John Rice.
13th April 1763
Reference Numbert17630413-35

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185. (L.) John Rice , Broker , was indicted for forging and counterfeiting, and procuring knowingly and wilfully, acting and assisting in forgoing and counterfeiting the name of Ann Pierce , a person then intitled to a certain share in the joint-stock of South-sea annuities, to a certain pretended letter of attorney, purporting to have been signed by the said Ann, and to have been sealed and delivered by her, and to be a letter of attorney from her the said Ann to him the said John Rice of Exchange-alley , which said letter of attorney is to the purport and effect following; that is to say,

"Know all men by these presents, that I

" Ann Pierce , widow, executrix of Henry Pierce ,

"late of Bedell, in Yorkshire, deceased, do

"hereby make, ordain, constitute, and appoint

" John Rice , of Exchange-alley, my true and

"lawful attorney, for me, in my name, and on

"my behalf, to sell, assign, and transfer, unto

"any person or persons whatsoever, and

"for any consideration, sum, or sums of money

"whatsoever, all or any part of five thousand

"pounds, old South-sea annuities, standing in

"the name of the said Henry Pierce , deceased;

"also to give the necessary receipts, acquittances,

"and discharges, for such consideration moneys,

"hereby ratifying and confirming all that my

"said attorney shall lawfully do, or cause to be

"done, in and about the premises, by virtue of

"these presents. In witness whereof I have

"hereunto set my hand and seal this 6th day of

"November 1762.

" Ann Pierce .

"Sealed and delivered, being

"first duly stampt, in

"in the presence of

" Thomas Wynne ,

" Edward Jones ."

with intention to defraud the governor and company of merchants of Great Britain trading to the South Seas, and other parts of America, and for the encouraging the fishery, against the form of the statute in such case made and provided.

It was laid over again to be done with intent to defraud Ann Pierce .

There was a third count with intention to defraud Thomas Brooksbank , and in which indictment he was likewise charged for feloniously endeavouring to assign and transfer the aforesaid annuities belonging to the said Ann Pierce , against the statute in that behalf, November 10 . *

John Henry Fenoulhet . I belong to the South-sea stock-office, and new South-sea annuities. I think it was the 6th of November last Mr. Rice came to me at my office at the South-sea-house, and desired me to make out a letter of attorney for Mrs. Ann Pierce , executrix for Henry Pierce , to sell five thousand pounds in South-sea annuities. (He gave me a memorandum in writing) He was to be the attorney.

Court. Look at this paper.

Penoulhet. (He takes it in his hand.) This is the very letter of attorney, I filled it up. He came to me between 1 and 2 in the afternoon, and told me the gentlemen in the old annuity office were gone, and desired I would fill it up for him, which I did immediately, and he took it away with him.

The clerk of the arraigns reads the letter of attorney.

Henry Lowth . I am a clerk in the letter of attorney office for old South-sea annuities. This letter of attorney (taking it in his hand) was brought to the proper office in order for Mr. Rice to transfer by it; who it was brought it I do not know, it may be brought by any body.

Q. Did Mr. Rice act upon it?

Mr. Lowth. He did. He sold five hundred pounds to Mr. Brooksbank, it was dated the 6th and it was acted upon the 10th; every letter of attorney must be brought a day before it can be acted upon.

Q. Was there any transfer made out, and by whom?

Mr. Lowth. There was by Mr. Rice to Mr. Thomas Brooksbank of Exchange-alley.

Q. How do you know that was done by Mr. Rice?

Mr. Lowth. I witnessed the transfer, (the transfer book produced) it is No 94, this is my name; (pointing to it.) I either saw him write it or he acknowledged it for his hand writing.

(The clerk of arraigns reads the transfer.)

Signed in the presence of B. Webb, Henry Lowth .

(A receipt produced.)

Mr. Lowth. The whole of this is Mr. Rice's writing, he gave it me as a receipt for that stock.

The clerk of arraigns reads it to this purport,

"Old South-sea annuities, London, 10th of

"Nov. 1762.

"Received of Mr. Thomas Brooksbank the

"sum of 419 l. 2 s. 6 d. being in full for 500 l.

"in the joint-stock of South-sea annuities, &c.

"Signed John Rice ,

"Attorney to Ann Pierce , widow, executrix

"to Henry Pierce , Esq;

"Witness B. Webb, H. Lowth."

Samuel Dull . I am clerk to the old South-sea annuities, it is my business to examine letters of attorney brought to transfer for stocks.

Q. Was this letter of attorney brought on any occasion, and by whom?

Mr. Bull. (He takes it in his hand.) This was produced to me as one of the committee, and I signed it the 8th of Nov. believing it to be her hand-writing. I wrote upon it allowed, and signed my name as allowing of it.

