11th May 1785
Reference Numbert17850511-12
VerdictNot Guilty; Guilty

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533. VERNON LEY and ROBERT JACKSON were indicted for that they supposing one Benjamin Bell had lately served our Lord the King, as a seaman on board the Carysfort, and that certain prize-money was due to him for such service, on the 18th of April last, feloniously did forge and counterfeit a certain letter of attorney to him the said Robert Jackson , purporting to be signed, sealed, and delivered by him, the said Benjamin Bell , in order to receive certain prize-money, then supposed to be due to him the said Benjamin, for, and on account of his service supposed to have been done on board the said ship .

A second count, For uttering the same, with intent to defraud Isaac Clementson and Samuel Denton .

(The Indictment opened by Mr. James, and the Case by Mr. Silvester.)


I produce the books of the Carysfort.

Was there a man of the name of Benjamin Bell , on board that ship? - There was.

Of what date is the entry with respect to Bell, in that ship? - The 1st of November, 1777; this is the original entry; here he is discharged, the 16th of February, 1780, then he went to Rochester Hospital, and his wages were paid to his widow and administratrix, on the 10th of January, 1781.


Have you there the books of the Rochester Hospital? - Yes, here is an entry respecting the name of Benjamin Bell , of the Carysfort; I bring this book from the sick and hurt office, I am one of the clerks; Bell came to the Hospital the 13th of January, 1780, he died the 15th of February, the same year.

Hodgson. From the muster-book he was sent sick, the 13th of January, 1780.

Mr. Garrow. To what period does that first book that you produce come down? - The 30th of April, 1780.

Have you any more books here? - Yes.

Are you able to state from any search you have made, or any books you are able to produce, that a Benjamin Bell was not on board from February, 1780, can you bring it down to December last? - I cannot pretend to say now what time the ship was paid off.

So that there might have been two or three Benjamin Bell 's for what you know, to the time the ship was paid off? - I cannot

say, I have no other account than to April, 1780.


I was at the King's Arms, Tower-hill, the 18th of April, the prisoners Ley and Jackson were in company with me, it was between three and four in the afternoon, and Jackson asked Lee for that power he had given him of Benjamin Bell 's, he said he could not be any longer without it; Ley told him he had lost the power, with several other papers he had in his pocket, one night when he was drunk, and he said he would make him out one as good as the one he had lost; and he sent Jackson to the Red Lyon in Wellclose-square to fetch a blank power of attorney of his that lay there; Jackson came back, and brought it with him; then he took him to this publican's where I was with him; then he took out his own pen and ink out of his pocket, and he took this power that Jackson had brought him, and laid it down, and he began to write in it, and dated it the same date with the one he had lost, and after he had done writing, he asked for the landlady's ink-stand, and she brought it, and he wrote something with the ink of that, at the bottom of the paper, and he asked her for a wafer, and he put a was her on it for a seal, and held it in his hands, that the heat of his hands might dry it, and was drying it for a quarter of an hour or more.

Did he say what he sent for the landlady's pen and ink for? - Yes, he said he sent for it that it might not appear of the same colour; Jackson said to him, that he would not go with a paper that my Lord Mayor's name was not to it; then Ley said he Lord Mayor wrote different kinds of hands, and he had done it several times; he said you blockead, you foolish man, I will have the landlady's ink to make it appear another colour; he said, you blockhead, there is not the least danger to you, for he writes a different hand, and I have often done it; then he put a wafer to it, and dryed it with his own hands, and sent Jackson away with it; I do not know where Jackson went with it; he said he was going to Mr. Clementson's office.

Who said that? - Vernon Ley ; then a little time after Ley says to me, you stop a little, I want to go down to the stationer's to fetch some writing paper; so I stopped there not long, and I went to the Nag's head after Mr. Ley, and he tapped me on the shoulders, just so, do you want me Kit? says he; yes, says I; where have you sent Jackson, shew me; so he took me up a court, and said, you take no notice, there is the lamp over the door where he is; I was desirous to know where he had sent Jackson, because he owed me some money; then I went to Mr. Clementson's, and asked if that was a house where they paid money for ships; I told them I wanted a young man that came in there.

