HUGH MURPHY, CATHARINE MURPHY, Royal Offences > coining offences, 10th September 1788.

Reference Number: t17880910-102
Offence: Royal Offences > coining offences
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

561. HUGH MURPHY and CATHARINE MURPHY alias BOWMAN were indicted, for that they, on the 3d of September , one piece of base coin resembling a shilling, falsely, deceitfully, feloniously, and traiterously did colour, with materials producing the colour of silver, against the statute .

A second Count, for that they, on the same day, one round blank of base metal, of a fit size and figure to be coined into shillings, feloniously, and traiterously did colour, with materials producing the colour of silver, against the statute.

(The Case opened by Mr. Silvester.)

ROBERT DAWSON sworn.

I am an officer; I had information that the business of coining was carried on, at No. 10, Maypole-court, Aldgate ; I went there on Wednesday morning, the 3d of September, a quarter past eight, the street door was open; I pulled my shoes off, and went up-stairs; I could perceive between the bottom of the door and the floor, the woman very plain, with something rubbing between her finger and her thumb; she was sitting by the side of a table; there was only one room on a floor; on the other side of the table, I could perceive the legs and feet of a man only; I could not see his hands, nor what he was at; the other officers, Wilkinson and Whiteway were following me, and as soon as they came near enough to me on the the stairs, so as to give me their assistance, I burst the door open; I immediately went up to the man; and in his hand I found this shilling.

Do you mean a perfect shilling, or a counterfeit? - He was rubbing it with some salt; it was wet; as soon as I caught hold of the man, I turned round and saw the woman lay hold of this saucer, which stood on her side, and throw the contents towards the fire-place, and this stick was in the saucer, which she threw away, when she threw away the liquor; and that sixpence which was in her hand, she put upon the table at the same time.

Is it a real sixpence or a counterfeit? - It is a counterfeit; on that side the table where the woman was sitting, that saucer was standing; and on the other side the table, near the man, was this bason, with a counterfeit sixpence in it, with some sand and water; and this pot, which I think, had vinegar in it, and the salt cellar with a little salt in it; these were all on that side the table near the man; I immediately secured the man, and tied his hands, and took him to another corner of the

room, and tied the woman's hands; Wilkinson and me then staid in the room till Whiteway went for Mr. Clarke, as I am not so well acquainted with this business; I never had any thing of this kind before; he came back, and brought word that Mr. Clarke was ill; upon which, I searched the woman, and in her pocket I found this shilling, (a bad one) with two good shillings, and a good half crown; I observed that the lower parts of the windows were lined with this paper all the way round; I put a piece in my pocket; (cartridge paper) then we searched the man; he had nothing; I saw the woman drop a number of bad shillings and sixpences out of her lap; I believe there might be six, seven, or eight, while Mr. Whiteway was gone to Mr. Clarke, some conversation, which, if you think is evidence, I will repeat, passed between the woman and me.

Did you make her any promise? - No.

Court. Did any thing at all pass from you to her that could possibly induce her to hope, that if she told you the real truth it would be better for her; that she would have a chance of escaping? - No, my lord, I guarded her against it; she first asked me what I thought they would do to her; I told her it was impossible for me to answer that question; that it was a pity she, as a woman, (she said, she had been a hard working woman) should give way to such business as this; says she, I never was concerned in such business as this but three times; my husband was a hard working, honest man; by whom, I had three children; I asked her where he was; and she said, he was abroad; but since she had carried on this business, she had made a point never to pass any bad money in the neighbourhood; that is nearly all the conversation that passed in the absence of Whiteway; and when he returned, we proceeded to search the room; in one corner of the room, in a hole in the ceiling, I found this pot and contents, some blacking; and here is some more, that stood on the table; we then put them together, and brought them together; and in a little bag by the side of the fire place, I saw a bottle of aqua fortis found, which will be produced, that was hanging right over the man's head.

Prisoner Catharine. Had I an apron on when you came in? - She had a check apron on.

JOHN WILKINSON sworn.

I went in company with Dawson to this house, and found these pieces of bad money laying on the ground, under the spot where the woman sat; I believe there are eight of them; they were laying right under her, and some a little distance on one side by the fire place; I found nothing else.

Prisoner. Did you see me with an apron on when you came in? - To the best of my knowledge she had an apron on.

What sort of an apron was it? - A coloured check apron.

