Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 03 December 2023), May 1893, trial of HENRY BEAVIS LEICESTER (30) (t18930501-495).

HENRY BEAVIS LEICESTER, Deception > forgery, 1st May 1893.

495. HENRY BEAVIS LEICESTER (30) , Feloniously forging and uttering a promissory note for £300.

MR. C. F. GILL Prosecuted, and MR. BRUCE Defended.

JOHN SUMNER . I am a farmer, of Cross Lanes Farm, Bickley, Malpas, Cheshire—in the summer of 1891 I wanted to borrow a small sum, and answered an advertisement to 16, Princes Street, Hanover Square, applying for a loan—I got this letter in reply, offering me an advance of £40, to be repaid by £60 in instalments—I met the prisoner at Crewe—he gave me two £20 notes and I signed the promissory note (Dated August 19th, 1891, and promising to pay £60 by instalments; it was endorsed "H. B. Leicester")—I paid some instalments, and afterwards my solicitor paid the balance for me; I gave him the money—that was the only transaction I had with the prisoner—I never saw this other promissory note, or the letter, till I saw them at the Polios-court; I did not sign them, nor were they signed with my authority (This promissory note teas an undertaking by John Sumner, farmer, to pay to Townend, or his order, £300 for a loan, dated August 13th, 1891. The letter was with regard to the same loan).

Cross-examined. I signed this note at Crewe, at the post-office, and the prisoner gave me the two £20 notes when we came outside—I am not aware that anyone else saw me sign it—the prisoner wrote the other part above my signature, which is the only writing of mine—he read it to me before I signed it—I did not read it as it was getting dark—I think it is the same note, it looks pretty much the same—it was all written before I signed it—I did not see him touch it after I signed it—I did not sign a blank piece of paper—I had never signed a promissory note before—the advertisement in the paper was in the prisoner's name—I did not know there was a Mr. Townend till afterwards—it is impossible that I could have signed one note for the other; I never saw this second one before—the note I signed was of this shape—my daughter first wrote to the prisoner, and we met at Beeston—I might have asked him to lend £200, but we would not have it because of the interest, and we were not there five to ten minutes—all we wanted was £40, and he wrote afterwards about £40—I will not swear I did not mention £200—I don't think £200 was mentioned—we refused to have anything except £40.

HENRY CHARLES LLOYD . I am a clerk in the employment of Cunliffe and Davenport, solicitors, of Chancery Lane—acting for Mr. Sumner we paid £40 and got the promissory note in this case from a third party, who was holding it.

JAMES FREDERICK TOWNEND . I am a money-lender, of Leeds and seven other places—one of my establishments is at 16, Princes Street, Hanover Square—the prisoner was in my employment, originally at Bristol, and then he. was transferred to the Princes Street branch, London—his salary was £170 a year and a commission, which brought it up to about £300 in all—he had three or four junior clerks at the office—the books kept there were cash-book, ledger, bank pass-book, and receipt-book—his duty was to pay into the bank moneys he received, and when I was not there he would act for me in lending money to persons who applied for loans—I

took the management of the office; he was assistant manager in my absence; I was there every week or ten days—in every case he had to submit proposals to my approval before they were accepted; he could not lend a shilling without—I examined the books and securities in the safe—it was his duty to place the books before me for me to see what he had done in my absence, and I checked all the entries every time I was there, and decided on every case of loan that was brought before me—it was the prisoner's duty to enter in the ledger the name of the person to whom the loan was to be granted, the amount of money advanced, the interest, and the instalments by which it was to be paid off, and in other columns the amounts paid off until the loans had been satisfied—he kept the ledger himself—this is the entry about Sumner (Hits was dated August 13th for a loan of £200, repayable £15 a quarter)—on the other side are three entries of £3 each, and one of £5, as though they were sums that had been paid off the loan—they would be entered in the cash book and then transferred to the ledger—there are repayments, November 18th, 1891, £15; February 20th, 1892, £15; and May 19th, £15; and an entry of £5 which was sent by Stunner on August 20th, off the £40, after the prisoner had absconded—it was assumed it was off the £200, as there is no record of the £40 loan, and it was never brought to my knowledge in any way until I communicated with Sumner about the £200 loan—when I was at the Princes Street branch in July, 1892, everything was apparently in order—Mr. Sumner did apply for a £200 loan, but the prisoner was not authorised to advance money except with my authority in every case—Sumner's proposal to borrow £200 and repay £300 was submitted to me, and the promissory note was shown to me at the time, signed—prior to August, 1891, an application came from Sumner for £200, and I sent a surveyor to investigate his circumstances—the report was favourable, and I instructed the prisoner to lend Sumner £200, and the next I heard was that he had lent him £200, and he produced this promissory note—he had instructions to go to Crewe to carry it out, I believe—I saw the promissory note when I went the next time—I believe the £200 was taken in cash from the till—the prisoner had no authority to draw cheques, but when I was going to be away I left him cheques, which he could not draw for more than £100 or £200, and I left him, too, £300 or £400—repayments were coming in every day of £300 or £400—he told me he had paid £200 to Sumner, and it appeared in the cash-book—after my visit in July my attention was attracted to an entry of a certificate of a bill of sale in a trade paper, and on 7th August I came up to London unexpectedly by a night train, and got to Princes Street at five a. m., and examined the books and cash—no one was there then—the prisoner came about ten—I found there was a deficiency of £750 in the till, even if the books had been correct—cash was coming in every day—at ten o'clock, when he came, I said, "How do you account for the deficiency?"—I drew his attention to it—he said, "I have been lending money to my own friends, and betting"—I said, "What is the real deficiency?"—he said £980—I took possession of everything in the office, and told him to consider himself suspended till I should see my solicitor, which I did, and on 10th August a warrant was issued for the prisoner's arrest—I did not see him again till I saw him in the dock at the Police-court on 11th April, 1893—I received this letter of 31st March, 1893, in his

