l. was due to her; that he brought a blank along with him, and told her she might get any body to fill it up, and he was ready to execute it; that she looking out of her chamber window saw Mr. Peter Phillis , who happened to be walking by, and call'd him in, so he happened to be a witness. In this case there were several witnesses examined. It came on to a hearing, and my lord chancellor thought proper to direct the issue of it to be tried at law, and Mr. Bridge prepared himself for that trial; but upon the examination of the witnesses it appeared she had dated that bond at a time when Mr. Bridge happened not to be in town. It happened to be at the time of Litchfield election. Mr. Bridge did business for gentlemen of fortune, who interested themselves in that election, and he was gone down there on that occasion. When she found this, and that it would be wrong to stand a trial at law, she did not try the cause; but when it came back again into the court of chancery the issue was taken ( pro confesso ) and it was agreed that that bond should be delivered up and cancel'd.
After that (she had an invention so fruitful she was not at a loss to commence new demands) she set up a most extraordinary one indeed, and this is the subject principally of our present inquiry. She set up a person, one Mrs. Anna Maria Edwards , as she was pleased to call her, a person who she said lived at Brussels, but was sometimes in England. She pretended Mr. Ralph Bridge was intimately acquainted with her, a particular friend of hers; that she was an officer's widow, who had been in the French service, that she had dealt here as a sort of a merchant in lace, French wine, silks, and other commodities. That she had drove a large trade, by which she had been enabled to get a considerable fortune, and Mr. Bridge, as a particular friend of hers, undertook to put out a sum of money for her; that in the year 1740 she advanced to him the sum of a thousand pounds, which he undertook to put out for her, and in the mean time he would pay her five per Cent. SheAnn Mulder , the other Jane Knight . Mrs. Ann Mulder is made a witness to this bond of Mr. Bridge, and Mr. Bridge is made a witness to the other bond of Ann Mulder , and both these bonds are said to be executed the same day, the 9th of March, 1740, and supposed to be fill'd up by Mr. Bridge.
By this bond she made a demand by her attorney on Mr. Bridge of a thousand pounds. Mr. Bridge was astonish'd at this second demand, but he thought it absolutely necessary to take the same steps as in the other case; he filed a second bill against her for the same kind of discovery. This was not set up in her own right, for this Mrs. Anna Maria Edwards is supposed to die in Feb. 1745, and in her answer in chancery in Feb. 1746. she says Mrs. Edwards made her will (and there is a will produc'd supposed to be hers.) She makes the prisoner's brother, John Eddowes , who died in Newgate, her executor, but she has not given the least account of any intimacy or any knowledge Mrs. Anna Maria Edwards had of John Eddowes . He afterwards died, then she takes out letters of administration to him, and as his representative made this demand. She by her answer to Mr. Bridge sets forth the bond, says she is very well acquainted with Mr. Bridge, Mulder and Knight, and insists upon the bond as a real bond, at that time, which was in November, 1752; but when she made the first demand of this bond she took no notice at all of three several promisory notes, she did not pretend any of them were due to her, yet two of them are indorsed upon the back of the bond; the third, which is for 300 l. she took no notice of, but before this answer she insists upon it she is not only intitled to that, but 600 l. more, which is these three several notes. Mr. Bridge amended his bill, she puts in her second answer, she there says as to the 100 and 200 l. she believes the money is not due upon them, but that they were given as a collateral security for part of the money due upon the bond.
Now observe the bond was supposed to be executed in March, 1740, the other not given till 1745; how could it be possible that two notes should be given as a collateral security against the security of a higher nature, and so long afterwards.
