Twin Brothers, who, though popularly believed to be innocent, were executed at Tyburn, 17th of January, 1776, for Forgery
IN order to preserve, as near as possible, the chronological disposition of this work, we insert the following in this place, though the brothers Perreau were not executed till a considerable time after conviction, nor till after the acquittal of Mrs Rudd; but it is necessary that their trials should precede that of Mrs Rudd, as the former were in some measure productive of the latter.
On the 10th of March, 1775, discovery was made of a series of forgeries, said to have been carried on for a length of time by Robert and Daniel Perreau, twin brothers; the one an apothecary of great practice, and the other living in the style of a gentleman.
The above parties, together with Mrs Margaret Caroline Rudd, who lived with Daniel Perreau as his wife, and who was deemed to have been a principal agent in the forgeries, were taken into custody, and carried before the bench of magistrates in Bow Street, where the crowd attending to hear their examination was so great, that it became necessary to adjourn to the Guildhall, Westminster.
The evidence there adduced tended to prove that the parties had raised considerable sums by bonds forged in the name of the well-known agent, William Adair, Esquire, which they imposed on several gentlemen of fortune, as collateral securities with their own notes, for the payment of the said sums.
This transaction was discovered by the following means. Robert Perreau, whose character had been hitherto unimpeachable, applied to Mr Drummond, the banker, to lend him L5,000 and offered a bond for L.7,500 which he said Mr Adair had given to his brother, as a security for the payment.
It will now be proper to remark, that, in order to give colour to the validity of these bonds, it had been artfully suggested that Mrs Rudd had near connexions with Mr Adair; and it was even insinuated, that she was his natural daughter: but Mr Drummond, to whom Mr Adair's writing was familiar, had no sooner looked at the signature, than he doubted its authenticity and very politely asked Robert Perreau, if he had seen Mr Adair sign it? The latter said he had not, but had no doubt but it was authentic, from the nature of the connexion that subsisted.
To this Mr Drummond said, that he could not advance such a sum without consulting his brother, and desired Perreau to leave the bond, promising to return it the next morning, or advance on it the sum required.
Mr Perreau made no scruple to leave the bond, and call in the morning. In the interim Mr Drummond examined the bond with greater attention; and Mr Stephens, secretary of the Admiralty, happening to call, his opinion was demanded; when comparing the signature of the bond with letters he had lately received from Mr Adair, he was firmly convinced that it was forged.
When Perreau came, Mr Drummond spoke more freely than he had done before, and told him that he imagined he had been imposed on; but begged that, to remove all doubt, he would go with him to Mr Adair, and get that gentleman to acknowledge the validity of the bond; on which the money should be advanced.
Perreau made not the least objection. They went together; and Mr Adair was asked if the bond was his. He declared it was not; but Perreau smiled, and said he jested.
Mr Adair told him that it was no jesting matter, and that it was his duty to clear up the affair. Perreau said, 'if that was the case, he had been sent on a fine errand!' He desired to have the bond, and said he would make the necessary enquiries: but this was refused, and it was thought a point of prudence to watch the motions of Robert Perreau, till Daniel and his pretended wife were produced.
Soon after he returned home, the three parties went into a coach; and, if Mrs Rudd's testimony may be credited, she took with her what money and valuables she could conveniently carry; and said, that the brothers had taken her money, gold watch, and jewels, into their possession; but no reason was assigned for their doing so.
Their escape, however, if such was intended, was prevented; for an information being laid against them, they were apprehended, carried before Sir John Fielding, and examined at the Guildhall, Westminster, as above-mentioned. The facts already mentioned were attested by Mr Adair, Mr Drummond, and other persons; and Sir Thomas Frankland charged them with obtaining from him L.4,000 on the first application, which they honestly repaid before the money became due; afterwards L.6,000 and then L.4,000 on similar bonds, all signed with the name of Mr Adair.
Mr Watson, a money-scrivener, said that he had drawn eight bonds, all of them ordered by one or other of the brothers; but he hesitated to fix on either, on account of their great personal resemblance; but being pressed to make a positive declaration, he fixed on Daniel as his employer.
Dr Brooke charged the brothers with obtaining from him fifteen bonds of the bank of Air, each of the value of L.100 upon the security of a forged bond for L.3,100.
