Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 27 September 2020), October 1869, trial of WILLIAM BIRD (26) CHARLES LAKE (34) (t18691025-918).

WILLIAM BIRD, CHARLES LAKE, Deception > fraud, Deception > fraud, 25th October 1869.

918. WILLIAM BIRD (26) , Feloniously personating and falsely assuming the name of John Campbell, a soldier, who had served in the military service and become entitled to certain prize money, with intent to defraud the Duke of Argyle, Secretary of State for India; and CHARLES LAKE (34) , inciting and assisting the said William Bird in the felony.

MR. FORSYTH, Q.C., and MR. POLAND, conducted the Prosecution.

THOMAS ALLEN BARRETT . I am clerk to the solicitor of the India Office—on the 23rd October I served notices on both the prisoners to produce certain papers.

GEORGE WALPOLE . I am a clerk in the India Office—I produce a royal warrant, dated 22nd September, 1866—it vests the Banda and Kirwee prize money in the Secretary of State for India in Council, for the time being—(produced and read)—the warrant describes the different shares—we have a price roll made up, which we use when paying the soldiers their share of the prize money—the prisoner Lake has been a soldier, and was entitled to one share of it—he was engaged in India, under Major-General Whitlock—he received his share, partly in December, and the remainder in February last—and he filled up the usual form—in the prise roll there is the name of John Campbell, a soldier, who was entitled to &c. 75, or one share of the money, in consequence of haring been engaged at Banda and Kirwee, under Major-General Whitlock—on the 24th July I received at the India Office a letter, signed, "T. Miller," and to the best of my belief it is in the handwriting of Luke—I have seen him sign his name—(litter read)—it asked for payment of Campbell's share, and was addressed from No. 6, Elisabeth Place, Grundy Street, Poplar—an answer was returned, the draft copy of which I produce (read)—it stated that the money could only be paid to Campbell personally, or by letter—on the 30th July a letter was received, dated the day previously, purporting to come from John Campbell, and I believe the signature to be in the handwriting of Lake (letter read)—I produce another letter dated 9th August, purporting, also, to come from Gampbell, which I likewise believe to be in the handwriting of the same prisoner (letter read)—the writer requested that a printed form might be sent to a Mrs. Collins, in Ellerthorpe Street, as the first one had been lest—on the 6th September another letter, enclosing a form, and signed John Campbell, was received—the questions in the form were filled up by the applicants—they showed that he had served in the 3rd Madras European regiment, that he enlisted in London, that he sailed from this country on board the Salamanes, that he was discharged at the time of the proclamation, and that he came home again in the Tasmanian—there was also sent a certificate of identity, signed by the Rev. T. W. Noel, the minister of Poplar—for certain reasons I sent a letter to the address given, directing John Campbell to apply personally for the money—on the 23rd September the prisoner Bird came to the office, and handed me the letter and form that had been sent—I asked him if he was John Campbell, and he said that he was—I then put several questions to him, to see if he could identify himself—I asked him where he was barn,

where be enlisted, in what ship he went out to India, when he was discharged, and in what ship he came home, all of which were correctly answered except the last one—he said that he came home in the Great Tasmanian and landed at Portsmouth—I had previously received information that John Campbell came home in the Conflict, and in consequence of this I communicated with the Assistant Military Secretary, and a police-constable was sent for—he was then asked where he got the letter from, and be replied from a man whom he had met in the park, who had told him to come into the office, present the form, and ask for the prize money, and he would get it—he also said that he was to sign a receipt for the money—the constable went in search of Lake, and he was brought into the office—Bird was then asked if he was the man who had given him the form, and he replied that he was—Lake was then interrogated as to why he had attempted to get the money which was not his own, when he said that he was starving and wanted it—Bird said he thought the man who gave him the letter was Campbell, and that having been authorized by him to receive the money, he could do so, he was aware he should have to sign a receipt, and he thought he might use Campbell's name as he had his authority—the letter signed "T. Miller" was shown to Bird, and when asked if it was his handwriting, he hesitated a little, and said he thought that it was—some pieces of paper taken by the policeman from Bird I believe to be in the handwriting of Lake—on one of those the words "John Campbell" are written three times, and on another is the regimental number, 999—since Lake has been in custody, a letter has been sent by him to the Military Secretary (produced and read), asserting that he had purchased Campbell's share of the prize-money for 30l.

Bird. Did I say to you distinctly that I was John Campbell? Witness. Yes, you did.

BENJAMIN KING (Policeman A 130). I was on duty at the India Office on the 21st September, and was called in to take Bird into custody—I asked him whether he had any claims upon the East India Company for prize-money, and he said "No"—I then inquired from whom he had the paper that he had sent in, and he said from a man who was outside in the park—in St. James's Park I apprehended Lake—I searched Bird, and found two pieces of paper in his possession, and upon Lake were discovered a great number of letters—I did not know Lake, but had seen him about an hour previously, when he asked me the way to the Pension-office, and I directed him to it—he was alone then, and had a large handkerchief round his head and face.

