Robert Fitzgerald.
15th October 1746
Reference Numbert17461015-21
VerdictGuilty > lesser offence

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355. Robert Fitzgerald was indicted for counterfeiting a Pall of Exchange for the Sum of 21 l. 15 s. drawn upon Mr. Albert Nesbit and Company , of Coleman-Street, payable to Capt. John Hancock , or uttering the same, knowing it to be forg'd, with an Intent to defraud the above said Nesbit and Company .

Council . This Indictment sets forth, that Robert Fitzgerald , wickedly, unlawfully and feloniously, did forge and counterfeit a Bill of Exchange for 21 l. 15 s. payable to Capt. John Hancock : This is laid to deceive Albert Nesbit and Company .

Council. I am Council of the same Side in support of this Prosecution; you will observe, Gentleman, It is a Prosecution founded on an Act of Parliament made in the second Year of his present Majesty's Reign; 'tis laid upon this Act of Parliament , which has been found a most necessary Law, a Law calculated for the Benefit of Trade; and 'tis a little surprizing that our Ancestors, who were very wise, should not have thought of such a Law, which is calculated for the Conviction and Punishment of so great a Crime as Forgery .

On the 6th of September last , about Seven o'Clock in the Evening, the Prisoner came to this Part of the Town, towards the Old Baily, and call'd for a Porter; a Porter answer'd immediately. I am a Stranger here in Town, says he; Which is the nearest Way to Coleman-Street? I must get you to shew it me: But just as they were about Bow Church, says he, I want to go to Blossoms Inn; is that far out of the Way? No, says the Porter; then shew me there. Then, said he to the Porter, I want you to carry a Bill to one Mr. Nesbit's in Coleman-Street, and come back to me at the Inn ; if you should not find me there, then you will find me here at Nine o'Clock in the Morning . When the Porter gave the Bill to Mr. Nesbit, he told him it was a good Bill, and he should call To-morrow Morning. As he was coming back to find the Prisoner, he heard some body call Porter ; there the Prisoner lay conceal'd in Lawrence-Lane, he did not care to be at the Inn; for if the Bill had appear'd

to be bad , he thought a Constable might come. Well, says he, what have you done about the Bill? why they say 'tis a good Bill, so I left it: The Prisoner said, very well. Mr. Nesbit looking narrowly into it concluded it was a Forgery ; he said, this is not Mr. Barton's Hand, nor is it after the Manner they draw their Bills; for they are on Copper-Plate and in French. When another Porter came the next Day they got a Constable and laid hold of him, and ask'd him where he had the Bill; he said he had it from a Gentleman in Whitechapel, who was then waiting for him: Mr. Neshit's Porter and the Constable went to the Place and met with him: They carry'd him before the Lord Mayor where he gave but a very slender Account of ask'd him where he had the Bill; he of one Johnson, and that he gave him Money; but could not tell any thing about Johnson where he liv'd. Gentlemen, I am well brought very home; we shall call our Witnesses, and we don't doubt but you will act the P of honest Men .

Council. I am Council on the same Side. You will observe this Indictment charges the Prisoner at the Bar with a Crime of a very heinous Nature, no less than Forgery, and of a Species of Forgery that is very pernicious .