When they were making out the power of attorney, did they say what ship it was for? - Yes, Sir, the Carlos, I think.

What was the man's name? - Benjamin Bell ; then I came after to look for Mr. Ley, to let him know that Jackson was taken, and and I could not find him; then I came to the Compter, and I saw Jackson was taken; and Ley said to me the next day, do not you open your mouth Kit to any one, what has happened, for I have two men that will prove the power, and I will fetch them to Guildhall by twelve o'clock.

Mr. Keys, Prisoner Ley's Council. Mrs. M'Carthy, how long have you known Jackson? - I have known him for four years.

Are you his wife? - No, I am not.

But I believe you are very intimately acquainted with him? - I have been before now.

Do you apprehend that the evidence you are now giving, is in favour of Jackson? - No, I think it no more in favour of Jackson than Ley.

Have you sworn the same you swear now, before the Lord Mayor? - Yes, I am sure I have.

Nothing more or less? - No.

Did not you say then, that all you saw was Ley writing a paper, but you did not know what paper it was? - No.

Remember you are upon your oath, was not it at the Globe, on Tower-hill, that you was? - No, I was at the King's Arms, next the Sick and Wounded office, they first met at the Globe, in Crutched Fryers.

At what o'clock was it that you first came to the King's Arms? - I cannot say.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner Jackson's Counsel.

What did Jackson say to Ley? - He came to Ley, and asked Ley for the power, and said, he could do no longer without Benjamin Bell 's power, Jackson had given it to Ley; he said, it did not signify to keep him any longer in agitation, for that he was drunk one night, and had lost that power, and some papers, and he would make him another as good; when Jackson objected to it, says Ley, you blockhead, I have done it several times.

Mr. Keys. I submit to your Lordship, that this woman is an accomplice; admitting her evidence to be true, she clearly was there from the first moment that that application was made, if she speaks truth, there was a power of attorney forged in her presence, with my Lord Mayor's name, and Bell's mark put to it.

Mr. Keys. Had this money been obtained by Jackson, you was to have had part of it? - No, I want no money, nor I got no money, I expected no part of it.


I keep the King's Arms, Tower-hill, I have seen the prisoner Ley several times, I do not remember his being at my house on the 18th of April; I remember seeing him in the presence of Mrs. M'Carthy, there was another man in the box I believe; I cannot tell the day, or the day of the month, it may be about three weeks or a month ago; Ley was writing, he sat on the left hand side of the box, Mrs. M Carthy and the other man, sat on the other side of the box; I took him something to drink, I saw nothing else, I believe it was the prisoner Jackson.

Did you see from what he was writing? - No, I did not.

Did you go there more than once? - No.

Did they make application to you for anything? - Nothing at all, I cannot say whether they had a pen and ink with them, or whether they borrowed one at the bar.

Court. Do you recollect whether they borrowed a pen and ink of you? - I cannot say either one way or the other, or anything about it, I heard no conversation, I recollect nothing but that he was writing.


I am a Navy agent, in partnership with Samuel Denton , on the 18th of April, Robert Jackson came twice in the morning to enquire if a Mr. Ley had been to receive Benjamin Bell 's prize money, we told him no, then he came a second time, then we were displeased with him. (The Prisoner Ley desired Catherine M'Carthy might be put out of Court.) The third time he came it was about three, and he brought this power of attorney for the prize money of Benjamin Bell , it did not appear to be the Lord Mayor's writing, and I compared another with it, and I detained him in the house till I went to ask his Lordship, if it was his writing: then Jackson said, the power was very good, and he knew the Lord Mayor signed it, and he could fetch the attorney that filled it up, I told him I had reason to doubt it was not the Lord Mayor's hand, and if I permitted him to go away, I should not see him again; I took him to the Lord Mayor, then the Lord Mayor said, it was not his hand writing, and I detained him; I marked it, I am sure it is the same power I received from Jackson; I saw Ley before the Lord Mayor, he was only taken up upon Jackson's information.

