THIS man for some years carried on business in an extensive way, as a tailor and draper, in Arundel-street, Strand, London; therein had acquired a capital, which he invested in a brewery, but it appears that this speculation, extending beyond the tailor's yard, did not succeed equal to the clipping of cloth. Hughes had been intrusted by his uncle, the acting executor under his father's will, with a power of attorney, to receive considerable sums of money, due to the estate of the deceased; and while he stuck to his shop-board, he performed the trust reposed in him with punctuality which acquired him: much credit among his country relations.
The brewery, a concern with which he was totally unacquainted, soon brought him into difficulties; and to surmount which, he fixed his thoughts upon certain South-sea stock, possessed by this uncle, and found no peace of mind until he converted it to his own use. To this end, he boldly went to the South-sea House, and asked the proper clerk for a bank warrant of attorney, to sell stock. This is always kept at the office, and it was then necessary that the power of transfer should be witnessed by the minister, church-wardens, or overseers of the poor of the parish, in which the owner lives.
All these formalities, Hughes himself soon counterfeited, and in due time presented the instrument at the South-sea House; and received upwards of five hundred pounds.
Had this ungrateful wretch suffered his iniquity to rest here, it might have remained undiscovered until he could have replaced the stock, which it may reasonably be presumed he meant to do; but the evil genius that goads us on to the commission of crimes, ever leads us to a precipice from which the victim is annihilated. So with Hughes, who in attempting to cover the robbery, exposed himself to detection. No sooner had he received the money, than he determined to pay a visit to the man whom he had injured.
The uncle received his nephew with much cordiality; until the latter, lulled into security, and now deserted by his tempter, among other ways of ingratiating himself farther into the old man's favours, told him that, he had "brought his interest on the South-sea stock." The old gentleman did not appear to take much notice of this at the time, probably supposing he might have empowered him for that purpose; but upon returning, he could find no authority vested in his nephew for that, purpose; yet he determined not to sift the matter while the young man remained his guest.
No sooner had Hughes departed for London, than the uncle uncle communicated his suspicion to the minister of the parish, who disclaimed all knowledge of witnessing any instrument which could warrant a transfer of stack:
Application was then made to the South-sea House, when the forgery was evident. The minister's Christian-name was mistaken, and no such persons as the other pretended witnesses could be found.
This was the sum of the evidence given on his trial at the Old Bailey; and on which he was consequently convicted and executed.
The prosecution was instituted by the Board of rectors of the South-sea Company.