22nd February 1781
Reference Numbert17810222-33

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158. THOMAS DICKS was indicted for procuring Catharine his wife to appear before Dr. Ducarel the Surrogate of the court of Canterbury, to take a false oath to obtain letters of administration .


I am a clerk in the Navy-office, (produces the books of the Boyne and Grafton).

Look into the book of the Boyne; is Wallather's name there? - There is such a name; he was entered the 1st of July, as a seaman, and remained till the 2nd of May 1778.

How is that book authenticated? - It is signed by the captain, and is a return made by the seaman on board the ship.

Is it from that book you are informed who are entitled to pay and what? - This is not the pay-book; it is the authority from which the pay-book is made.

Is there in the Boyne book an entry of the name Dicks? - None.

Now refer to the Grafton? - Wallather is entered in the Grafton the 26th of May, 1778, and he died the 23d of July 1779.

Can you collect from these books that there were wages due to him from these ships? - I gather from this books that wages were due to him.

Turn to the name of Thomas Dicks ? - (refers to it). Thomas Dicks was entered on the 6th of February 1778, and was discharged the 27th of September 1779.


I am a proctor and notary publick; this (producing it) is a warrant for procuring administration to Richard Wallather , belonging to his majesty's ships Boyne and Grafton. From the warrant it appears I attended before Dr. Ducarel.

You don't know who applied to you? - No.

Dr. DUCAREL sworn.

I am surrogate of the prerogative court.

Does that paper upon which you are now looking, bear any mark of a person's having applied to you? - It has my signature, which I never put till after I have administered the oath.

Looking upon that, you can take upon you to say that an oath was administered to some party? - Yes, but who it was I don't know; but some person did take the oath, and administration was afterwards granted under this warrant. This is a direction to the court, and then they grant it.

After reciting the oath it says Catharine Dicks having been duely sworn? - It is a verbal oath recited in this warrant.

Are you able to say from your having signed that warrant, that some person assuming the name of Catherine Dicks took that oath? - I don't know the person; some person came assuming that name.

Whether as surrogate you are empowered to administer an oath? - I am.


Did any person apply to you to go to the Commons to take out administration? - Yes; the woman that was convicted a little while ago. I was to attend and assist her; I was bred to the law in the kingdom of Ireland.

When did she apply to you? - On the 24th of February last. A woman of the name of Kelly came with her; she told me she wanted to take out administration to her brother one Richard Wallather ; she said he was transfered from the Boyne to the Grafton, or words to that effect. I cannot tell here verbatim. I asked her whether he had a wife or child, or father or mother; she told me that he had no wife, father, mother, child, or brother or sister but herself.

Was her husband with her at that time? - No; he was not; I wanted to see her husband and went with her and the other woman to him to Tothill-street. I then repeated, as far as I could recollect, the sense of what she had told me and he corroborated in effect what she had told me; he said

"he was on board the Grafton with Wallather, and had lost one or two of his fingers in the engagement; that Wallather either died of his wounds or was killed."

To Wade. Is there any person on the books of the name of Wallather? - No.

Sherring. I appointed him to come to me the next day to White-friars; he came with his wife and that woman and I went with them to Doctors-Commons. I went with her before Doctor Ducarel , where she was sworn, and I entered into a bond with her husband.

Was the husband present when the wife took the oath? - Undoubtedly he was; she was sworn and took the affidavit.

After that you and the husband entered into a bond? - I did; I was one of the sureties, not imagining the least imposition.

Was it at the husband's desire you entered into the bond? - I believe it was both their desires; I cannot say the prisoner desired me; it is the form in that court; I might voluntarily enter into it. Then I went along with them to the Borough, and through the recommendation of a house-keeper an acquaintance of their's, they got the minister and one or two of the overseers of the parish to sign a certificate of their good behaviour while they were in that parish. From thence

I went with them to the Navy-office; there was not a return of the man's name at that time, and I gave up the administration.

Look at the prisoner, are you sure he is the person that attended the woman who is convicted? - I am; I never heard any more of it till I heard the woman was in custody.

Cross Examination.

You was bred an attorney in Ireland? - Yes.

Do you practice here? - No, I am not entered; I draw up bills and answers for gentlemen at four-pence a sheet.

How came they to apply to you? - This Mrs. Kelly brought them.

Who is Kelly? - I do not know.

What was you paid for the trouble you had in this business? - I was paid a guinea, and as I estimate my time I deserved more.

You knew nothing of this man and his wife? - No.