On the strength of this evidence the brothers were committed, the one to New Prison, and the other to Clerkenwell Bridewell; and Mrs Rudd was admitted an evidence for the crown.
On her future examination she declared that she was the daughter of a nobleman in Scotland; that, when young, she married an officer in the army, named Rudd, against the consent of her friends; that her fortune was considerable; that, on a disagreement with her husband, they resolved to part; that she made a reserve of money, jewels, and effects, to the amount of L.13,000 all of which she gave to Daniel Perreau, whom she said she loved with the tenderness of a wife; that she had three children by him; that he had returned her kindness in every respect till lately, when having been unfortunate in gaming in the alley, he had become uneasy, peevish; and much altered to her; that he cruelly constrained her to sign the bond now in question, by holding a knife to her throat, and swearing that he would murder her if she did not comply; that, being struck with remorse, she had acquainted Mr Adair with what she had done, and that she was now willing to declare every transaction with which she was acquainted, whenever she should be called upon by law so to do.
At the sessions held at the Old Bailey in June, 1775, Robert Perreau, Esquire, was indicted for forging a bond for the payment of L.7,500 in the name of William Adair, Esquire, and also for feloniously uttering and publishing the said bond, knowing it to be forged, with intention to defraud Robert and Henry Drummond, Esquires.
After what we have mentioned above respecting this transaction, we shall be as concise as possible in the recital of the evidence. Henry Drummond, Esquire, deposed, that Robert Perreau requested the loan of L.1,400 having made a purchase in Suffolk or Norfolk to the amount of L.12,000. He said he had a house in Harley Street, Cavcndish-square, which cost L.4,000 the deeds of which house he would leave as a security. These he did leave, and promising to return in ten days, the money was paid him. He came some time afterwards, and apologized for not having kept his appointment; and said he then came to borrow L.5,000 on the bond, out of which he would pay the L.1,400 abovementioned.
Mr Drummond and his brother doubting the validity of the bond, Perreau said there were family-connexions between him and Mr Adair, who had money of his in his hands, for which he paid interest.
A great part of what Mr Drummond delivered in evidence has been already given in the former part of this narrative. Mr Drummond going with the prisoner to Mr Adair's, Mrs Daniel Perreau (Mrs Rudd) was sent for, when Robert asked her, if she had not given the bond to him. She owned that she had, took the whole on herself, and acknowledged that she had forged the bond.
The counsel for the prisoner asking Mr Drummond if he was certain that the prisoner said it was his money that Mr Adair paid interest for, he answered in the affirmative. He declared likewise, that Mr Perreau did not make the least objection to leaving the bond with him, nor shewed any reluctance in going with him to Mr Adair's house.
He likewise said that Mrs Rudd took the whole on herself, begged them, 'for God's sake to have mercy on an innocent man;' and that she said no injury was intended to any person, and that all would be paid; and that she acknowledged delivering the bond to the prisoner.
The counsel demanding if Mr Drummond and Mr Adair, after hearing what Mrs Rudd said, had not expressed themselves as considering the prisoner as her dupe; the answer was, 'We both expressed ourselves to that effect. A constable had been sent for, and we discharged him.'
The identity of the bond was proved by Mr Wheatley, Clerk to Messieurs Drummond. The evidence of Mr Robert Drummond was not, in any very essential point, different from that of his brother. He deposed, that when Mrs Rudd had acknowledged that she forged the bond, he expressed his doubt, the hand-writing being so different from that of a woman, and said nothing would convince him of it but her shewing, on a piece of paper, that she could write that sort of hand. He said he did not mean to ensnare her, and would immediately throw the writing into the fire. Mrs Rudd instantly wrote William Adair, or part of the name, so very like the signature of the bond, that it satisfied him, and he burnt the paper. Robert Perreau then said, that 'he hoped that the information she had given sufficiently acquitted him;' but he was told that he had better not inquire into that; and on this occasion he shewed the first sign of anxiety.
Sir Thomas Frankland deposed, that the prisoner brought him two bonds at different times, one to Daniel Perreau for L.6,000 and the other to himself (Robert) for L.5,300; that for L.5,300 on which he lent him L.4,000 was to be repaid on the 26th of March, with the three days grace; the other was due on the 8th of March.'