Gentlemen, there is one Difficulty which is a Misfortune to the Publick; that it is extreamly difficult to convict Offenders by positive Proof; Crimes of this Nature are generally transacted in the Dark: What we are to lay before you, and the only Evidence that can be brought, are the Circumstances and Manner of transacting this Bill of Exchange. Gentlemen, the Prisoner at the Bar is no Stranger; he is a Person that has liv'd in the Compring-House of a great Merchant in this City, Mr. Dillon; but when he enter'd upon this Scene of Action, and discover'd himself in this Part of the Town, he told the Porter that he was an entire Stranger, desir'd to know which was Coleman-Street; and not satisfied with his telling him the Way, desir'd he would go with him: When he came into Cheapside he ask'd if it was much out of the Way to go to Blossom's Inn; there he pull'd out the Bill and desir'd him to go to Mr. Nesbit's. The Porter shew'd it to one of the Mr. Nesbit's, who just cast his Eyes upon it and told him it was a good Bill . It seems the Prisoner at the Bar had directed him to come to him to the Blossom's Inn; the Porter returned thither and did not see him; but a Person at some Distance call'd out Porter, and he found the Prisoner at the Bar was behind; upon that he ask'd what he had done, what Mr. Nesbit said to the Bill; he answer'd , Mr. Nesbit said it was a good Bill . I would observe to you, as I go along, that this seems to be an extraordinary Method of negociating a Bill of Exchange ; it is uncommon for a Person to call a Porter in the Street, to send a mere Stranger with a Bill of Exchange to a Merchant . Would it not have been natural to have gone himself to Mr. Nesbit's to have had this Bill of Exchange accepted, instead of loitering about Blossom's Inn? The next Day he thought proper to proceed in a different Manner; then the Scene of Action was open'd in Whitechapel; there he calls a Porter and sends him for the Money, as supporting the Bill accepted: But I should have told you, that Night, or the next Morning , Mr. Nesbit having an Opportunity to examine the Bill, found it was not one of those he used to receive from Barton and Comp. it was different in the Hand writing; and another Circumstance, that Mess. Barton have for many Years had their Bills printed upon Copper-Plate, and fill'd up their Names and Sums in Writing; Mr. Nesbit observing all this to be written, concluded it was a false Bill, and order'd that the Person who should call for it the next Morning might be secured . A Porter coming from Whitechapel for the Hill, Mr. Nesbit's Servant immediately sent for a Constable and secur'd him: Enquiry was then made who he was and from whence he came; he said he was directed to come by a Person who was waiting for him at the Fountain Alehouse ; they went thither in search of him, but he had left that House and was found loitering in the Street: Seeing the Porter he went up to him and ask'd him what he had done with the Bill; the Fellow call'd him Rogue, and told him that he had like to have drawn him into a Scape, for it was a forged Bill. The Constable being near at hand seiz'd him and carry'd him before the Lord Mayor; when before his Lordship he said he gave a valuable Consideration for it to one Johnson; but I think at last he confess'd that he knew nothing of Johnson; whereupon he was committed to the Compter, from whence he attempted to escape in Women's Clothes, but was prevented by the Vigilance of the Keeper .

Here is another Circumstance : He wanted to su one of the Porters to swear falsly; he desir'd him to say, if he was ask'd where he had the Bill of Exchange, that he had it in St. Paul's Church-Yard; which is a Circumstance directly contrary to Truth, and if Wells had swore that, he would have been guilty of Perjury. These are the Circumstances; if we prove them to your Satisfaction , it

will be impossible for you to think any otherwise than that this was a false Bill of Exchange. We shall call our Witnesses .

Q. (to Christopher Wells .) Do you know that Person, the Prisoner ?

Wells. I can't swear I do know him; I have seen him twice .

Council. Tell us upon what Occasion; when did you see the Prisoner ?

Wells. I never saw him before that Night .

Q. What are you ?

Wells. I am a Ticket Porter.

Council. Give an Account when you first saw him .

Wells. It was when he came to me and call'd one Porter; it was the Corner of the Old Baily .

Q. What Month was it?

Wells. I can't tell

Q. What did he say to you?

Wells. He said, Sir, he ask'd me whether I knew Coleman-Street; then he said, will you be so good as to shew me the Way; step along Porter .

Q. Which Way did you go?

Wells. Under Newgate and down Cheapside .

Q. What did he say to you as you were going down Cheapside?

Wells. He ask'd me if I knew Moorgate Coffee-House, and he ask'd if I know Blossom's Inn .

Q. What did he say to you then?

Wells. He said he had Friend there. I must tell the Whole; I went to Blossom's Inn in Lawrence-Lane, then I went to ease myself .

Council. What is that to the Purpose. Did he go with you to Blossom's Inn .

Wells. When we were together in the Gate he gave me a, and ask'd me it I knew such a Gentleman; but I have forgot it .

Council. Who gave you the Note? and what did he did you do with it ?

Wells. He said, you may leave the Note if you will .

Council. Don't you remember the Gentleman's Name .

Wells. Sir, I do not .

Q. Whereabouts in Coleman-Street did that Gentleman live ?

Wells. Sir, to the best of my Knowledge 'tis the second Gateway beyond the Church .

Q. When you carry'd the Note there who did you see?

Wells. I saw three Gentlemen .

