JOSEPH WADSWORTH.
28th February 1848
Reference Numbert18480228-752
VerdictNot Guilty > unknown

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752. JOSEPH WADSWORTH , feloniously forging and uttering an acceptance to a bill of exchange for 300l., with intent to defraud William Barrett.

MR. PARRY conducted the Prosecution.

JOHN M'GREGOR. I live at 17, Charles-street, Middlesex-hospital. I know Barrett and the prisoner—in April, 1846, I was treasurer of the Caledonian Loan and Discount Society, carried on at my house—in April, 1846, a building-club was established, of which Barrett was a member—I was also a member; the prisoner, and a lady named Elizabeth Dodds-Barrett, built a house in charrington-street—he borrowed various sums from the loan society about that time—I produce a book, in which account is kept of all

money advanced by me, on account of the society; the entries are principally in my writing—on May 9th, 1846, here is an entry of 100l. advanced to Barrett—here is another on June 4th, but there is no amount, and another on Oct. 24th, of 100l.—here is 300l. on Sept. 12th, 1846—these entries are all in my writing; they are memorandums of bills given—the 300l. bill included the two other sums of 100l.—I have no particulars of the bill, except the name and number—I only enter the name and number—the number is always written on the bill-head; here is 637 on the 300l. bill—bills are drawn by me alone—(looking at the 300l. bill) this is not the bill that was given on that occasion; there was another given at four months.

MR. SERJEANT WILKINS. Q. I presume you make that assertion about the bill being drawn at four months, from seeing this paper pinned in the book? A. No; I did not look at it.

COURT. Q. Then what is the memorandum from which you say the bill was drawn at four months? A. I never put any mark down for that, because the bill always carried the interest.

MR. PARRY. Q. What did you do with the bill that was given? A. I put it along with other bills, belonging to the society, in my tin box, and locked it up in an iron chest, which I kept the key of—they were there until I ceased to be treasurer, which was about 28th Nov., 1846—I then gave up the box and bills to Mr. Jessop, who succeeded me—the 300l. bill was among them—this one was not there—I first saw that bill in Mr. Pritchard's office four or five months ago—Barrett was with me—I went there to look at the bill, in consequence of something Barrett said to me—Mr. Pritchard was solicitor to the loan society—I do not know whether I introduced him to Barrett—I believe I recommended him to Mr. Barrett—I know Mr. Stones very well; he has nothing to do with the loan society—this is a book of the rules of the society (producing one)—while I was treasurer the prisoner was secretary; he kept the general account-book—his duty was to enter accurately, from my book, all business that I had done—I do not think there is any rule in the book relating to drawing bills—it was my duty, as treasurer, to draw bills, and to instruct the parties—I had power from the society to do it, and no one else—I do not know that the prisoner knew that I had the power to draw bills for the society.

Cross-examined by MR. WILKINS. Q. Who is the attorney for this prosecution? A. Mr. Davis—I do not know him; I have never seen him—I have not seen anybody on the subject, besides Mr. Burnell—I did not recommend Burnell to Barrett—I do not know how many times I have seen Burnell on this subject—the No. 637 on the back of this bill si not my writing—when I saw this bill that number was not on it—I do not think that number was on it when I first saw it at Mr. Pritchard's—I did not see a number on this bill—I do not think these figures are mine—I do not know anything about this bill—these figures are not mine; I swear that positively—I do not know whose handwriting this document is that is pinned into the book (looking at it)—it is, I suppose, a copy of the bill—I never saw it before—it is my book that it is pinned into—I never saw Burnell write—I never spent the money of the society—I appropriated it for purposes of use, according to my instructions—I first began to do so when the society commenced, by the instructions of the directors—they were Mr. Jessop, Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Manley, and James Wadsworth, the prisoner's son—there was no restriction put upon me as to how I appropriated the money, so that