Is there any other man intitled to prize money on board that ship by the name of Benjamin Bell ? - There is only one of the name, this is the prize list from the time

that ship was paid off (The power of attorney read.) Jackson told me the Lord Mayor had signed it; and offered freely to go with me before my Lord Mayor.

Prisoner Ley. Did you ever see me at your house? - I do not recollect I ever did.

Did not Jackson acknowledge that he had given me a power of attorney, that had been signed by the Lord Mayor? - There had been a power originally signed by the Lord Mayor, he did mention that there was a power of attorney originally signed according to that date.

Did he say, he had given that to Ley to come to your house to receive the money? - First it was an application of Jackson's, to know whether Ley had received the money.

Mr. Silvester. When were these prizes taken? - In December, 1777, and in April, 1778, no later than that.

Court. After Jackson came the third time, do you recollect any person coming to your house to enquire for him? - Mrs. M'Carthy came, and was talking about Bell's prize money, and I asked her in.

- EVANS sworn.

I am clerk to the Lord Mayor, I am very well acquainted with his Lordship's writing; but this has not the most distant similitude.

Court. Is it the custom of the Lord Mayor's office to keep an account of the instruments which are executed by the Lord Mayor? - It is.

Can you ascertain by the examination, whether there was ever any power of attorney in the name of Benjamin Bell , executed by the Lord Mayor? - I have not searched above three weeks or a month, I have one book here, from the 3d of December, to the first of January; I have searched the whole of this book, I have none here earlier than that.

How far back would it be possible to search that? - We make entries of all, that would take a considerable time; Jackson and Ley both said, that the real power was of that date.

Did he say what he had done with it after he had filled it up? - Jackson said, that he gave a shilling to pay the fee upon the execution of this power of attorney.

(The power of attorney read, and examined by Mr. Garrow.)

Court to Evans. What are the letters J. E. upon the seal? - The clerk generally puts his name on the seal, by way of mark.

Court to Clementson. You said, that Jackson said, that that power was a very good one, and that he knew the Lord Mayor had signed it? - Yes.

Will you endeavour to recollect, whether afterwards, he said, it was a good power? - Afterwards, when they came to be examined before the Lord Mayor, he said, there had been an original one executed by the Lord Mayor, and that Mr. Ley had lost it, and had made them out that.

But at first, he said, it was a good one executed by the Lord Mayor? - Yes.


I was not with them at the public house on the 18th of April, I never was there then; that power that was produced to me at the Lord Mayor's, I acknowledged I filled it up; and on Wednesday, Jackson and this man that called himself Benjamin Bell , I did not know him, gave me the power to receive the money, I gave it back to Jackson again, on Monday the 18th of April, and I was taken up on Wednesday; if I had been guilty I had time enough to escape, the power was given to me to ask for the money; I never went to Mr. Clementson for it; I never was at the public house with M'Carthy but once, when I met them on the hill, they are man and wife together.

Prisoner Ley to M'Carthy. I should be glad to know whether she can read or write, or how she knows that to be the power I filled up on the 18th of April.

Court. She has sworn that you filled up a blank power, in the name of Benjamin Bell , and gave it to Jackson.

Court to M'Carthy. Do you know this paper by sight? - I cannot say, I cannot swear to this paper alone, but such another paper as this was, in such another way as this, that is all I can say.

Winspear. It was about three weeks or a month ago, I cannot swear it was the 18th of April, or any particular day.

Were you examined before the Lord Mayor? - No.


I am a seafaring man.