How happened you to enter into a bond for a person you knew nothing about by the recommendation of a woman you have never seen from that day to this? - I looked upon it as a matter of form in the court.

What was the penalty of that bond? - I do not know; I will speak the fact and nothing else for all your father and grandfather were worth.

What had you for signing the bond? - Not a meg; you may ask me what I had for supper last night.

I ask you what did you get for signing the bond? - I got a guinea from him for going about the business.

From him? - From him and his wife.

You looked upon this woman really to be the sister of the deceased? - At that time I really did.

The husband looked upon her the same? - I don't know but he did.

She fairly imposed upon you both? - I declare I take it so, I don't look upon it otherwise; I don't know what conversation might pass between her and her husband; it was an imposition of her's.

From what you observed, she had represented herself as the sister of Wallather? - - Yes; and they both joined in it.

Court. Do you mean to say, that in your hearing she represented herself as the sister of Wallather and told her husband so? - No, no; she told me so, and he also told me.

He told you, I believe, that his wife had so told him? - I cannot take upon me to swear that the husband said that Wallather was the brother of the woman, nor I never will.

But she said so? - Undoubtedly.

Counsel for the Crown. When she told you in his presence that she wanted to take out letters of administration for her brother Richard Wallather , what did he say? - The prisoner, when I asked him, said, "he was killed along side him;" I cannot recollect the words hac verba, but he much corroborated what she had said before, and she said he was her own brother.

The woman came to you first? - Yes.

You met the woman with her husband; did he at any time deny this? - No.

How came you to sign the bond? - I thought it was sincere; I did not think there was any collusion or deceit.

Court. At any of the different times when you attended the husband and wife on this business, do you remember, in any conversation, his asking the wife about this man being her brother? - No; I cannot remember.

Do you recollect his giving her any instructions about this business? - No; if any thing of that kind passed it was not in my hearing.

Is that your hand writing? - Yes.

This was not the first time you was concerned in this kind of business? - No; I was concerned in one before.

Then, as a man of business, you know a little of the nature of this transaction? - Yes.

This is a bond in the penalty of one hundred pounds; and the condition is that this woman "shall make a true and perfect inventory of the effects of the deceased, and well and truely administer to them;" what induced you to enter into such a bond for strangers whom you knew nothing of? - Because

I knew nothing but that it was true; I looked upon it as a ceremonial form in that court.

Did you look upon it as a mere matter of form? - No; I did not consider it as such.

How came you then to enter into a bond of such a penalty for strangers you know nothing about? - I could have nothing more than the oath of the person, and I thought soul security sufficient.

Counsel for the prisoner. What did you get for entering into the other bond of this sort? - Not a halfpenny.


I am a navy agent. The prisoner and his wife came to me either the latter end of May, or the beginning of June, and brought this administration.

Do you know the person of the prisoner? - Yes; they produced the letters of administration and received the money due to Richard Wallather . I do not recollect any thing in particular that was said.

Cross Examination.

As to the Grafton the wife singly gave you the receipt? - Yes; when she came the second time I told her as she was a married woman her husband should come and join in the receipt, and he came and joined in the receipt.


Do you recollect the prisoner coming to receive the money? - Yes.

Was he there when she received the first money? - Yes; he was by at the time.

Do you remember his coming the third time when the receipt was signed? - Yes; the last payment.

Did you witness the receipt? - yes; (looks at the receipt). That is his mark I saw him put it.


You was married in Ireland to a person of the name of Richard Wallather ? - Yes.

He went on board the Boyne? - He did; I was on board with him.

Did you know his relations in Ireland? - Yes; he had two sisters and a brother.

Did you see the woman that was a little while ago at the bar? - Yes.

Was she one of his sisters? - No; I was eight days on board the Boyne with him; it is going of four years now.

Where was you married? - At the parish of St. Nicholas in Cork.

How long was you married to him? - Ten years next midsummer.

Court. Where did your husband's friends live? - At the parish of Shannon in Cork.

You are sure he had no more than two sisters? - I am.

You are sure Catharine Dicks is not one of them? - Yes; she is not.

Is either of them married? - One, the other is not; her name is now Jenny Collings by her husband.


I know Wallather the husband of this woman five or six and twenty years; and I know his father; he had two sisters and a brother.

You saw the woman that was tried today, was she either of them? - No.


Catharine Dicks is not my wife.

GUILTY ( Death .)

Tried by the London Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

*** See the Trial of Catharine Dicks in the Second Part.

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