Upon this the cause was brought to issue, many witnesses examin'd on both sides, and it appear'd she did not examine a single witness to prove the existence of this Anna Maria Edwards , though she had said she was a woman of consequence in trade, and died worth 3000 l. yet in another answer she said she was worth nothing, her effects not being equal to her debts. It appear'd she had been a little out of luck in the execution of this bond too, tho' she had taken some care to obviate a little difficulty she had in the last, for she had dated this bond a great deal farther back, this was March 1740. Therefore as Mr. Bridge was generally in town about that time of the year, in the spring, she thought there she should have him, but there she was again mistaken, for it appear'd that this Mr. Bridge lodg'd for 14 years with Mr. Curgee, a goldsmith, in Fleet street, and continued there when in town to his death. Mr. Curgee, in looking over his papers, found a letter from him at this very time, wrote from Oxfordshire, by which he recollected he set out on the 6th of March for Burford, and the letter was dated the 9th at Burford, which is 70 miles from London, therefore it is impossible he could be in London at the time; in order to take off that, she or somebody else has been guilty of the most extraordinary forgery that almost ever came before a court. She got leave of my Lord Chancellor in order to prove some exhibits. She produced six letters, the tenour of them appear'd to be a correspondence kept up between this Mrs. Anna Maria Edwards at Brustels in Flanders, and Mr. Bridge; these letters had no post marks on them, the whole appear'd upon inspection not to be his hand writing, nor like it, and from the spelling and manner of expression no man could hesitate a moment; upon this the cause came to be heard. She produced a 7th letter, but that was calculated to answer a particular purpose, and that was to shew that Mr. Bridge was drunk when he wrote one of the letters; when it came to be heard before my Lord Chancellor, there was another cause came on at the same time, my Lord thought proper to direct issues, and when they were fram'd and prepar'd for trial she filed this first cause, but did not think proper to try the other at all. The whole matter was tried before my lord Mansfield last May, by a special jury of gentlemen, in Westminster-Hall, and after a full hearing by witnesses the jury brought in a verdict against the bond, that it was not a real bond; and likewise the notes, and these very letters were produced
The first thing we shall go upon is, to prove this bond was not executed by Mr. Bridge. We shall likewise prove by several gentlemen of character and credit, who very well know his hand-writing, and will positively declare this is not his hand-writing to the best of their knowledge.
As for the publication, that is beyond all manner of doubt. We shall shew she produced it to her attorney in order to bring an action. She in her answers in chancery avows it to be a good bond. She leaves it in court for the inspection of the plaintiff, and at last attended at the trial, where it was read as evidence for her.
The only thing is how to bring it home to her, as to the knowledge of this bond being forged, and that can only arise from the general nature of the transaction, from the facts and circumstances arising from it; there are many inconsistencies indeed in her answers in chancery, as she gives different accounts of this Anna Maria Edwards .
In the first place, their producing the bond without making any demand upon the notes.
Those very letters appearing to be so gross and palpable a forgery, will not leave you in the least doubt but that she knew this bond and notes were not drawn by Mr. Bridge, &c. &c.
Mr. Hanley. My father was in the six-clerks office ( he produced a bond.) I found this is my father's bookcase; he was clerk in court in this cause of Bridge and Eddowes, about this bond.
Q. For which party?
Hanley. For the defendant Eddowes.
Q. Did you appear for her?
Hanley. I did. I acted as clerk in court for her on that cause. After my father's death I never attended myself with the prisoner, but my agent did in hearing the cause.
The bond read to this purport:
'' Know all men by these presents, that I Ralph Bridge of Kinderton, in the county palatine of Chester, gent. am held and fully bound to Anna Maria Edwards , of St. James's, in the county of Middlesex, widow, in a penal sum of two thousand pounds, of good and lawful money of Great-Britain, to be paid to the said Anna Maria Edwards , her attorney, executor, administrator, or assigns; for the true payment whereof I bind myself, my heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, firmly by these presents Sealed with my seal the 9th day of March, in the 14th year of the reign of our sovereign lord George the 2 d, by the grace of God of Great-Britain, France, and Ireland, king, defender of the faith, and in the year of our Lord 1740.
The condition of this obligation is such, that if the above-bound Ralph Bridge, his heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, shall and do well and truly pay, or cause to be paid to Anna Maria Edwards , her heirs, executors, administrators, and assigns, the full sum of one thousand pounds, of good and lawful money of Great-Britain, on the 29th of day of September next, with lawful interest for the same. Then this obligation to be void, or else to remain in full force and virtue. Sealed and delivered in the presence of
Q. Did you attend on the behalf of the prisoner?
Mould. I did, at the issue at Westminster, in the court of King's-Bench, for which she paid me 13 s. and 4 d.
Q. What did you attend with?
Mould. With two bonds, three notes, and a letter or two, at her request; those exhibits that were left in the clerk of the court's hands.
Q. Where have they been since?
Mould. They have been kept in Mr. Hanley's hands or mine ever since. They were kept in his desk or bookcase.
Q. How long ago?
Powel. Two years ago. The prisoner applied to me to bring an action on this bond. I wrote to the gentleman or his attorney, but had no answer.
Q. Who had you it from?
Powel. I had it from the prisoner at the bar, in order to recover the money. She avow'd it as a bond, upon which the money was due.
Q. In whose name was you to bring the action?
Powel. I was to bring it in her name.