Q. Do you know any of them? Look upon those Gentlemen .

Wells. Sir , I can't say; but I think that is one of them. [But that Gentleman was a Stranger.] When I went he bid me return to him at Blossom's Inn; and if he was not there then, I should find him there at Nine o'Clock the next Morning. Before I got to Blossom's Inn the Gentleman was behind me, and called after me, Porter, Porter, what have you done with the Bill? I told him it was a good one .

Q. Did you see the Prisoner at any Time after this?

Wells. He sent for me to the Compter; to the best of my Memory be order'd me to say that the Bill was given me in Paul's Church-Yard; that I must not say I was at Blossom's Inn with him .

Council. I would ask you if any Money was offer'd you?

Wells. He said if I came To-morrow Morning he would give me a Crown to put in my Pocket; he thought that a Crown would be of Service to me .

Council. for the Defendant, Wells, you could not recollect the People at Mr. Nesbit's, how came you to remember him more than them? Did you not say when you first went to the Compter, that it was another Man ?

Wells. No, Sir; I said I cannot swear that he is the Person .

Council. I ask you before the Court, whether he was the Man that gave you the Note, or the Man that gave you the Six-pence ?

Wells. I will not swear to him; for I was in the Dark with him in the Compter .

Q. ( to Arnold Nesbit ) Do you remember at any Time, and when Bill was brought to you?

Nesbit. Sir, this Bill was brought me on Tuesday Night, the 16th of last Month .

Q. Is Mr. Barton your Correspondent ?

Nesbit. Yes, Sir; the Porter came for Acceptance, and I told him I believ'd it was a good Bell; that he should call To-morrow, as is usual in those Cases .

Q. Pray, Sir, What Port er brought you the Bill ?

Nesbit. Sir, I can't swear to the Porter that came that Night; but this Man came to me about a Week after, and said that he came from the Man in Prison, and he offer'd him 6 d .

Q. Had you any Conversation with any Porter about bringing this Bill to you? You told this Porter that he brought the Bill. Did he tell you that he brought the Bill to you at first?

Nesbit. Yes, he said he did bring the Bill: I told him it was a good Bill, and if they came the next Morning they should have it accepted. When Bills are brought we never accept them the same Day, they always lie for us to examine by our Books .

Q. Pray how came your Brother so well acquainted with Mr. Barton?

Nesbit. My Brother lived several Years with Mr. Barton, who never draws a Bill without Advice; and it not being a Copper-Plate Bill, which is usual, increased our Suspicion; so I spoke to all the People of the Compting-House, that whoever came for the Bill the next Morning should be stopp'd; accordingly a Porter came for it, who said he was sent from Whitechapel for that Bill which was left upon the Desk ; he told us that the Man he receiv'd it from was in Whitechapel; so we sent for a Constable , John Wild .

Q. What Orders did you give the Constable ?

Nesbit. I order'd the Constable to go with the Porter, and sent my own Porter with them.

Council . I would ask you whether you afterwards saw him?

Nesbit. Yes , Sir; the Prisoner at the Bar sent for me to a Publick-House in Coleman-Street.

Q. What pass'd upon that Occasion?

Nesbit. He told me had liv'd with Mr. Dillon ; that he had the Bill from another Person, and desir'd the Favour I would not take any Notice of it.

Q. At what Place was this?

Nesbit. At the Swan in Coleman-Street.

Q. Who did he say that he had the Bill from?

Nesbit. I can't say .

Q. Did he then say he liv'd with Mr. Dillon?

Nesbit. That he then liv'd with Mr. Dillon he said; that he had the Bill from a Person, but he did not say from whom; he was carried before my Lord Mayor.

Q. What pass'd before my Lord Mayor; What Account did he give of himself?

Nesbit. I think he said he was at an Alehouse at Temple-Bar, with one Johnson, and that he had the Bill of him; that he was a Seafaring Man, and that he had not seen him but twice before.

Q. Did he afterwards alter his Account of it?

Netbit . No, Sir, he said he had paid Part of the Bill.

Council for the Defendant. Mr. Nesbit , Did you ever see Mr. Barton write?

Nesbit. I can't say I ever saw him write .

Council . He has a Son and a Partner, I suppose they sometimes sign; have you ever wrote over since ?