Had I any money in my hand? - Not when I went in; I was the last person in the room.

WILLIAM WHITEWAY sworn.

I went with the other officers; I was in company with Dawson when the information was brought.

What did you find there? - A bottle, this phial, it was in a little brown paper bag, on the mantle-piece; (a bottle with a little aqua fortis produced) I saw the things all as described before.

ELIZABETH ALFORD sworn.

I am wife of Robert Alford ; I live opposite this house; I was in the room that morning, which was occupied by this man and woman; it was about half an hour before the prisoners were taken; I met Mrs. Murphy about half after eight; I asked her how her husband did after his night's diversion; he was drunk over night; I went into the room for some water; there was no money on the table at breakfast time; she told me, she had some thread to sell; and in about ten minutes

I came to buy the thread; I knocked at the door; it was fast; I saw some bad money on the table; and she said to the other prisoner, give me the money out of your pocket, for the day will be gone; to the best of my knowledge, he put his hand into his left hand breeches pocket, and he took out some pieces, and put them into the saucer; they wanted to shut me in, but I told them, I had lost my door open, and they let me come down; I went to Mr. Herne, who was my landlord, and told him, if he would go for Dawson, he would find them counterfeiting bad money.

When had you been in the room before? - About a fortnight; they had lodged in that house ten or eleven weeks; a fortnight before I imputed some suspicion to my landlord.

JOHN HERNE sworn.

I am landlord of this house; they have lived there about ten weeks; I knew nothing of this business till within a fortnight; there was only one room.

Court. Do you know whether they are married or not? - I am not able to say; I heard her say; her name was Bowman, if any body came to ask for her.

JOHN CLARLE sworn.

You have been employed, I believe, for the Mint these seventeen or eighteen years? - Under their directions, sir.

Describe to the jury, in what manner it is that people endeavour to colour money? - The process is after they are cast; they are smoothed, and after being smoothed they are put into aqua fortis; after they have been in momentarily, they are taken from that and thrown into water; from that it draws the silver, if there is any, on the surface, and makes them black with the strength of the aqua fortis; and after they are put into water, by being scoured with water and sand it takes off that blackness, and leaves the silver on the surface; that makes them bright, and they have, in general, a black stuff that they put over them, to make them look old, as if they had been worn some time, and then they are ready for currency.

Now just tell us what is, or what has been at least in that phial? - That is aqua fortis.

What is that black stuff for? - This is what they generally put on the outside, in order to deaden the rubbing of it; this bason has every appearance of sand and water; there is a piece of money in it, and I dare say, by rubbing it, it will become white.

(Shewn to the Jury.)

Then you have aqua fortis, water, sand, and that blacking; is it the complete apparatus for the business of colouring? - It is.

Here is some salt, for what purpose is that? - I do not know; they may rub it, in all probability, with salt, instead of sand; I apprehend this shilling has been in aqua fortis, but I will rub it in the sand, and tell you in a minute.

(Rubbed it, and it had that effect.)

Court. Is that counterfeit money, Mr. Clarke? - Yes, my lord, this has been coloured like the rest.

REUBEN FLETCHER sworn.

I am one of the moniers of the mint; (looks at the money) it is all counterfeit.

PRISONER HUGH MURPHY 's DEFENCE.

My lord, I had a few words with that gentlewoman and my landlord, two days before this woman came into my room with my wife; and they whispered together in the room; and I knew nothing of this money; my wife was washing some of the things up; I had no hand in it; this woman owed me a spite; she came and begged my wife to let her leave them in the room, for her husband and her bad words; when Mr. Dawson rushed into the room.

PRISONER CATHARINE MURPHY 's DEFENCE.

I met this woman; she said, how is Mr. Murphy; she had not been in my room between three weeks and a month; she asked me for a little boiling water; I told her tea, and sugar, and water, and welcome; she came in and breakfasted with me; she came up to buy some thread, and then she came up in the greatest hurry, and brought these things in her apron, and threw them down in my room; and she could not get down again before Mr. Dawson came in.

The prisoner Hugh Murphy called four witnesses, who all gave him a good character.

BOTH GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron HOTHAM .

N. B. When sentence was passed, the prisoner, Catharine, pleaded that she was with child; upon which, a jury of Matrons were sworn, who returned with a verdict, which the forewoman thus delivered.

"In my real opinion, if she is

"with child, it is very young, for she is

"not with quick child."


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