I got good interest and good security for it—the purposes of use were getting good interest on the money—the directors left it to me entirely—I took power from the directors—I appropriated the money, as I said before, for interest, not for my own interest, but for the society's—it is booked—all my interests are booked—the directors have never charged me with having robbed the society—I have always paid 20s. in the pound—Mr. Jessop did not charge me with robbing the society, not did Mr. Manley; they charged me with nothing—they only wanted to have it themselves, and to get it from my house, I suppose—I did not borrow 700l. to pay the monies of which I was deficient—I borrowed 500l. from Mr. Stones—that was for my own use—I did not appropriate that money to pay my deficiencies; it was to take up four bills of my own, which I had discounted with the society—I had a right to do that as well as anybody else—I know Ballard, the police-officer—he came to my house with Mr. Stevenson, Mr. Manley, and the prisoner—they did not threaten that if I did not give up the securities and documents that I held of the society, I should be prosecuted—they did not come to take anything from me—I gave up everything they wished—I do not know what Ballard came for—I believe the order was to give them up to Ballard—they were sealed in my presence—I ceased to be treasurer them instanter.

Q. Do not you know that the prisoner drew that bill contrary to the ordinary practice of the society, because they knew at that time that you were spending the society's money? A. I never spent the society's money—I do not know that anything of that kind was alleged—it was not alleged that Wadsworth drew the bill to take the drawing of it out of my hands—it was two or three months after I had drawn the bill that Ballard came and took possession of the documents—I was formerly treasurer to the Tailors' Society—I was not discharged—I am not treasurer now—I do not know a man named Dallas (a person named Dallas was here called in)—I have no knowledge of him—I cannot say that I ever saw him—he may know me—the house at which the Tailors' Society was held was the Robin Hood, in Great Windmill-street, and after that at the White Horse, in Carnaby-market—I dare say I might have had 150l. of the society's in my possession at one time—I placed that money you allude to in the bank of Marsh, Fontleroy, and Co., which failed—I was asked to refund it—the Society did not ask me for my vouchers for the deposits, only for my own book—I did not say that I had put it under my bed, and that the rats had eaten it—I produced the book—I have paid the society 12s. 6d. in the pound—I was a member as well—when I went with Barrett to Mr. Pritchard's office this bill was shown to me—I did not, in Mr. Pritchard's presence, say, "Beyond all question that acceptance is Barrett's writing"—all I said was, "Why, friend Barrett, you owe the money, and of course you will pay it," but as to that bill I do not know it—I never said it was Barrett's writing, not anything of the kind, I was never asked the question—I did not turn round to Barrett and say, "You do not mean to be such a rascal as to deny your own handwriting?"—I have been several times applied to by the society for the use of my name to conduct actions against parties that owed money to the society, advanced while I was treasurer—I refused to give such authority—I knew this bill to be a forgery as soon as I saw it—I did not go before a Magistrate; I went before the Grand Jury—I was subpœnaed to go—I came here by myself—Mr. Stones went, I believe, and Mr. Burnell—it was never intimated by Burnell to me, or to Barrett, in my hearing, to trump up this charge of forgery—I do not know who proposed going before the Grand Jury—I

was only a witness—these figures, 637, on this bill, are not my writing—I swear that—I cannot swear to Barrett's writing—I have seen him write—I will not swear that this acceptance is his writing—I could not from a belief upon a man's writing—I do not feel myself qualified to do so—I have not seen Barrett write often—he gave me two, or three, or four bills, while I was treasurer—he superintended the building of the house, and furnished me with weekly accounts as he went on, but they had nothing to do with his writing—they were vouchers given by other persons—he was paid every week—he is a journeyman carpenter—he did not give receipts for the money the received—if he did not draw the money it was placed to his account—if he did, he would have no occasion to write—it would be put down as paid to him on account in the book I have here—he sometimes signed it—I cannot say that this acceptance is Barrett's writing—I cannot tell anything about any person's writing—I would not say a word about any person's writing—I could not do it.

