The initial record of counterfeiting in Pennsylvania is found in the Minutes of the Provincial Council for a session held in Philadelphia on the 8 mo. 24, 1683. Governor William Penn informed the board that it was convenient a warrant should be sent to arrest some persons on suspicion of passing bad money. Thereupon one Robert Fenton (or Felton), a servant, was brought in, sworn, and questioned. His answers were to the effect that he had received twenty-four pounds of "bard" silver from a certain Charles Pickering to coin for him. He also made the "seales" (dies), and Pickering and Samuel Buckley helped him to coin the bits. He was vague about the amount of copper alloy which was added to the silver, but stated that the silver brought him had already been alloyed and also admitted that Pickering and Buckley sometimes put in more copper than he knew of.
On the warrant, which was promptly issued, Pickering and Buckley were brought before the council, whereupon the governor taxed them with their abuse to the government in coining "Spanish Bitts and Boston money." They then readily confessed that they had put off new bits but claimed that all their money was as good silver as any Spanish coin. They also denied having had any hand in the coining, and Pickering declared that he had heard one John Rush swear that he spent half his time in making bits.
At this the governor turned his attention to Buckley, who made a ready confession that he had taken part in melting money, adding copper alloy, and striking bits, all done together with Pickering's servant, Robert Fenton. He also admitted that he had passed some of the bits.
John Rush, whose name had been mentioned by Pickering, was next summoned and examined, but he denied everything that had been affirmed by Pickering. Then Buckley and a certain Thomas Philips provided security in the amount of five hundred pounds that Buckley would appear before the council when required and would not leave town without permission. Pickering and Richard Wall 1 furnished bail in the same amount and under the same terms for Pickering. The sheriff was ordered to take Fenton into custody, and the same afternoon a warrant was issued to summon a grand and petit jury for the trial of Pickering and Buckley.
The next day an indictment was ordered drawn up against these two men, and John Symcock, a member of the council, was sent to the Provincial Assembly to request that a certain Griffith Jones be permitted to come before the board to be examined on business of moment. Next, as complaint was made to the council about "New Bitts and New England Shillings," it was decided that a proclamation should be issued forthwith to cry them down.
When Griffith Jones arrived, he stated under oath that Pickering sent him eight pounds in "New Bitts" to pay New England men, who, however, refused to accept the coin; at that he went to Mary Bartholomew, who changed forty shillings for him upon his promise to take them back again.
The following day the Grand Jury found the bill against Charles Pickering "as being a Heynous and Grievous Crime." Pickering pleaded not guilty, whereupon Attorney General John White produced as witnesses Jones and Mary Bartholomew, who told the story related previously by Jones, while one Caleb Pusey also swore that Pickering paid him fifteen pounds in new bits, which were then produced in court. The foreman of the jury asked Pickering from whom he obtained the money which he had paid to several people, but the prisoner sought to avoid answering, replying that he would change the money that any person received of him and that no man should lose anything by him. The jury then retired and soon brought in a verdict of guilty as charged.
Buckley and Fenton were indicted and pleaded guilty, both con- fessing that together with Pickering they had made the money. Fenton added that he had made the dies for Pickering, having worked a week or more on them and having finished one pair before he absented himself, while the other set was completed afterwards. Both Buckley and Fenton declared that their mint was not located in the Province of Pennsylvania.
The governor now sentenced Charles Pickering for the high misdemeanor of which he had been found guilty: he was to make full satisfaction to every person who within a month should bring in "any of this false, Base and Counterfeit Coyne, (wch will by to morrow by Proclamation be called in,) according to their respective proportions, and that the money brought in, shall be melted into gross" before being returned to him; in addition Pickering was to pay a fine of forty pounds towards building a courthouse in Philadelphia and to find security for his good behavior.
Buckley was considered by the court to have been "more Engenious" than Pickering and was therefore fined only ten pounds to be used for a public courthouse and was required to provide satisfactory security for his "good abearance." Fenton, because he had frankly confessed and was a servant, was only sentenced to sit in the stocks for one hour the next morning.
The day after sentence had been pronounced a proclamation was issued to put down the coins counterfeited by Pickering and to announce that he was to make satisfaction to all persons wronged by him.
Some months later the sheriff brought before the council the grievance of the people concerning the new bits put out by Pickering. When Pickering was asked about the matter he replied that he would give money and plate to satisfy those who had complained. Thereupon the council ordered the sheriff to go to Pickering and receive the same amount of good money as he, the sheriff, had received bad money from the people. Then he was to pay out the good coin to the people who had surrendered to him the false bits. 2
It is recorded that Pickering's privileges of a freeman were restored in 1685 and that in 1690 he was elected to the Assembly. In his will, by which he left a fairly large estate and which was filed in 1749, he gave his trade as that of goldsmith. 3
Felton, or Fenton as he was called in Connecticut, must have removed to that colony, where he had a shop, apparently for metal work. He was not, however, satisfied with legitimate profits, and on January 13, 1699, he was arrested and brought before William Pitkin, assistant. Pitkin examined him closely, asking him first if he had any false money, to which Fenton replied in the negative. When asked if he had any money, he admitted that he possessed one piece of eight, a half piece, two shillings and eight pence, all of which he showed, denying that he had any other coin. At this Pitkin had him searched by a constable, who found in one of Fenton's pockets five pieces of eight, three half joes and one eight pence, all of which were judged to be false. 4
Fenton then decided to make a clean breast of all he knew about the making of false Spanish and New England money. His declaration before three assistants, William Pitkin, Samuel Willy and Caleb Stanly, and John Haynes, a justice of the peace, was as follows: in the summer of 1698 he had been employed by John Potterfield and the two men together had made about twenty pounds of bits out of pieces of eight (about one shilling's weight of alloy was put in each piece of eight and out of eight pieces of eight from fourteen to sixteen bits were struck) and likewise thirty or forty pieces of eight, each with two shillings' weight of alloy in it. Fenton received from Potterfield one pence for making each piece of eight and half the profit from the bits. 4a
Another person named by Fenton was John Tedman of Long Island, who induced Fenton to make stamps and tools for coining pieces of eight, half pieces and bits, and together they struck some false money. Tedman paid him for his help with what he said was money of his own (Tedman's) making, and Fenton found that it wanted about half the weight of good coin. Later on, in 1698, about six weeks before Fenton's arrest, Tedman came to his shop and desired him to make stamps for dollars, which Fenton refused to do. Tedman said that he had one hundred and fifty pounds of Arabian metal to make up into money for a privateer about Southold. Fenton refused to help but did promise to call on him at Long Island in April or May and to fetch over ore and coal from Pennsylvania.
Next Fenton mentioned John Hollam of Stonington, Connecticut, who, he said, met him at the smithy of James Dane in Stonington and spoke of ore and mines but he did not directly implicate Hollam in counterfeiting activities. Not so, however, in the case of a Mr. Hornbuckle of Northampton, who, according to Fenton, called on him in the spring of 1698, spoke of metals and showed him a piece of eight. When Fenton said he thought it a good one, Hornbuckle said there was no silver in it but that he had cast it from block tin and copper mixed. Hornbuckle explained how he had cast it and stated that he had put off a considerable number of such counterfeit pieces by himself or through his landlord and others.
Finally Fenton confessed that he had made some stamps or tools for one Messenger, a "joyner" of Boston — he thought his name was Thomas — where for about seven or eight years past he had kept his shop at the south corner of the "Scoole Lane." 5 Fenton's examination was owned in court on May 18, 1699, but it is not recorded what punishment he received or whether others were then prosecuted. It was doubtless as a result of the Fenton affair that the Connecticut General Assembly in May, 1699, passed legislation empowering justices to bind over convicted coiners to good behavior or to commit such persons who could not find good surety to jail. 6
Apparently the Pennsylvania council was not convinced by the denial of John Rush, for shortly after the trials of the coiners were concluded "A Warrant Issued out to make search in ye Shop and Lodging of Isack ye Smith, Humphrey Best and Jno. Rush, doe worke for mettles Coyned or uncoyned, Stampt or unstampt, Iron or Steel only excepted." 7 There is no indication that the search led to the discovery of any incriminating evidence, which is not surprising, as Rush had had some five days in which to remove any evidence of coining. There can, however, be little doubt that he was a rascal and had very likely been engaged in counterfeiting as charged by Pickering. In 1687 his mother-in-law, Elizabeth Shorter, a widow, complained to the council that Rush "in stead of a Letter of Atturney that shee was to signe, prepared a Deed of gifft of all her Estate, with power of Atturney, to one Samll Atkins, to acknowledge the same in Court." The witnesses to the deed were examined and all confessed that the writing was not read to Widow Shorter and that she herself could neither read nor write, so that the document appeared to the council to be "an Absolute Cheat." 8
During the winter of 1690/91 Cornelius Jacobs, master of a ship bound for Jamaica, discovered that a passenger, John Rush, was a false coiner and had £9/15 in counterfeit money in a bag, "which he delivered to Jacobs heaving something over board in Jamaica." Rush was kept in prison in Jamaica during Jacobs' abode there but, since the crime had not been committed on that island, Jacobs brought back Rush as a prisoner to New York. There Rush claimed that he had received the false coin from Edward Coffee in Philadelphia. The counterfeiting had probably been done in Pennsylvania, where Rush said that he had a family, so the Council of the Province of New York wrote to the Governor of Pennsylvania that Rush was being sent under guard with a copy of Cornelius Jacobs' deposition in order that justice might take place and the truth be better discovered. 9
The same day a warrant issued by the council instructed that Rush and his bag of false coin be conveyed from constable to constable to Elizabethtown in East Jersey. It was requested that then the justices of the peace or some of them in that town have the prisoner conveyed to some justices in West Jersey, who were asked to perform the like service until the prisoner and money were delivered to the governor or chief magistrate in Philadelphia, there to be proceeded against according to law. The matter was thus submitted to the "prudence and discretion" of the Pennsylvania authorities. 10 From the silence of the Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania on the subject, it is possible that Rush may have escaped en route, though he may, of course, have been tried.
On the 3rd of 8 mo., 1689, one Thomas Lasy, previously a servant of Richard Few, deceased, was presented by the Grand Jury of Chester County "for Stamping and making Base and counterfeite peeces of Eight and Bartering and Exposing ye same for goods and other merchandize." Lasy confessed his guilt and was sentenced to stand at the public place of correction in Chester on two different court days for three hours each day. Upon his breast was to be affixed a paper with his crimes written in capital letters, and he was to remain in the custody of the sheriff until he should give good security to perform this judgment and pay his fees. 11 At the October session of the Chester County Court John "Simcocke" informed the justices that "Robert Wade passing by Thomas Lasy who was suffering ye last Courts sentance reflectingly sd what Law hath he broaken or what Kings law hath he Broaken." 12 From the silence of the court records, however, it seems likely that no action was taken against Wade for his criticism of the court.
In 1691 two cases of counterfeiting in Pennsylvania are recorded. A certain Richard Thomson of Haverford was indicted by the Grand Jury of Chester County "for That about fifteene monthes since hee did Confess That hee made of one peece of Eight a dozen bites [bits] and passed them away and alsoe made Stamps for others; contrary to Law in that Case made and provided." 13 No trial or punishment is recorded, so there may have been no prosecution. In any event he was at large the next year and again in difficulties with the law, for in the summer of 1692 he was presented for ranging the woods and for taking up of horses saying he was a ranger "but" in the words of the indictment, "we find him not fitt for that honest Trust." He was also indicted at this time for taking "Jonathan Hays horse" and converting it to his own use. At the same session he was likewise presented, together with Owen Magdaniell and Daniell Ryley, "for riding & ranging on first days as well as on other days & for fireing a pistill Lat at night at John Calverts window to his and his wifes great afrightment," offenses which cost Thomson a fine of three pounds. 14 Sometime thereafter he apparently removed to Marple, for in an indictment of 1696/97 he is described as a blacksmith there and is presented for assaulting and beating one Edward Beck. 15
The other counterfeiting case of 1691 was that of Charles Butler, indicted at the provincial court held on the "24th 7ber, 1691," in Philadelphia, "for uttering & paying away severall pieces of false monie, of false mixt mettall, to the Likeness of Spanish Coyn, called peices of eight, wch hee craftilie, falslie, deceitfullie, & tratourouslie, to defraud the king & his people, (wtout anie authority of Licence from the King & Queen to him given,) Contrary to the Laws in such case made & provided." The petit jury's written verdict, dated "Philadelphia, the 26th of ye 7th mo., 1691," was: "Wee of the Jurie do find Charles Butler guiltie of dispersing bad monie." David Lloyd, Clerk of the Court, according to a petition made by Butler in 1693, then made an addition to the verdict, whereby Butler had sentence pronounced against him for misprision of treason, "viz: That he shall forfeit his goods and chattells forever, and the profitts of his Land during his Life, and be Imprisioned during his Life." Butler maintained that the petit jury, hearing of and reproving Lloyd's action, demanded their verdict and, with the consent of the bench, went forth and wrote their verdict again in the words they had formerly used. To Butler's charge Lloyd made reply that he added nothing to the verdict and that what was added in the records was for form's sake, that it was made up after sentence had been passed, and that it therefore could not be the cause of the sentence.
The council, after a full debate of the matter, found in Butler's complaint matter of law against David Lloyd not cognizable by the lieutenant governor and council. Since, however, the sentence of misprision of treason seemed "verie severe agt ye petitiour, for being only found guilty of dispersing bad money," the council desired the governor, or, in his absence, the lieutenant governor, to grant Butler a pardon. 16
In 1698 some of the small coin circulating in Pennsylvania had been counterfeited, as is shown by the following petition to the general assembly, dated "Philadelphia the twenty first day of the third month" and signed by some fifty-three citizens. It read: "WHEREAS your petition's being Inhabitants of this province and being given to understand that there is great Quantities of Leaden and pewter farthings & half pence whereby your petition's are likely to be mutch Damaged by Reason such great Quantity's are Liable to be Crowded upon us.
"Now these are to Protest & humbly Interest that you would be pleased to make an act of Assembly That all such farthings & half pence that are made of Lead & pewter may be wholly suppresed & Cryed Down and only those of Copper which are the Kings Coyn may pass the farthings for two a penny & the half pence for a penny." 17 The petition, after being read in the assembly and referred to further consideration, was sent to the Provincial Council and then taken to the governor by Samuel Richardson and Anthony Morris. 18
The word "bit" normally meant one real but Fenton was here using the term for a piece of four reales, since out of eight pieces of eight (equivalent to sixty-four reales) he states that he made "Fourteen to sixteen bits."
Charles Pickering and Wall were described as seamen, and some matter in which they were concerned had been before the council this same year. Colonial Records (Philadelphia: Jo. Severns & Co., 1852) I, pp. 67, 68, 73.
The story of Pickering, Buckley and Fenton (or Felton) as related above is found in Colonial Records, I, pp. 84–89 and 91–92.
Colonial Records, I, p. 89.
Ibid., I, p. 207.
Ibid., vol. 37, p. 137b.
Ibid., p. 185.
Ibid., p. 251.
Ibid., pp. 263–264.
Ibid., p. 406.
Colonial Records, I, pp. 383 and 386.