Mr Wilson declared that he filled up the bond at the desire of the prisoner; and produced his instructions for so doing. He likewise acknowledged that he had filled up other bonds for the prisoner.
That the handwriting at the bottom of the bond was not the handwriting of William Adair was proved by Scroope Ogilvie and James Adair, esquires. Mr James Adair was now questioned by counsel respecting a private interview he had with Mrs Rudd, but the court doubted if this might be allowed as evidence. After some observations made by the counsel for the prisoner, a letter was read, which he presumed had been sent him by William Adair, esquire, but which appeared to have been written by Mrs Rudd, but it was scarcely intelligible.
The prisoner now proceeded to make his defence in the following terms:--
'My Lords, and gentlemen of the jury; If I had been wanting in that fortitude which is the result of innocence, or had found any hesitation in submitting my proceedings to the strictest scrutiny, I need not at this day have stood before my country, or set my life upon the issue of a legal trial. Supported by the consciousness of my integrity, I have forced that transaction to light, which might else have been suppressed, and I have voluntarily sought that imprisonment which guilt never invites, and even innocence has been known to fly from; ardently looking forward to this hour; as the sure, though painful, means of vindicating a character, not distinguished, indeed, for its importance, but hitherto maintained without a blemish. There are many respectable witnesses at hand (and many more, I persuade myself, would be found if it had been necessary to summon them upon a point of such notoriety), who will inform your Lordships and the court, how I have appeared to them to act; what trust has been reposed in me, and what credit I had in their opinions, for my diligence, honesty, and punctuality. In truth, my Lords, I am bold to say that few men, in my line of life, have carried on their business with a fairer character, not many with better success. I have followed no pleasures, nor launched into any expences: there is not a man living who can charge me with neglect or dissipation. The honest profits of my trade have afforded me a comfortable support, and furnished me with the means of maintaining, in a decent sort, a worthy wife, and three promising children, upon whom I was labouring to bestow the properest education in my power: in short, we were as happy as affluence and innocence could make us, till this affliction came upon us by surprize, and I was made the dupe of a transaction from whose criminality, I call God, the searcher of all human hearts, to witness, I am now as free as I was at the day of my birth.
'My Lords, and gentlemen of the jury, men who are unpractised in deceit will be apt to credit others for a sincerity which they themselves possess. The most undesigning characters have at all times been the dupe of craft and subtilty. A plain story, with the indulgence of the court, I will relate, which will furnish strong instances of credulity on one part, and at the same time will exhibit a train of such consummate artifices on the other, as are not to be equalled in the annals of iniquity, and which might have extorted an equal confidence from a much more enlightened understanding than I can claim.'
Having said thus much, the unhappy man proceeded to relate a variety of circumstances relative to the imposition practised on him by Mrs Rudd, of which the following are the most remarkable.
He said that she was constantly conversing about the Interest she had with Mr W. Adair; and that Mr Adair had, by his interest with the king, obtained the promise of a baronetage for Daniel Perreau, and was about procuring him a seat in parliament. That Mr Adair had promised to open a bank, and take the brothers Perreau into partnership with him: that the prisoner received many letters signed William Adair, which he had no doubt came from that gentleman; in which were promises of giving them a considerable part of his fortune during his life, and that he was to allow Daniel Perreau L.2,400 a year for his houshold expences, and L.600 a year for Mrs Rudd's pin-money. That Mr Daniel Perreau purchased a house in Harley Street for L.4,000, which money Mr William Adair was to give them. That, when Daniel Perreau was pressed by the person he bought the house of for the money, the prisoner understood that they applied to Mr William Adair, and that his answer was that he had lent the king L.70,000, and had purchased a house in Pall Mall at L.7,000, in which to carry on the banking business, and therefore could not spare the L.4,000 at that time.
