Executed before Newgate, 23rd of June, 1802 for Forgery, whereby he swindled his Benefactor's Estate
WILLIAM STOREY, ESQ., who rented the Parsonage House at Chatham, was rich, and, having no children, adopted Henry Cock as a son. The return made for this protection was the commission of forgery, in order to rob his benefactor. Cock's fate is still less deserving of commiseration when we find that he had received every advantage from education, possessed a considerable knowledge (for his early years) of mankind, and was in the profession of the law, as an attorney, at Brewers Hall.
At the early age of twenty-six he was indicted for feloniously forging, on the 20th of April, 1802, three papers, purporting to be letters of attorney of William Storey, of Chatham, in the county of Kent, Esquire, to transfer several sums of money in the stocks of the Bank of England, and for uttering and making use of the same, knowing them to be forged.
His trial came on at the Old Bailey, before Lord Ellenborough, on the 1st of May, 1802, and occupied the greater part of that day.
It appeared that the prisoner was a near relation to Mr Storey, and had received his dividends for him, as they became due. Mr Storey died on the 14th of August, 1801, leaving, as he thought, considerable sums in the three and four per cents. and seven thousand pounds in the five; memoranda to that effect having been found by his executors among his papers.
When several persons to whom he had left different sums pressed for their legacies, Mr Jefferies, the acting executor, drew up a kind of plan for discharging them, in which he appropriated the sums in the different funds for the payment of particular legacies, setting down seven thousand pounds as in the five per cents. among the rest. Towards the end of November this paper was shown to, and copied by, the prisoner, who was consulted by, and acted in town for, the executor; which copy was produced in court.
So far from informing Mr Jefferies at that time of there being no property in the five per cents. to answer the legacies he had set down against the seven thousand pounds, the prisoner sent two or three letters to persuade him not to sell it out till after Christmas, that they might have the benefit of the dividend. This was acceded to by the executors, who, having left it beyond the time for that purpose, were at length determined to fulfil the provisions of the will; but on applying at the bank they found, to their great astonishment, that the whole of the seven thousand pounds in the five per cents. had been sold out at different periods -- the last in the month of August, 1801 -- by the prisoner, under the pretended authority of a warrant of Mr Storey.
This warrant was produced; and Mr Jefferies swore to the best of his belief, the signature was not the handwriting of his deceased friend.
To prove that the prisoner had made use of this paper, and had actually by that means obtained the money, the transfer-books were produced, and the several clerks of the bank were called to prove the identity of his person.
Mr Justice Mainwaring, Mr Alderman Price, and several other persons in an equally respectable line of life, spoke for the prisoner's good character. The jury, however, considered the fact as sufficiently proved to warrant their pronouncing a verdict of guilty.
He was dressed in mourning on the day of execution; and underwent his dreadful fate in penitence, and with fortitude.