25th November 1844
Reference Numbert18441125-153
VerdictGuilty > unknown

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153. THOMAS FIELD, alias John Eaglesfield, alias William West , was indicted for obtaining money by false pretences.

MR. O'BRIEN conducted the Prosecution.

WILLIAM WALL . I live in Melin's-place, Westminster-road. Early in Sept. the prisoner called on me—he asked for Mr. Wall—I said I was he—he said, "No, I want an elderly person"—I said, "Then you mean my predecessor in business"—he said, "No, a Mr. Wall, who previously lived in Union-place, Lambeth"—I said it was my father, but he had been dead eight or nine years"—he said, "Has he, indeed, I have some good news for you"—I asked him in, and he said there was some property unclaimed in the Court of Chancery belonging to me—we held a conversation about my father's family and so on, and I asked him how to get the property—he said I must get an order under the Court of Chancery, the use of which was to search in Doctors' Commons and examine the will—he showed me several orders, similar to those before me—he said the expense would be 5s. 6d.—I made an appointment to see him the next day—he called, but I was not at home—he called a day or two afterwards—I saw him, and told him I would give him 5s. 6d. if he would procure this order from the Court of Chancery—he called in the evening, brought the order, and I gave him 5s. 6d.—I believed it was an order from the Court of Chancery—he represented it to be so, and I paid him two half-crowns and a sixpence—I took the order in my hand previous to paying him the money—this is the order (looking at it)—I had it in my possession five or six weeks—he said he was not bound to say what the property consisted of—I asked him if it was freehold or funded—he said he thought it consisted of both, and he thought it amounted to about 1900l.

Prisoner. Q. When did I call on you? A. Early in Sept.—you asked my name, as I have already stated—you said it was not me you wanted—you said it was my father—I told you he was dead, and you said you had some good news for me—I have no recollection of saying that the descendants of my father might make application by letters of administration—you said you came from an office connected with the Court of Chancery—you gave me a card with West and Co. on it—you said, "That is my card, if you have any communication to make, it must be by letter"—there was West, or his agent, on the card—I understood you to be a principal—you agreed to meet me next day—when you introduced this order, you said something about its being given you as an extract from the Master's office. I do not admit that you did say so—I cannot recollect—you said, after the order was procured it must be taken to Doctors' Commons, and the costs of it would be 6s., to look after a will if there was any there—that was for your trouble, I suppose, in examining the will—you left then, and was absent four or five weeks, and called again to know if I had further considered the matter—I said I had given the order to my solicitor, and I gave you his address—I employed you about a bill of exchange—you represented you could discount me a bill.

JOHN HARDING . I am a boot-maker, and live in Mary-street, Stangate.

The prisoner came to me last July and asked me if my name was John Harding—I told him it was—he said he had come concerning property which had been laid by for sixty years and would go to the Crown—he did not say what property—he said he came as an uninterested person—I began to tell him about my family and my forefathers—he said it was right, and I ought to prefer my claim—I said I would consider of it—he came again the first week in Sept., and said I must get an order from the Court of Chancery, and that would cost me 5s. 6d.—he showed me a small paper, which he said was an order from the Court of Chancery, and asked me for 5s. 6d. for my demand—he wrote the account which I stated to him, and he said, "If they approve of this statement, the Court of Chancery will grant you an order"—this was on a Thursday morning—he came again in the evening and brought this order folded up—I said, "Did you write this?"—he said, "No, I did not write it myself, the Court of Chancery wrote this"—I believed it came from the Court of Chancery, and, believing that, I gave him half-a-crown, and told him if he would call in a day or two I would give him the balance—he said it was a considerable deal of landed property, and I understood in the county of Hampshire—I did not pay the prisoner any more money.