The prisoner now related a variety of circumstances, which would tempt an ingenuous mind to suppose him innocent, and that the guilt of the transaction rested with Mrs Rudd. The unfortunate man then proceeded in his defence in the following terms:
'My lords, and gentlemen of the jury, I have now faithfully laid before you such circumstances as have occurred to my memory, as necessary for your information, in order as they happened during my acquaintance with Mrs Rudd, under the character of my brother's wife. Many have been the sufferers by artifices and impostors, but never man appeared, I believe, in this, or any other tribunal, upon whom so many engines were set at work to interest his credulity. It will not escape the notice of this splendid court, that my compassion was first engaged by the story of Mrs Rudd's sufferings, before my belief was invited to her representations. Let me have credit with you for yielding up by pity in the first instance, and you cannot wonder I did not withhold my credulity afterwards. It is in this natural, this necessary consequence, I rest my defence. I was led from error to error by such insensible degrees, that every step I took strengthened my infatuation. When Mr Drummond first hesitated at the hand-writing at the foot of the bond, if it did not so alarm me as to shake my belief in this artful woman, let it be considered that I had been prevailed upon to negotiate other bonds of hers, depositing them in the hands of bankers who had never spied any defect, or raised the least objection. These bonds have been regularly and punctually paid in due time. The letters sent to me, as if from William Adair, critically agreed with the hand-writing of the bond. Mr Adair did not keep money at Mr Drummond's; opportunities of comparing his handwriting for many years had not occurred, and the hesitation upon his part appeared to me no more than the exceptions and minute precautions of a banker, which could not so suddenly overturn the explicit belief that I had annexed to all that was told me in Harley Street. Can any greater proof be given than my own proposal to Mr Drummond of leaving the bond in his hands till he had satisfied his credulity? Can your lordships, or gentlemen of the jury, for a moment suspect, that any man would be guilty of such a crime, whose proceedings were so fair and open? that single circumstance, I am satisfied, will afford my total exculpation. The resort to Mr Adair was as easy to Mr Drummond, as to the books in his counting-house; it does not come within the bounds of common sense, much less does it fall within the possibility of guilt, that any man living should voluntarily, with his eyes open, take a step so directly and absolutely centering in his certain destruction. But this circumstance, strong as it is, is not all my ease. I bless God, the protector of innocence, that, in my defence, proofs arise upon proofs: the least of them, I trust, will be thought incompatible with guilt. It should seem impossible that a guilty person would propose to Mr Drummond to retain the bond for the satisfaction of his scruples; but that the same person should, after so long a time for consideration had passed after my leaving the bond, which was full twenty-four hours, openly, and in the face of day, enter the shop of Mr Drummond, and demand if he had satisfied all his scruples, unless a man from mere desperation had been weary of his life, and sought a dissolution; this, I humbly apprehend, would be an absolute impossibility: but, my lords, and gentlemen of the jury, I had neither in my breast the principle of guilt, nor had I that desperate loathing of existence as should bring a shameful condemnation on my head. It is true I have invited this trial; hut it is equally true I have done it in the consciousness of my integrity, because I could not otherwise go through the remainder of my days with comfort and satisfaction, unless I had the verdict of my countrymen for my acquittal, and rested my innocence upon the purest testimony I could have on this side the grave. It is plain I had an opportunity of withdrawing myself. How many men are there, with the clearest intentions, yet from the apprehension of being made the talk of the public, and, above all, the dread of imprisonment, and the terror of a trial, would have thought themselves happy to have caught at any opportunity of saving themselves from such a series of distress? greater confidence can no man be in, of the integrity of his case, and the justice of his country. When it was found necessary to the designs of Mrs Rudd, that I and my family should be made the dupes of her connexions with the house of Adair, it may well be believed that nothing but the strongest interdictions could prevent my endeavours to obtain an interview. In fact, this point was laboured with consummate artifice, and nothing less than ruin to my brother and his affairs was denounced upon my breaking this injunction. It was part of the same error to believe her in this also. A respectable witness has told you, and I do not controvert his evidence, that my confidence in her assertion, and in the testimonials that she exhibited under the hand, as I believed, of Mr Adair, were such, in my mistaken judgement, as to be equal to the evidence of my own senses, pressed by the forms of business to say to Mr Drummond that I had seen Mr Adair myself; but I neither went to Mr Adair, nor disclosed those pressing motives which prevented me. No less free to confess my faults, than I am confident to assert my innocence, I seek no palliation for this circumstance, except my temptation and my failings; and I trust it will rather be a matter of surprize, that, in the course of a negotiation, through the whole of which I was acted upon by the most artful of impostors, that this only deviation was to be found: and yet this very circumstance carries with it a clearer conviction of my being the dupe of Mrs Rudd's intrigues, than any I have to offer in my defence; and if my subsequent proceedings, and the alacrity I shewed in going with Mr Drummond to Mr Adair, together with my conduct before this gentleman, is, as I apprehend it is, absolutely irreconcileable with a consciousness of guilt, the circumstances abovementioned will serve to shew with what a degree of credulity the artifices of Mrs Rudd had furnished me.