How long have you known Catherine M'Carthy ? - For these several years since 1782; she came on board the ship Artois along with a marine, which lay at the Nore, then she left the marine, and went along with Robert Earle ; that was the prisoner Jackson, his name was Robert Earle on the ship's books, I cannot tell how long he and she were connected together.


I know the prisoner Jackson, he went by the name of Robert Parry at our house, and Mrs. M'Carthy went as his wife, in the year 1783, near nine months.

What was her character? - I believe she was a very honest woman.


I lodge in Smithfield, I am backwards and forwards at present to my husband, who is in prison here for debt, I know the prisoner Ley, I never saw the other prisoner to my knowledge but now, and at Guildhall, I remember on the 18th of April last, about ten in the afternoon, I saw Ley at the Globe in Crutched Fryers, I remained with him till between three and four, he went with me from the Globe to my husband's plantiff, to try to make his affairs up, that was between three and four, we did not part till nigh six; we went down to the lower part of Wapping, I was not out of his company that day, from ten in the morning till six in the evening.

Mr. Silvester. What day of the week was that? - On Monday, I went to this public house, and waited till he filled up a power for a sailor , and wrote a note.

Do you know the King's Arms public house on Tower-hill? - No, Sir, I know the Nag's Head, I do not know the King's Arms; I was at chapel along with my husband the Sunday before.

Did you stay from ten o'clock all that time in the house? - Yes.

Who is the landlady? - A fat lusty gentlewoman, she was in and out of the parlour, I suppose she might see us together.

What did you do all that time? - I do not know, there were several people there, I was obliged to stay as he was so good as to say he would go along with me; I left it about three and went over Tower-wharf, and went to Wapping; I was examined before my Lord Mayor.

Court. Did you know the Globe before? - No.

Do you know the King's Arms? - No.

How do you know it was not the King's Arms? - The landlady was a shortish lusty woman.

Should you know her again? - Yes.

Court to Winspear. Stand up, look at that lady, is that the landlady? - It is not like the gentlewoman, she is quite an elderly woman.

How was this man employed? - Several people came in and shook hands with him, and I saw him writing a power for a seaman, sometimes he came in and went out.

Did he put his hand in his pocket, or give it to any body, when he had filled it up? - I do not know, I heard somebody call him out to the door, he did not stay long out with the gentlewoman M'Carthy; I saw him give something to the other man.

Prisoner Jackson. I wish to ask this woman, if I did not go to No. I, Lower Gun-alley, to enquire for Mr. Ley, the Friday before the Monday, and she asked me what I wanted, and I told her he had a power of attorney of mine, and he was playing tricks; I went to this gentlewoman, in Gun-alley? - I do not recollect him.


I came to the Globe one day, a little after these two gentlemen were taken into custody, and I saw this Mrs. M'Carthy, I asked her how she did, and she said she was very much in trouble, for her husband was in gaol, about a power of attorney; she said he did not sign it, but he filled it up.


I have known him fourteen years, I live upon my means; he bears a very good character.


I have known Ley seven years, he has a good character; he lodged at my house a good while.

NOAH LEE sworn.

I am no relation of his; I have known him ten years, and upwards, his general character is a very good one; he lodged twelve months with me.


I have known him thirteen years, he has a very good character as far as ever I heard.


I never heard any thing bad of him in my life.


I have known him two months, I come to speak something I heard M'Carthy speak about three weeks or a month ago; I had a little business at the Globe, on Tower-hill, and I happening to be sitting in the room where Mr. Ley was, this woman happened to come into the room, I said I believe you are a townswoman of mine; the next day coming down Holborn, I met the woman which I believe was the day Mr. Ley was taken up, she began to cry, and begged me to stop; I gave her a dram at the wine vaults opposite St. Andrew's church; I came to the Globe, and the first news I heard was, that Ley was a prisoner; the day following I met the same woman in Broad Saint Giles's; I asked her if she had seen Mr. Ley since, O yes, says she, I have seen him, I have him fast; he thought to hang my husband, by Jesus I will hang him; says I, don't hang anybody wrongfully; clapping her hands,

"right or wrong I will be recompenced."

