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Newgate Calendar - HENRY GAWLER


A Clerk in the Navy Office, Convicted the 11th of April, 1808, of a Fraud


(A very shabby sort of Swindling Transaction.)

            Henry Gawler was indicted for fraudulently obtaining, under false pretences, six promissory notes, for the payment of one pound, from Mary the wife of — Spright, on the 22d of October last.

            It appeared in evidence, that the prisoner, at the time of this transaction, was a clerk in the Ticket-office, in the Navy-office. The prosecutrix having been informed that the prisoner had interest to procure the discharge of her son (by a former husband), who was serving as a seaman on board His Majesty's ship Active, called at his house in Ossulston-street, Somer's-town, for the purpose of applying to him on the subject. Not finding him within, however, at that time, she left her commands and returned home; in a few days afterwards the prisoner himself called upon her at Kentish-town, and said he understood she wished to obtain her son's discharge, adding, that he could settle the business at once, and that her son might be home at least in the course of two months. The prosecutrix, delighted with the hope of seeing her child, asked what would be the expense. He said it would cost 40l. to procure the discharge. The prosecutrix expressed her utter inability to raise such a sum; upon which he said that he would not want the money all at once, but he must have 5l. down. She had not the money then in her possession, and the prisoner went away, promising to call again.

            In the meantime the prosecutrix received a pressing request from her son, to try every means in her power to obtain his discharge. In two or three days afterwards the prisoner called again upon the prosecutrix, and told her she must contrive to raise some part of the money. She had then procured six 1l. notes, and immediately gave them to him, and upon his complaining that that was a very small sum, she promised to send him some more money in a few days. Some time having elapsed, and not hearing any account from the prisoner, she called upon him at the Navy-office, to inquire what progress he had made in the business. He received her with all the affected consequence of an official man; and told her that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty had not yet given their answer upon the subject. Shortly afterwards Gawler absconded from London, and the prosecutrix did not see him again till he was in custody at Bow-street, upon suspicion of misconduct of a more serious nature.

            The case on the part of the prosecution having been clearly made out, Mr. Alley submitted to the court, that, however infamously wicked the conduct of the defendant was in the eye of every honest man, the case had not been made out under the act of Parliament by which he was tried, inasmuch as bank-notes did not come within the meaning of the word monies, which was the term used in the statute. This point he urged confidently, and he contended that no lawyer could correctly contradict him in this position.

            The Court, however, after hearing the question urged at length, were clearly of opinion, that if bank-notes did not come within the meaning of the term money, yet, as they were money's worth, they were to be recognised as money under this act of Parliament.

            The Jury found the prisoner Guilty.—Imprisoned.


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