On the 14th day of the 11th month, 1700, Jeremiah Collett, Jr., of Chester County, was indicted by the Grand Jury of that county "for that he at or about the 2 day of the 10. month last did fraudulently expose peces of lead and potsherds unto John Stubbs of this county for current silver money of this province." 1 Collett's father, who was a justice of the peace, 2 obliged himself to bring his son to the next court or to appear himself and abide the judgment of the court. 3 In accordance with his obligation Jeremiah Collett, Sr., on the 11th day of the first month, 1700/1701, appeared for his son on the presentment of the last court and referred it to the mercy of the bench, whereupon the court discharged him upon payment of fees. 4
A certain John Satell on February 3, 1702, was presented by the Grand Jury of Philadelphia County for having passed on January 2 counterfeit coin to Ann Simes at her husband's house in the city. The jurors stated in the indictment that in Satell's pocket was found metal from which they thought the bad money had been made. 5
The next case of counterfeiting that has been recorded is more than a decade later. Mary Perkins on March 12, 1713, petitioned the Common Council of Philadelphia for the release of her husband, George, then in jail for counterfeiting, and for the return of his goods which had been seized. She pleaded that she had three small children and no means of support, whereupon the council, moved by her plea, granted her petition. 6
A few years later two men were indicted by the Grand Inquest in Philadelphia for passing counterfeit coin: John Jay, a cordwainer, of Philadelphia was presented on October 31, 1717, for passing to Margaret Tench several false pieces of eight, while Rice Price, a slaughterer, also of the same city, was presented on June 30, 1718, for uttering to a certain Samuel King "for good and lawful money one Counter Made of Brass for the sum of Ten Shillings and Sixpence." 7 Jay pleaded not guilty, but nothing further is known of the outcome of his case or of that of Price.
At a Court of Oyer and Terminer for the City and County of Philadelphia, held on October 17–19, 1720, Edward Hunt, described as a "White-Smith," and his wife, Martha, were indicted, he for counterfeiting Spanish coin which was current in the colony, and she for passing the same, knowing it to be counterfeit. Both pleaded not guilty but, as the fact was fully proved upon them and the stamps and false coin were found in their possession, the jury brought them in guilty. Thereupon Chief Justice David Lloyd sentenced Edward Hunt to death and Martha to be fined five hundred pounds and to be imprisoned for life. 8
On November 5 it was reported to the Provincial Council that Attorney General Andrew Hamilton had informed the lieutenant governor that Edward Hunt, convicted of high treason, lay in the jail of Philadelphia under sentence of death but that no execution had yet been awarded, in so far as he knew. One of the judges, who was present, informed the members of the council that, since the lieutenant governor had been absent, the judges had "delayed awarding the Execution" to give the criminal a reasonable time to appeal to the lieutenant governor. Lieutenant Governor William Keith, since only a few members of the council were in attendance, proposed an adjournment to November 9 and that in the meantime a warrant issue. 9
The council convened on November 9, with Lieutenant Governor Keith, Richard Hill, Samuel Preston, Jonathan Dickinson, James Logan, the secretary, present. The Attorney General, Andrew Hamilton, also attended at the governor's desire, and
Saturday, November 19, was appointed as the day for Hunt's execution.
It was again urged by some of the members, according to the minutes,
that Edward Hunts Crime (viz. High Treason for counterfeiting the current Coin,) being the first offence of that Nature, whereof
any Person has been yet convicted in this Colony, it therefore seemed to claim some Compassion, but all agreed that there
was nothing to be said in behalf of the Criminals former Character, personal merit or Behaviour. One of the Judges present
seemed for the above Reason to incline that Hunt should be reprieved, until the Kings Pleasure could be known, but declared
at the same time, that his Compassion for the Criminals circumstances did not proceed from any Ground of Dissatisfaction with
any part of the Evidence upon the Tryal, which appeared to him sufficient to infer Conviction and the legal Sentence that
had been pronounced. Those who spoke on the other side urged the nature of the Crime, and the Necessity that there was in
all civil Governments to make some public Examples, the want of any merit in the Criminal, and the very little or no Service
at all that a Reprieve to so miserable a Life could be to him.
The members present being equally divided in their Opinions, it was left to the Governor to do therein as he thought fit.
Lieutenant Governor Keith's decision was to let the law take its course. Hunt, who had been captured in the Rebellion at Preston and transported as a bound servant to the Island of Antigua, made a dying speech at Philadelphia before his execution for the crime of high treason in counterfeiting Spanish silver coin which by Act of Parliament had been made current within all of the King's colonies in America. In the speech he stated: "God knows I did not do it with any Design to cheat or defraud any one, or to make a Practice of Coining; but being ignorant of the Breach of any Laws of God or Man, I thought I might cut those Impressions as innocently as any other, or the Stamps that the Gentlemen of this place imploy'd me about, to make Farthings." The condemned man, claiming to be "the first unhappy Instance of this kind that ever suffered in the King's Dominions," expressed his forgiveness of John Moore and Morris Birchfield "and the Evidence that swore against me in that Tryal" and maintained his innocence "of anything laid to his charge by John Butler, either in England or Ireland." 12
An act of May 11, 1722, authorized the emission of £15,000 in bills of credit and provided that
if any Person or Persons whatsoever shall presume to counterfeit or be Aiding or Assisting in Counterfeiting any of the said
Bills of Credit, or utter or cause to be uttered any Bill or Bills (knowing the same to be false and counterfeit) of the Tenor
or in Imitation of any of the said Bills of Credit, made current by this Act, and be thereof legally convict, he, she or they
so offending shall be set upon the Pillory in some open publick Place, and there have both his or her Ears cut off, and be
publickly whipp'd on his or her bare Back with Thirty-one Lashes, well laid on; and moreover, shall forfeit the Sum of One Hundred Pounds current Money of America, to be levied of the Lands and Tenements, Goods and Chattels of such Offenders; and shall pay to
the Party grieved double the Value of the Damage sustained by the said counterfeit Bills, together with the Costs and Charges
of Prosecution: And in Case the Person or Persons so convicted have not sufficient to satisfy the Party for his or her Damages
and Charges, and to pay the Forfeiture aforesaid, then and in such Case the Offender or Offenders shall, by the Order of the
Court before whom such Offender was convicted, be sold for any Term not exceeding seven Years for Satisfaction of the same.
Somewhat more than a year later an act of December 12, 1723, for emitting £30,000 in bills of credit made much the same provision against counterfeiters in the following terms:
And Be It Further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Person or Persons whatsoever shall presume to forge or counterfeit, or be Aiding or Assisting in Forging or Counterfeiting any of the said Bills of Credit, or utter or cause to be uttered or offered in Payment, any Bill or Bills (knowing the same to be actually forged or counterfeited) with an Intent to defraud any other Persons, and be thereof legally convicted, he, she or they so offending shall be set upon the Pillory in some open publick Place, and there have both his or her Ears cut off, and he publickly whipp'd upon his or (her) bare Back with Thirty-one Lashes well laid on; and moreover shall forfeit the Sum of One Hundred Pounds, current Money of America, to be levied of the Lands and Tenements, Goods and Chattels of such Offenders, the one Half thereof to the Use of the Government, and the other Half thereof to the Discoverer. And the Offender shall pay to the Party grieved double the Value of the Damage sustained by the said counterfeit Bills, together with the Costs and Charges of Prosecution. And in Case the Person or Persons so convicted have not sufficient to satisfy the Party for his or her Damages and Charges, and to pay the Forfeiture aforesaid, then and in such Case, the Offender or Offenders shall, by Order of the Court before which they were convicted, be sold for any Term, not exceeding Seven Years, for Satisfaction of the same. And in such Case the Trustees of the said Loan Office shall reward the Discoverer and Prosecutor of such insolvent Offenders to the Value of Five Pounds.
AND that all Magistrates and others, into whose Hands any counterfeited Bills may happen to come, shall forthwith deliver the same to one of the Trustees of the said Loan-Office, who shall cause the Names of those that delivered them, and of the Persons from whom they were taken, to be indorsed on the Back thereof; which Bills shall be safely kept in the said Office, and be forthcoming when there may be Occasion to make Use of the same. 14
Despite the provisions of these acts, the temptation soon proved too strong for counterfeiters, as is shown by the following notice which appeared in The American Weekly Mercury of November 28, 1723: "Whereas several of our Bills of Credit have been of late found Counterfeited (that is the One and Two Shillings turned into Ten) These are therefore to desire all Persons that receive any Bills to take particular Care by Reason the Heads of each sort of Bills differ, there is a Vote of the Present Assembly for giving a Reward of Ten Pounds to those that shall discover the Counterfeiter."
Within the next month or two a certain William Sinton was taken up and committed to the jail of New Castle for forging the paper currency. On January 18, 1724, Sinton broke out of the county jail and Rowland Fitz Gerald, the Sheriff of New Castle, offered a reward of ten pounds for his apprehension, describing him as "a short fresh Coulered Man, about Twenty three Years of Age, wears a light Bobb Wigg and Cinamon Coulered Cloaths, by Profession a Quaker." 15
At a Court of Quarter Sessions of Chester County, held at Chester on February 3, 1724, a certain Moses Harland was indicted for counterfeiting bills of credit. The jury, however, returned the presentment Ignoramus, and Harland was discharged, paying his fees. 16
The American Weekly Mercury of Tuesday, February 4, 1724, carried this advertisement:
These are to give Notice, that there was stolen out of the Printing-House in Philadelphia, 5 or 6 sheets of the 20s. and 5s. Bills, of the New Impression Paper Money, some of which were signed and uttered by one
John Jones, who was apprehended on Thursday last and brought before the Mayor of this City, and Confessed the Fact, some Bills
being found about him unsigned, and as the Officer was carrying him to Goal he made his Escape from him, leaving his Coat
behind him. He is a Tall Slender Lad, of a pale Complexion, about Eighteen Years of Age, he wears a light bobb Wigg, but it
is uncertain what other Cloaths he has on. Whosoever takes up the said John Jones and brings him to Philadelphia Goal, shall have Fifteen Pounds as a Reward and all Reasonable Charges, paid by Andrew Bradford.
The same newspaper of June 27, 1727, mentions a John Jones of Conestogo being in jail in Philadelphia, so it is possible that the counterfeiter was taken.
At the Court of Record held in July, 1725, in Philadelphia one Richard Kinner was convicted of counterfeiting and passing a Penna- sylvania twenty shilling bill. In accordance with the law of the province then in effect he was sentenced to be set on the pillory in the market place of the city; then he was to have both of his ears cut off, was to be given thirty-one lashes on the bare back, was to forfeit £100 and was to pay double damages to the party grieved. 17
At some time previous to February 6, 1727, one John Hawkins had been convicted at a Court of Record in Philadelphia of counterfeiting and uttering a Pennsylvania bill. It may be presumed that in accordance with the law he was set in the pillory, had both ears cropped, was given thirty-one lashes, was required to pay double damages to the person aggrieved and costs of prosecution and prison charges, as well as a fine of one hundred pounds. In any event, on that date, Hawkins petitioned the common council of the city to remit the fine of one hundred pounds, as he did not have the means to make satisfaction. The council promptly ordered the Treasurer of Philadelphia to take the petitioner's bond for that sum, "payable immediately." 18
At the same time one Lawrence Wolverston, who was also in jail for passing counterfeit paper money, made a similar request, which was granted. The jailer, however, did not release the two criminals because they had not the means to pay their court charges; Hawkins and Wolverston therefore again petitioned the council to order their release. The matter was taken up at a meeting on March 22, 1727, and the board decided that, since the Corporation had previously taken the prisoners' bonds with interest for their fines, the men should be now set free, as they were remaining in jail only on account of the fees and prison charges. The council further notified the sheriff that the prisoners had remained in jail at his cost ever since the date when their bonds were taken. 19
On March 16, 1727, The American Weekly Mercury carried the following:
Caution to the Publick, by the Printer: In Order to prevent their being further Imposed upon by the Counterfeit Jersey Bills, which have lately been discover'd, viz. Three Pound Bills, Twelve Shilling, Six Shilling, Three Shilling, and Eighteen Penny Bill. The Three Pound Bills are distinguisht by the misspeling the word Publick, wherein the (b) is wanting. The Twelve Shilling Bills, in the Flourish on the Top is the Representation of a Basket, the Chequers of which are much finer than those of the true Bills; and the Stars smaller, in the Six Shilling Bills, the Text Letters are considerably larger than those of the true ones. The Three Shilling Bills are distinguisht by the largeness of the Text Letters, when Compared with the true on's: The Eighteen Penny Bills are so well Imitated (as indeed are all the rest) that it's a Difficult matter to know the bad from the others, only by the following general Rules, which is thus:
The Paper is much Courser and Thinner, the Signers Names are made with faint pale Ink inclinable to a red Purple, and at the end of R L Hooper, the Point is wanting, which may be generally observ'd in the true Bills, sign'd with that Name, and the Stars in all the Bills (which has them) are much smaller than in the true Bills.
The persons responsible for putting into circulation these counterfeits, imported from Ireland, namely David Willson and David Wallace, were arrested in New York City on the morning of March 14. On them were found New York and New Jersey counterfeits and also twenty-three Pennsylvania bills of five shillings and one of one shilling. 20 Both men were convicted in the Supreme Court of Judicature in New York City and were punished severely by the pillory, flogging, carting and imprisonment in New York, Kings, Queens, and Westchester counties. 21
It was only natural that the authorities were disturbed. Patrick Gordon, Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania and the Counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex, on March 30, 1727, addressed the speaker and members of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania in these terms:
The Weather and Floods having prevented Your meeting on the 27th Instant pursuant to Your last Adjourment, I thought it notwithstanding, as soon as a sufficient Number to make a House were in Town, to enable You, as I now do, to Act again: and altho' I understand you are still for the Reasons that have been mentioned, much short of being full, yet I cannot decline laying before you a Matter of vast Importance to the whole Country, which requires all our Attention, and your serious Application.
This Gentlemen, is the Horrid Attempt of some of the Wickedest of Men, to adulterate the Bills of Credit of our Own and the Neighbouring Provinces, first discovered by me at New-Castle, and since more fully by his Excellency the Governour of New-York, who had advised me of his Success in Apprehending two of the Criminals there.
The design appears to have been laid so deep, and to such an Extent, that it may not unjustly be compared to the Poisoning the Waters of a Country; the blackest, and most detestable Practice that is known, and which the Laws of Nations, and those of War condemn even in declared Enemies; for as that destroys the Lives of the innocent in taking their Natural Food, this would effectually overthrow all Credit, Commerce and Traffick, and the mutual Confidence that must subsist in Society, to enable the Members of it to procure to themselves and Families their necessary Bread.
We have seen large Quantities of the Counterfeit Bills of our Neighbouring Colony issued in this Province to the great loss of its Inhabitants, and I am credibly informed, the design has been laid to pour in upon us a Flood of our Own Bills Counterfeited from Ireland, where they have so artfully imitated most of those of Jersey, that it requires more skill to distinguish them, than is to be expected amongst the common, and especially amongst Country People.
Therefore to prevent the Importation, and spreading of these Bills, if possible, and to provide for the Apprehending and Punishing of the Importers, or Counterfeiters, and such as shall knowingly utter the same, in a manner more adequate to the Crime, than is yet provided by the Law, is what I must now earnestly recommend to your most serious Consideration, lest such Provision should be too late, and the Credit of our Bills should sink, which, for the fatal Consequences that you are sensible must attend that unhappy Event, should be guarded against with the utmost Care. 22
The next day David Lloyd, as speaker of the House of Representatives, made the following reply to the lieutenant governor's
We have the pleasure to assure the Governour, that we so far agree with his Sentiments, as to Order a Bill to be prepared
for making the detestable Crime of Falsifying or Counterfeiting our Bills of Credit more Penal than it was by the former Acts.
And if the Governour pleases, since he is informed that some of the first Impression of our Bills are intended to be brought
in Counterfeited from Ireland, we now propose to call in the Remainder of those Bills to be Exchanged in the Loan-Office for others of the same Value,
which we hope will be an Effectual Method to prevent Counterfeits, and support the solid and just Credit of our Paper-Currency.
