JOHN WHILE.
9th September 1772
Reference Numbert17720909-23
VerdictGuilty
SentenceDeath

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628. (L.) JOHN WHILE was indicted for falsely, feloniously, and traiterously forging, counterfeiting and coining one piece of false and counterfeit money, to the likeness and similitude of the good legal current money, and silver coin of this realm, called a shilling, against the duty of his allegiance, and against the statute , Aug. 28 . *

Joseph Thompson . On the 28th of August I obtained a warrant from the Lord Mayor, to search the house of Mrs. Butler, in Bartlet's-court, Holborn, opposite Hatton Garden . I called at the Counter and took Mrs. Butler with me to search the house? she has the upper part of the house; the lower part is a coffee house; when we came to the house she sent a girl to see for the key; she wandered up and down the street, came back, and said she could not find it; I sent a person after to watch her; she went to no one place, upon which Mr. Payne, who was with me, burst the door open; I entered the place immediately; we searched the one pair of stairs; then we asked to search the garret; Mrs. Butler said she had not a key of it, for the man that rented the room of her had got it; I asked where he lived, or what his name was; she said she could not tell; upon which I burst the door open myself, and upon a large oval wainscot table, I found a number of counterfeit shillings, I believe between 1300 and 1400; they were in separate papers, but laid open, and very regular. Upon the same table we found a couple of crucibles which had several sorts of metal in them, seemingly for melting; we crossed the room, and came to a moulding trough, which is to hold the earth in, where we found a pair of brass flasks; that is a thing that holds a quantity of earth to put metal into; we found a lathe likewise that appeared as if it was for turning something of money under it; and there was a crown of a hat with some turnings in it; (a large bag of sand produced) this we found in the room.

Q. Is the money in court?

Thompson. Yes; (producing a large bag of counterfeit shillings) in picking them up, I mixed some good shillings with the bad ones; I picked out afterwards all I could find, there is forty-two of them; there was a bench vice, a crucible, (produced) with some shillings unfinished in it, and a piece of wood with a mark for a shilling in it, supposed to be put in the vice to finish the shillings.

Q. Was there no skin at all?

Thompson. No; we found a Dutch stove, with abundance of charcoal about it; a bottle of quicksilver, a bottle of aquafortis, a bottle of sal prunella, which is proper for the fluxing of metals; we found sheers and tongs, and three sleves full of dirt of the same sort as that ( pointing to the sand used to cast metal in.) The prisoner was brought down to my house next morning; I found upon him the key of that room I broke open. These two pieces of iron match; I don't know the use of them; one I found in his possession, in a basket; the other I found in the room; this file (producing it) was in the basket; there was some metal upon it which seemed to be of the same kind as the fileings in the hat? I found this shilling in his pocket; (producing a counterfeit shilling;) there were besides a crown piece and a sixpence which were good. I found this file (producing it) in the shop, it is smooth on one side. I asked him how he came by that key, which I apprehended would fit this lock; he said he had lodged there formerly, but did not then, and as to any thing found there, he knew nothing at all of the matter; he said one key might fit another lock for all that he knew; he mentioned a house in Shoreditch where he lived; he told me his name was John While . We got a search warrant, and found there this (producing the collar of a lathe for turning;) there were two melting pots, and a wire sieve that had mould in it. The next morning I tried the key I found on him, to the lock of the door and it fits exactly.

Cross Examination.

Q. The man was brought to you?

Thompson. Yes.

Q. He had a shilling in his pocket, you believe that to be a bad shilling?

Thompson. Yes.

Q. Should you have refused it if it had been offered you in payment?

Thompson. I believe I should.

Q. Have you ever taken such a shilling?

Thompson. I cannot tell; a man often takes bad money in change and does not know it.

Q. You are in a metal business?

Thompson. A watch finisher.

Q. Is not that an instrument that is made use of by a great many trades that work in metal?

Thompson. It may for what I know.

Q. You have seen such things as that flung by have not you?

Thompson. Yes.

Q. Where?

Thompson. At founders.

Q. Then it is proper for different kinds of business?

Thompson. Yes.

Q. Did you try that key with any other lock, it is a common key?

Thompson. I tried it with no other.

Q. You talked with the man; he said he did not lodge at Mrs. Butler's, that the key might fit the door but he knew nothing of the matter?