writing (Expressing regret for the past)—upon the assumption that the entries in the books were correct I applied to different persons for amounts apparently owing by them, and in default—I find my actual loss is £4,200, after giving the prisoner credit for premiums, bonuses, and so on—beyond that I have been involved in litigation, and sued for damages, as I had no means of knowing whether persons were resisting claims properly or not, and damages and costs will come to about £1,000 altogether up to now—I put the name of my manager or assistant manager at each of my branches to my advertisements in order that persons who apply may have the name of the person they will see afterwards, as if my name appeared they would want to see me, and I could not always be at every place.

Cross-examined. I have at some branches assistant managers in the same position as the prisoner—the clerks at Princes Street were under the prisoner's orders—they would not have access to any of the books; my instructions to the prisoner were that the books were to be kept in his absolute control, and not seen by any other person, and I have since ascertained that they have not seen them—I do not think it possible that the other clerks saw them; if they had had access to them these things would have been found out sooner—the prisoner only lent money once without my sanction, and I threatened to discharge him if he did it again—he has never to my knowledge put any of the blank cheques I lent him to improper uses by lending money without my sanction—I should have seen by the pass-book if he had misappropriated cheques—he could have drawn the money represented by them, and run away—he would have had to make an entry in the cash-book, and whenever I went to the office I required to see the cheques, and to what customer it had been paid—I did not see the note for £40 till I saw it at the Police-court—it came from Mr. Sumner's solicitor—it had never been in my possession—the prisoner had roughly about £450 in his possession—I think there was a great deal more than £300 in the bank—I always keep a floating balance of about £4,000 at eight different banks—I had a lawsuit with Dr. Collins—I did not in my affidavit in that case swear that I had some knowledge that the prisoner was using my money for purposes other than my own—so far as I know Sumner's only application was for a loan of £200—it was in writing; I have not got the letter—that was the amount I agreed to advance, as I knew his position was good enough without any security, and I lent him on promissory note alone—I rarely get 60 per cent, per annum; this loan to Sumner was at 25 per cent—I lend over £150,000 a year on note of hand alone without any security, and I do not average over 25 per cent, on notes of hand—if I were satisfied a gentleman was temporarily pressed, I should do it at from 15 to 25 percent—in the case of a bill of sale, I charge 30 to 60 per cent; we do not like them—the bulk of my business is done on promissory notes only.

BENJAMIN ALLEN (Detective C). A warrant for the prisoner's arrest was in the hands of the police in August, 1892; every effort was made to execute it without success—on Monday, 10th April, I waited outside Charing Cross Post-office between seven and eight p. m.—I saw the prisoner—I said, "Are you Harry Beavis Leicester"—he said, "Yes"—I said "I am a police officer, and hold a warrant for your arrest"—I read the warrant to him—he

said, "All right"—he was charged at Marlborough Street Police-station—he made no answer.

MR. BRUCE asked that the prisoner might make his own statement to the JURY. The prisoner then stated that Mr. Sumner first applied for a loan for £200, but the interest being too high lie afterwards declined it; that subsequently he applied for £40; that he (the prisoner) met Mr. Sumner at Crewe, where Mr. Sumner took him into three or four public houses, and finally into the post-office, where he (Mr. Sumner) signed the two promissory notes, as lie said he should require the larger amount afterwards, and it would save another journey.

JOHN SUMNER (Re-examined by the COURT). We only went into one public-house, and from there we went to the post-office; we had no drink before, only a glass afterwards.

GUILTY .—There were other indictments against the prisoner for embezzlement, larceny, forgery, and false entries.— Seven Years' Penal Servitude.