James Lewis.
6th September 1732
Reference Numbert17320906-16
VerdictNot Guilty

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17. James Lewis of St. Mary le Bow , was indicted for forging and causing to be forged (after the 29th of June 1729) a certain Writing, call'd the Last Will and Testament of John Ward , with an Intent to defraud Mary Ward his Wife of his Wages, and for publishing the said Will, knowing it to be forged , August 20 .

The Council for the King opened, that the Prisoner was one who frequently lent Money to Sailors; that 'tis customary for the Sailors to make a Will to the Person of whom they borrow Money. That the deceas'd John Ward , having enter'd himself on board the Bridgewater, in Service of the East-India Company, did really make a Will to the Prisoner, sign'd Nov. 30. 1726. That the said John Ward returning safe from this Voyage, did go a second Voyage for the East-Indies, in the Ship Forbidge, Richard Gosprit Master, in which Voyage the said John Ward dy'd. That the Prisoner hearing of his Death went to his Widow Mary Ward , to know if the Deceas'd had made any Will, and finding that he had not, and that she intended to administer; that then the Prisoner published this second Will, as the true Will of John Ward , sign'd on the 30th of Nov. 1728, and witnessed by Newton Robinson , and Mary Macafy , who were Witnesses to the first Will. That this second Will being the same in all Respects as the first, except in the Date of the Year, and that in the first it is mentioned, that John Ward was then a Sailor on board the Bridgewater ; but in the second, the Word Bridgewater seems to be eras'd, and these Words are interlin'd in a different Hand and Ink, Now belonging to the Ship Forbidge, Richard Gosprit Master. That the Prosecutor will endeavour to prove that this pretended second Will is no other than the first Will alter'd in the Date and the Ship's Name; and that on November 30. 1728, when this second Will was said to be sign'd in London by the deceas'd John Ward , he was then down at Gravesend, receiving his River-pay; and that therefore it is done without the Knowledge of the said John Ward , and is false and forged.

John Hawkins . This is the original Will of John Ward , I brought it from the Perogative-Office. I am Clerk to the Register. It has been pleaded in Behalf of one James Lewis .

[Then the Will was read in Court, and it agreed with the Copy of it in the Indictment.]

Joseph Was . I was employ'd by the Widow of the deceas'd John Ward to receive the

Wages due to him, but the Prisoner came with this Will, and the Probat, and got the Money from me.

Council. Here Mrs. Robinson, did you know John Ward ?

Newton Robinson . Yes.

Council. Look on that Paper; what is it?

Robinson. 'Tis the Will of John Ward .

Council. Did you see him execute it?

Robinson. Yes. I sign'd my Name. Here it is as a Witness.

Council. Where?

Robinson. At the Prisoner's House in Queen's-Head Alley, in Wapping.

Council. How long ago?

Robinson. About 4 Years.

Council. Are you sure 'twas but 4 Years ago? What Ship did John Ward then belong to?

Robinson. The Forbidge.

Court. Why this proves the second Will.

Council. Here, Mary Macafy ; Is that your Mark?

Macafy. Yes.

Council. Who Signed that Will?

Macafy. I saw one they called John Ward sign it, but I did not know him.

Council. Where?

Macafy. At the Prisoner's House.

Council. When?

Macafy. About 4 Years ago.

Court. Have you any more such Witnesses?

Council. We have some to prove that John Ward was several Miles from London, at the Time that the second Will is said to be Signed.

John Philpot . The deceased John Ward was my Son-in-Law, he ow'd me Money, and I threatned to Trouble him, which made him afraid to come on Shore, and so he kept on Board.

Court. When was this?

Philpot. I don't know the Time.

Court. Then you might as well have said nothing.

- Barns. I live at the Flying-Horse at Gravesend ; and that Day as John Ward received his River-Pay for the Forbidge he was at our House, and lay there that Night. It was the - [He pauses, and Joseph Wass prompts him] the 30th of November, 1728.

Court. And how came you to remember so exactly, that it was the 30th Day? Have you any particular Reason for it? Might it not have been on the 28th?

Barns. I remember it was the last Day of the Month.

Joseph Wass . Remember the Day of the Month the 30th of November [aside to Ann Rogers ].

Ann Rogers . I live at the Flying Horse at Gravesend. John Ward used our House. I remember the River-Pay of the Ship Forbidge was paid there the 30th of November; and Ward and his Wife both lay there that Night.

Officer. My Lord, here's this Man, Joseph Wass , prompts the Witnesses.

A Gentleman. Yes, my Lord, I heard him too.

Court. Swear those two Persons. [Th sworn.] Now what did you hear him say?

Officer. He bid them remember the Day of the Month, and he named some Day, but I forget what Day it was.

Gentleman. I heard him say, Remember the 30th of November.

J. Wass. Suppose I did, I hope there was no Harm in that.

Court. No harm, Sir? When a Man's Life is at Stake, are you to put Words in the Witnesses Mouths, and direct them what to swear? Officer take him into Custody.

Wass. My Lord -

Court. Take him away to Newgate.

The Jury acquitted the Prisoner, and the Court order'd him to have a Copy of his Indictment.

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