Was anybody else present at this time? - There was a gentleman in company whose name is Warren, he withdrew.

What are you? - I am a clothes dealer, I live in Maddox-street, St. George's.

Is Warren here? - Yes.

- WARREN sworn.

Do you know the last witness? - I saw him about a fortnight or three weeks ago in St. Giles's; Mrs. M'Carthy and he stopped and spoke together, I heard nothing that passed at all.

Did they seem earnest in discourse? - I walked on and took no particular notice.

Mr. Silvester to Warren. Did Dawson tell you any conversation he had? - No, never a word, I never stopped.

Court to M'Carthy. Do you know that witness Dawson? - Yes, I have seen the gentleman once.

Is it true that that conversation passed between him and you, that he has stated? - The day I came to look for Ley, I let him know that Jackson was taken; says I, Jackson is taken, but we have Ley taken.

Did you say that Ley thought to hang Jackson? - I did not say no such thing, I would not say no such thing, I would not speak more in favour of one than the other.

Do you know Juliana Doyle ? - Yes.

Did you ever tell her that Ley filled up the power, and that he had never signed it? - Upon my oath, I never did, I said they were in for an innocent cause, I would not let her know.


About a week before Christmas I became acquainted with a man by the name of Benjamin Bell , in Bristol; we came to London in the same week that Christmas was; I bore his expences, he had no mo-

money, he said he had prize-money coming from the Carysfort; when we came to London, I applied to this Mr. Ley, he said there was wages due, and I went into a stationer's shop and bought a power, and he filled it up; and he saw me give this Benjamin Bell one shilling, to get it sworn before my Lord Mayor: about twelve the next day this Bell called with the power, and I believe it was signed by the Lord Mayor; then I remitted him fourteen shillings; then I made this power over, with an order, on stampt paper, for Ley to take the money for Bell due to me, I applied several times after, till the 18th of April, then he told me he had lost the power he had; then he asked me into the Nag's Head, and wrote a letter to Mr. Curtis, of Wellclose-square, there I got a blank power, very well says Ley, that is what I want; Ley asked me and Mrs. M'Carthy to this house, next the sick and hurt office; I went to ask Mr. Clementson whether Ley had received any money for the Carysfort: I thought he was playing tricks with me, before I came back to the public house where Mrs. M'Carthy was, he had a power made and filled up; says he, now you may go and get the money; says I, did not you tell me you lost it; it is no matter, says he, get your money upon it; then I went to Mr. Clementson's, and he stopped me.


I acknowledge that I filled up a power for him on the 28th of December, and that he gave the man a shilling, and that he came to me o n Wednesday the 29th, and asked me two or three times about the power, and I delivered to him the same power.

Court to Jackson. Who did you go to for a blank power? - To one Curtis in Wellclose square.

Have you ever sent to him to come here? - No, I did not.

Court to Clementson. Have you ever made an enquiry into that fact? - No, I never was requested to do it.

Where does he live? - In Wellclose-square, at the sign of the Red Lion.

Court to Ley. Did Jackson in your presence before the Lord Mayor tell this story about going to Curtis's for the blank power? - I do not recollect that he did.

Jackson. I did, my Lord Mayor knows I did, did not I Sir?

Evans. Yes, he certainly did.

Ley. I recollect now, I understand you properly, I was then writing a petition for a man to Sir Charles Middleton to be superannuated, then I desired Mr. Jackson to go to Mr. Curtis's for a power, but that was a woman whose husband was in Newgate.

Court to Ley. Who did you fill up that power of attorney for? - I never filled it up, I gave it to Sophia Baker 's husband; here are the people belonging to Newgate knows there is such a person there, and that the proposition was made.

The prisoner Jackson called twelve witnesses who all gave him a very good character.

The Jury withdrew some time, and returned with a verdict



Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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