But that the People of this Province may not suffer by their Neighbourly good Will in giving a Voluntary Credit to the Paper
Bills of New-Jersey; We do earnestly request, That the Governour would be pleased to use his Interest and best Offices with the Governour and
Assembly of that Province, to take some Effectual Care to prevent the pernicious Consequences of having their Bills of Credit
Counterfeited and Uttered amongst us; and also in Case any Persons are apprehended in any part of this Government, for having
Uttered Counterfeit or Falsify'd Bills of New-Jersey, that the Governour would please to give Direction to the proper Officers to deliver over such Criminals into the Hands of
the Magistracy of that Province, with such Evidence as can be found in Order to their being Punished according to Law.
The lieutenant governor's action, combined doubtless with the interest of New Jersey itself, resulted in New Jersey's striking new bills to exchange for those of the issue dated March 24, 1724, because they had been so widely counterfeited, and fixing the first Monday in November, 1728, as the day when the currency of the bills of March 24, 1724, was to end. 24 The new emission was printed for New Jersey by Samuel Keimer, who took pains "to prevent its being easily counterfeited." 25
Lieutenant Governor Gordon had been correct in his fears of further counterfeiting in Ireland. On July 30, 1729, the sloop Charming Sally from Dublin arrived in Philadelphia, and one of the passengers immediately gave information that there was on board a quantity of counterfeit New Jersey bills, which were found in the chest of a certain Eanon, a passenger who died during the crossing. The mayor and magistrates at once ordered an investigation by the sheriff, who found in Eanon's chest some 118 unsigned counterfeit New Jersey bills of the new, current emission and deposited them with Mayor Thomas Lawrance. It was believed that a greater amount of these bills had gone to Burlington on the ship Woodside Galley, on which Eanon had taken passage and shipped a quantity of goods but had been left behind himself. 26
Further light was shed on Eanon's doings and those of his associates in a dispatch dated "Amboy, September 23, 1729," which appeared in The American Weekly Mercury of September 25. It was probably composed by a magistrate of Amboy and reads as follows:
On Friday Night last, one William Scot, was Apprehended in Woodbridge, for Uttering one of our 18 Penny Bills, who on search, own'd he had Five more of the like Bills; he had a Parcel of Ribbons, and said he got them for some of the said Ribbons he sold on Long-Island, but from whom he could not tell. The Justice there sent him to our Goal in this City, being betwixt 11 and 12, at which time I went to the Prison and had him strip'd, (the Justice of Woodbridge, having only searched his Pockets) and had a thoro' search, but could find no more Counterfeits, but found on his Examination, that there was great reason to suspect him; next Morning the Mayor and Aldermen, after some search, Examined him; on which we dispatch'd an Express to Acquaint his Excellency therewith, to know what Bills he had Passed on the Road; and to have his Chest searched, which we suspected was at his Lodgings in New-York. Our Governour gave Orders to search his Lodgings and other suspected Places, but John Thomson the Express we sent, Braced his Chest and Beding, to be put on board of the George and John, Anthony Adamson Commander, and likewise found sundry of our Counterfeit-Bills, pass'd in New-York, and on the Road, by the said Scot.
Yesterday the said Thomson returned, on which we went on board of the said Ship, and Demanded the said William Scot's Chest and Beding, which was Delivered by the Captain, and on search we found in a false Bottom of a small Trunk 476 Counterfeit Bills, Sign'd but not Numbered, and 106 Bills neither Sign'd nor Numbered; on which we went to the said Scot and acquainted him therewith, who on his Examination did depose, that this Adamson had carried one of the said Bills (he believed) from hence to Dublin, and that in Company with the said Adamson and Thomas Eanon, the said Adamson told them, that if they could get the like Printed, they would get Money enough by them, for that they Pass in those Parts as well as Gold or Silver, that the said Eanon agreed with the Printer, whose Name the said Deponent was sworn not to discover, that they paid their Proportions to Eanon for Printing, and that they divided the Bills betwixt them, but does not own what Number; he affirms they had not a Thousand each, that the said Eanon, Adamson , and himself, the said Scot, had all the Bills, and that there was no other concerned with them in that Affair. The Captain we had Examined, as well as all his Men, and his Ship searched, but they all deny that they knew any thing of the said Scot, or ever see him but at Salem, in New-England, where the Ship Landed her Passengers, and the said Scot came first into those parts, and when he put those things on board in New-York. As there is great reason to suspect, the Captain, he was committed likewise last Night to our Goal, but are in hopes to fix the Passing Part of the said Bills on him.
The Pennsylvania Gazette of October 2, 1729, reported: "We hear from Amboy, that all the Persons concern'd with Eanon (the same that dy'd at Sea in his Passage from Dublin to this Place) in counterfeiting the 18d Bills of New Jersey, are apprehended and secur'd in their Prison. It is not found that any other of the New Bills are counterfeited but those of 18d. And it is remarkable that all Attempts of this Kind upon the Paper Money of this and neighbouring Provinces have been detected and met with ill Success."
A dispatch from Perth Amboy dated November 1 appeared in The American Weekly Mercury of November 6 and read:
At a Special Court of Oyer and Terminer, held at Perth-Amboy, on Wednesday, the 29th of October last, were Tryed at the said Court one Anthony Adamson and William Scot, for Counterfeiting the Bills of Credit of this Province of New-Jersey, and for uttering the same, who were found Guilty of the Crime so charged upon them. And the Court gave Judgment against them, as followeth, viz.
That you the said Adamson, be taken into a Cart at the Prison Door, on Friday the last Day of October, and so Carted thro' the Streets of Perth-Amboy, with a Roap about your Neck; and that you be, about Eleven a-Clock in the Forenoon of the same Day put into the Pillory, and there to continue for an Hour, and from thence Carried with a Rope about your Neck to Woodbridge, to the Meeting-House of the said Town, thence to the Square before Mr. Herd's Door, and to stand in the Cart a quarter of an Hour: and that you have a Paper fixed on your Back and Breast, declaring your Offence, with one of the Counterfeit Bills fixed thereto; and from thence back to the Goal, there to remain until you pay the Fees and Charges.
The same Sentence was pass'd on William Scott, with this Difference, he was to be Carted to Piscataway, and not to be inflicted on him until Saturday the Fifteenth of November. 27
Ibid., II, p. 137.
Ibid., II, p. 67.
Ibid., II, p. 72.
Gillingham, Counterfeiting in Colonial Pennsylvania , p. 7.
Ibid., op. cit., pp. 7–8.
Indictments among Court Papers (1715–1790) in the Manuscript Collection of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Colonial Records, III, p. 109.
Ibid. III, p. 109 and The American Weekly Mercury, Nov. 17, 1720, p. 3.
Colonial Records, III, p. 110.
The American Weekly Mercury, Nov. 24, 1720, pp. 2–3.
Ibid., p. 286.
The American Weekly Mercury, Jan. 28, 1724, p. 2.
Ms. Quarter Sessions Docket, Chester County, 1723–1733, p. 45.
The American Weekly Mercury, Jan. 11, 1726, p. 2, and The Boston Gazette, Feb. 28, 1726, p. 2.
Minutes of the Common Council of the City of Philadelphia 1704 to 1776, p. 227.
Ibid., p. 279.
The American Weekly Mercury, March 23, 1727, pp. 1–2; The Boston Gazette, April 3, 1727, p. 3; The New-York Gazette, March 20, 1727, p. 2.
The American Weekly Mercury, April 6, 1727, p. 1, and Colonial Records III, pp. 267–268.
The American Weekly Mercury, April 6, 1727, pp. 1–2.
Ibid., Aug. 15, 1728, p. 2.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. 24, 1728, p. 4.
The Boston Gazette, Aug. 11, 1729, p. 2.
The same general account is given by The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 6, 1729, p. 2.
The Pennsylvania Gazette of February 19, 1730, informed the public of a new attempt to forge the currency. The account read: "Last Week some counterfeit Five Shilling Bills of our Currency were passed here; but as they were clumsily done, upon mean Letter and ordinary Paper, and very unlike the Originals, they were soon discovered, and trac'd to One who was lately in Town from New-Castle. Orders are sent down to examine him about them. It is supposed they are come from the old Quarter; tho' 'tis surprising that a Course of ill Success is not a sufficient Discouragement to such Practices."
The results of the investigation that had been ordered are not known but on July 8, 1730, a counterfeiter of coin was taken up in Philadelphia. The most extensive account of the affair is the following:
"Yesterday was apprehended one Zachariah Field on suspicion of Counterfeiting the current Money, upon an Information from a Person in New-Castle to our Governor's Secretary, of his having uttered several pieces in his Progress from Virginia. He was search'd and there was found in his Pockets some Pistoles, Pieces of Eight and Dollars, and an unfinish'd piece, supposed a Pistole, not coloured like Gold, all Counterfeit. Upon his Examination before the honourable Mayor and Aldermen in Court he would make no Confession. A Person was dispatch'd to Frankford, where he had left his Horse, to search his Saddle Baggs, who found 101 Counterfeit Dollars. He is a New-England Man by birth, Personable, Stout and very active in manly exercise, and very understanding in any Mettal Work." 1
Another report of Field's arrest states that he was pursued by a Hue and Cry from the Lower Counties and that the dollars in his portmantle were of "very ordinary workmanship." 2
In November he was tried on two indictments. In the first he was charged with high treason in counterfeiting the coin of another kingdom made current by an Act of Parliament in the British dominions, on which indictment he was acquitted. The other presentment was for misprision of treason, in counterfeiting the coin of another kingdom not made current by any Act of Parliament. On this indictment he was found guilty and was sentenced to forfeit the profits of all his lands during his life, to forfeit all his goods and chattels, and to be imprisoned during life. 3 His trial took place before a Court of Oyer and Terminer of the County of Philadelphia, and his false dollars were described as "Lyon Dollars." 4
At a Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County, held in Lancaster on May 2, 1732, Robert Teas was indicted for knowingly passing a ten shilling Pennsylvania bill, to which indictment he pleaded not guilty. The case was tried, with Joseph Growden as prosecutor, and Teas was convicted. His sentence was that he be set upon the pillory, be publicly given thirty-nine lashes on his bare back, pay a fine of one hundred pounds, one half to the government and the other half to the discoverers, pay the parties grieved double the value of the bill and also pay all costs. 5
The Pennsylvania Gazette of December 19, 1732, contained the following account of the counterfeiting of Pennsylvania twenty shillings bills:
Last Monday se'nnight in the Evening, three Men went into the Indian Prince Tavern, and having call'd for some Liquor, one
of them offer'd a new Twenty Shilling Bill to be chang'd for the Reckoning. Mr. R. Brockden, Master of the House, suspecting
it to be a Counterfeit, went with it immediately to A. Hamilton, Esq; (under Pretence of going out to get Change) who caused
them presently to be apprehended. Upon Examination,
two of them appeared innocent, and were discharged; the third, who offer'd to pass the Bill, being ask'd how he came by it,
answer'd that he brought Hogs to Town to sell, and had taken it of a Woman unknown in the Market: Upon searching him, two
more of the same sort were found in his Pocket-book, all which he said he had taken for Pork. From the Indian Prince he was
carried over to another Tavern, where he had put up his Horse, in order to see if he had any Bags wherein more Bills might
be found. While the Examination was continuing there, a Woman Stranger in the outer Room was observed to appear somewhat concern'd;
upon which she was call'd in, and ask'd, if she knew that Man: she answer'd Yes, he was her Brother; being ask'd if she had
any Money about her, the Man was seen to wink at her, and she answer'd, No; but attempting to slide her hand into her Pocket,
the(y) prevented her, and brought the Woman of the House to search her, who found in her Pocket twenty-three 20s. Bills of
the same Sort. The Fellow finding the Story of the Hogs would not answer, nor any other Shuffles avail him any thing, betook
himself at last to make an ingenuous Confession. He said that one Grindal who arrived this Summer in Capt. Blair from Ireland, got 600 20s. Bills printed there from a Pattern he carried home last Year; that when he came here, he admitted one Watt
into the Secret, and gave him a Number of the Bills to pass and exchange in Pennsylvania, while he went into the Jersies on the same Account, altering his Name to Thomson lest a wife he had married at New-Garden should hear of him; and that they were to meet next Christmass at Philadelphia, and divide the Profits: That Watt had communicated the Thing to him, and given him Twenty-seven Bills to pass, of which
he was to have a Share for himself; telling him to persuade him to it, that it was no Sin, for it would make Money plentier
among poor People. He said he had as yet passed but one, of which the Change 19s. was found in his Pocket. He could not tell
where Grindel might be at this Time in the Jersies, but he inform'd that Watt was at Eastown in Chester County. Officers were immediately dispatch'd in quest of him, who rid all Night, surpriz'd him in Bed about Day-break, and guarded
him to Town. After Examination he was committed to Prison, to keep company with his Friend the Pork-seller, who it seems has
brought his Hogs to a fine Market. Tis hoped that by Christmass we shall see Grindal here also, that he may (according to Agreement) share the Profits with 'em. The Bills they have attempted to counterfeit are of the last Impression; the Counterfeits might
pass with many People who do not take much Notice, but they have imitated the Paper very ill, that of the new Bills being
thick and stiff, and the Counterfeits soft and flimsy. What is most surprizing is, that the Counterfeiters, with all their
care and exactness, have entirely omitted numbering their Bills, at least none of those are number'd which are seiz'd. Was
this Infatuation, or were they afraid they should not number them right?
A subsequent development of the affair is found in the same newspaper of January 11, 1753, which states: "Yesterday, being Market Day, Watt who was concern'd in the Counterfeit Money, as mentioned in one of our late Papers, receiv'd part of his Punishment, being whipt, pilloried and cropt. He behaved so as to touch the Compassion of the Mob, and they did not fling at him (as was expected) neither Snow-balls nor any Thing else; We hear that Grindal, the Importer of the Bills, and chief Person concern'd, was taken in the Jersies, but afterwards made his Escape. In his Pocket-Book was found the Account of Charge, so much to the Printer, so much for engraving the Plates, so much for Paper, &c."
There is no reference to the "Pork-seller," so it may be assumed that he turned King's Evidence in the trial of Joseph Watt. Watt, however, after standing in the pillory and having his ears cropped, was confined in the Philadelphia jail, from which he broke out and escaped on the night of June 13, 1733. He was described in an advertisement as "about Forty Years of Age, with long, strait brown Hair, and has a Scar in his Throat where he attempted to cut it." Anyone who might take him or who could give intelligence of him was requested to notify the sheriff. 6
At the Court of Quarter Sessions for Lancaster County held at Lancaster on May 1, 1733, three men were indicted for passing false coin in the likeness of silver money current in Pennsylvania. Two of them may have been brothers or relatives, for they were named Robert and James Black. Robert was charged with uttering four counterfeit dollars, pleaded not guilty, but was tried and convicted. He was sentenced to be whipped twenty lashes at the common whipping post, to stand in the pillory one hour and there have both ears cut off, and to pay the costs of prosecution. James Black was presented for passing two false "Lyon Dollars." He pleaded not guilty, and the jury found him not guilty "in manner and form as by the said Indictmt. is supposed." The third suspected counterfeiter was Cornelius Walraven, charged with passing seven false dollars. He was convicted and received the same sentence as Robert Black, save that he was to be given thirty-one (instead of twenty) lashes, perhaps because he had passed more dollars than Black had. 7
On August 5, 1734, A. Hamilton prepared an advertisement which was published three days later in The Pennsylvania Gazette. Its text was as follows: "There being lately discovered a counterfeit Twenty Shilling Bill, of the likeness of the Bills of Credit of the Province of Pennsylvania of the same Denomination, Dated the Tenth Day of April, 1731. All Persons are desired to be careful lest they be imposed upon by the said false Bills. They are to be known only by the Difference in the Signers Names, the Paper of the false Bills is thinner, and the Ink with which they are printed, is paler than in the true Bills."
