WILLIAM HEBBERFIELD stood capitally indicted for feloniously forging, and, in a second count, for uttering, knowing it to be forged, a certain two-pound note, with intent to defraud the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. Forgeries of their notes to a most enormous amount had been for a considerable time going on,*[see note] the authors of which the company were not able to discover. The prisoner was confined in Newgate under a sentence of two years' imprisonment, by the Court of King's Bench, on a conviction for conspiracy in aiding the escape of the French General Austin, a prisoner of war in this country upon his parole. There was also a prisoner named Barry, confined in the House of Correction at Clerkenwell, on a sentence of six months' imprisonment, for uttering counterfeit dollars. Mr. Weston, the principal clerk of Messrs. Kaye and Freshfield, solicitors of the Bank, went to Barry in prison on Monday, the 23d September; and, in consequence of a plan then concerted, he gave Barry eight pounds in Bank of England notes, which he previously marked with the letter W; he then accompanied Barry in a coach, together with one of the turnkeys, named Beckett, to Newgate, where Barry went in, and directly, without communicating his purpose to any one, to the room of the prisoner, where there were a number of persons with him. He went up to the prisoner, gave him six one-pound notes of the marked ones he had received from Mr. Weston, of which the prisoner returned him three, saying he had not enough of the other notes ready until to-morrow, and then gave him, in lieu of the three notes he kept, forged notes to the nominal value of six pounds. With these Barry immediately returned to Mr.Weston, who waited in the street, and immediately Beckett went in, accompanied by Brown and another officer, to the prisoner's chamber, where Beckett asked him to produce what property he had about, him. Upon which the prisoner produced from one pocket a handful of gold, from another a pocket-book filled with bank-notes, from another a quantity of loose bank-notes, and he also produced a stocking shard with the like currency. Beckett, on examining these notes, and not perceiving amongst them any of the marked ones he sought for, told the prisoner he had some more, and desired him to produce them. Upon which the prisoner took some other notes from his side-pocket, and laid them on the bed where he was sitting.-- Beckett took those up. They were the marked notes; he said these were what he wanted, and returned the prisoner the rest. Upon which the prisoner, probably prophesying his purpose, snatched the notes, and thrust them into the fire. Beckett's assistant, however, rescued them from the flames, and they were proved to be the same which Barry had paid him just before; and the notes Barry received in lieu were also proved to be forgeries.
The prisoner was found Guilty -- Death. He suffered before Newgate on the 29th of January, 1812, with Paul Whitehead, a man of genteel appearance, who was tried at the same sessions for forging the name of Thomas Gullan, an acceptor of a bill of eighty-seven pounds ten shillings, and thereby defrauding Messrs. Roberts, Curtis, and Co. They met their fate with decent fortitude, and when on the fatal scaffold shook hands, after which they were launched into eternity.-- The crowd was immense.
*Note: The number of persons prosecuted for forged notes of the Bank of England, and for uttering, or having them in their possession, knowing them to be forged, from the year 1797 to 1811 inclusive, amounted to no less than four hundred and seventy-one. The number of persons prosecuted for counterfeiting the tokens issued by the Bank of England, or for uttering the same, was, in 1804, eight persons; 1805, none; 1806, two; 1807, none; 1808, one; 1809, nine; 1810, six; and 1811, twenty three.