Q. How came you to decline it?
Powel. I heard Mr. Cooper (an officer of the King's-Bench) knew something of Mr. Bridge, so I waited on him with the bond, and I remember he said he doubted whether it was wrote by Mr. Bridge or not, so I deliver'd it and would not proceed.
Q. from prisoner. What was the reason you kept my affair in your hands two years and would not go on with it ?
Q. Did you ever attend the examination of this bond in the court of chancery?
Guy. I examined several witnesses upon it for the prisoner.
Q. Who was you employ'd by?
Guy. By the prisoner. Here is my certificate upon it (pointing to it.) The bond was in Mr. Hanley's hands for her; I mean the father to Mr. Hanley, who gave evidence here. He brought it to the examining clerk on the other side.
Q. Did she come at any time?
Guy. She came several times with witnesses, who were examined to it; they were to prove the hand-writing of this bond, in the cause, in the court of chancery.
Q. What are you?
Collison. I am record keeper to Mr. Zinks, one of the six clerks.
The bill read in court.
Prisoner. I desire my last answer may be read; there was a mistake made by the attorney in the first.
It was read: The purport of which was, that she, the prisoner, insisted upon the bond as a real bond, and therein mention was made of three pomisory notes, all dated December 20, 1745, from Mr. Ralph Bridge to Anna Maria Edwards , one for 100 l. another 200 l. and the other 300 l. she insisted upon the 300 l. note as due to her, exclusive of the bond; and the other two notes she look'd upon to be part of the money included in the thousand pounds bond; and she believes Anna Maria Edwards , at the time of the notes being given, was in sufficient circumstances to lend a larger sum than the three sums there mention'd.
Q. to Powel. Do you remember having instructions from the prisoner to make this answer?
Powel. I don't remember I ever had myself, but my clerk, that was at that time, had; this answer is his hand-writing.
Q. Is he here?
Powel. No, he is not.
Q. Have you ever seen the prisoner write?
Powel. I have.
Q. Look upon her name to this answer, whose hand-writing do you take it to be ?
Powel. I am apt to think this name sign'd here is her own hand-writing.
Q. to Guy. Look upon this bill and answer, was it on this cause that you attended the examination of the bond?
Guy. It was.
Council. We have do ne with the proof of the publication, we shall now shew that the bond is not Mr. Bridge's hand-writing.
Q. Are you acquainted with his hand-writing?
Ellisle. I am well acquainted with it; I have seen him write several times.
Q. Look upon this bond. (He looks on it.)
Ellisle. I have carefully look'd at it.
Q. Did you see the name Ralph Bridge at the bottom ?
Ellisle. I did. I don't believe it to be his hand-writing.
Q. Is it any thing like it?
Ellisle. It is very little like it, if any thing.
Q. Look into the body of the bond, the filling up of it.
Ellisle. I don't think any part of it to be his hand-writing.
Q. from prisoner. Look at this letter (producing one) is this his hand-writing?
Ellisle. (He looks at it.) This is more like his writing than the other, but I do not think this to be his hand-writing.
Q. Did he keep cash with Mr. Hoare?
Atkinson. He did many years before he died. I have his name in the book, (producing a book. He turns to, and points to the name Ralph Bridge.) I saw him write this.
Q. How long did you know him before he died?
Atkinson. I knew him fifteen years. Here is a receipt which he signed when I paid him a sum of money (producing one.)
Q. Look upon the name Ralph Bridge at the bottom of the bond.
Atkinson. I do not believe this to be his hand-writing.
Q. What do you think of the filling up of the bond?
Atkinson. I verily believe that is not his hand-writing.
Q. from prisoner. Look on this letter, is this his hand-writing. (The same she produced to the last witness.)
Q. Look upon this bond.
Baldwin. I don't believe the name, nor any part of it is his hand-writing.
John Romans . I am clerk to Mr. Borroughs. (He produced four letters.) These were deliver'd to Mr. Borroughs, one of the masters in chancery, by Mr. Robert Bridge, in the cause of Bridge and Eddowes; these are all letters of the deceased Ralph Bridge's writing.
Q. to Atkinson. Look on those letters.
Atkinson. (He takes them in his hand.) I have had a great many letters from him; these are all of Mr. Ralph Bridge's hand-writing. The jury compare them with the bond.
Council. We have done as to the hand writing, now we shall shew he had no occasion to borrow this money.
