HIGH and chivalrous honour has always characterized the British navy; hut, as it is composed of several thousands, we cannot hope to see it entirely free from unworthy members, though we really did not expect to find a rear-admiral convicted of a petty fraud, in practising which he committed a deliberate forgery to obtain the mighty sum of three pounds, eight shillings, and sixpence.
All vessels which bring home foreign letters are entitled to twopence for each, as a remuneration for their trouble, and this they are always paid by the postmaster of the port where they come to anchor. The gallant admiral availed himself of this circumstance to commit the fraud for which be was transported. On the 10th of March, 1814, he brought four hundred letters to the post-office at Gosport, and received two-pence for each letter. He subsequently repeated his visits, and on the 10th of the following month he brought one hundred and eleven letters, which he said had come in the Mary and Jane, then lying at Cowes. For these he was paid three pounds, eight shillings, and sixpence, for which he gave his receipt, and signed it with the name 'William Johnson.'
The postmaster's son, suspecting that all was not right, made inquiries about the Mary and Jane, and found that there was not, nor had been, any such vessel at Cowes. In consequence of this, a constable was sent to where Admiral Bradley lodged at Southwich, for at this time he was on the retired list. The admiral was asked if his name was Johnson: he said no, but that he had a friend in Portugal of that name. He denied being at Gosport with the letters: but the postmaster, his son, and daughter, knew him quite well, having seen him frequently.
The admiral was now fully committed, and brought to trial at the summer assizes at Winchester, in 1814. The above facts were fully proved, and it appeared in evidence that the admiral's conduct, at times, was very eccentric. He received a very good character from several naval officers; but he was found Guilty, and received sentence of death, to be executed on Saturday, the 6th of August. His friends succeeded in averting such a disgrace, and had the sentence commuted to transportation for life.