'Upon the whole, if, in the above detail, no circumstances are discovered in which an innocent man, under the like delusion with myself, might not have acted as I have acted, and, at the same time, if there be very many particulars in which no guilty man would have conducted himself as I have conducted myself; I should be wanting in respect to your Lordships and the jury, if I doubted the justice of their verdict, and which is inseparable from it, my honourable accquittal.'
The prisoner now proceeded to call his witnesses, the substance of whose evidence we shall give in the most concise manner. George Kinder deposed, that Mrs Perreau told him 'that she was a near relation of Mr James Adair; that he looked upon her as his child, had promised to make her fortune, and with that view had recommended her to Mr William Adair, a near relation, and intimate friend of his, who had promised to set her husband and the prisoner up in the banking business.' He likewise deposed, that the said Mr Daniel Perreau was to he made a baronet, and described how she would act when she became a lady. This witness deposed, that Mrs Rudd often pretended that Mr William Adair had called to see her, but that he never had seen that gentleman on any visit.
John Moody, a livery-servant of Daniel Perreau, deposed, that his mistress wrote two very different hands, in one of which she wrote letters to his master, as from Mr William Adair, and in the other the ordinary business of the family; that the letters written in the name of William Adair were pretended to have been left in his master's absence; that his mistress ordered him to give them to his master, and pretend that Mr Adair had been with his mistress for a longer or shorter time, as circumstances required. This witness likewise proved that the hand at the foot of the bond and that of his mistress's fictitious writing were precisely the same: that she used different pens, ink, and paper, in writing her common and fictitious letters; and that she sometimes gave the witness half a crown, when he had delivered a letter to her satisfaction. He said he had seen her go two or three times to Mr J. Adair's, but never to William's; and that Mr J. Adair once visited his mistress on her lying in.
Susanna Perreau (the prisoner's sister) deposed to the having seen a note delivered to Daniel Perreau, by Mrs Rudd, for L.9,000 drawn as by William Adair, on Mr Croft, the banker, in favour of Daniel Perreau.
Elizabeth Perkins swore that, a week before the forgery was discovered, her mistress gave her a letter to bring back to her in a quarter of an hour, and say it was brought by Mr Coverley, who had been servant to Daniel Perreau: that she gave her mistress this letter, and her master instantly broke the seal.
Daniel Perreau declared that the purport of this letter was 'that Mr Adair desired her to apply to his brother, the prisoner, to procure him L.5,000 upon his (Adair's) bond, in the same manner as he had done before; that Mr Adair was unwilling to have it appear that the money was raised for him, and therefore desired to have the bond lodged with some confidential friend, that would not require an assignment of it; that his brother, on being made acquainted with his request, shewed a vast deal of reluctancy, and said it was a very unpleasant work; but undertook it with a view of obliging Mr William Adair.'
The counsel for the prosecution demanding, 'if he did not disclaim all knowledge of the affair before Mr Adair,' he said, he denied ever having seen the bond before, nor had he a perfect knowledge of it till he saw it in the hands of Mr Adair.
David Caffady, who assisted Mr R. Perreau as an apothecary, deposed, that he lived much within the profits of his profession, and that it was reported he was going into the banking business.
John Leigh, clerk to Sir John Fielding, swore to the prisoner's coming voluntarily to the office, and giving information that a forgery had been committed, on which Mrs Rudd was apprehended. Mr Leigh was asked, if she 'ever charged the prisoner with any knowledge of the transaction till the justices were hearing evidence to prove her confession of the fact.' Mr Leigh answered, that he did not recollect that circumstance, but that on her first examination she did not accuse the prisoner.