Thompson. Yes.

Q. And when you charged him with the possession of the things, he denied that too?

Thompson. Yes.

William Pain . I went with Mr. Thompson, when the search warrant was granted, to Mrs. Butler's, in Bartlet's-court, yesterday was fortnight; Mrs. Butler was at the house with Mr. Thompson, and two more constables. Mr. Thompson broke open the prisoner's door: we went into the room and saw the counterfeit shillings wrapped up in different papers, and found the things the same as Mr. Thompson has mentioned. I carried six of the counterfeit shillings to Mr. Lucas, the assay master. I went next day about nine o'clock; I found nobody there; there was a padlock on the outer door; as I was coming back, in order to go to Mr. Thompson's, just before I got into Holborn, in the passage, I met the prisoner, in a green apron, and he had a basket in his hand; he passed me in the narrow part of the passage; it struck me as soon as I saw him, that he was the workman; he passed me, and went up close to Mrs. Butler's door; I was close after him; as soon as he heard somebody behind him, he turned round and looked at me, upon which I said, who do you want here honest friend? he said he wanted Mrs. Butler; I said I suppose you are the person that used the two pair of stairs room; he replied, I did lodge here about six months ago, when I first came to town, but I don't now; I said if you want Mrs. Butler, if you will go with me you shall see her; I went with him to Mr. Thompson's, in Bride-lane.

Q. Did he appear as if he wished to go?

Pain. I told him I should insist upon his going; as we were going along I told him the whole affair; he had several filings in his baskets, and meat and bread and cheese, and that bit of iron which has been produced, and we found two keys on him.

Cross Examination.

Q. When you asked him what he wanted, he readily told you Mrs. Butler?

Pain. Yes.

Q. Did he offer to make any resistance?

Pain. No; when I told him I would take him where Mrs. Butler was, he said then, any time would do, and appeared loth to go.

Q. Did he tell you what business he had with Mrs. Butler?

Pain. He said he wanted to see her.

Mr. Joseph Lucas . I am the king's assay-master at the mint; I received six counterfeit shillings from Pain; the value upon an assay was about 4 1/2 d. a piece.

Q. Look at these ( shewing him the good shillings.)

Lucas. They appear to be good shillings.

Q. to Thompson. Did you make any observations upon the good shillings as to any use they might have been applied to?

Thompson. I imagined they might have been used as patterns from the yellow colour of them.

Q. to Mr. Lucas. Would their having been applied in that sand account for their yellowness?

Lucas. It might be contracted from thence with that sand, I think it is very probable and it may be by time.

Q. What is the use of the aquasortis and quicksilver?

Lucas. He may make use of the quicksilver

to make it appear as good silver; this metal could not have a white appearance, there is a great portion of copper in it, it will be of a yellow cast; it is necessary to use quicksilver to give it a white cast.

Q. I believe aquafortis is necessary to dissolve the quicksilver?

Lucas. Yes; but I believe they generally use it in a powder; about half of them is silver.

Q. Then they would be of more value than 4 1/2 d?

Lucas. No, they are not the weight of a shilling; I take this bit to be the cutting off of some of the castings.

Catharine Topham . I was with Mrs. Butler in August last as a chair woman; I have known the prisoner about two months; the prisoner had the two pair of stairs room and a garret at Mrs. Butler's.

Q. Had he the garret the whole of the two months you was there, or part of the time?

Topham. About five weeks I believe.

Q. Had he it about the time he was apprehended?

Topham. Yes.

Q. Who used to keep the key of it?

Topham. Himself I believe; I never saw the key; sometimes he used to come about eight, sometimes later.

Q. How long did he stay at a time?

Topham. From eight in the morning till about four or five in the afternoon.

Q. Had you never an opportunity of going into the room yourself?

Topham. No; the prisoner used to call Mrs. Butler, and Mrs. Butler used to send me for some beer; he came out of his room and gave me the money upon the stairs.

Q. How often was that?

Topham. Several times; I used to carry the beer, and leave it upon a little landing place, and give a knock; Mrs. Butler bid me knock at the door, not to offer to go in; I used to leave the beer and the change at the landing place, and he never opened the door till I was got into Mrs. Butler's room.

Jury. What money did he give you?

Topham. A shilling, or sixpence sometimes.