It appears that some confederates were engaged in passing not only Pennsylvania but also New Castle bills. On November 20 several counterfeit twenty shilling New Castle bills were discovered which had been passed at the fair. Some persons recalled the man who had paid out the money to them, and the utterer was at once pursued and arrested at Chester. He was brought to Philadelphia, where he was examined, made an ample confession and discovered his associates. It was reported that £5,000 of the false paper money had been imported. The most obvious marks for detecting the counterfeits were the following: in the false bills the word "Indented" in the first line stood too high in the line; towards the bottom the words "of this" were placed too close together, thus "ofthis," and all the lines were more uneven than in the true bills. 8
On November 28 an item appeared in the press to the effect that, since the apprehension of the passer of forged New Castle money, two more persons, the importer and the signer, concerned in the affair had been seized in New Jersey and imprisoned in New Castle. It was said that the greatest part of the bills brought over were found with them. 9 A week later, however, a correction was printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette, which informed its readers that the two men taken in New Jersey were not in jail in New Castle but in Salem, New Jersey, where they had been admitted to bail, and that their names were Conway and Sherwin. Their false bills, New Castle twenty shilling and ten shilling notes, and Pennsylvania twenty shilling and fifteen shilling bills, were found hidden on an island in the middle of a great marsh. Although these men had, according to report, passed almost seven hundred pounds of counterfeits, it was claimed that but few of the Pennsylvania bills had been uttered. The false ten shilling New Castle notes could, in general, be recognized by the paleness of the print and by the fact that in the TEN SHILLINGS in the body of the bill the first S of SHILLINGS stood much too low in the line, thus sHILLINGS. The forged twenty shilling Pennsylvania bills could be known by the fact that the G in the word SHILLINGS at the top of the bill was too high for the rest of the letters, thus TWENTY SHILLINGS.
On January 9, 1735, the public was informed by the same newspaper that, since the publication of the above notice concerning
forged twenty and ten shilling bills, also one or two fifteen shilling bills of New Castle currency, which were counterfeit
and which seemed to be done with a plate, had been passed. They were supposed to belong to a new parcel and the marks by which
they might be known were the following: "In the second Line in the Words (Fifteen Shillings) the Capital F at the Beginning
of Fifteen is much shorter and less than the S at the beginning of Shillings, but in the true Bills they are of equal Heighth: And in the fifth Line, in the Words (New-Castle, Kent,) the C and K beginning
(Castle) and (Kent) are much
too big in Proportion to the (N) at the beginning of (New) and the small Letters in all the Words mentioned stand at too great
a Distance from another thus,
Fifteen Shillings, New-Castle, Kent,
the whole is done with Ink much paler than that of the true Bills."
It has been incorrectly stated that the men responsible for the false Pennsylvania and Newcastle bills, Conway and Sherwin, were "let out on bail and finally escaped." 10 Such was not, however, the case, for The Pennsylvania Gazette of February 25, 1735, carried this item: "We hear from New-Castle, that Conway and Sherwin, the two Counterfeiters of Bills, were tryed last Week; the former pleaded guilty, and the latter was found guilty; and both received Sentence according to Law." The same newspaper on March 27, 1735, noted the infliction of the penalty in these words: "We hear from New-Castle, that on Thursday last, the 2 Counterfeiters of Paper Money, who have been some time under Sentence in the Goal there, suffered the Punishment of Whipping, Pillory, and Loss of Ears, according to Law. They are also fined an Hundred Pounds, and to pay double the Value of the Damage occasioned by the Counterfeit Bills."
On September 15, Israel Pemberton, Thomas Leech and Joseph Harvey, three of the trustees of the Loan Office, reported that pursuant to an order of the Assembly of March 19, 1735, they had burnt and destroyed the counterfeit bills, amounting in the whole to £1668/15/—, which had all been imported from Ireland by Robert Conway and his associates. The false money consisted of 987 bills of 20 shillings, not signed, and 37 of the same which were signed; 853 false bills of 15 shillings, not signed, all these in imitation of Pennsylvania money; finally 5 counterfeit 20 shilling bills in imitation of New Castle currency. 11
At this time, as indeed throughout the Colonial Period, bills of credit were being counterfeited in Europe, and especially in Ireland, and were then being imported into the provinces in North America. A dispatch from New York dated May 3, 1736, was printed three days later in The American Weekly Mercury to the effect that a few days before an Irishman had been seen in New York with a quantity of New Castle bills of the denominations of eighteen pence and of twenty shillings. These were quite new and the signers' hands were rather well imitated but the engraving part differed from that on the true bills of the same denominations.
Somewhat more than a year later another Irish counterfeiter was described by the same newspaper of June 16, 1737. The account
On the 12th Instant was apprehended here (in Philadelphia), an Irishman, who was just come to this City from New-England, where he says he arrived from Ireland in August last. and there were found upon him Eight counterfeit Bills, made in Imitation of the Five Shilling Bills of Credit of the Province of Pennsylvania, printed in the Year 1729, and Signed with the Names of
John Parry, Abraham Chapman, Edward Horne
, and Thomas Tresse, or by Three of them: The Counterfeits are to be distinguished by those Marks, viz.
The Words Five SHILLINGS on the Top, are printed in a larger and bolder Character. The F, in the Word Five on the Top, stands over the I in the Word THIS below it. (In the true Bills it stands over the H of the same Word.)
The Capital S in PENNSYLVANIA is shorter than the Letters that stand next to it. The Italic Capital y, in the Word y ear, is curl'd like this y (In the true Bills 'tis plain like this Y but smaller.)
The Signers Names are very ill done.
Whoever will Discover the Person or Persons who Counterfeited the said Bills, or the Signers Names to the said Bills; or the
Person or Persons who Imported the said counterfeit Bills from Ireland, where it is supposed they were Printed, so that the Offenders may be apprehended and convicted, shall have a Reward of Fifty Pounds, Current Money of
A. Hamilton. 12
From the Minutes of the Provincial Council it is revealed that the Irishman was William Neal and that in his examination in Philadelphia he declared that he had received the false bills from one Benjamin Ellard of New London in Connecticut. The Pennsylvania authorities applied to the magistrates in New London, who arrested and questioned Ellard. He "frankly and without hesitation" admitted that he paid out the bills as genuine to Neal and also affirmed that he had, in the presence of a certain Thomas Davis, received the bills from one Rowland Houghton, a merchant of Boston. The depositions of both Ellard and Davis were sent to Philadelphia, and the magistrates of New London expressed the opinion that Ellard was entirely innocent of the fraud, adding "that this Houghton is the same person who made the plates by which a late paper Currency at Boston was struck." Upon consideration of these documents the council dispatched, on July 14, 1737, a letter addressed to Governor Jonathan Belcher of Massachusetts, to whom the council wrote that it was applying "in a Matter that not only nearly concerns this Government, but in its Consequences may affect others on the Continent with whom we have any Dealings or Intercourse." The letter told of the arrest of Neal and of the information secured from New London about Ellard and his claim that he obtained the bills the previous August from Rowland Houghton. "We therefore," continued the letter, "request that you will be pleased to cause Houghton to be examined touching the Bills by him delivered to Ellard, one of which, with a genuine Bill for Distinction, we likewise send inclosed; & that you will direct a very strict Enquiry to be made, in Order, if possible, to discover the source of this Villany, & to prevent the further ill Effects of so pernicious an Attempt, whereby you will lay a very great Obligation on this Province in general, and on us in particular …." 13
Governor Belcher sent a reply which was laid before the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania on August 26. He enclosed a declaration of Houghton, substantiated by declarations of John Seton and Ben- jamin Bagnal. It appeared that Houghton was innocent, for he had purchased the bills in question as genuine from "one Susannah Buckler, a Person who had been guilty of several gross Impositions on the People of New England, but is since gone to Britain." With this the Council dropped the matter in the conviction that it could not be further traced. 14
Presumably Neal was released on the basis of the results of the Council's investigation. Gillingham
has suggested that Neal is the person mentioned in the following notice, dated May 4, which appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette of May 11, 1738:
Whereas Information hath been given to the Trustees of the General Loan Office, of the Province of Pennsylvania; That a considerable Number of Counterfeit Bills, made in Imitation of the Bills of Credit of the said Province of the Denomination
of Five Shillings, dated in the Year 1729, and Signed ABRAHAM CHAPMAN, JOHN PARRY and EDWARD HORNE; have been uttered and
past as genuine and true Bills, as well in the Province of New-Jersey as in this Province; and being further inform'd that an Irish Man, pretending to be a Pedlar, hath uttered several of the
said Bills about Crosswicks in Burlington County, in Payment for Buckskins and other Things: These are to request all Magistrates and others His Majesty's
liege Subjects, to be aiding and assisting in the apprehending the Person or Persons who have uttered the said Counterfeit
The notice closed with the offer of a reward of ten pounds and costs and charges to the person who should arrest the offender or offenders and was signed by Jer. Langhorne and A. Hamilton. Possibly the culprit was Neal but there is no evidence of this, and Neal was not, unhappily, the only counterfeiter then at large.
Early in 1739 the Pennsylvania authorities were alarmed by the menace of counterfeit bills, and January 2 Governor Thomas declared in a speech to the Council: "Few things require more the Attention of a Government than the Money current in it; for upon the real value of that depends all confidence in Trade, Forreign and Domestick. Yours has been so frequently counterfeited of late, that there is reason to apprehend the Security of your Laws has given encouragement to it. I am not in Inclination for sanguinary Laws, but it has been the Policy of all well-constituted Governments to proportion the Punishment to the Crime." 16 To this the Assembly made the following comment: "Having now under Consideration among other things relating to our Paper Money, the Reprinting our Bills of Credit, we shall endeavour to make such Provision against their being counterfeited as shall appear to be most likely to secure us against Practices of that kind for the future." 17
The assembly was as good as its word. Heretofore the counterfeiting or passing of bills of credit of the province had been
punishable by the pillory, the lash, cropping, and fines. Now, on May 19, 1739, an act was passed for reprinting, exchanging,
and re-emitting all the bills of credit of the province and for striking £11,110 and five shillings, to be emitted upon loan.
In this law it was provided:
…if any Person or Persons shall presume to counterfeit any of the said Bills of Credit, made current by this Act, or any Law
of this Province, by printing or procuring the same to be printed or otherwise counterfeited in the Likeness of the said genuine
Bills of Credit; and also if any Person or Persons shall forge the Name or Names of the Signers of the true Bills of Credit,
to such Counterfeit Bills, whether the counterfeiting of the said Bills or Names be done within this Province or elsewhere,
or shall utter such Bills, knowing them to be counterfeited as aforesaid, and being thereof legally convicted, by Confession,
standing mute, or by the Verdict of Twelve Men, in any Court of Record within this Province, he, she or they shall suffer
Death without Benefit of the Clergy: And the Discoverer or Informer shall have, as an Incouragement for his Discovery, the
Sum of Fifty Pounds, out of the Goods and Chattels, Lands and Tenements of the Person convicted, and if no such Goods and Chattels can be found,
then the Trustees of the General Loan Office shall pay to such Informer or Discoverer, his Executors, Administrators or Assigns,
the Sum of Ten
Pounds. And if any Person or Persons, shall counterfeit any of the said Bills of Credit of this Province by altering the Denomination
of the said Bills, with Design to increase the Value of such Bills, or shall utter such Bills, knowing them to be counterfeited
or altered as aforesaid, and shall thereof be legally convicted, in any Court of Record of this Province, such Person or Persons
shall be sentenced to the Pillory, and to have both his or her Ears cut off and nailed to the Pillory, and to be publickly
whipt on his or her bare Back, with Thirty-one Lashes well laid on: And moreover, every such Offender shall forfeit the Sum of One Hundred Pounds lawful Money of Pennsylvania, to be levied on his and her Lands and Tenements, Goods and Chattels, the one half to the Use of the Governor, and the other
half to the Discoverer: and the Offender shall pay to the Party grieved double the Value of the Damages thereby sustained,
together with the Costs and Charges of Prosecution. And in Case the Offender hath not sufficient to Satisfy the Discoverer
for his or her Damages and Charges, and pay the Forfeiture aforesaid, in such Case the Offender shall, by Order of the Court
where he or she was convicted, be sold, for any Term not exceeding Seven Years, for Satisfaction: and in such Case the said
Trustees shall reward the Discoverer of such insolvent Offender, to the Value of Five Pounds. And every such Counterfeit Bill shall be delivered to any of the said Trustees, to be made Use of upon the Tryal of the
Person accused or suspected, and afterwards to be burnt or destroyed by the said Trustees, in the Presence of a Committee
The immediate cause of this drastic legislation against counterfeiting or altering the bills of credit was doubtless the case
of one William Bodie, which is referred to in these terms in the Minutes of the Provincial Council at a meeting held on January
The President (James Logan) acquainted the Board that this morning he received a letter from Mr. Hamilton, one of the Trustees
of the General Loan Office of this Province, giving an Account that a Discovery had been made of some of the Bills counterfeited
in imitation of the Bills of Credit of this Government, a parcel of which counterfeits unsigned the President
laid before the Board, & informed them that one Robert Savory had voluntarily made this Discovery, who being acquainted at
London with one William Bodie, a Person of a dishonest Character, who had lived in Bucks County, in this Province, was by his means made privy to the Design, that Savory was now attending, in order to declare his knowledge
of the whole before the Board, & he being called in & examined, gave a Narrative of the Matter, which the Board judging proper
to be taken on Oath, & that he should be more particularly examined touching other Circumstances, Messrs
Plumstead & Laurence are appointed a Committee for that Purpose, & to report the said Examination to the Board at their next
meeting; And the Board being also of Opinion that a diligent Enquiry should be forthwith made for Bodie, who, if returned
from Britain, may probably be found near the Place of his former Residence, It is Ordered that a proper Person be dispatched by the President
into the County of Bucks for this End.
At a meeting of the Provincial Council on February 3, 1738, which was presided over by James Logan and attended by Samuel
Preston, Anthony Palmer, Clement Plumsted, Thomas Laurence, Ralph Assheton, Samuel Hasell and Thomas Griffitts, the examination of Robert Savory was read as follows:
The Examination of Robert Savory, of Bednall Green Gardner, married, aged about forty years, taken before Clement Plumsted and Thomas Laurence, Esqrs., two of the Members of the Council for the Province of Pennsylvania, & Justices of the Peace for the City & County of Philadelphia.
