John Adams.
7th June 1764
Reference Numbert17640607-52
VerdictGuilty > 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 . ++

Robert Ratcliff . I am a pay-clerk belonging to the Navy-office; I have the pay-book here belonging to the ship Chesterfield.

Q. Does it appear by that book that there were wages due to John Groundwater ?

Ratcliff. I have it here; there appears to be 12 l. 10 s. 3 d. due to him. The prisoner applied to me, on the 31st of May, for the wages, in the name of John Groundwater .

Q. Where is 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.

John Rutherford . I did belong to the Chesterfield; I know the prisoner at the bar; he served on board the same ship.

Q. What is his name?

Rutherford. His name is John Adams .

Q. Did you know one John Groundwater ?

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?

Rutherford. By the name of John Adams .

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.

Prisoner's Defence.

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.

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