A Writer, who forged a Draft for One Hundred and Twenty Pounds and was executed at Tyburn on 26th of August, 1738
THIS unhappy young man was a native of Chichester, in Sussex, and was the son of reputable parents, who, having given him a good education, placed him with Mr Cave, an attorney of that town, with whom he served his clerkship; and then, coming to London, lived as a hackney-writer with Mr Studley, in Nicholas Lane, Lombard Street, for about two years and a half.
But Newington being of a volatile disposition, and much disposed to the keeping of company and irregular hours, Mr Studley discharged him from his service; on which he went to live with Mr Leaver, a scrivener, in Friday Street, with whom he continued between two and three years, and served him with a degree of fidelity that met with the highest approbation.
This service he quitted about a year before he was convicted of the offence which cost him his life; and in the interval lived in a gay manner, without having any visible means of support, and paid his addresses to a young lady of very handsome fortune, to whom he would soon have been married. It is presumed that, being distressed for money to support his expensive way of life, and to carry on his amour, he was tempted to commit forgery, which, by an Act of Parliament then recently passed, had been made a capital offence.
He went to Child's coffee-house, in St Paul's Churchyard, where he drew a draft on the house of Child & Company, bankers, in Fleet Street, in the following words: —-
SIR FRANCIS CHILD AND COMP.
Pray pay to Sir Rowland Hill, Bart., or order, the sum of one hundred and twenty pounds, and place it to the account of your humble servant,
To SIR FRA. CHILD AND COMP.
The draft he dispatched by a porter, but was so agitated by his fears while he wrote it that he forgot to put any date to it; otherwise, as Mr Thomas Hill kept cash with the bankers, and as the forgery was admirably executed, the draft would have been paid; but, at the instant that the porter was about to put his endorsement on it, one of the clerks said he might go about his business, for that they did not believe the draft was a good one. The porter returned to the coffee-house without the draft, which the bankers' clerks had refused to deliver him but on his return he found that the gentleman was gone. At the expiration of two hours the bankers' clerks came to Child's coffee-house and inquired for the person who had made the draft; but he was not to be found, for in the absence of the porter he had inquired for the Faculty Office in Doctors' Commons, saying he had some business at that place and would return in half-an-hour.
About two or three hours afterwards the porter's son told him that a gentleman wanted him at the Horn and Feathers, in Carter Lane, where he went, and told Newington that the bankers had refused to pay the note. "Very well," said he, stay here till I go and put on my shoes, and I will go with you and rectify the mistake."
When the porter had waited nearly three hours, and his employer did not return, he began to suspect that the draft was forged, and some hours afterwards, calling in at the Fountain ale-house in Cheapside, he saw Newington; on which he went and fetched a constable, who took him into custody, and lodged him in the compter.
Being tried at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, he was capitally convicted, notwithstanding nine gentlemen appeared to give him an excellent character; but character has little weight where evidence is positive and the crime is capital. When called down to receive sentence of death he delivered the following address:-
"May it please your Lordship: This my most melancholy case was occasioned by the alone inconsiderate rashness of my inexperienced years. The intent of fraud is, without doubt, most strongly and most positively found against me; but I assure your Lordship I was not in want; nor did I ever think of such a thing in the whole course of my life till within a few minutes of the execution of this rash deed. "I hope your Lordship has some regard for the gentlemen who have so generously appeared in my behalf; and as this is the first fact, though of so deep a dye, my youth and past conduct may, I hope in some measure, move your Lordship's pity, compassion and generous assistance."
After conviction, Newington flattered himself that he should escape the utmost ignominy of the law through the intercession of his friends; but when the warrant for execution, in which his name was included, was brought to Newgate, he appeared to be greatly shocked; but recollecting and composing himself he said: "God's will be done." But immediately bursting into tears, he lamented the misery which his mother would naturally endure when she should be acquainted with the wretched fate of her unfortunate son.
The dreadful tidings being conveyed to his mother, she left Chichester with an aching heart; and it was a week after her arrival in London before she could acquire a sufficient degree of spirits to visit the unfortunate cause of her grief. At length she repaired to the gloomy mansion; but when she saw her son fettered with chains it was with the utmost difficulty that she could be kept from fainting. She hung round his neck, while he dropped on his knees and implored her blessing and forgiveness; and so truly mournful was the spectacle that even the jailers, accustomed as they are to scenes of horror, shed tears at the sight. He was executed at Tyburn, on the 26th of August, 1738.