The Examinant saith, that for some years he served William Franklyn, of Bednall Green, Brewer, whose Son William, returning
from America, brought the Examinant acquainted, about September, one thousand seven hundred & thirty-six, with one William
Bodie, who had come Passenger from Boston in the same Ship with the said William Franklyn, the younger; that the Examinant & the said Bodie becoming intimate, & often
meeting together at one John Parker's, who keeps a publick House in Spittlefields, Bodie told the Examinant that he, said
Bodie, had lived in Pennsylvania, in America, where there were Paper Bills current, equal almost to Sterling
money; that he had received Orders from the Proprietors of Pennsylvania to gett some Paper Money Bills printed in London, & shewed the Examinant two he had brought for Patterns, the one being a half Crown Bill of Pennsylvania Currency, & the other a Crown Bill of the Counties on Delaware, on which last there was an Escutcheon, bearing the British Arms, with the Word Delaware. That the said John Parker desired the Examinant to assist the said Bodie in showing him the Town, to witt, London, & where he might find proper Persons to cutt the Plates, and to print the Bills alike to those which he had brought over;
that accordingly this Examinant went to several Places with the said Bodie, particularly to one William Pennock, a Wood Cutter,
in Jewin Street, near Aldersgate Street, who undertook to cutt wooden Dyes for the half Crown Bills; and then they went to
one [blank] Halfhide, an Engraver, in the Minories, who undertook to cutt a Plate for the Crown Bills; That the Examinant & Bodie becoming more closely intimate, discoursing
freely together, Bodie told the Examinant about Christmas, One thousand seven hundred & thirty-six, that the Bills which were
to be printed off were not for the Proprietors of Pennsylvania, as he, the said Bodie, had given out, but were truly for himself and his own private benefit; that if they could be printed
off exactly alike with those he had brought over, which were Current in Pennsylvania, he could easily gett the Names signed by some in New England who could do them extraordinary well, and thus the Bills would be equal to so much Money, & offered to the Examinant to lett
him in for a share of the advantage, as he had been at some Trouble in assisting him, the said Bodie; The Examinant acknowledges
that this Prospect of Gain, without considering the Hazard that attended it, induced him to become serviceable and assisting
to the said Bodie, who having afterwards got the wooden Dyes from Pennock, a Number of half Crown Bills were printed off by
a Printer in Aldersgate street, whose name the Examinant does not remember, to the value of Seven hundred pounds, as Bodie
told the Examinant, but Halfhide, the engraver, refusing to lett Bodie have the Plate for the Crown Bills, unless he would
give Security to keep the said Halfhide harmless, in case any undue Use should be made of it, no Crown Bills were printed
off, as far as this Examinant knows; That the Examinant & Bodie sett out from London for Bristol with the Bills aforesaid, in order to take Shipping from thence for Pennsylvania; when the Deponent beginning to consider the Affair he was going about, grew uneasy in the
Mind, and revealed the whole matter to one Joseph Allen, a person employed in the Service of the East India Company, who was
then at Bristol, & with whom the Examinant was acquainted, whereupon, the said Allen diswaded the Examinant from prosecuting the design,
representing it as highly dangerous, & what might possibly bring the Examinant to a Rope. The Examinant, upon this Advice
from his Friend, determined to have nothing further to do with Bodie; but the Examinant having thrown himself out of Business,
& sold off great Part of what he had in the World, was ashamed to return to the place of his former Habitation, & therefore
determined to come into America & seek his Living there; that upon imparting this Resolution of his to Bodie, he appeared
much surprized & alarmed, & used Endeavours with the Examt. to confirm him in the Prosecution of their first Design; but the Examinant being sensible of the Danger, persist'd in the
Resolution of leaving Bodie, who then pressed the Examinant to take a Share of the Bills, which the Examt. refused, saying they could be of no Service to him; but Bodie's telling the Examinant they would pay his Passage, gave him
a Bundle of them in a Handkerchief, which the Examinant took, not intending to make any other Use of them than to discover
Bodie's Design, who had by means of it brought the Examinant into great Trouble and Sorrow; That Bodie told the Examinant
if he came to America he might hear of him, the said Bodie, near to Dobb's ferry, about thirty Miles from New York, at one Houston's, whose Daughter the said Bodie had Married. And the Examinant further saith, that leaving the said Bodie
at Bristol, the Examinant took a Passage on board the Billinder Hawkins, John Cole, Master, for South Carolina, & arriving in Charlestown the Examinant was soon taken ill, & being attended in his Sickness by one Doctor Killpatrick of Charlestown aforesaid, the Examinant acquainted him with the whole Affair as above narrated, & showed some of the Bills to him, giving
him one of them & desiring he would send it to Pennsylvania, which the said Doctor Killpatrick promised he would; That the Examinant recovering from his Indisposition, resolved to travel
to Pennsylvania in order to make a Discovery of the whole Affair as far as he knew of it; and having left his Chest, wherein several of the
said unsigned Bills are, in the Custody of one Thomas Lamson, a Tavern keeper in Charlestown, the Examinant brought a parcell of them hither, which he hath delivered up to Andrew Hamilton, Esqr., one of the Trustees of the General Loan Office of Pennsylvania, and declares that he hath faithfully
kept all the Bills which he received from the said Bodie, without giving away or passing any one of them, except that to Doctor
Killpatrick aforesaid; And that the Narrative above given of the Examinant's Knowledge and of his Proceedings, is just and
true in every particular.
Taken at Philadelphia the 16th day of January, 1737–8, on the Oath of the said Robert Savory, Before us,
Clem. Plumsted, Tho. Laurence.
The Minutes of this session of the Council continue with the following lines about the same affair:
The Board were likewise informed, that the Express dispatched into Bucks County to enquire about William Bodie, being returned, brought an Account that he was not to be found, but that Mr. Langhorne had
undertaken to use all possible Endeavours for discovering & apprehending him. Upon considering the whole of this matter, the
Board are of Opinion that a Copy of the foregoing Examination should be sent by the first Opportunity to the Governor or Commander-in-Chief,
for the time being, of the Province of South Carolina, & that he should be requested to order Savory's Chest to be carefully searched, & the counterfeited Bills to be secured
& transmitted hither, and to cause Lamson, in whose Custody the said Chest was left, to be examined touching his Knowledge
of the said Savory and of the counterfeited Bills; & further, that an Enquiry should be made of Doctor Killpatrick touching
the truth of the Circumstance wherein that Gentleman's Name is mentioned by Savory, that it may be known how far the Discovery
made by him is true & genuine in its several Parts. And It is recommended to the President to write to the said Governor or
During the year 1738 three other persons were charged with counterfeiting. Of these John Herd was indicted at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County, held on May 2, for passing to one James Burk a piece of brass as a true piece of gold, of the value of seven shillings and sixpence lawful money of Pennsylvania. Herd pleaded not guilty, was tried and acquitted. 22
Later, on October 30, the Grand Jury of the County of Philadelphia indicted Thomas Carr, a laborer of Philadelphia, for having uttered, knowing it to be false, a counterfeit ten shilling bill of New Castle, Kent and Sussex, to which presentment Carr pleaded not guilty. 23
Three days later The Pennsylvania Gazette carried an account of the apprehension of another passer of false bills of the Lower Counties on Delaware. It read:
One Whitesides, who lately came from Ireland in Capt. Grieves, is apprehended and imprisoned at New-Castle, for uttering Counterfeit Twenty Shilling Bills of that Government. 1029 of the Bills were found in his Custody. And as it is not known what Quantity may have been
dispers'd, we think proper to give our Readers such Marks to distinguish by, as may secure them from being impos'd on, viz.
In the Counterfeit Bills the Words, and Sussex, stand thus, (and Sussex), Sussex being considerably lower than and. In the true Bills those words stand pretty even upon a Line.
In the Counterfeits, in the Word Payments, the n seems to lean backwards, thus n, in the true ones it leans forwards.
In the Counterfeits, in the last two Lines, the f of the Word (of) stands right over the (n) in the Word (upon) thus, (of
upon) In the true Bills the same f stands right over the (o) of the same Word (upon) thus (of upon)
Although the court records for this period have not survived and the newspapers shed no further light on the case, it is stated in the minutes of the House of Assembly of the Three Lower Counties that Whitesides was convicted. His fine was £100, and on April 19, 1739, a lively debate arose in the house concerning the disposition of half of this sum. A law had been passed to grant one half of the fine to the informer and the other half to the government, and the question now was whether the governor was to obtain £50 of the fine imposed on Whitesides. After the opinions of the attorneys general of Pennsylvania and the Three Lower Counties had been presented, the assembly voted that the sum belonged to the people and not to the governor. It was revealed that the law required that any person convicted of forging the bills of credit of the counties should be set in the pillory and fined £100, so it may be assumed that Whitesides also stood in the pillory, probably for the space of one hour. 24
The American Weekly Mercury, July 9, 1730, p. 4; this item is reprinted in The Boston Gazette, July 20, 1730, p. 2.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 9, 1730, p. 4.
The American Weekly Mercury, Nov. 12, 1730, p. 4.
Lancaster County Road Docket 1, 1729 to 1742 (verbatim copy of the original docket made by F. Kilburn in 1880), p. 45. The sentence was the full sentence prescribed by the law then in force.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 14, 1733, p. 2.
Lancaster County Road Docket 1, 1729 to 1742, pp. 70–72.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 21, 1734, p. 3.
Ibid., Nov. 28, 1734, p. 4.
Gillingham, Counterfeiting in Colonial Pennsylvania , p. 14.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Series, I, p. 458.
The same item is found in The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 16, 1737, p. 3.
Colonial Records, IV, pp. 225–226.
Ibid., IV, pp. 241–242.
Op. cit., p. 15.
Colonial Records, IV, p. 315: Minutes of the Provincial Council for Jan. 2, 1739.
Ibid., IV, p. 316.
Colonial Records, IV, p. 273.
Ibid., IV, pp. 274–276.
Ibid., IV, p. 276.
Lancaster County Road Docket 1, 1729 to 1742, p. 225.
Court Papers (In The Historical Society of Pennsylvania), Indictments, Oct. 30, 1738.
At the close of 1739 a plan was put into effect to secure counterfeits in England of various Colonial bills. On Saturday, December 22, one Robert Jenkins of Salem, New Jersey, approached Abraham Ilive, who dwelt in Bird Cage Alley near St. George's Church, Southwarke, and was a printer at Mr. Reyner's Printing House. Jenkins, who said he belonged to a small vessel, had been directed by a cousin, Peter Long of Philadelphia, to go to some printer in London. 1
It seems that Long, some two or three years before, had brought to England some Colonial paper money, had had counterfeits of it made to the amount of £6,000, and after his return to America had passed off most of them in New Jersey and neighboring provinces. 2 About October, 1739, he wrote to his cousin, Jenkins, in England, desiring him to deliver to some printer the following letter of instructions telling him how to execute his scheme and make the counterfeits exact. 3 The letter read:
Mr. Printer, to whose Hands this comes. In the first, Place just such Paper; Secondly, just such Ink, & 3d, just such Letters, & every Spot & Tittle to be minded, or else it is of no Value, & if I have any Luck with it as I expect & hope I shall, You shall have a second Reward worth having. If the Letters of every Word is not alike & at the end of some Words a Spot as at this, and when You have begun, compare them together, and if they be not alike, make an Alteration in Your Stamp to every thing as you can see in the Pattern, & at the End of every One You will see a Word, & the Sum of the Bill, in this Manner, VI S, & so to all the rest, in proper Accot of Value, but You must count every Flourish at the Beginning & the Rest will follow.One thousand of the 20 Shillings, And twelve hundred of Each of the Other. 4
Along with these instructions Jenkins delivered to Ilive five bills, a twenty shilling bill of New Castle, Kent and Sussex and four bills of New Jersey, one for fifteen shillings, one for twelve, one for six and one for three, "printed in red & black Colours & signed by Persons who appear Authorized so to do." 5
Long had written to Jenkins to settle terms with some honest printer in order that "they themselves need not come backwards and forwards to England upon every Occasion, but might send him, from time to time, (in the Wading of a Sadle) any new Bills they would have counterfeited, & that the Printer might return a large Impression of Counterfeits, stufft in the Wadding of the same Sadle." He added that he should very soon get some bills of the new emission of Pennsylvania and should want a great number of them. 6
What then transpired is set forth in a statement made on December 28, 1739, to Secretary Andrew Stone and S. Buckley. It reads
[Jenkins] … shewed him 5 money Bills of ye Currency of New Castle, Kent & Sussex, & New Jersey & told the sd
Ilive then & at sevl meetings since that if he would print sd Bills he wod give him 5 Guineas & wod send him a farther Gratuity on his arrival in New Eng.
d & that if sd
Ilive would be secret he shd employ him hereafter by sending him over fresh Bills if any shd be printed when he got back. that sd Bills shd be conveyd in ye pad of a Sadle to prevent discovery, & that sd
Ilive shd convey them to him in ye same manner & that they must be printed exact with ye patterns for wch he gave written Instructions now in Mr
Secretary Stones hands, otherwise they wod be of no value, Ilive told him that some of ye Characters were out of use & hard to be Matchd, he assurd that abot. 2 years & half ago a Cousin of his carried to New Eng
d. Six thousand pounds of that Money wch he had got printed in Londn & had actually assisted him in putting off
for current money, to ye value of One thousd Pounds in Twenty Shill Bills, And in order to make them look like Original Bills wch were foul with handing about in Trade, he put them in a bag with six pounds of Shott, & rode wth them thirteen miles by wch they were worn & soiled as though they had been in Trade ever since their date, Ilive asked how we wod get the hands of the Signors, He answered they wod do it for a quarter value or if they would not, it was only getting one of the real Bills & he wod sign their hands for them, for my Cousin says he did so & paid his all away & I can do ye same because I trade to New Jersey, Connecticut & ca. in a Shallop of my own, he added that if any Imposition shd be discovd. its probable the Bills will be called in & fresh deld out, If this shd happen I will send you over one of the fresh Bills with Goods Sufficient to bear ye Expence & reward you handsomely besides…
The printer was apparently interested and consented to undertake the work but by the time a week had passed he seems to have
gotten cold feet. His subsequent move is told in a letter composed in London on March 10, 1740, by the Pennsylvania Agent, Frederick John Paris, and sent to Governor George Thomas of Pennsylvania. Paris wrote:
And Ilive, the Printer, was promist mighty Rewards, if he woud be faithful to his Trust, & carry on this Affair from time
I doubt Ilive himself is but half honest, he was rather fearful of coming into Trouble, & desirous of getting some Reward,
than merely of discovering such a Base Design out of a true hatred to it.
But, however that was, about the 27th & 28th of Decr last, Ilive carryed the Papers, & made an Informn to the Under Secretarys of State, Therein (by Mistake) calling the Bills New England & New Jersey Bills.
The Under Secys of State sent for the New England & New Jersey Agents, not knowing (as they say) where New Castle, Kent, & Sussex were.
The New England Agent, being very ill & confined to his Chamber, he cou'd not go to the Secys for three Weeks or more, to set them right, & so it was several Days before I knew any thing of it.
Imediately on Notice, I attended the Secy of State, & having some Intst, I got the very Origl Informn made to them, & imediately advised
with Council (amongst Others with the Solr Genl) what Offence this was here, & how far this Jenkens cou'd here be punisht for it.
Upon great Consideration, they all agreed that it wou'd not be punishable here, & advised, by all means, to let the Printer
go on & furnish Jenkens (who did not know he was betrayed) with what he wanted, & to take Care to have some private Marks
to know the Counterfeits by, & to send Notice in Order to seize Jenkens & Long & the Cargo of Counterfeit Bills together,
in America, where Your Laws may reach him, for fear, if Ilive refused him, he shod go to some Other who might carry it on unknown to Us.
Accordingly, by the Solr Genls Directions, we let Ilive go on & make the Bills for Jenkens, & Jenkens is now going over to yor Province, or to some Neighbouring Province, with a Cargo of the Counterfeits.
But its impossible for me yet, to fix what Ship he intends to go by, as there are very many Ships wch have been a long time ready to depart, had it not been for the Embargoe, the Press, & the very severe Frost, whereby some
have been stopt for 5 Months past.
The long stay wch this Jenkens has been forced to make here, has made him spend all his (good) Mony, & I believe he has not been able to pay
the Printer what he promist him down, besides the mighty Rewards he was to expect in future.
This has made Ilive, the Printer, expect not only the Reward I promist him for his Discovery, but also what Jenkens was to
have paid him.
I now enclose you One of the Counterfeit Bills, and the two Orgl Informations, & an Origl Letter from Jenkens to Ilive.
These Counterfeit Bills differ from the true in five particular Instances.
1, 2, 3. Upon the fore Shoulder of the Lyon and of the Unicorn, & at the foot of the Flying Horse in the King's Arms, there
is a Speck or Dot in the Counterfeit, but not in the true.