Q. Was it ever refused?

Topham. No; I suppose they were good.

Q. Did you make that observation of his not opening the door till you was in Mrs. Butler's room more than once?

Topham. Yes, I did.

Q. What name did he go by then?

Topham. By the name of Gill; Mrs. Butler told me his name was so.

Q. Did any body come to ask for him during the time you was there?

Topham. No.

Q. How often might you be sent for beer in a week?

Topham. Five or six times almost every day.

Q. When you knocked at the door, having brought up the beer, how long was it before he opened the door?

Topham. Never till I got down stairs; that was always the case; I never saw the man out of the room.

Cross Examination.

Q. You never had any directions from him to leave the beer upon the stairs had you?

Topham. No.

Q. Was any body else with him?

Topham. I believe he was alone; I never heard any voices.

Q. Was there any other lodgers in the house?

Topham. No; there were two men used to come to him, that were supposed to be his sons.

Q. I understood you otherwise just now?

Topham. They never asked for him.

Q. He never gave you directions not to open his door himself?

Topham. No.

Q. You was there about five weeks.

Topham. Yes, I believe so; it may be rather less than more.

Q. Who lived in the house before?

Topham. Mrs. Butler herself.

Q. Do you know whether his door used to be locked when he went away.

Topham. I do not know; I have swept the stairs; it appeared to me to be locked; it was always close shut; I never tried.

Prisoner's Defence.

I never had any connexions with Mrs. Butler in my life, nor did I take the room of her; I never received, nor paid, nor dealt with her in the whole course of my life. She told me some time ago, that she would give me something to wear in my pocket to stop me of the rheumatism; I am troubled with it; I was there the week before, she said she had not got it ready, and bid me call some other time; so I called that morning, and Mr. Pain being at the door, took me up.

For the Prisoner.

Humphrey Jefferies . I have known the prisoner at the bar about eighteen years; he lived in Birmingham the greatest part of his life time; his wife died about eighteen years ago, and left him a large family; he worked in one house of great repute till about six months ago; I was informed his reason of coming to London was, a son of his went for a soldier, and was returned, that he got into some way of business that enabled him to support his father, and therefore induced this poor old man to come from Birmingham. His character in Birmingham is very good; I believe there is not a person ever knew him guilty of a dishonest thing; he was intrusted by gentlemen I am concerned for, for many years, with all their stock in great manufactures; he always behaved well.

Cross Examination.

Q. How long ago did he live at Birmingham?

Jefferies. I have not been informed of his being in London more than three months.

Q. How lately did you know him in Birmingham?

Jefferies. I am sure he was there within these nine months.

Q. Then for nine months last past you knew nothing of him?

Jefferies. No; I have seen him but once since.

Q. What is his business?

Jefferies. He is in the gun-smith way, and blueing and blacking barrels, and such things.

Q. Is he a cleaver artificer; ingenious?

Jefferies. He was not an artificer.

Q. The Birmingham men are very good artists?

Jefferies. Them that are apprentices to the trade.

Q. He is a very ingenious man I suppose in the trade he was employed in?

Jefferies. I never knew him to be ingenious in any thing; I never knew him to attempt to make one article, but finish up triggers and pins, and such things.

Joseph Smith . I have known him twenty-two years; there is not a man in a thousand that is beloved as he is.

Q. Did you ever know of his coining or making money?

Smith. No.

Cross Examination.

Q. Are you a Birmingham man?

Smith. Yes; I was an apprentice with the same man; I have left that country fourteen years; I have been back into the country several times; I am a gun-smith.

Q. You was here a witness yesterday?

Smith. Yes, about a pair of pistols. *

* See the trial of Jones and Sunderland, No. 620, 621.

Richard Jones . I have not known him a great while; he was at our house some time last winter; I never heard any thing but he was a very honest man.

Q. What is his name?

Jones. John While .

Q. Where has he lived since you knew him?

Jones. In London.

Q. Where?

Jones. I cannot really tell.

Q. What sort of an acquaintance had you with him?

Jones. But a slender acquaintance through my brother.

Q. You do not know where he lives?

Jones. No; I have always heard an honest character of him.

Q. Did you know Mrs. Butler?

Jones. No; I never saw the woman in my life to the best of my knowledge.

Guilty . Death .


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