Court. You mention a committee, explain that.

Mr. Bull. All the supervisors are appointed a committee to examine all letters of attorney, which must be allowed one day before they are acted upon, and they must be allowed by three, and signed by them.

Robert Montague . I am a deputy accomptant.

Q. Do you know of any money being transferred by the company to Mrs. Pierce?

Mr. Montague. Yes. Mr. Rice having by virtue of four letters of attorney, in the name of Ann Pierce , widow, and executrix to Henry Pierce , transferred the sum of 19,900 l. which several letters of attorney were produced and shewn to Mrs. Pierce, (when she appeared upon examination on the 27th of Dec. last) under

which these several transfers were made, she declared her name to each and every one of them was forged, she declared she never had any consideration money. And the company was advised, under that circumstance of the case, to make that stock good, which they did.

Ann Pierce . (She takes the letter of attorney in her hand) This name at the bottom is not my hand-writing.

Q. Are you intitled to some stock as executrix to Mr. Henry Pierce?

Mrs. Pierce. I am.

Q. Did you ever give any letter to Mr. Rice, to transfer those annuities to any body?

Mrs. Pierce. No never.

Q. Have you the probate of Mr. Henry Pierce 's will.

Mrs. Pierce. Here it is, (producing it) he was my husband.

Q. Has any stock or annuities been transferred to you since this?

Mrs. Pierce. Yes.

(The probate read in court.)

Thomas Wynne . I was applyed to by Mr. Rice, he asked me to come up stairs at Sam's coffee-house, I am a waiter there.

Q. When was this?

Wynne. I do not remember the time, it was in the gallery.

Court. Look, at this paper.

Wynne. (He takes the letter of attorney in his hand) This my name at the bottom is my handwriting.

Q. How came you to write it?

Wynne. Mr. Rice bid me put my hand down there.

Q. What did he say to you?

Wynne. He said nothing at all, only bid me put my hand down there.

Q. Was any body present at the time?

Wynne. No there was not, only he and I.

Q. Look at that lady, (meaning Mrs. Pierce) was she there?

Wynne. I never saw her in my life before now. After I had done he bid me go down and send my fellow-servant up. I did, his name is Edward Jones .

Q. Did you know what you was putting your name to as a witness?

Wynne. No, I did not. He bid me put my name down, but did not say for what.

Q. Did you know the consequence of the thing?

Wynne. No, I did not.

Q. Had you known Mr. Rice before?

Wynne. I had, he was generally every day at our coffee-house.

Court. You should be careful to know the contents of what you are witnessing. It is not an innocent act to set a name as a witness.

Edward Jones . I was a waiter at Sam's coffee-house in Nov. last. I cannot tell the particular time, but I was called up by my fellow-servant, who said Mr. Rice wanted me; when I went up Mr. Rice requested me to put my name under my fellow servant's name.

Q. Did he tell you for what?

Jones. No, he did not.

Q. Did you know what it was?

Jones. No. I wrote my name as he bid me.

Q. Was any body in the room at the same time?

Jones. No, only Mr. Rice and I.

Q. Did you ever sign any thing as a witness before upon any occasion?

Jones. No.

Q. How came you to set your name upon a paper not knowing what it was?

Jones. He desired my fellow-servant to send me up, and I went up; he desired me to set my name down, and I did. He frequented our coffee-house.

Q. to Montague. Did you attend Mr. Rice when before my Lord-Mayor?

Mr. Montague. I did upon his several examinations. This letter of attorney was there produced, with others: my Lord particularly asked Mr. Rice, whether he knew whose hand-writing the name Ann Pierce was; he declared it was his own hand-writing: he was asked who the witnesses were; he said they were waiters at Sam's coffee-house: he was asked if they had any reward; he answered no, they did it at his request, without see or reward; and that he forged it without any assistance from any person whatsoever.

Prisoner's Defence.

When I was at Cambray they offered to protect me if I would change my religion.

To his character.

Mr. Mitchell. I have been acquainted with Mr. Rice ever since his father died, about 8 or 9 years ago. Before this accusation I never heard

any thing against him in my life. I have trusted him till within a month of his elopement, he sold out 300 l. of stock for me; I left it in his hand to sell when he thought he could get the best price; I received the money from his hand a very little time before he went abroad: In the course of business I have had with him, he has acted with integrity. Upon his father's leaving off, he recommended him to me, and I recommended him to the Amicable Society.

William Goodwin . I have known him about 5 or 6 years, I always looked upon him before this affair to be a man of strict honour; he behaved always with integrity to me.

Guilty Death .

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