4. The Letter I. in (This Indented) is not like the I. there, in the true Bill.
5. And part of the Letter P. in (Payments) is below the Line in the Counterfeits, whereas it comes no lower than the Line
in the true Bill.
This Discovery alone will enable you, by Proclamation, to advertise the Publick, & prevent the Circulating these Counterfeits;
but my aim is, that by prudent Managemt & Secrecy, Jenkens & Long, (after they have been once or twice together) & have added the suppos'd Names of the Signers,
may be detected & punished, as their high and injurious Offence deserves, and to deterr Others.
For otherwise, You may have the whole Currency of yor Province & Countys counterfeited.
If I can, before the Ships go, get any further Lights by Ilive, you may expect an Accot thereof, in a subsequent Letter.
And by Application to the Govr of New Jersey, Each Province may be able to save the Other, & help to bring these Men to Justice.
I wish I had been the only Person to whom the Secret had been communicated, I wou'd then have answered for its being kept
so, but I fear the other Person to whom it was communicated, has not enough considered the Consequence of keeping the Matter
Probably the other person of whose discretion Mr. Paris seemed to have doubts was Richard Partridge, who at about the same time as Paris wrote to Philadelphia about the affair. His letter, which contained a detailed account of the business, was addressed to Chief Justice John Kinsey and stated: "When thou hast perus'd this letter & Information on ye other side be pleased to seale it up and direct it to Andrew Johnston of Amboy, New Jersey. thou will see by the Nature of the Affair it will require prudential Steps to be taken with secrecy.…" 9
On January 21, 1740, Jenkins, who hoped that the weather would suffer him to leave for America, wrote to Ilive the following note, which the printer turned over to Secretary Stone on February 1. It read: "I beg You wou'd do these Blanks this Week, if possible You can, that I might not be detained for want of it when the weather permits of my going home: if you please to send me a Line or two when I shall come for it. I have 3 Gallons of Cordial at Your Service, out of my Store, & further, I will give, from under my Hand, to send You a Hogshead of Rum, by the first Ship that comes from that Parts, or deliver to whom You should order, the first Day of my Arrival at Home. Sir, I beg you wou'd not fail of doing it soon, & that Your Goodness & Charity will consider the Expenses & Charges I have been at about it, that I might not leave it to do when I am going, I shall have little time to do it." 10
Lieutenant Governor Thomas of Pennsylvania wrote to Governor Morris of New Jersey and informed him of Jenkins' activities and of his anticipated arrival in America. Governor Morris laid the matter before the Provincial Council in Burlington on June 9, 1740, and it was ordered that two justices of the peace, Clement Hall of Salem County and James Hinchman of Gloucester County, issue warrants to arrest Jenkins and also to apprehend persons thought to be connected with Jenkins or Long and also to search the houses of such persons. 11
Jenkins finally reached New York City in June and his reception is described in a letter written in New York on June 23 by Governor Clarke of New York to Lieutenant Governor Thomas of Pennsylvania. It reads:
Late on last Thursday night Capt
Gill arrived from London, and the Mayor early next morning, as I had before given directions, sent for him and examined him of his passengers, in
order to discover whether Jenkins was on board, but it seems the fellow had entered with him as a Sailor, & served as Cook,
by which means he might have escaped, if I had not made myself some further Inquiry. I immediately ordered the Master to secure
him on board, with his Chest and what other things he had, and to acquaint the Mayor therewith, who, opening his Chest, found
in it a bundle of paper Bills, containing in Number 971, of Twenty Shillings each, which he brought to me, & I sealed them
up with my own Seal, and delivered them again to him, to be kept till you send directions; the fellow is likewise in prison,
so that I hope every thing has been done to your satisfaction, and the villany prevented from taking effect; none of the Bills
are signed; I shall send you inclosed some papers which were found in his Chest. I shall keep him in prison, 'till I hear
further from you.
This letter was read before the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania on June 26, 13 and before that date Lieutenant Governor Thomas had apparently communicated with Governor Clarke of New York, who on June 29 wrote to Thomas: "I have the Honor of your letters by the post, as well as that by the person whom you sent for Jenkins. I have given orders for delivering him, and the money which I sealed up and left in the Mayor's hands, as I acquainted you by the last post. No further discovery has been made here that I have been informed of. I fancy charges have accrued. I will let you know it when I do, at present I have no demand for any." 14 The Governor's messenger who brought back Jenkins was Under Sheriff William Biddle. 15
On July 3 Mr. Paris's letter to Lieutenant Governor Thomas and the papers relating to the discovery of the affair were laid before the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, and Andrew Hamilton, Recorder of Philadelphia, was called in and desired to assist in the examination of Jenkins. Next the sheriff, under orders from the governor, brought Jenkins from jail before the council. 16
The examination has survived and reads as follows:
A Letter being Shown him, directed to Robert Jenkins, at Letten Chainey, Dorset Shire, dated Augt 1st, 1739, he acknowledged the Letter belonged to him, & was in his Chest at New York.
A Large Bundle of Paper Bills of Credit, in Imitation of Bills of Credit of the County of N. Castle, Kent & Sussex, upon Delaware, being shown to him and being asked how he came by the Bills, and being told they were found in his Chest, he said he knew
nothing of the Bills, if they were found in his Chest, they were there when he bought the sd Chest, and that if he had sold ye Chest, he should have sold the Bills with ye Chest.
Being asked if he was present when the Bundle of paper Bills were taken out of his Chest at N. York, Said that he was present, & that they were found in the Till of his Chest, & that a small Board was put against the Till,
& a Chissell was Used to force ye Board.
Jenkins acknowledges that he had in his Chest a Viol of Black Ink, & a Viol of Red Ink, & being asked when he bought it, Said
that the Viols of Ink were in his Chest when he bought the sd Chest.
Being asked if he carried to England any Rum, Said he carried abt Seven Gallons.
Being asked in Relation to ye Letter wrote to him about ye Estate, and who wrote it, Said that the Letter was Contrived by him & another person, in order to keep him from the press,
he being prest on board of a Man of War.
It appearing that the sd Letter was Dated ye 1st of Augt. 1739, he was Asked what time he left this Country when he went to England, Said that he went home ye 1st of Augt Last.
As it appeared to the members of the Provincial Council that Jenkins was guilty of the forgery with which he was charged, he was remanded to jail, to be kept there until the governor should issue a writ for removing him to New Castle for trial there, as the crime had been committed against the laws of that government. It was also ordered that his examination just taken and also the papers which had been transmitted from England should be sent to New Castle to be produced at the time of his trial. 18
The authorities in New Jersey soon undertook to gather evidence. On July 21 Justice Clement Hall of Salem County, New Jersey, took the following examination of William Brick of Piles Grove in Salem County:
This Said Examinant saith that some time since Robert Conaway, of ye County of Salem, was Convicted for Counterfeiting of money of Countys of New Castell, Kent & Susecks on Delawar. Peter Long and William Pauling was at this Examinants House, and that the Examinant and Peter
Long was talking abought Counterfitt Bills of New Castell, Kent & Susacks on Delawar, as also of New Jersey, and William Pauling told Peter Long he beleaved that no body had Counterfitted any Jersey money. Peter Long maid answer
that he beleaved their was Jersey money Counterfited, and took ought of his pocat a large parcell of paper money, and amongst
other bills showed a Twelve Shilling Bill of Jersey money, and showed to this Examinant ye Difference between the trew bills and those Counterfitted, and ye said Peter Long told this Examinant that he beleaved he had passed some Counterfitt Bills: and farther than this ye Examinant saith not.
On July 29 Justice David Davis took the deposition of Rachel Brick, of Pilesgrove in Salem County, presumably the wife or a sister of William Brick. Her statement reads:
The said Examinant Saith that Some time Since Robert Conoway, of ye County of Salem, was Convicted for Counterfiting of money of Countys of new Castell, Cent, and Susekes on Delawar. Peter Long and William Paulling was talking about Counterfit money at this Examinants house, and William Paulling said that
amongst all the Counterfiting ther was no Jersey money Counterfited, and Peter Long Saith he was mistaken, and told him, ye sd
William Paulling, that he believed that there was Jersey money Counterfited, and took out of his pocket his pocket Book, and
seemed to have a large parsale of money, and showed two or three Jersey Bills, to Show the Difference between the true Bills
and Counterfits, and Saith that if ye truth was known, he ye said Peter Long, believed that there was Jersey money Counterfited, and believed that he had had some; and, further, this
Examinant saith that there was differences in ye Bills, but what she has forgot, and further she saith not.
The handwriting of both Jenkins and of Peter Long was sought as evidence, no doubt, for their trial. This is shown by a letter written on August 5 by John Ladd to James Steel. Ladd wrote: "I have endeavored to get the hand writing of ye paper money Chaps, but have not yet accomplished it. I wrote, on receiving thy first Letter, to Clemt Hall, who I thought Cou'd be Likely to get Jenkins' writing. I would have Gon to Salem myself, but for ye small pox being at Salem. I have not yet Recd an answer from him, but Expect him up to ye Council. I believe there is no doubt but Long's writing may be had; I did not think proper to Endeavour openly to Get his first, Least it might alarm ye other's friends, and hinder ye Getting his hand writing. When I get Long's, I will Imediately send it to thee." 21
Ilive the printer was apparently rewarded by the government of the Three Lower Counties upon Delaware, for on October 21, 1740, the governor suggested "that it were not amiss that the House would order to be printed in the publick News-papers, Advertisements signifying that a Reward was to be given to the printer in England who discovered the printing of Counterfeit Bills of Credit of this Government lately brought over by Robert Jenkins, that it would be an Encouragement to other Printers to make future Discoverys; and that if the House would order it he would have it put into all the publick News-papers." 22
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, p. 587.
Ibid., I Ser., I, p. 587 and New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XV, p. 119–120.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, p. 588.
Ibid., I Ser., I, pp. 579–580.
Ibid., I Ser., I, p. 588.
Pemberton Papers (in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania), III, p. 30.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, pp. 588–589.
Pemberton Papers (in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania), III, p. 30.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, pp. 580–581.
New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XV, pp. 119–120.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, pp. 619–620; cf. The New-York Weekly Journal, June 23, 1740, p. 3.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania IV, p. 422.
Pennsylvania Archives, I. Ser., I, p. 620.
Minutes of the House of Assembly of the Three Counties upon Delaware at Sessions held at New Castle in the Years 1740–1742 (Printed for The Public Archives Commission of Delaware, May, 1929), pp. 69–70. On October 31, 1741, the Speaker of the House, Thomas Noxon, presented the governor's bill of £20/5 for bringing Jenkins from New York and also a bill from William Biddle, Under Sheriff of Philadelphia County, in the amount of £ 9/12/7 for bringing Jenkins from New York to New Castle.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , IV, p. 429.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, pp. 620–621.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , IV, p. 429.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, p. 622.
Ibid., I Ser., I, pp. 621–622.
Ibid., I Ser., I, p. 623.
Minutes of the House of Assembly of the Three Counties upon Delaware at Sessions held at New Castle in the Years 1740–1742, p. 13.
At the Court of Quarter Sessions of Chester County on May 7, 1740, Jacob and Nathan Dawson (very likely brothers) were indicted for forging a New Jersey bill of credit. When they were called, only Nathan appeared. He entered a plea of not guilty and, since his witnesses were not ready, the case was continued until the next session and Nathan was released on bail. He was tried on August 26, 1740, found not guilty and discharged on payment of costs. Jacob, however, did not appear in court, and there is no evidence that he was ever tried. 1
Presumably in May or very early in June, 1742, one Jacob Ebberman of Germantown was arrested for counterfeiting several bills of credit of Pennsylvania, New Castle and New Jersey, by altering the smaller New Jersey bills to a higher denomination, and the two shilling bills of New Castle to twenty shilling bills and then passing them. While Christopher Ottinger, Constable of Springfield Precinct, was taking him to the jail in Philadelphia, Ebberman escaped, and the constable then offered a reward of ten pounds for his capture. The fugitive was described as "a German or Palatine" and a butcher. He was "short of stature, with jet black hair, and a pale look, a very large mouth, and his teeth wide-set in the fore part." When he made his escape, he was wearing a linen jacket and trousers and a felt hat but it was supposed that he had subsequently secured a coat of linseywoolsey of a cinnamon or brown color. 2
The following spring the counterfeit New Jersey fifteen shilling bills and the New Castle twenty shilling bills, which had been described in the Philadelphia papers some years before, once more appeared in circulation, the New Jersey ones dated 1733 and those of New Castle 1729. 3 In the Hoch-Deutsch Pensylvanische Geschicht-Schreiber (Germantown) of April 16, 1743, directions were given for the detection of these counterfeits. In the false fifteen shilling New Jersey bills there appeared among the names of the signers that of Caleb Reper, which in the genuine was Caleb Raper; in the false, beneath the words EIGHTEEN GRAINS the M of the word March stood a little to the right of the N in eighteen, while in the true bills the M was directly beneath the N in eighteen; further, the foliage in the good bills was coarsely engraved, while in the counterfeits, especially in the ring or band in the coat of arms, the engraving was fine. The New Castle twenty shilling counterfeit notes were very like the genuine, save that the letters in the words TWENTY SHILLINGS in the top line were not straight, while in the true bills they were absolutely even.
On the morning of August 2, 1744, the authorities in Philadelphia arrested and committed to jail a man charged with counterfeiting the bills of the neighboring provinces, and on his person forged bills of New York were found in the amount of about £17. It was, moreover, believed that he had passed others of this same province. The man had been betrayed by Tom Bell, a notorious rascal who had seen the inside of many jails in various provinces and to whom the counterfeiter had applied for assistance in finishing his bills. 4
By August 9 it was known that five or six men and two women had been jailed in Philadelphia as accomplices in counterfeiting the New York five shilling and forty shilling bills dated 1737, and a search was underway for others concerned. The bills were printed from a poorly engraved plate, and the signers' names on the five shilling notes were engraved and printed with the bill. The mint of the money makers was a log house in a remote part of New Jersey, and, in case of success, they had planned to counterfeit several other sorts of money of the neighboring provinces. Their downfall had been due to that fact that one of the gang solicited the aid of Tom Bell, who was asked to sign the bills. 5 There appears to be no record preserved of the outcome of the affair.
Whatever may have befallen the persons discovered by Bell, their fate did not put a check on counterfeiting or passing even for a brief space. The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 15, 1744, warned that on the previous Saturday several false one shilling New Jersey bills had been uttered in Philadelphia. A description of them was given in these terms: "The Paper is pretty stiff and good, and some of the Bills have an Impression of a Sage Leaf, ill done, upon their Backs. If these Bills are compared with the True Ones, both being fair, many Variations may be observed both in the Signing and Printing, as the Counterfeits are a very bad Imitation of the True. Those who have not both Sorts to look at together, may take notice, that the Figures that make the Ornament or Border at the Bottom of the false Bills, which have a Resemblance of a Flower de Luce at Top, and something more under, stand apart, which in the True Bills stand close; and that in the False Bills the first I in the Word Shilling, that ends the Bill, is shorter than the last I in that Word; that the second L in the same Word is shorter than the first, and that the G is longer than the other Capitals, and made very open."
The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 29, 1744, carried a notice about a counterfeiter who had deserted from the army. It read:
Deserted from their Serjeant at Fredericksburg, in Virginia, Andrew Clark and James Fitzgerald, belonging to his Majesty's Regiment of Foot commanded by his Excellency Edward Trelawny,
Esq; As an Encouragement to any Person that apprehends and delivers the above Deserters to Mr. Whitehead, Goaler in Philadelphia, I promise a Reward of Ten Guineas, Six for Clark and Four for Fitzgerald, Frederik Shenton.