MR. PARRY. Q. Did you, when you became treasurer to the society, give security to the society? A. No—the society has not lost a sixpence by me, that I know of—they might have sustained some losses by one or two bills not being paid, where persons did not turn out as I expected; but that, of course, cannot be guarded against in business—they have lost nothing by the money that I have made use of—15l. of interest money was returned to me when I settled my account—I placed 100l. of the Tailors' Society in Marsh and Fontleroy's bank for safety as I thought—I paid 12s. 6d. in the pound to the society, and they were satisfied—I know Wadsworth's handwriting—the body of this bill is his writing—the figures "637" are in the corner—I looked at the back of the bill when I went to Mr. Pritchard's office—I did not notice Wadsworth's endorsement on the bill—I do not think it was there then, nor was this "637"—the ink of the figures "637" is entirely different to that of the endorsement.

WILLIAM BARRETT. I am a carpenter, at 46, Sidney-street, Maiden-lane. In 1846 I belonged to a building society, with Wadsworth and M'Gregor—I built a house in Charrington-street—in 1846 I borrowed some money of the Caledonian Loan and Discount Society—480l. is now owing—Mr. Pritchard, the solicitor of the society, has now a lease of mine—in Sept., 1846, I borrowed 300l., and gave a bill to the society as a security—this is not that bill—I have given other bills (looking at three)—all these three bills have been given for monies advanced since—the body of the bill in question is in Wadsworth's writing—the acceptance is not my writing—this endorsement, "J. Wadsworth," is Wadsworth's writing—I think I first saw that bill about June or July, 1847, at Mr. Pritchard's office—I had received a note from Mr. Pritchard before I saw it—I believed these figures, "637", on the back of the bill, were not there then I swear they were not—Mr. Pritchard acted as my attorney—he is now the prisoner's attorney—I know Mr. Stone personally.

COURT. Q. Have you ever admitted to anybody that that acceptance was your writing? A. No, not on the bill producted—Mr. Pritchard gave me an acknowledgment—I have not got it with me.

Cross-examined. Q. Is that a copy of it? (producing a paper.) A. I dare say it is—I believe Mr. Pritchard gave me the paper in April, 1847—I did not then see the bill—Mr. Pritchard did not take the bill out of his desk to ascertain its date and caracter—I did not see the paper written at all—I called at Mr. Pritchard's respecting some repairs I had to do, and it was

given me in the evening—I gave him an order to obtain money for me, as he said he knew a party where he could get money for me on mortgage—I called in the evening, and then he gave me the paper—I never admitted that the bill was mine—I did not deposit the lease with Mr. Pritchard as security for the monies I owed the society—it was for the purpose of obtaining money for me of a friend, some counsellor, that Mr. Pritchard said he knew, and from whom he said he thought he could obtain me 700l. on my two leases—I swear they were not as security for the money I owned the society—I went twice that day—I have no recollection that Mr. Pritchard read a rough draft to me in the morning—I gave Mr. Pritchard an order to obtain a lease—I do not know the prisoner's son—I never admitted to him that the bill was mine—I know Mr. Birch, a timber-merchant—I did not admit to him that it was my acceptance—I admitted to Mrs. Dobbs that I owed the society somewhere about 500l.—it is very likely I told her that I would pay it as soon as I had sold my house—I never told Mrs. Dobbs that there was another bill in existence, of which the prisoner was not aware, and that if I had any further expense in the recovery of the money, or was too pressing on the bill that he held, I would make it out to be a forgery—Mr. Davis is the attorney I employed in this case—I have seen him once, I think; that was here, yesterday; he was pointed out to me—I gave his clerk instructions to carry on this prosecution—I have been told he is his clerk; I mean Mr. Burnell—I do not know that he has been transported; I never heard that he had till I heard it now in Court—my father had known him for twenty years, and I never heard him say anything of the sort—I believed I was employing a respectable man—I have known him about nine or ten months—I have heard talk of him through my father and uncle—I knew very little of him before this business—I have seen him at the office, 44, London-street, Fitzroy-square, many times—his name is up there, under a bell—Mr. Davis's name is not on the door there—I went to Mr. Pritchard's in company with M'Gregor—the bill was then shown to me—I did not then admit that the acceptance was mine, most certainly not—I said it was not mine—Mr. Pritchard said it was, and I said it was not—M'Gregor did not say to me on that occasion, "Surely you are not going to be such a rascal as to deny your own handwriting?"—I knew it was a forgery then.