Nesbit. I wrote the Post after, but we have not receiv'd an Answer; I believe we could not in Point of Time .

Q. (to Mr. Albers Nesbit) Did you see that Bill brought to your Compting-House ?

Nesbit. I took it up after it was left, and said it was not Mr. Barton's Hand .

Q. Did you take Notice of the Person that brought that Bill ?

Nesbit . No, Sir, I did not .

Q. When you took up the Bill, did you say any Thing upon that Occasion ?

Nesbit. I said it was a forged Bill, because I liv'd so long with Mr. Barton, that I saw him write several Times, and I believ'd it was not signed by William Barton, or Thomas Barton ; they generally draw their Bills in French , especially since the War , and they are generally on Copper Plate Paper .

Q. When you was in Bourdeaux with them, did they generally draw upon Stamp Paper ? Did you ever receive any drawn in a different Manner?

Nesbit. I don't remember .

Q. Have you any Bills upon-other Paper at your House?

Nesbit. Not since I came to London.

Q. How long have you been in London?

Nesbit. About a Year.

Q. (to James Whiteing ) Do you recollect whether at any Time you was sent to Coleman-Street with a Bill ?

Whiteing. Yes , I know it as well as any can know it.

Council. Now give an Account at what Time you saw him.

Whiteing. Last Wednesday was three Weeks, he (the Prisoner) came to me to the Stand where I ply . The Prisoner came to me about Three o'Clock; he said Porter, follow me; he carried me into Somerset-Street , Whitechapel; he said will you go on an Errand for me into Coleman-Street; I said, yes; so then, said he, do you know Mr. Nesbit's in Coleman Street , I said no, but I can find him out if 'tis any Body of Note; he said you must go to Mr. Nesbit's for a Bill that lies upon the Desk.

Q. Did you go to Mr. Nesbit's?

Whiteing. Yes , as soon as I came to Mr. Nesbit's, I gave him the Note I had; when I gave it to him, a short Man, Mr. Nesbit's Clerk, was holding a Carpenter's Board; while he was putting it up, he said Friend sit down; I was very uneasy at staying; however, I sat down about a Quarter of an Hour, then in comes Mr. Arnold Nesbit ; he said, where's

this Man? I expecting my Bill, Mr. Nesbit said to the Officer, Friend, there's your Prisoner ; I said Prisoner, what do you mean? I said Sir, I can't think what you mean? he said I had forged a Bill; I said you might as well say I built St. Paul's ; you must go to Newgate; I said I could not make a Letter ; I said, first let me go and find the Man, and when I come almost to the Place the Officer and the Porter shall leave me; as I find 'tis a Cheat, the Man will never come after me.

Q. Where did the Prisoner appoint you to come to him ?

Whiteing . To Somerset-Street at the Fountain. When we came to Aldgate, then the Constable stay'd behind ; the Officer went down by the Butchers, and the Porter was near the Bars ; I ran hard with my Hands in my Pocket to the Fountain, and asked for a Man that I described as well as I could, but he was not there: Then I turned out of the House, Lord what shall I do ? I clapped my Hands together, I am ruin'd , I am ruin'd, Horse and Foot. When I was running up to the Officer , the Prisoner came out of the Alehouse, and met me in the same Street, opposite Somerset-Street; when I saw him I was as much rejoiced to see him as he was to see me; I suppose he thought I had got the Prize. When I saw him , I laid Hold of him, and said you Son of a B - h , I have caught you; he said, what's the Matter ? I said, G - d R - t you, you had like to have sent me to Newgate for nothing; says the Prisoner, Newgate , for what ? You Son of a B - h, you have forg'd a Note.

Q. What said he upon that ?

Whiteiag . He said hush, I would not have my Character stain'd for ever so much; I said, R - t you and your Character too.

Q. What then ?

Whiteing . Then I call'd out Officer, Officer, and the Officer run, and the Porter run, and we brought him away.

Q. Now to what Place did you bring him?

Whiteing . He wanted a Coach, but the Officer would not let him have a Coach.

Q. To what Place did you carry him?

Whiteing . He desir'd to go the back Way, and we did. When we came into Coleman-Street, he said he would not go into Mr. Nesbit's, where he was known, for ever so much. We had him to the Swan I think in Coleman-Street, and Mr. Arnold Nesbit was sent for, and he came there; what pass'd then I can't tell, I came out.