N.B. Andrew Clark is an Edinburgh Man, by Trade a Silver-Smith, about 5 Foot 7 Inches high, a well-set strong Fellow, with brown bushy Hair, has a small Scar upon his upper Lip, and lisps in his Speech: He had on when he deserted, his regimental Cloaths, being Red, turned up with Green: a Red Waistcoat, brown Fustian Breeches, a Pair of grey ribbed Stockings, and English Shoes. He counterfeits Pistereens, and had in his Pocket, when he deserted, Pieces of hammer'd Copper, and a Phial of Quick-Silver. He served his Time to Col. John Taylor, at the Copper Mines, and went off under Pretence of apprehending Fitzgerald, who is an Irishman, and had on, when he went away, a light coloured Jersey Jacket, and Check Shirt.
During the year 1745 considerable counterfeiting and passing of coin seem to have taken place. A certain John Thomas had the
following item inserted in The Pennsylvania Gazette of March 19, 1745:
Notice is hereby given to all good People to whom these Presents shall come, of a strolling Woman, who goes under the Name
of Elizabeth Castle, alias Morrey. She pretends to be a School-Mistress, Tayloress and Staymaker, Embroiderer and Doctoress.
She is of little Stature, high Shouldered, grey Eyed, and very well qualified in Lying, Cheating, Defrauding, Cursing, Swearing,
Drunkenness, Talebearing, Backbitting, Mischiefmaking among Neighbours, and is reported to be a Thief. She carries with her
a Quantity of Pieces that shine like Gold, by which Means she hath deceived several Women and Children to their great Prejudice.
She squeaks when she speaks, and hath done Damage in Newtown, Chester County: This is but little to what might be said within bounds of Truth."
Nothing further is known of this extraordinary person or of the reason for Thomas's insertion of this notice. It suggests that Elizabeth Castle passed pieces of base metal as gold coin to women and children, though, to be sure, the metal may not have been minted.
The Pennsylvania Journal, or Weekly Advertiser of May 16, 1745, reported that at Burlington in New Jersey a parcel of counterfeit twelve shilling bills, altered by the putting in of the word twelve at the top and bottom, had been discovered. In this connection it may be noted that according to the diary of John Smith 6 a grand jury on the 16th of the 2nd month, 1746 [Is not the date rather 1745 ?], indicted a certain Williamson, a man of infamous character, for passing false money, as he had twenty counterfeit New Jersey bills, dated 1733, each of the denomination of twelve shillings and so badly done that anyone who could read might perceive the fraud.
Whether Williamson's bills were merely altered, like those in the parcel found at Burlington, or actually forged, as the item in Smith's diary seems to imply, the criminal may, in all probability, be identified as the James Williamson who was indicted at a Court of Oyer and Terminer in Philadelphia for passing a counterfeit bill. The indictment was delivered into the Supreme Court at its September, 1745, term by William Till, one of the judges of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Williamson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to stand in the pillory in Philadelphia for one hour between ten and twelve in the forenoon of Saturday, October 4, and then to be discharged upon payment of the costs of prosecution. 7 The comparatively light sentence imposed would alone show that the money passed was not that of Pennsylvania but rather of some other province.
The Germantown newspaper of September 16, 1745, reported that false Spanish pistoles of fine brass were circulating. They were harder to the teeth than gold and were much too light, as a piece of brass equal in bulk to a piece of gold was not half as heavy as the gold. 8
A person charged with passing counterfeit silver money was one Francis Wesley, who was indicted at the December Sessions, 1745, of the Bucks County Court of Quarter Sessions. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bail, himself in the amount of £40 and Joseph Hutchinson and Edward Lovet, Jr., each in the amount of £20. The coins he was alleged to have passed were described as half pieces of eight or pieces of eight, and the witness against him was one Joseph Inslee. The case was put off from term to term until September, 1746, when the indictment was preferred to the grand jury and returned Ignoramus, whereupon the defendant was discharged upon paying his fees. 9
At the March, 1746, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County a certain John Nicholas was charged with uttering false money and at the June term was indicted, along with William Mack and Robert Newtown, for passing counterfeit pieces. Mack and Newtown were then tried and found not guilty but Nicholas, when he was called upon his recognizance, did not appear. Again, at the September term, he failed to appear, and his bail was forfeited. From the records of the December term it is found that the witnesses in the case were Robert Ellis, George Overpeck and David Humes and that the offence was the passing of counterfeit pieces of eight. 10
In September, 1746, at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County one Henry Bosworth, who had been indicted for uttering a false twelve shilling bill and admitted to bail, himself in the sum of £40 and Benjamin and Peter Darling each in the amount of £20, had his indictment returned Ignoramus by the jury and was discharged on payment of his fees. 11
On July 23, 1747, President John Reading, President of the Province of New Jersey, wrote from Perth Amboy to Anthony Palmer, President of the Council of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia: "… By the Examination of some persons now in the Goal of the City of New York, It appears that Henry Bosworth has been guilty of Counterfeiting the Bills of this Province, and I am Informed that he has been lately apprehended in your Government, and is now in the Goal of Philadelphia. You are sensible that the practice of Counterfeiting money is dangerous to the Commerce of his Majesties subjects, and deserving of the punishment annexed to it, I have Sent the bearer hereof, Samuel Burrows, to wait on you to request that the said Henry Bosworth may be delivered to him, that he may be brought to his tryall in this Province, where the fact of which he is accused is made felony by an Act of our Legislature…" 12
President Palmer laid this letter before the council of Pennsylvania on July 27 and asked advice with regard to the request from New Jersey that he have Bosworth surrendered to Samuel Burrows, who was the Under Sheriff of Middlesex County in East Jersey. It was explained that Bosworth had been apprehended in Pennsylvania by the Sheriff of Bucks County by virtue of a warrant issued by the Supreme Court at the instance of the Chief Justice of New Jersey. There was, he said, a charge exhibited against Bosworth in New Jersey for counterfeiting pieces of eight, and he was wanted there in order that he might be convicted in the province where the witnesses lived and where the crime had been committed. The council advised President Palmer that he should inquire of the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania how President Reading's request might best be complied with. 13
On the same day President Palmer wrote to the President of the Council of New Jersey: "… Henry Bosworth… has been examin'd by our Chief Justice, Mr. Kinsey, & by him remanded to Bucks Co Goal, & it is at his Instance that I have suspended issuing my Order to the Sheriff of Bucks to deliver Bosworth to Your Messenger. & refer you to his Letter to Chief Justice Morris, for his reasons desiring this of me.…" 14
Bosworth was admitted to bail in Bucks County, and on September 17, 1747, he was indicted at the Court of Quarter Sessions of that county for counterfeiting a twelve shilling bill. When he was called, however, he did not appear. At the December term of this court it is recorded that he was to be tried for passing a false twelve shilling bill, knowing it to be such, and that the witness for the King was James Simson. But when Bosworth was called, he again did not appear and was not to be found, 15 and his case disappears from the records.
It is not at all unlikely that Bosworth may have been an associate of two men who went by the names of Maynert Johnson and William Casway from New Jersey. It was reported from the back parts of Pennsylvania that these two had lately been travelling, and perhaps still were travelling, and passing false New Jersey twelve shilling bills dated March 25, 1733. The notes were so badly printed and signed that only a person not accustomed to see New Jersey bills could be deceived by them. The lines were very crooked, the letters and figures much misshapen and disproportioned, the flourishes and arms very dull and blindly impressed, and several of the words scarcely legible. 16
One Thomas Hall may also have been concerned in the business. He was indicted on May 26, 1747, "for Counterfeiting" by the grand jury at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Chester County but his indictment was returned Ignoramus by the grand jury, and Hall was discharged upon payment of fees. 17
In August it was discovered that false coin was being passed, and The Pennsylvania Gazette of August 20, 1747, printed a notice that on the previous Monday a certain Francis Kelly had been committed to jail in Philadelphia on suspicion of counterfeiting French pistoles. Various others were likewise taken up there for having made Spanish dollars, and it appeared that a considerable number of persons were engaged in the work, among whom were good artists who could make the copper white and tough and prepare moulds and dies. The counterfeits were like the true coins in all respects save that they could not withstand testing in fire. Hence the countrymen could not be warned about them, though persons who knew silver well could detect them and would refuse to accept them. As a result the poor, simple people would have the loss from the false pieces. The gang also was making dollars of pewter, coated with silver, and these the most simple person could discover, since they did not ring like silver. 18
Two of these counterfeiters, John Thomas Jones and Stephen Barnes, were tried at the Supreme Court in Philadelphia and "found Guilty of being possess'd with divers Stamps for making mill'd Pieces of Eight, with intention to coin the same, & were sentenc'd to stand in the Pillory two Market Days, to be imprison'd for the space of six months, & to give Security for Six Months after, & to pay a fine of £50 each." A petition from these prisoners, then in the Philadelphia jail, was read before the Provincial Council on September 25, 1747. They requested that the Council remit the sentence, since they were willing to serve in the army anywhere in the King's dominions that the council might direct. The opinion of the board was "that as there is reason to believe from the sundry Examinations taken in Jersey & other places, that there is a great number concern'd in this most pernicious Practice of coining, if the Prisoners will discover all their Accomplices, & make a full & fair Confession of all that they know relating to themselves & their Confederates, that they may be entitled to Mercy; but suspend their determination on the Petition till they know what is to be expected of this kind from the Petitioners, & in case they are inclin'd to make an honest discovery, the Chief Justice is desir'd to take their Examinations." 19
On October 16 the examinations of Jones and Barnes were read before the council, which, finding that there were no discoveries of consequence therein, unanimously decided that the sentence be no longer respited and ordered that the sheriff do his duty. 20 Both examinations, taken before Chief Justice John Kinsey on October 7, 1747, have been preserved. 21 That of Stephen Barnes, late of Greenwich, Morris County, New Jersey, blacksmith, is to the following effect: about three years before one Thomas Dote, at that time a constable of Morris County, informed him (Barnes) that a certain John Bellamy was suspected of counterfeiting Spanish pistoles, and that he (Dote) upon the order of Justice Anderson had gone to the house of one Edmund Robinson, where, upon search there had been found in Bellamy's pocketbook the following items: three pieces of eight which were probably good, four counterfeit pistoles, about £80 in false Rhode Island money and a counterfeit New York five shilling bill.
John Bellamy was no novice at the counterfeiting game, for beyond reasonable doubt he may be identified with a blacksmith of that name who in 1735 was living in Greenwich, Connecticut. On January 23 of that year Solomon Close, a grandjuryman, made complaint against Bellamy to Nathaniel Peck, a justice of the peace. On a writ issued by the justice Bellamy was apprehended by William Reynolds, constable of Greenwich. Justice Peck examined him the same day and ordered him confined in jail on suspicion of having coined and passed false half pistoles. Thomas Hill, the sheriff, however, released his prisoner on bail but at the Superior Court held at Fairfield on February 25, 1735, Bellamy failed to appear, so that the sheriff was ordered to pay a fine of £100.
Bellamy, however, did not escape so easily, for on April 30 Constable Reynolds complained against him to Justice Ebenezer Mead. A writ was issued, Bellamy was taken up and bound over to the next Superior Court in bail of £500, which was furnished by Gershom Lockwood of Greenwich. At the session of the court held at Fairfield in August, 1735, it was charged that Bellamy at his shop in the Parish of Horseneck in Greenwich had made Spanish half pistoles of brass and other mixed metals. It was stated by one Abraham Todd, one of the witnesses against him, that he had seen Bellamy with iron dies, had remonstrated with him about his bad conduct and told him what a grief he would be to his father. The grand jury, nevertheless, returned the indictment Ignoramus. Yet he was still in difficulties on account of his failure to appear in court in February and in October he petitioned the General Assembly to permit him to give a bond of £100 and have the sentence against Sheriff Hill declared fully satisfied. 22
Early in 1739 Samuel Darling of New Haven traced a bogus New York 5/ bill back to Bellamy, who was living in Wallingford, and it appeared that Bellamy was both the forger and the passer. Darling complained to Joseph Whiting, assistant, on February 27 and a writ was issued directing either the Sheriff of New Haven County or the Constable of Wallingford to search for bills, plates or counterfeiting materials and to arrest Bellamy or anyone else concerned. Bellamy was apprehended and released on bail of £300 furnished by himself and his father, Matthew Bellamy, Sr., for his appearance at the Superior Court to be held in New Haven in August, 1739. John was present in court on the second day of the session and was indicted for having, about the middle of February, passed two counterfeit New York 5/ bills. On the next day he was called three times but did not appear; his bail was declared forfeited, while Darling, as informer, received a reward of £20. 23 It was doubtless at this time that the blacksmith moved southward, only to continue his nefarious work in another province.
Some twelve months earlier Dote informed Barnes that he (Dote), Folker Folkerson and Anthony Hutchins were to have a pair of dies or stamps, for coining pieces of eight, made for them by a certain Bruff of Elizabethtown, and that Folker Folkerson paid £120 for them. Later Barnes saw such a set of dies in the custody of Peter Ulrick in Philadelphia, dies which, he was informed by his fellow prisoner, John Jones, had been secured by Ulrick from Folker Folkerson.
In the examination it was further stated that Dote had offered to employ Barnes to assist him and others in counterfeiting pieces of eight; that John Jones told him (Barnes) of another set of stamps for coining pieces of eight which was in the custody of a younger brother of Folker Folkerson (or Folkerston); and finally that John McNeal and Hans Davacutt were partners with him in a design for coining the Spanish money.
John Jones, late of Bristol, England, smelter, in his examination largely corroborated Barnes's story. In the spring of 1747, at Barnes's house, there had been discussion of a mine at Lamacunk in New Jersey and there were several persons at the mine, among them Anthony Hutchins, who "behaved as if he were principally concern'd." Jones spoke of Dote, of Bruff's making a set of dies for striking pieces of eight, and of the purchase of the set by Dote, Folkerson and Hutchins. In addition he related his going with one Campbell and others to Bound Brook to the house of Folker Folkerson's brother, where he saw a set of dies and where John McNeal showed him some metal. A certain Hans Davacutt offered Jones £20 if he would make this metal malleable but Jones said that it could not be done since it was base metal.