JOHN DISNEY . I am a messenger at the India Office—on Tuesday, the 21st September, I saw Lake there—I saw him come up the stops from the street, about 2.30 or 2.45—he appeared to be in a hurry, and asked me if a man named Campbell was about to receive prize-money—I told him then was a man inside—Mr. Walpole had previously asked me to look out Campbell's discharge—I asked Lake what claim he had upon Campbell, whether he was a lodging-house keeper, or whether Campbell owed him any money—he said he had only known Campbell for a few days—he then left the office in a hurried and excited manner—he had a comforter round his neck and face, which was enveloped twice round under his chin and over his head—he was alone at the time—Bird was in the office when I asked him if he had any claim upon Campbell—he said nothing particular—I saw him brought back by a constable—I heard him make a statement as to why he

had sent Bird in—Mr. Thom, the Assistant Secretary, came down and questioned them, and both men said they were starving.

ELLEN COLLINS . I live at 23, Ellerthorpe Street, Poplar—I have resided there twelve years—I know Mrs. Shepherd, who lived in Elisabeth Place in September last—some time back I received a letter purporting to come from her, and in consequence of that I received some letters addressed to John Campbell—I knew the prisoner Lake—he called upon me two or three times after Mrs. Shepherd wrote the letter, and asked me whether, if any letters came in the name of John Campbell, I would keep them till he called for them—he did not say where he lived, or why I was to take in the letters for him—letters came addressed, "On Her Majesty's Service," from the India Office, and I gave them to him when he called—he said that he was the person about whom Mrs. Shepherd had written—on one occasion he wrote the letter produced, and after that I received one from the India Office, which I gave him.

COURT. Q. Did you know Bird? A. No, I never saw him before I was at the Bow Street Police Court.

ANTHONY HOOD . I am a sergeant in the 108th regiment, stationed at Chatham—in the year 1856 I was in the service of the East India Company, in the 3rd Madras European regiment—in September of that year the regiment left England for India—we sailed in the Salamanca—a man named John Campbell was a private in the regiment, and sailed in the same ship with me—we served under Sir George Whitlock, and were present at the capture of the booty at Kirwee—in 1859 he claimed his discharge, and he and I came home again in the ship Conflict—we disembarked at Gravesend, and I have not seen him since—he was a man about 5ft. 6 1/2 in., and of sandy complexion—he was a Scotchman—I have received my share of the prize-money, 75l.—Campbell had a right to the same sum—I know Lake, who was in the same regiment, and was likewise present at the capture of Kirwee—he did not come home with us—the last place at which I saw him was Tinsoola, in India—I have no knowledge of Bird—I saw Campbell the last time in March, 1866, at Gravesend, where we parted.

The prisoner Lake's statement before the Magistrate was that in January last, having met John Campbell in Liverpool, he having recently come from America, he purchased his share of the prise money for 30l.; but paid 39l., altogether. Campbell was going to Australia, and gave him a receipt in the name of T. Miller, and he authorised him (the prisoner) to was his name, if he did not succeed in getting the money through the receipt.

Bird's Defence. Lake said that his name was John Campbell; and he told me that if I would go and sign a receipt, I should get the prize money that he was entitled to. I sat down on a seat in the park, and conversed with him. He handed me a letter of the 16th September, from the Military Secretary, and asked me if I would go in and receive it. He said that before his God there was nothing wrong in it. I thought I could go in, sign his name, and get the money, without doing anything wrong. I did go in, and hand in his letter, and ask for John Campbell's share of the prize money. I did not say that I was John Campbell. Mr. Walpole was not in the office then; another gentleman came in first. I did not answer Mr. G. Walpole, but the other gentleman. I did not, during the whole time I was in the office, say that I was John Campbell. If I have done wrong, it was unintentionally.

Lake's Defence. I am a total stranger in England, having been born and brought up in India. I came to this country, where I had a little prize money due to me for my service in India, having served through the late mutiny. By not obtaining employment, I was brought to a state of abject poverty, destitution, and starvation. I found all attempts to get to India of no avail. I applied repeatedly to the authorities of the India office, for a passage back, by working for it, but my request was declined, and I thought this was hard treatment; and seeing that all my friends were there, I felt a yearning desire to get back to them. In the meantime I took the necessary measures to lay my case before the Government; but my complaint was ignored and discharged, on the ground of improbability. If inquiries were made into my case, I am convinced that British law and government could not tolerate such proceedings. I was subjected to very serious injuries, when coming from India, by the neglect of the owners of the ship, and I received no satisfaction. In January last I purchased John Campbell's share of the price money for 39l., at Liverpool, and received a receipt in the name of T. Miller. I forwarded a letter to the India Office, and it was returned, with instructions to apply personally. Unfortunately for me John Campbell has left for Australia. I throw myself upon your lordship's clemency, and upon the mercy of the Court.

GUILTY Five Years' Penal Servitude each, the COURT stating that representations would be made to the proper quarter in favour of Bird, with a view to a mitigation of punishment.