Q. Did you go before any Magistrate in this case? A No, I did not—Mr. Burnell told me that he had applied to a Magistrate, and the Magistrate said he could not grant a warrant, because he did not know where the bill was—I went before the Grant Jury by Mr. Burnell's advice—I did not see the prisoner here every day during the Session on which the bill against him was found—I was not present in Court, only before the Grand Jury—I had notice to say that the case would be traversed, and I had no objection to have it traversed.

Q. Do not you know that your name was called out every day during the Session, and that the prisoner was here to meet any charge, and you never appeared? A. No, I do not know that; I received the notice to traverse the day after the bill was found—Mr. Burnell has it—a notice was left at my house that the prisoner was desirous of giving bail; it was not served upon me—I did not appear in Court after receiving that notice—I never gave Mr. Pritchard authority, verbally, to sell my house, and pay the society—this paper (looking at one marked A) is my handwriting.

WILLIAM BENSON STONES. I am a Manchester-warehouseman, at 13, Warwick-street, Golden-square, and live in Thistle-grove, Brompton. I

know this bill of exchange—it is partially my property—I received it from the prisoner about the latter end of Dec., 1846—I think that was after it became due—it was due on the 15th Dec., 1846—I had perhaps a lien on the bill to a certain extent—the prisoner owed me some money, I cannot exactly say how much—I am frequently in the habit of getting 300l. bills from persons who owe me money—it might be 200l., or more, that the prisoner owed me—I had lent it to him, personally, at different times—he was my clerk, and has been so about twenty-two years—I left Regent-street, and came to Warwick-street in 1840—I am a wholesale and retail dealer—I buy good in Manchester, and sell them here—I have carried on business forty years at least—I knew that the prisoner was secretary of some loan society for the last few years, but he continued in my service all that time—I paid him 2l. a week—he explained to me that this bill came as due to the society from the acceptor—he asked me if I would permit him to sue in my name—he did not exactly give me the bill in liquidation of the debt he owed me—there was no arrangement that I was to have a lien on the bill for 200l. for his debt—all the transaction was, that I was to permit the action to be carried on in my name—I can hardly say whether it was passed to me for a valuable consideration—I anticipated to be repaid a portion out of the proceeds of the bill when recovered—I did not understand that the bill belonged to the Caledonian Loan Society—I understood that it was a bill belonging to the society—I do not think I parted with it till the spring of 1847—I do not like to lend my name to bring actions, but I believe very few persons in business can do otherwise occasionally—I do it with reluctance—the prisoner came daily to my warehouse—the hours of business and from nine to eight, but when he first engaged in this society he spoke to me about it, and I gave him some latitude—I have a son in my employment as clerk, and I think six other persons—the endorsement was on this bill when I received it.

Cross-examined. Q. Were these figures on the back when you received it? A. Yes—I had possession of it before it got into Mr. Pritchard's hands—in March, 1846, I employed Barrett to paint and repair my house in Queen-street, Golden-square—I have his bill here—I have seen him write I think twice, at least I can only say once—when he had some money in advance I took a receipt from him, and when he finished the work I took a receipt for the balance—I cannot safely swear that I saw him write that receipt, although I think I did—I should believe that the same person wrote the acceptance to this bill, who wrote my receipts—I believe it to be Barrett's writing—I remember Burnell calling at my warehouse in Warwick-street, about Dec. last—I never saw Barrett with him—the bill was shown to Burnell—he called at my warehouse ten or twelve times—he did not see the bill each time—I think it was only seen once with me—that might have been in Nov. or Dec., last year—Burnell promised that the money should be paid—he appointed to come on another day, in consequence of which Mr. Pritchard attended at my warehouse with the lease and the bill—the prisoner had also been in my father's employment—I would trust my life in his hands, or any unknown or known sums.