Q. to Atkinson. Did Mr. Ralph Bridge keep cash with you?
Atkinson. From 1743 to 1747, in which he died, in March, we had nine thousand four hundred pounds, and had thirty-two East-India bonds of his, which we delivered to the executors. He lodged, when in town, within three doors of our shop, for many years. We always look'd upon him to be a man of fortune. There were three thousand two hundred pounds paid to his executors, which they signed our book for, after the will was proved.
Mary Davis . I saw a woman that went by the name of Anna Maria Edwards in the prisoner's house, when she kept the bagnio in St. James's-Street; it is now call'd the Royal Bagnio. The first time I saw her there she was at the door with a mop and pail, in the nature of a servant.
Q. Did she appear to be worth one thousand pounds?
M. Davis. She seem'd as much able to lend 10 l. as I am, and I can lend none at all.
M. Davis. She appeared very mean.
Q. In what circumstances was Mrs. Mulder?
M. Davis. She had two or three houses. She died in the year 1749, and never ran in debt; she received several hundreds of pounds while she lived in the prisoner's house.
Q. Did you know him before the year 1746?
Osgood. I did.
Q. In what situation of life was he?
Osgood. He always went by the nickname of Cheshire, he being a Cheshire man. I well knew him and the prisoner in the Fleet.
Q. What was he?
Osgood. He was a follower to one Hunt a bailiff, several times before the year 1746.
Q. What are you?
Osgood. I belong to the sheriffs office.
Osgood. He work'd in my garden at Eason-Green as a labourer.
Q. What time was that?
Osgood. He work'd for me there on the 26th of August, 1746, and staid on and off till about November, 1748.
Q. What was he as to circumstances in life?
Osgood. He was a man in no circumstances at all. He went to Newgate upon an attachment for non-payment of 40 s. and there he died as I was told.
Q. Was you ever in company with him and the prisoner together?
Osgood. I was; while he work'd in my garden my servant was telling me that Cheshire had related that some body had died, and left him a good deal of money; so I had the curiosity of asking him how it was, and told him if I could be of service to him I would; said he, I can't tell, there is somebody dead that my sister can inform you of, and I should be obliged to you if you will go along with me to her, he not knowing who it was, or where they died. I went with him the 16th of October, 1747, to her in the Fleet Prison, I there had a good deal of conversation with her. She offer'd to put some proceedings in the court of Chancery into my hands, which I took with me,Anna Maria Edwards died (I believe abroad) and had made a will, and had appointed her brother John Eddowes her executor. What appear'd to me then was a bond of 500 l. upon one Ann Mulder . I never heard of a bond of a thousand pounds, or any thing of the kind at that time; that was all that I apprehended was then claimed by John Eddowes .
Q Did she mention any notes, or any thing about Mr. Bridge ?
Osgood. No, she made no mention of any such thing, she mention'd one Nevil. I was surprized at the demand, it was not satisfactory to me who this Anna Maria Edwards was. I observed to her, how is it consistent with reason, that a woman abroad should make such a silly fellow as John Eddowes executor. She said I can't account for my sex's conduct of that kind. John Eddowes would have been glad to have taken ten guineas for the 500 l. bond.
Prisoner. When that witness came to me about the time he says, he says I told him of this bond, I had not then that bond in my custody, nor did I come to it a great while after, but I heard there was a bond. Mr. Bridge told me he had signed his name to a bond, it was afterwards found in a book.
Osgood. I told her then it appear'd to me an idle story, and that she wanted to make her brother a cats paw.
Q. to Powel. Where did she produce this bond to you, in order for your demanding payment?
Powel. In Garden Court in the Temple.
Q. Is that in London or Middlesex?
Powel. That part I liv'd in is in Middlesex.
I brought Sir Richard Grosvenor acquainted with this old Bridge; the Grosvenor's family are very honourable people, they were very generous to me till lately. There has been a combination against me, and they have misled the court and the jury. They hired a woman out of the Lying-in Hospital to swear this Anna Maria Edwards was a servant with a mop and a pail. Indeed I have used a mop and a pail myself, yet I think myself as good a woman as many. I should not think myself dishonour'd by washing a room. That poor creature was turn'd out of the hospital for perjuring herself in this cause; the creature forgot her story, they gave her too much gin, and I have too little of every thing. I have not a six penny piece left to pay a porter, much less to see council. I have been very troublesome to some gentlemen in the city, men of business, whose time is their bread, and I can't call them; it is seventeen years ago since this affair of old Bridge. I can't call witnesses to prove it now, and the two witnesses to the bond are dead. If I must die because I am poor, I can't help it.
Guilty of publishing it . Death .