In the termination of the career of this unhappy young man, the direful effects of dissipation are clearly evidenced. Having received an education in Christ's Hospital, and backed by interest calculated to procure for him advantages of a first-rate character, his weakness of mind led him step by step from a position of respectability through the various grades of dissipation, until it involved him in a system of crime, for which his life was taken away by the laws of his country.
Gifford's father was originally a butler in the family of Mr. Abbott, afterwards Speaker of the House of Commons, and finally Lord Colchester. His mother was also a servant in the same family. On Mr. Gifford's marriage, Mr. Abbott obtained for him a situation about the House of Commons; and when they had a family, care was evinced for the welfare and advancement of the children. Richard Gifford was the eldest son and child, and when he arrived at an age fit to be sent to school, admission into the admirable institution of Christ's Hospital was obtained for him. After quitting the Blue Coat School, he had some occasional and temporary occupation as a writer in the Parliament offices. Eventually, through Lord Colchester's influence, a situation was procured for him in the "National Debt Office;" and the death, advancement, or removal of those above him were most favourable to him, and he rose rapidly. For some time he gave satisfaction in his office; but, at last, the fatal peculiarities which ruined him -- the love of drink, and low and abandoned company -- broke out with undisguised violence, and he neglected both office and home. His inattention to business led to three or four several suspensions from his office; and it was only by the most powerful and influential intercession that his friends could have him restored: but, at length, his conduct was so outrageously bad, and his absences so long and continued, that he was finally dismissed. It was long before his friends could find him, and apprehensions began to be entertained whether he was still in existence; however, at last his mother (who was most tenderly attached to him) discovered his retreat. Having found him, she succeeded in getting him out of his infamous den, and in taking him home with her. On his part, contrition or concern about the past was not visible, and though the kindest efforts were made to keep him in the house, in the hope of estranging him from bad company and diverting him from infamous ways, to succeed his parents were obliged to keep him without hat or money, and almost without clothes. Eventually, it was supposed, or hoped, that he was somewhat changed, and that his disposition was a little mollified, which induced his mother, in particular, to take him out occasionally. He, however, finally absconded from his parents' roof, revengefully announcing, that "he would make them remember their conduct to him -- he would do for them yet," and other such language. What became of him they knew not; at last, he was heard of as living in a respectable style, appearing well-dressed, at a house near the Waterloo-road. To account for the change, he gave it out that he was married, and that his wife had money. Almost the next thing heard of him was, his being before the Lord Mayor, undergoing examination on charges of forgery on the Bank.
He was placed upon his trial at the Old Bailey sessions, in the month of October 1829, when he pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with having personated William Green, of Crucifix-lane, brazier, and thereby having obtained 125l., being the value of stock standing in his name in the Bank-books. On the 6th of March the prisoner applied to Mr. Linton, a stock-broker, in Shorter's-court, requesting him to sell out the stock standing in the name of William Green. The broker declined selling the stock, on the ground that he did not know the prisoner; upon which he replied, "Your father knows me well, and has frequently seen me at the National Debt Office." The broker's father was sent for, and on seeing the prisoner, said that he recollected him somewhere, but could not tell where. The broker was satisfied with this partial recognition, and made out the necessary documents for the transfer. The receipt for the transfer was signed by the prisoner in the name of Green, and on comparing it with one which had been previously given on the receipt of the dividend upon the same stock, the hand-writing was found to correspond.
He also pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with having personated Richard Mann, and thereby obtained 27l., being the dividend due on 300l. Consolidated Bank Annuities, of which Mann was the proprietor. A few days after the fraud on Mr. Green, the prisoner went to the Rotunda, in the Bank, and introducing himself to a broker as Mr. Mann, requested him to witness his receipt of the dividend. The broker asked for a reference, and the prisoner named Mr. Linton, who happening to be close by, was instantly appealed to, and at once recognised the prisoner as being the person who had imposed upon him in the name of Green. The prisoner refused to withdraw his plea of guilty, although advised by the judge to do so.
Upon this sentence of death was at once passed; and upon the recorder's report being made to his Majesty, the unhappy prisoner was ordered for execution.
Monday the 19th of October, was the day upon which the sentence was directed to be executed, and the convict upon being led out from his cell was totally unnerved, and glanced about him with a fearful and hurried look. He appeared deeply and bitterly to repent his crimes; and the wretched course of life he had adopted, in spite of the anxious solicitude of his parents.
He was executed with two other men, who had been convicted of housebreaking, in the twenty-sixth year of his age, on the 19th of October, 1829.