Executed for a Forgery committed by the Younger Man, who exonerated his Father, 5th of September, 1789
THESE malefactors were father and son. The father was a man of good property, and lived on his own estate at Llwyney Mapsis, in Shropshire; and he and his son were indicted for uttering a note of hand for twenty pounds, purporting to be that of Mr Richard Coleman, of Oswestry, knowing the same to have been forged.
It was proved on their trial that Mr Coleman never had had transactions with Mr Phipps which required the signing of any note whatever; that about the previous Christmas Mr Coleman was served with a copy of a writ at the suit of Mr Phipps the elder, which action Mr Coleman defended, and for want of further proceedings on the part of the plaintiff a non pros. was signed, with two pounds, three shillings costs of suit against Phipps. Upon this an affidavit was drawn up and sworn by Phipps the elder, Phipps the younger, and William Thomas, their clerk, for the purpose of moving the Court of Exchequer to set aside the judgment of non pros., and therein they swore that the cause of action was a note of the said Coleman for twenty pounds, which was given as satisfaction for a trespass by him committed in carrying some hay off the land of one of Mr Phipps the elder's tenants.
The Court thereupon granted a rule to show cause why the judgment should not be set aside; but Mr Coleman insisted that the note was a forgery, and the present prosecution was instituted against the father, son and Thomas.
After a full hearing at the assizes at Shrewsbury the father and son were pronounced "guilty of uttering and publishing the note, knowing it to be forged"; and William Thomas was found "not guilty."
Though convicted on the fullest evidence, the unhappy men, until the morning of their execution, persisted in their innocence; but when about to leave the jail young Phipps made the following confession: "It was I alone who committed the forgery: my father is entirely innocent, and was ignorant of the note being forged when he published it."
They were taken in a mourning-coach to the place of execution, accompanied by a clergyman and a friend who had attended them daily after their condemnation.
On their way to the fatal tree the father said to the son "Tommy, thou hast brought me to this shameful end, but I freely forgive thee"; to which the son made no reply. Being remarkably wet weather, their devotions were performed chiefly in the coach. When the awful moment arrived, Mr Phipps said to his son: "You have brought me hither; do you lead the way!" Which the youth immediately did, and in the most composed manner ascended the ladder to a temporary scaffold erected for the purpose of their execution, followed by his father.
When their devotions were finished, and the halters tied to the gallows, this most wretched father and son embraced each other, and in a few moments the scaffold fell, and hand-in-hand they were launched into eternity, the 5th of September, 1789, amid a vast concourse of pitying spectators. The father was forty-eight, and the son just twenty years of age.