MR. PARRY. Q. Is the action that you have brought on the bill still pending? A. I am not aware whether it is on not—I instructed Mr. Pritchard to sue on the bill.

COURT. Q. Had you advanced money to the prisoner in aid of the objects of this society as his contribution to any fund of the society? A. No, nothing specific—he borrowed the money at the time he belonged to

the society—I understood from him that there were other parties besides himself engaged in that society, and that he was a partner up to a certain period.

WILLIAM JESSOP. I am one of the treasurers of the Caledonian Loan Society. Mr. M'Gregor was treasurer before me; when he left he gave the whole of the bills and securities to me and Mr. James Wadsworth—I took them home and examined them—I had been connected with the society before—Mr. M'Gregor generally drew bills when the society required security—there was no one else specified to do so—I have done so as treasurer; it is now part of my duty—the prisoner was secretary—I handed these bills to him on the very night M'Gregor gave them up—he saw me examine them—they were only one night in my keeping—I did not examine them till I got to Mr. Wadsworth's with them—I then examined them one by one—I cannot say how many there were—I gave all that I examined to Mr. Wadsworth.

Cross-examined. Q. Was this bill among the documents M'Gregor gave you? A. I think it is not the same bill—I cannot swear to it, it is so long ago—this is Barrett's writing, and this is Wadsworth's—I have not the slightest doubt that this is Barrett's writing—I have seen his writing often—when Wadsworth drew the bill I believe M'Gregor was making use of the society's money for his own purposes—I did not see him draw it—it was not arranged that he should do so—there was no person specified—I was not aware he had drawn the bill till after these bills were given up—I then learned it from Mr. Wadsworth—he is still the secretary—I have known him three or four years—he has borne the character of a trustworthy, honest man—I represent 1200l. in this society—that is the actual amount of money I introduced myself, or from other resources—the bill was due on the 15th Dec.—Barrett came to the office in Charles-street on the following Saturday, to state that he could not take up the bill, and begged I would not put him to the expense of a new stamp—he had accepted two other bills—there was only one for 300l., to my knowledge—the bill was due on 15th Dec.—if it had been a four months' bill it would not have been due till 15th Jan.

MR. PARRY. Q. Will you undertake to say that he did not come in Jan.? A. He did come several times in Jan., but he had acknowledged the bill before that—I cannot say that he did not call at the office in Jan., 1847—he repeatedly afterwards acknowledged his liability—I never showed him that bill—I do not think I ever saw this bill before that day—if I come to tell the truth, on second thoughts, I think this bill was not among those that I handed over to Wadsworth—I will not undertake to swear it was not—I examined the bills one by one, but not so minutely as all that at the time—I merely looked at the bills to see the amounts—I did not examine them particularly—I could almost swear that this is not the bill that I saw in the box which I handed over to Wadsworth—any representation that I heard about Wads-worth's drawing the bill was from him—it was after the bills had been handed over to him.

COURT. Q. Look at the bill again; notwithstanding what you have recently stated, have you or not any doubt that that acceptance is the handwriting of William Barrett? A. It is very like Barrett's writing—it appears that there must be two bills.

(MR. SERJEANT WILKINS wished Burnell called; MR. PARRY not desiring to call him, the COURT directed him to be put into the box.)

