Offence: Deception > fraud
Verdict: Guilty > with recommendation
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378. (L.) John Adams was indicted for personating and taking upon himself the name of John Groundwater , a mariner , on board his Majesty's ship the Chesterfield, in order to receive wages due to him on board that ship , May 31 . ++
John Groundwater ?
Ratcliff. He is dead, but he did not die on board that ship; so there is nothing in the book to shew that he was dead. He produced a certificate from under the captain's hand, and declared his name to be John Groundwater , of his Majesty's ship Chesterfield, and claimed the wages as such. We had reason to suspect that a person would appear at the pay-office, to claim the wages of John Groundwater , by attempting to personate him.
Q. Upon what did you ground your suspicion?
Ratcliff. We had information from a ship-mate of a person having such an intention.
Q. What questions did you ask him?
Ratcliff. We asked him if he really was John Groundwater ? he repeatedly declared he was. He said he had served twelve months on board the Chesterfield: we had reason to believe he was not the person, and we had reason to believe he was John Adams . He said he had a brother alive at this time, named James Groundwater , and that he came from the Orkneys; I think he said he was born there. We told him the name of the person who had lodged this information with us; he still said his name was John Groundwater , and that the person who had lodged this information bore a spight against him. We kept him in the office, while an officer was sent for from my Lord Mayor, who came and took him before my Lord Mayor. I went with him. Before my Lord he still persisted that he was the identical John Groundwater : upon that he was committed. The prisoner had served on board by the name of John Adams : the book mentions wages being paid to John Adams ; but I cannot swear that this is the man.
Q. What is his name?
Rutherford. I did; he did belong to the Chesterfield at the same time the prisoner Adams did.
Q. What name was the prisoner mustered by?
Q. Did you never hear the prisoner say he had received his wages for service on board the Chesterfield?
Rutherford. No, I never did; I received my wages.
Council. This is not the person that gave the information.
I can neither write nor read; I hope for mercy from the court: I was led into the thing; I was quite innocent of it: John Groundwater 's brother put me upon doing of it (he lives in the Orkneys in Scotland), because his brother was dead, and he heard he had made a will and power to a man in Portsmouth; and he got me to go and receive the money for him: I was quite ignorant, and did not know any better; I have no witnesses nor friend here.
Guilty . Death . Recommended.