Q. Who was the Man that took the Prisoner by the Breast ?

Whiteing. Myself, I took the Prisoner; I have Occasion to know him, for he has been in my Thoughts Night and Day .

Q. (to John Wild , Constable) Was you sent with that Porter that was last examin'd, by Arnold Nesbit ?

Wild. Mr. Nesbit's Footman came and ask'd for me; I was at home; he told me I must come up to Mr. Nesbit, and bring my Staff; I begged he would step to a Neighbour that was a Constable, but he was not at home ; so I went, and when I came he charg'd me with this Man; said he must go to Newgate ; the Porter was surpriz'd at first: Soon after he laughed, and said, I forged a Note, I can hardly write a Letter! but he said he would endeavour to find the Man . Mr. Nesbit gave me an Order, if I did not find the Prisoner, I must secure him. I thought it was reasonable, what he (the Porter) said to us of going two and two ; accordingly, the Fellow went into the House, and came out again surpriz'd; says he , he is not there, &c. The Word was hardly out of his Mouth, but the Prisoner came up to him; he laid hold of him, and said D - n you, I have got you. The Prisoner seem'd surpriz'd ; so we took him just by the Bars : He begged for Jesus's Sake he might not be exposed, for he was of a very good Family.

Q. I would ask you, was there any Discourse about forging a Bill?

Wild. I told him he was charg'd with forging a Bill.

Q. Did he pretend to say that he had not sent the Porter for the Bill?

Wild. He said he could soon clear that up, for he had it of one Johnson, so he pray'd of me that I would not expose him, but take him in a Coach; I did not know whether he would pay for it: I told him I would take him as private a Way as I could. When I came into Moorfields, he begg'd I would go into some House, and said that he would rather go to Hell, than to go to Mr. Nesbit's Compting-House, for there was not a Man there but knew him. I did not care to go into a Tavern, so I went into a little Alehouse, and sent to Mr. Nesbit to know if he would come there, or else I would bring him to his House. When I sent to Mr. Nesbit, he was at Dinner, and said he would come after he had din'd. When Mr. Nesbit came, he behav'd exceedingly submissive; he begg'd for Jesus's Sake, for the Lord's Sake, he walk'd upon his Knees, he would not get up, and pray'd for Jesus's Sake that he would be favourable to him. Mr. Nesbit said, very likely he should; he would consult his Attorney, and if it was necessary , it should be so.

Q. (to Nathaniel Crompton ) Do you remember at any Time the Prisoner's endeavouring to make his Escape out of the Compter?

Crompton. Yes , Sir, on Monday the 6th of October, in the Evening, between Six and Seven; he came to the Gate, and I observ'd I had let in no Body in such Cloaths; he came to the Gate in Women's Cloaths. When I had let him out, I observ'd it was a Man's Face , with that I stopped him; he was disguis'd with Paint. When I had let him out, I lay'd fast Hold of him by the Wrist : He offered me Money , I told him no Money should satisfy me, but he should go in again. I sent to my Mistress to have him taken Care of, and told him he should not go away to be undress'd 'till Mr. Levi came home .

Q. (to the Prisoner) You have heard what has been sworn against you to support the Prosecution, what have you to say for yourself?

Prisoner. This Bill, my Lord, I got from a Man call'd Johnson; he told me he had it from Bristol. He said he was quite unacquainted with what could be done with the Bill, and as it was my Business, he desir'd that I would get it accepted for him; he had it from Bristol: He said he had two other Bills; he said he had it from one Mr. Leroch , of Bristol, and desired I would do what was necessary about the Bill; this was on Tuesday Evening. I told him I thought it proper to send to Mr. Nesbit's, to know if it was good; then he took the Bill in his Hand, and said it was very well .

[ The Substance of the Prisoner's Defence was this; that his Friend , Johnson, and him, were walking down Cheapside, and then turned into Lawrence Lane ; and Johnson sent the first Porter to Mr. Nesbit's, but that he sent the other Porter from Whitechapel, by the Advice and Direction of Johnson.]

Guilty of uttering the Note , knowing it to be forged , but not Guilty of the Forgery .

Death .

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