RICHARD WEST BURNELL (examined by MR. SERJEANT WILKINS.) I am

clerk to Mr. William Brissett Davis, solicitor. He lives over the water—his offices are in London-street, Fitzroy-square—I do not know where it is that he lives—I know the house—I do not know the name of the street—it is in Camberwell—I have been there once—I lodge in London-street, where the office is—I rent apartments there—the business is not carried on in my apartments, it is carried on in Mr. Davis's office—Mr. Davis pays the rent of the office—I have seen him pay it—he pays 28l. a year—my name is up on a brass plate, not on the door, but on the side of the door-post—I am a house-agent as well—Mr. Davis's name is not there, not on the door, or on the office, but his certificate is there, and all the business is carried on there—he comes to the office sometimes once a week, sometimes once a fortnight, and sometimes two or three days a week—he is not away a month at a time, nor yet more than a week—I have been transported for seven years—it was for practising as an attorney not being on the rolls—I have carried on business as an attorney's clerk for twenty-five years—before I was with Mr. Davis I was clerk to Mr. Currie—it was a man named Spencer that ought to have been transported—he ought to have come into Court and acknowledged me as his clerk—Mr. Davis is here—I did not send for him—he was here yesterday—I cannot say how many cases we have had in our office in the last month—there may be twenty of thirty in the office at present—I last saw Mr. Davis at the office about three weeks ago—I was not transported for representing myself as an attorney when I was not so—I was tried at Clerkenwell, before Mr. Const, the chairman—Mr. Bodkin was counsel against me, and Mr. Alley was for me—it was well known in the profession that I was Mr. Spencer's clerk, and had been so for many years—I pleased guilty then and there, not knowing that I had done wrong, but because I had issued a writ—I get 30s. a week from Mr. Davis—that is paid me regularly—that is all I get—I do not pay Mr. Davis 30s. a week, nor anything—I get no profit out of the cases.

COURT. Q. Has Mr. Davis been consulted upon any of the stages of these proceedings? A. He has—one day, at Serjeant's-inn, I spoke to him; but these criminal prosecutions he generally leaves to me—he saw the prosecutor and witnesses at the Judge's-chambers on one occasion—he did not receive instructions in this case, but they engaged him, and I had the engagement—(producing it.)

MR. SERJEANT WILKINS. Q. I believe, in order to get the expenses, it is necessary to produce such a document as this, is it not? A. I do not know—I am employed by the most respectable parties—I do not know what expenses mean—I called on the prisoner at Mr. Stones' on one occasion—I called several times—I saw the bill in Mr. Stones' hands—I had seen it before—I did not tell Mr. Stones that the bill was correct, and that it would be paid—I told Mr. Stones that if he would give me a copy of it I would arrange it in two or three days—I did not after that call again on the prisoner at Mr. Stones' warehouse, and appoint Wednesday, 22nd, at half-past one o'clock, to pay the 300l. for the bill—I made an appointment to meet Mr. Pritchard there on that day—I met Mr. Pritchard there, according to that appointment—he did not produce the leases and the bill if exchange—he took something out of his pocket, and I asked him for the 300l. bill at four months' date—he laughed, and said, "Pooh, pooh, there is only one bill; this is the bill"—I said, "No, sir"—I wanted to find out where the other bill was, and that was my reason for marking the appointment—I remember calling on Mr. Pritchard on 16th Nov.—he showed me the bill, and three other promissory notes—I compared

the writing very attentively—I did not, after comparing them, say that, beyond all question, it was Barrett's acceptance, and that the money must be paid.

MR. PARRY. Q. How long ago is it that you appeared at the Middlesex Sessions? A. Twenty years ago within one.

COURT to MR. STONES. Q. Did you hear what Burnell has just stated? A. I did—he told me, speaking of the bill when he saw it in my possession, that it was a good bill, and would be paid, and I have a witness in waiting who was present, as I was fearful of speaking alone to the individual.

NOT GUILTY the Jury expressing their belief that the acceptance was Barrett's own writing.


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