Newgate Calendar - JOHN HARDING

JOHN HARDING

Executed before Newgate, November 13, 1805, for Forgery

            Various as we have already described the commission of this crime, yet we find in this man's case a new species of forgery. He was indicted at the Old-Bailey, September 21st, for forging, fabricating, uttering, and publishing, as true, a stamp on the ace of spades of a pack of cards.

            The attorney General opened the case on the part of the prosecution, in a very long speech, in which he stated to the jury the outline of the prisoner's transactions. The first witness called on was Mr. Hockley, the printer of the legal spade ace at the Stamp-Office. He had (in consequence of the suspicions entertained at the Stamp office, on account of the small demand the prisoner there made for stamps, and the extensive business which he seemed to carry on) very frequently made purchases of packs of cards of the prisoner, as had also his apprentice, and the stamps on the aces of spades were all forgeries. These purchases, which were very numerous, took place in the month of May, 1804. It appeared by the evidence adduced on the part of the prosecution, that the prisoner kept two shops, where these packs of cards were sold, the one in Hereford-street, Oxford street, and the other in North-row, near Grosvenor-square. On the 27th of May, Mr. Hockley ordered five dozen packs of cards to be sent to No. 74, Edgware-Road, which were accordingly sent, and the person who carried them, Vincent Jackson (as he also deposed), gave a receipt for the money (10l. 5s.) in a fictitious name (B.A. Bates); Harding having desired him to give the receipt in any name he pleased.

            The prisoner's apprentice, Stephen Lepine, deposed, that he saw his master making cards on one occasion, and observed him to paste labels on them, which he gave a gloss to by putting some liquid on them. Witness also proved, that the prisoner occupied premises behind the house of Mr. Skelton, Green-street, Grosvenor square. A body of evidence was adduced to prove that the prisoner had employed a seal-engraver of the name of Leadbeater to execute aces of spades for him. Leadbeater dined with the prisoner two years since, when he asked him if he could engrave on copper. On being answered in the negative, the prisoner requested he would find some trusty artist in that branch. Leadbeater recommended a youth of the name of White, who, the prisoner was informed, could be depended on. Four duty aces were given to Leadbeater for White to imitate as closely as possible: and if he was asked any questions, he was to say they were for a foreigner at Hamburgh. White, however, was timid, and declined the task, so that all negotiations with him were abandoned. In six or seven months after, the prisoner pressed on Leadbeater to learn the art of engraving on copper, adding, that he would be at the expense of a master. Mr. Woodthorpe, a respectable engraver in Fetter-Lane, was applied to, and the witness was placed under his tuition. The prisoner's visits to Leadbeater were very frequent, and one day he showed him an old plate of the spade ace, which he wished to be touched up. Witness was unable to do the job, and an apprentice of the name of Bunning was employed, under the impression that the plate was for Mr. Shepherd, at the Stamp office. It was also proved, in evidence, that the prisoner had large dealings with Mr. Skelton for spirits, &c. for which he gave waste paper; that is, packs of cards, which Mr. S. sold at a profit. Rivet, Miller, and Carpmeal, searched the premises occupied by the prisoner, at the back of Mr. Skelton's house. They found a quantity of forged stamps of the spade ace, and also a quantity of forged plates for fabricating the stamps, which were concealed underground. In the counterfeit ace, in the word, "Dieu," in the motto, the letter R. was substituted for the letter E.

            Mr. Justice Heath addressed the jury, and observed, there could be no doubt in the case. The jury found the prisoner Guilty, and he suffered accordingly. He was a genteel man, thirty five years of age: on the day of his trial he was dressed in black, and full powdered.

 

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