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The Newgate Calendar - SAMUEL ORTON


Clerk to the Court of Requests, executed 14th of January,1767, for forging Two Letters of Attorney, in the Name of Captain Bishop, by means of which he received One Thousand Pounds from the Bank of England

SAMUEL ORTON was a native of London. While he was in a state of infancy his father died, leaving Mrs Orton in possession of a handsome fortune. She was a Protestant dissenter, and placed her son under the care of a dissenting minister, at whose academy he made some progress in several branches of learning.

The young man discovered a very strong inclination for trade, and he was therefore apprenticed to a reputable dealer in London, to whom he proved a faithful and industrious servant. Upon the expiration of his apprenticeship he purchased the place of Clerk to the Court of Requests, in the borough of Southwark, which produced an income of about three hundred pounds a year.

He soon afterwards embarked in the wine trade, which he successfully pursued some years; and, being generally considered as a man of large property, many persons, who supported their credit by the circulation of notes of hand and bills of exchange, applied for his endorsements, knowing that his name would give their paper currency, and he was so imprudent as to make himself liable to the payment of fourteen hundred pounds.

The persons with whom Mr Orton had engaged in such imprudent connections being declared bankrupts, he became answerable to the holders of the notes. Having debts of his own to the amount of nine hundred pounds, and the notes for fourteen hundred to discharge within a fortnight, he formed the resolution of committing forgery.

A friendship had long subsisted between Mr Orton and Captain Bishop, who, upon leaving England, had entrusted him with a letter of attorney, authorising him to receive his pay and dividend of bank stock.

He forged two letters of attorney, by means of which he received a thousand pounds at the bank. It must be observed that his intention was not ultimately to defraud the Captain, but merely to support his credit till remittances from his correspondents should enable him to replace the money; and he flattered himself in the opinion that if, through disappointments, he should be unable to restore the property before the Captain's return, he would readily excuse his conduct.

Captain Bishop, being at Portsmouth in August, 1766, wrote to Mr Orton, mentioning that his ship was coming round to Woolwich, and that he was desirous of an interview as soon as possible after his arrival. Orton wrote the Captain word that he would certainly meet him at Woolwich, and, having some business to negotiate at Yarmouth, he set out on horseback for that place.

On his return to London he left his horse at an inn near Charing Cross and went into St James's Park, where he accidentally met Captain Bishop, whose ship had arrived at Woolwich on the preceding day. They supped together at the Belle Sauvage, on Ludgate Hill; and the next day Mr Orton dined with the Captain on board his ship, at Woolwich.

Before leaving Woolwich, Mr Orton intended to inform the Captain of his conduct with regard to the money he had received at the bank, but he declined introducing the subject upon learning that the Captain meant to remain at Woolwich till his ship was cleared, which he expected would be in not less than a week.

Mr Orton now went a second time to Yarmouth, and, on his return in four days, found a letter at his house from Captain Bishop, signifying that, having received his pay, he had more money by him than he had occasion for, and therefore desired Mr Orton to meet him at the Belle Sauvage and receive a sum in order to dispose of it in such a manner as he should judge would prove most advantageous. They met according to appointment, and Mr Orton was about to mention the forged letters of attorney when the Captain said he was under the necessity of immediately attending Admiral Knowles; and they parted with every appearance of friendship, mutually promising to meet the following evening.

The next night he had not been in the house where he had appointed to meet Captain Bishop more than half-an-hour when he was arrested for two hundred pounds at the suit of the Captain, and immediately conducted to a spunging-house. He was the next day examined in the presence of some of the directors of the bank, and committed to Newgate in order for trial.

The violent agitation of spirits which this unfortunate man experienced when he was charged with the commission of forgery will not admit of description. Being brought to trial, his guilt was proved by indisputable evidence; and he was sentenced to be executed.

While he remained in Newgate his behaviour was perfectly consistent with his unhappy circumstances. He was conveyed to the place of execution in a mourning-coach; and, after he had employed some time in devout prayer, the sentence of the law was put in force, and his body was delivered to his friends. Samuel Orton was executed at Tyburn, on the 14th of January, 1767.


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