THE untimely fate of this young man greatly adds to the too numerous lists of unfortunate youths who have suffered for the crime of forgery, and whose case (though destitute of anything remarkable or novel) shows the necessity of bearing a good character; for had this culprit (who was about twenty-six years of age) been able to have called two or three respectable witnesses to attest his integrity, his defence, which was certainly plausible, would doubtless have had some effect upon the Jury.
He was indicted for uttering a counterfeit 5l. bank of England note, knowing the same to be forged. It appeared that the prisoner had offered the note in question to a Mr. Rhodes, a hosier, in Holborn, in order to pay for a pair of stockings, which he had agreed to purchase at the rate of twelve shillings. Mr. Rhodes suspected the note to be a bad one; and, pretending to go out to get change, consulted a gentleman in his neighbourhood, who confirmed his suspicion. He then procured a constable; and, returning to the shop, the prisoner was taken into custody. The note was proved to be a counterfeit; and it was also proved that the prisoner had passed two other forged notes of the same fabrication. To one of these persons, Thomas Thompson, linen-draper and hosier, in New-street, Covent-garden, he gave the name of John May, Blackbird, Low-Layton.
Elizabeth Shepherd, who keeps the Blackbird, at Low Layton, declared, that she did not know, or ever saw, the prisoner. The other person on whom he imposed, was Ann Pudephat, who keeps a milliner's shop, in Tichbourne-street: she said, that Mary Young, whom she also knew by the name of Mary Thompson, agreed to give her a guinea for a small bonnet, which she promised to send for. The prisoner came for this bonnet, and paid her with a forged 5l. note; she gave him four pounds, and he gave her a shilling. Mary Young said, she had been acquainted with the prisoner almost a twelvemonth; and she did commission him to call for the bonnet, but that she gave him cash (gold and silver) to pay for it: at the same time, requesting him to get it if he could for a pound. She did not know that he then had a 5l. note in his possession; and she remembered asking him, at that time, to try and pass a bad dollar which she had, when his answer was, "Do you want me to be hanged!" The prisoner in his defence acknowledged that he had uttered these notes, but declared that he did not know that they were forged. He found them, he said, and confessed his dishonesty in not advertising the book in which they were: they did not belong to him; but through his partner's distressing him to the last shilling, he parted with them. "Can it be supposed," added he, "that I, knowing these 5l. to notes be forged, would have continued in Mr. Rhodes's shop, when he was away a full quarter of an hour! I was left on the other side of the counter, and the door open." Being asked, if he had any witness to call in his behalf, he said, he had not; and accordingly the jury pronounced him—Guilty.