A City Merchant, executed at Tyburn, 31st of December, 1751, for forging an East India Warrant in order to avoid Bankruptcy
WILLIAM BAKER was born in Cannon Street, where his father kept a baker's shop, and lived in good reputation. The youth was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, and at the usual age bound apprentice to a grocer in a considerable way of business; and he proved so faithful and diligent a servant that soon after the time of his apprenticeship had expired his master admitted him an equal partner in his trade.
Having carried on the grocery trade for about seven years, he declined that business and connected himself in partnership with Mr Carter, a sugar-baker, and by this new undertaking he flattered himself in the expectation of speedily acquiring a fortune.
About the period of his commencing as sugar-baker he married one of his cousins, who was the daughter of a clergyman in Northamptonshire, and with her he received a handsome fortune. For several years he fulfilled all his engagements with the greatest punctuality, and was supposed to be possessed of considerable property.
He attended the sales of the East India Company's goods, and frequently purchased very large quantities of teas, and he had extensive dealings in other articles. But he often sustained considerable loss by the sale of his goods, and his circumstances at length became so embarrassed that he was under apprehension that a commission of bankruptcy would issue against him.
He flattered himself, however, that, if he could support his credit for a short time, matters would take a more favourable turn and his circumstances be retrieved. His anxiety to avoid a bankruptcy induced Mr Baker to forge an East India warrant for goods to the amount of nine hundred and twenty-two pounds. But it must be remarked that the forgery was not committed with any intention to defraud, but merely to raise a supply for present exigencies.
Mr Baker passed the counterfeit warrant into the hands of Mr Holland, who sent it to the India House, where the forgery was detected, and Baker was in consequence apprehended.
Baker being put on his trial at the Old Bailey, several gentlemen of reputation appeared on his behalf, and spoke to his character in the most favorable terms; but both the forgery and the uttering the counterfeit warrant having been proved against him by indisputable testimony, and strongly corroborating circumstances, he of course was condemned to suffer death. Being conveyed to Tyburn in a mourning-coach, he appeared to be in a composed state of mind, and entirely resigned to his fate.