Prisoner. Q. Will you state to the Court the first conversation that took place? A. I do not know how that is possible, if I were to relate all, it would take from now till Christmas—I suppose the first time you were with me an hour, or an hour and a half—it is impossible for me to tell what you related, from the multiplicity of the words—you told me you did not know whether I was the person, and after conversation you said I was, and advised me by all means to get an order from the Court of Chancery—I did not go to the Commons—you said the expense would be 6s.—5s. for your expenses, and 1s. for searching the will".

EDWARD HAMMOND . I live in Hamilton-row, and am a shoemaker. On the 18th of Oct. the prisoner came to my father's shop, and asked me what was my father's name—I told him, and said he was born at Gosport—he said there was 450l. left to me somewhere in Gosport, and the money was in the Court of Chancery—he told me where he himself could be found, and gave me an order similar to this one—he said it was an order from the Court of Chancery, and he said it was necessary to write a petition—he had 5s. 6d. from me for this paper—he wrote a petition in my house, and took the parchment away with him—I had not a farthing in the house—Mr. Porthouse lent me the money, two half-crowns and a sixpence—I did not see the prisoner again for three weeks, and then he came with the petition, and wanted 1s. 3s., but he did not have that—I found there was no property at Gosport.

Prisoner. Q. Did you ever pay me any money at all? A. I did not, but the person I got to pay it did—Mr. Porthouse paid it in my presence, and I am answerable to him for it—I cannot recollect that you informed me, if I was not the right party the money would be returned—I did not see you for three weeks after, and I thought I should never see your face again—when you came again I gave you into custody.

ASEL PORTHOUSE . I recollect seeing the prisoner and Hammond in Oct. last—I paid the prisoner 5s. 6d. by Hammond's desire.

Prisoner. Q. Did you understand that if he was not the right party the money was to be returned? A. No—if he was not the right party they would not grant the order at the Court, and the thing would be

dropped—I said, "If this comes from the Court of Chancery there must be something in it,"and I advanced him the money to pay it.

CHARLES STODHART . I am a solicitor. I am acquainted with the affairs of the Court of Chancery, and the manners of that Court—then documents are appearance papers in Common-law Courts—when a person is served with a copy of a writ we file them in the Court of Queen's Bench Common Pleas, and Exchequer—these are not in any way connected with the Court of Chancery—they are always on paper, not on parchment, as these are—I swear that these cannot have issued from the Court of Chancery, or the Master's office.

Prisoner's Defence. I trust, in giving you a statement of the facts of the case, you will he able to give me the benefit of an acquittal. The greater part of my life has been spent in business, and having some small resources for old age, I thought I was independent; but in consequence of calamities, one of which was fire, I was reduced, in forty-eight hours, from ✗ ence to penury. I was unable to follow the profession I had been in, and was engaged as commission-agent to two gentlemen of the highest respectability. ability. Mr. West employed me to find out parties that he gave me instruction had property in the Court of Chancery. I had to walk very often from one part of London to the other to find the right parties; if I found them I had a small commission; if not, I had my labour for my pains Mr. West lives at No. 18, Throgmorton-street, and I do not consider I am the responsible person in this case. I only acted according to my instructions, and am entirely innocent of any guilty intention, in reference to the orders that are given me by my employer: through not being able to Inverse, I have not been able to get Mr. West and other witnesses for my defence; I came here not prepared for my defence, Mr. West having employed me. I made numbers of applications, and where the party has not been the right heir to the property, it has been no charge or expense to them. I do not know whether they are entitled to the property or not; that has to be proved, according to the nature of the case. I beg to state, that the answer to each of the cases that have come this morning is to be given in Nov., and without waiting for the expiration of that month, I was brought here without witness or evidence, or even the evidence of Mr. West. I am brought here like a man bound hand and foot, and am rendered totally defenceless. If I had employed a party to embody these particulars, I could prove I am not guilty of the charge. I leave my case for your consideration. I solemnly declare I had no intention to wrong any individual; and I trust you will give me the benefit of your merciful consideration.

GUILTY . Aged 65— Transported for Seven Years .

(See Humphery, Mayor; Eighth Session, page 470.)

First Jury, before Mr. Common Sergeant.

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