Executed at Tyburn, 16th of November, 1747, for forging a Seaman's Will, in order to rob his Wife and Child
THIS offender was born in Hatton Garden, London, of respectable parents, who placed him with a reputable attorney, with whom he served part of his clerkship in the most regular manner; but, making very bad connections, his master requested his parents to take him home and send him to sea as the most likely means to prevent his ruin.
The parents, approving this hint, persuaded the son to sail as captain's clerk on board a ship in the Royal Navy; and he continued some years in this station.
He came to London when his ship was paid off, and having received a considerable sum of money dissipated the whole in houses of ill-fame. His father was now dead; but his mother, with a fondness very natural, but which perhaps contributed to his ruin, supplied his extravagances till she was very much reduced in her circumstances; and in the meantime the son borrowed money in her name of anyone who would trust him; but at length his character being lost, and his mother totally impoverished, he determined on the commission of the crime for which his life paid the forfeit.
A seaman, named Hugh Price, to whom thirty-six pounds were due for wages, died on board the Dorchester man-of-war, having made a will in favour of his wife and son, who lived near Whitehaven, in Cumberland. Lancaster, hearing of the death of Price, forged a will purporting to be his, and, carrying it to Doctors' Commons, obtained a probate of the will, in consequence of his swearing that he was the son of the above-mentioned Price.
Being thus possessed of the probate, he went to a public-house, producing to the landlord a letter signed George Price, whom he averred was the son of the deceased, and had empowered him to dispose of his father's wages. The landlord, unacquainted with these matters, applied to a gentleman, who told him he might safely purchase if Lancaster could get the original ticket and would lodge the probate in his hands as a collateral security.
The publican mentioning this to Lancaster, the latter said he would procure the original ticket from Portsmouth; but at the expiration of four days he produced a forged ticket, which the landlord, on the advice of a friend, purchased for twenty-seven pounds.
About three months after this transaction, a clerk of the Navy Office called on the publican, and he showed him the ticket. He said he thought it a good one, but he would write to the agent at Portsmouth to inquire into the fact. The agent's answer was that Hugh Price's ticket in favour of his son George was still in the office; so that it was evident that Lancaster's ticket must be a forgery.
The publican then went to an attorney, who advised him to make a debt of the affair, and arrest Lancaster for the money. This being done, he was committed to the Poultry Compter, where he was informed that he should be set at liberty if his friends would make a subscription to raise the sum; but not having friends to assist him in this essential matter, the publican went to the Navy Office, where he informed the commissioners of the affair, and they ordered Lancaster to be prosecuted by their solicitor.
Lancaster's guilt being proved in the clearest manner on his trial, he was convicted, received sentence of death, and was executed at Tyburn, on 16th of November, 1747.