Mr Perreau now called several persons of rank to his character. Lady Lyttleton being asked, if she thought him capable of such a crime, supposed she could have done it as soon herself. Sir John Moore, Sir John Chapman, General Rebow, Capt. Ellis, Capt. Burgoyne, and other gentlemen, spoke most highly to the character of the prisoner; yet the jury found him guilty.
After this copious account of the trial of Robert, a very short abstract of that of the other brother may suffice, especially as that of Mrs Rudd is to follow.
Daniel Perreau was indicted for forging and counterfeiting a bond, in the name of William Adair, for L.3,300, to defraud the said William Adair; and for uttering the same, knowing it to be forged, with intent to defraud Thomas Brooke, doctor of physic. Mr Scroope Ogilvie, who had been clerk to Mr William Adair nine or ten years, proved the forgery; and Dr Brooke proved the uttering of the forged bond.
By way of defence, the prisoner declared that Mrs Rudd had given him the bond as a true one; that he believed it genuine, authentic and valid; and protested, by all his hopes of happiness in this life and in a future, that he had never conceived an idea of any thing so base as the defrauding any man of his property. He added, 'I adjure the Almighty so to assist me in my present dangerous situation, as I speak here before you.'
Mr Daniel Perreau called several persons to prove the artifices which Mrs Rudd had practised to deceive him. Many persons of fortune and credit appeared to his character; and spoke of his conduct previous to the fatal event in terms of the highest approbation; but the jury hrought in a verdict of guilty; and the unfortunate brothers received sentence of death, but were not executed till January, 1776, because though Mrs Rudd had been admitted an evidence, yet the judges committed her as a principal, as will be seen more at large in the account of the subsequent trial.
After conviction, the behaviour of the brothers was in every respect, proper for their unhappy situation. Great interest was made to obtain a pardon for them, particularly for Robert, in whose favour 78 bankers and merchants of London signed a petition to the king; the newspapers were filled with paragraphs, evidently written by disinterested persons, in favour of men whom they thought dupes to the designs of an artful woman: but all this availed nothing.
On the day of execution the brothers were favoured with a mourning coach, and it was thought that 30,000 people attended. They were both dressed in mourning, and behaved with the most christian resolution. When they quitted the coach and got into the cart, they bowed respectfully to the sheriffs, who waved their hands as a final adieu.
After the customary devotions, they crossed their hands, joining the four together, and in this manner were launched into eternity. They had not hung more than half a minute when their hands dropped asunder, and they appeared to die without pain.
Each of them delivered a paper to the ordinary ot Newgate, which declared their innocence, and ascribed the blame of the whole transaction to the artifices of Mrs Rudd; and, indeed, thousands of people gave credit to their assertions, and a great majority of the public thought Robert wholly innocent.
Daniel Perreau and Robert Perreau were executed at Tyburn on the 7th of January, 1776.
On the Sunday following the bodies were carried from the house of Robert in Golden-square, and, after the usual solemnities, deposited in the vault of Saint Martin's Church. The coffins were covered with black cloth and nails, and a black plate on each, inscribing their names, the day of their death, and their ages (42), being twin brothers. They were carried in separate hearses, their friends attending in mourning coaches. The croud was so great, that the company could with difficulty get into the church; but at length the ceremony was decently performed, and the mob dispersed.
A few reflections naturally arise on this occasion. There was great guilt somewhere, but where it lay the public will determine. One would imagine that, if Robert Perreau had been guilty, he would not have returned to Drummond's, nor went to Adair's, after being suspected. Charity will suppose that he fell a victim to his friendship for his brother, and lost his life through the telling of a lie; a strong argument for a strict adherence to truth in all we say.
A very ingenious writer on this subject says, 'Upon a dispassionate review of the above trial, is it not possible that the plausible promises of an artful impostor, aided by the vain hope of being made rich and great by her pretended connexions, may have operated on a credulous, though otherwise sensible, mind; like as a gypsy's tale is frequently found to do on weak and unsuspecting women? If so, it will naturally account for the absurdity of the prisoner's pretending an acquaintance with Mr William Adair, whom he had never seen, and was strictly enjoined not to see, and for all the fallacious pretences that followed.'
After this quotation, we shall say no more on this business, but proceed to the trial of Mrs Rudd.