These examinations had not satisfied the members of the Provincial Council, but before the sentence was executed on the two prisoners the council again took up their case, on October 22, when it was represented that the clerk employed to take down their confession had omitted a material part thereof, namely that Jones had thrown the dies for making dollars into the river. Thereupon the council directed the sheriff to make further enquiry into this circumstance and to report back to the council if the dies were found; if they were not found, he was at once to execute the sentence against Barnes and Jones. 24
By November 9 the petitioners had told the sheriff the exact place where the dies had been thrown, and the sheriff had found them and produced them to the council. It was then ordered that the pillorying of Barnes and Jones be remitted but that the residue of their sentence be performed. In addition Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Till were instructed to be a committee to see the dies utterly defaced and then to produce them in council, 25 a task which was duly performed on the following day. 26
Petitions from Jones and Barnes were read before the council on Friday, June 3, 1748, praying that they might be released from jail if they enlisted to serve his Majesty, and their prayers were promptly granted. 27
Apparently the John McNeal, mentioned by both Barnes and Jones as concerned in counterfeiting metal, turned to forging and passing bills of credit of New Jersey, for on August 20, 1748, Robert Hunter Morris, Chief Justice of New Jersey, issued his warrant to the High Sheriff of Somerset County to arrest McNeal for that crime. The warrant also called for the arrest of McNeal's accomplices, who were mentioned as follows: Jacobus Vanetta, Robert Levingston, David Brant, Court Timery, Isaac Woortman, Ebenezer Doud, Abraham Anderson, Peter Salter, Joshua Robins and Abraham Southerd. The High Sheriff was also instructed to search their homes and all likely hiding places and to seize all tools or materials for counterfeiting either bills or coins as well as all such counterfeit money. 28
It would seem that many, and perhaps all, of the persons sought were not to be found. In any event, on August 20, Chief Justice Morris issued another warrant, this time to the Sheriff of Morris County, John Kinney, to make a similar search and seizure and to arrest Job Allen, John Pipes, Andrew Morrison, Abraham Hathaway, Jonathan Hathaway, Seth Hall, Jacobus Vannatta, John McNeal, Joshua Robins, Abraham Anderson, Robert Levingston, Court Timeray and Isaac Woortman. 29
At the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County one Thomas Quick was presented on September 17, 1747, for counterfeiting money — it is not specified whether it consisted of coin or bills — but the jury returned his indictment Ignoramus. 30
Not long after this case The Pennsylvania Gazette of October 22, 1747, printed the following warning:
Our Readers are cautioned to beware of a new Parcel of Counterfeit New-Jersey Fifteen Shilling Bills, just beginning to appear among us. They are in Imitation of the newest Money, dated July 2, 1746,
and may be known by these Particulars: The Paper of the Counterfeits is thin and smooth, and when look'd thro' in the Light,
appears fair and free from Knots: the Paper of the true Bills is thicker, rougher, and when look'd thro' in the Light appears
clouded and uneven: The Counterfeits are wholly done from a Copper-plate, the Back as well as the Foreside; the true Bills
are printed from common Types, in the common Printing-Press: The three Crowns by the Side of the Arms in the Counterfeits
are unlike each other, and more round than those in the true Bills, which are like each other, and the same with this The Flowers above and below those Crowns are in the true Bills the same with this in the Counterfeit they are nothing like: The Value of the Bill just over the Signers Names in the true Bills is in the same
Characters as here XV Shillings ‡ in the Counterfeits the Letters of the Word Shillings are larger. There are many other Marks by which they may be distinguished, but these, we hope, will be sufficient at present.
The same newspaper of October 29, 1747, warned that a new impression of the counterfeit fifteen shilling New Jersey bills had appeared, done on thicker paper and a better imitation of the genuine ones than those described on October 22. The Pensylvanische Berichte of November 16, repeated the description of some of the marks by which the false New Jersey fifteen shilling bills could be recognized but it also added further details: of the three crowns near the coat of arms the uppermost was smaller than the lower two; the word XV Shillings was badly engraved; in the false bills the stood directly above the V and in the good bills it was above it to the left; in the good bills the Löb[Lion ?] had a crown on the head and in the false bills a cap. There were besides very many marks in the false bills which could be rubbed out or scratched, so that whenever the marks of distinction were erased or the place was uncommonly dirty, that in itself was suspicious.
The account in the German paper then continued as follows:
Sometimes before false paper money has been made in England or Ireland and brought into this country and invariably has been discovered at once. Now, however, it seems as if such a master has
come into the country. An order has been placed in a paper mill for such paper as is to be white on one side and gray on the
other, as the Philadelphia money is; thus they will want to pass the Jersey money in Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia money in New Jersey.
They might as well, however, let it be, for it is quite impossible for one to imitate paper money so that it will be like
the genuine in all details; unless one has the same letter, flowers, foliage and all details wherewith the genuine money was
made, and if one should think that he had done everything successfully, yet the printer has other secret signs of which another
person does not think. The poor man accepts the counterfeit and cannot keep it long; whoever has doubts about it then goes
to the printer. The printer knows his own work, and thus the matter becomes apparent. It is shameful for one to try to support
himself in this fashion, for usually the poor or the stupid or simple people have to suffer from it if they want to buy something
or pay their debts when those who understand it do not take the money from them or when they make a cross through it.
The same item warned also of false twelve shilling New Jersey bills, dated March 25, 1733. They were in part sullied and patched as though they were old; the two moons were smaller than in the good bills, and anyone who held a genuine bill next to a counterfeit could easily recognize it.
Counterfeit six shilling New Jersey bills were also reported to be circulating, and the writer of the item, probably Christopher Sauer, remarked that no one needed to accept suspicious money unless he knew the man who would take it from him again, while on the last Philadelphia money was printed: To Counterfeit is Death.
A few days later The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 19, 1747, described the false six shilling New Jersey bills. They were dated July 2, 1746, and done wholly from an engraved copperplate, while the genuine bills were printed with common types. In addition to other marks the counterfeits could be detected by the fact that the S in the word [SILVER] was much larger than the rest of the same word, while the s in Grains was very badly made S; in the border of flowers around the sage leaf on the back of the counterfeits the flourishing was more open, loose and irregular than in the true bills. Likewise the strokes representing the fibres of the leaf did not appear as naturally rough as in the true bills; the S in the word SIX at the top of the counterfeits was much smaller than the IX, and the letters in SHILLINGS at the top of the false notes stood very crooked. 31
Two of the persons concerned in putting out these counterfeits were John Lummis, a native of Narraganset and a blacksmith, and "Dr." Joseph Bradford of New London, who sometimes used this name and sometimes that of James or Joseph Bill. They were arrested at Hackensack early in December for uttering false New Jersey bills. One of them, when first apprehended, made an excuse to go behind a barrack, where he was seen to stick something in it. The object was revealed to be a large bundle of bills, which, together with others found on their persons, made in all 102 bills of fifteen shillings each, of which thirty-six were signed, 142 bills of twelve shillings each, of which eight were signed, and 89 bills of six shillings each, of which twenty-seven were signed. Some of the six shilling bills were dated 1743 and others 1746. 32 Unfortunately Bill escaped from the Bergen County jail, 33 and continued his career of crime.
Bill quickly associated himself in Massachusetts with Isaac Jones and Jonathan Bryant in the counterfeiting of bills of credit and these rogues enlisted a number of persons as passers of their product. Bryant was apprehended in 1749 but he managed to warn Jones and Bill. The pair made their escape from an island near Boston and went to work again in the woods at Newton, where they were seized and then taken to jail in Cambridge. While they were being transferred to prison in Boston, they eluded their guards at Watertown. Bill was apparently taken up in Connecticut by Paul Welch of New Milford but he soon broke out of the jail in Hartford. In March, 1749, Jones and Bill were conveyed across to Sag Harbor on Long Island by one Jedediah Ashcraft of Groton, who described Bill to the authorities as a tall man, not thick of body and well dressed. He added that Bill was pretending to be a great physician and was going by the name of Doctor Wilson. 34
In 1751 Bill was associated with Jonathan Woodman and Samuel Dunsten in counterfeiting and was jailed in New York City. When, however, the only sure evidence against him, Woodman, hanged himself in his cell, Bill was released and continued his making of money until late in 1772, when he was arrested in New York Province, was tried, convicted and sentenced to death at Albany and executed there on April 2, 1773. 35
A sample of his workmanship has probably been preserved in a counterfeit Connecticut £3 bill now in the Connecticut State Library (see illustration). It was secured from Benjamin Gale, at whose house David Wilcox, one of Bill's passers, roomed with Samuel Ingham, suspected of being another passer, by Jonathan Factor of Branford. Factor sent the note to Captain Edmund Ward in Guilford and it was then turned over by Ward to Samuel Lynde, assistant. Gale, it appears, was unwilling to swear the bill on Ingham, so the authorities were unable to secure Ingham's conviction. 36
(Courtesy of Connecticut State Library)
(Courtesy of Connecticut State Library)
The New Jersey authorities rightly suspected that an organized gang was forging the currency of the province. Governor Jonathan Belcher, in an address to the council and assembly of New Jersey on Thursday, November 19, 1747, said: "I am, Gentlemen, in the next Place to acquaint you, that I have lately received from one Mr. Hopkins, a Magistrate in Rhode-Island Government, a Number of counterfeited Bills of this Province, which Mr. Secretary shall deliver you. We are obliged to this Gentleman for his good Care; and from this, and other Informations of the like Kind, I have reason to believe there is a Knot, or Combination of villainous Persons, that are making a Trade of forging the Bills of this Province; And this Matter well deserves your speedy Care and strict Enquiry, as it strikes at the very Vitals of your Currency, and so must nearly affect not only your Commerce, but your other Estates also." 37
About mid-August, 1748, there came a report from Anweil and its vicinity that there was a large band of money makers, among whom were supposed to be important and wealthy persons. Some apparently acted openly and others secretly, and they had used the services of a printer, one Heinrich Jaeger, who admitted that he had made £40 himself but had passed only a fifteen shilling bill. For his crime he was tried at a Court of Oyer and Terminer for counterfeiting the current money of New Jersey, was convicted and hanged in Trenton on Saturday, July 16, 1748, leaving behind a wife and nine children, most of whom were small. Further, at the gallows his wife had a fine or tax of £50 imposed on her. One of the gang, who had turned King's evidence against him at the trial, was no sooner released than he bought a horse with counterfeit money but was overtaken and imprisoned. It was reported that the false money was being passed in Virginia and various remote place by persons who knew nothing of it. Several persons, in addition to Jaeger (or Yager) were arrested and imprisoned on suspicion of being guilty of the same crime, and it was said that the government was determined to exert itself in detecting and punishing this growing evil. 38
In October, 1748, Daniel and Rebecca Johns and Stephen Phillips were convicted, presumably at the Mayor's Court of Philadelphia, of coining and passing false pieces of eight. At a meeting of the Common Council of the city on January 8, 1749, a petition from them was read, wherein they claimed that this was their first offence and that their crime was due to their extreme ignorance of its nature and mischievous consequences. They explained that they were very poor and lacked the means to pay the heavy fines which had been imposed on them. Their pleading was successful, and the council promptly remitted their fines. 39
The public in Philadelphia was cautioned in November, 1748, to beware of counterfeit twenty shilling New Castle bills dated March 1, 1734. All were done from copperplate, while the genuine ones were made from common printing letters. The false bills might be detected by comparing all the letters of the same sort, especially f with the f's in the line, Act of Assembly of this Government of; the f's in the three of's were alike in the true bills but unlike each other in the counterfeits. The signing of the false notes was very badly executed. 40
Counterfeit Spanish doubloons were found circulating in Philadelphia in December, 1748, and January, 1749. The Pennsylvania Gazette of December 20 reported: "Some … have been found, on Trial, to contain little more than Eleven Penny-weight of Gold, and the rest Copper. They may be distinguished from the true Ones, by the Roughness of the Impression, which is not struck or stamped as in the true Ones, but cast in Sand; and by the Roundness and Smoothness of the Edges, which are hammer'd up after Casting." A more lengthy account of the same coins was given in the Pennsylvanische Berichte of January 16, 1749: they were circulating among the simple people and were, in general, heavy, but could be recognized by the fact that the lower part was rougher than the upper; they were cast in sand and not struck, and hence the bottom part was rough and the upper part hammered smooth; they were mixed with copper and quicksilver, and therefore no larger than the genuine coins; some contained so much quicksilver that it shone out on the edge and had white spots; if they were thrown down on a stone, they would fall to pieces; some were hammered round on the edge; if they were tested in a cupel, it was found that some were only half gold; others were only twelve shillings less in value, while still others lacked thirty to forty shillings in value.
Other false coin was likewise passing at this time, namely three sorts of milled dollars, two dated 1741 and the other 1744. In the counterfeits dated 1744 the R and A in VTRAQUE stood too far apart, so as to make VTRAQUE look like two distinct words. As for those dated 1741 (see illustration opposite p. 76), one sort might be known because the A in HISPAN was much too small for the rest of the letters; in the other sort the space where the date was placed was much broader than in the true coins; also the left side of the crown on the left hand pillar was directly under the A in VTRAQUE, but in the true dollars the same left side of the crown fell between the R and the A; all of these dollars were well milled at the edges but in general the letters were not so well made and regular as in genuine pieces. The counterfeits were of base metal and contained but two shillings eight pence worth of silver and the rest copper; if a bit of the surface, which was silvered over, were scraped away and the place sullied by rubbing on the short hair of a man's head, then the brassy complexion would appear. The counterfeits, if placed on the end of a finger and struck with a small key, all yielded a shriller sound than the true ones. Before January 24, 1749, several Germans had been arrested and imprisoned for being concerned in uttering them but the principal workman had fled, presumably with his tools. 41
Shortly before February 14, 1749, a person was arrested in Philadelphia "on suspicion of being concerned in coining of Spanish Rix-dollars,"
and soon Christopher Sauer in his Germantown newspaper printed a lengthy article about the coining which was going on. Since his last article, that of January 16, on
the subject, some new types of Spanish doubloons had appeared. He wrote:
The doubloons are not rough like those last reported but rather smooth and thick; these also are not all like one another;
some are particularly thick in the middle and of very pale gold. The merchants in Philadelphia call them "Germantown doubloons." The other type appears like the good ones, so that even the goldsmiths cannot recognize and differentiate them
from their appearance. A merchant in Philadelphia is said to have taken in such a doubloon and to have sent it to a goldsmith and asked if it was good. The goldsmith replied
that it was good. The merchant had doubts and sent it to another goldsmith, who also reported that it was genuine. At this
the merchant sent it to a third goldsmith, who tested the interior of the doubloon and found that it was only half gold. If,
then, goldsmiths cannot differentiate the coins by their appearance, how is the farmer, who has, indeeed, had little gold
in his hands, to recognize them?
Sauer continued with the statement that three sorts of false dollars were also circulating. As long as they were new, their exterior was as white as that of the genuine ones. The flowers outside on the edge were as clear as in the true and in the impression differed little from the genuine, though it was possible to recognize them. Only dollars bearing the dates 1741 and 1744 were so far suspicious, and, to recognize the false coins, much the same directions were given as had been published in The Pennsylvania Gazette of January 24, 1749. Sauer added, however, that on one variety of the counterfeits dated 1741 the space before the date was broader than in the true money. He also suggested that in the case of suspicious dollars one should shave a spot and rub the place with saliva, whereupon the copper would shine through, as the coins were coated with a silver wash. "It is apparent," he concluded, "that they are being made in Germantown and it has become well enough known through the country who the coiner, his helper, and his helper's helpers are." 43
In the Pensylvanische Berichte of March 1, 1749, Sauer informed his readers that since his article of two weeks before three further types of Spanish dollars had appeared, all dated 1742. In addition there were two other sorts, one dated 1744 and one dated 1737. Such counterfeits were not so neatly struck, for the bad metal was hard and not so easy to coin. For this reason the impression was more blotchy and, if the counterfeits were scraped and rubbed with saliva, the copper appeared reddish, while genuine coins remained white as fine silver and rang almost the same, the one as the other, but the false ones rang either much clearer or very badly.
Thomas Penn was informed of the counterfeiting, either about this time or a little later, and on September 7, 1749, wrote from London to Lynford Lardner in Philadelphia in these terms: "I am concerned to find that you have been so much imposed on with the Counterfeit Doubloons but think the method you have taken of weighing them will secure you against any loss. if pieces of eight are also adulterated, the damage will be much greater as I suppose their value is ten times more than the Gold, and how the five thousand just arrived will turn out we shall soon know." 44
The false coiners, however, soon came to grief, as is shown by the article printed in Sauer's Pensylvanische Berichte of March 16, 1749, whose translation from the German is as follows:
One could have written the sheet full of what has taken place in Pennsylvania, if one had wanted to describe, from the devil's kingdom (which made its beginning with men through cunning, lies and deceit),
what the names of the money coiners and their colleagues were, how they began and carried on the business, how they were discovered,
examined, what they confessed, denied and held back, etc., etc., etc. All this however, would have been of no use; another
person of more evil intent could have learned still further wickedness from it; in place of it there has been introduced into
the newspaper a beneficent reminder and warning with regard to that kind of activity in the future, for the good of others
and of these mentioned, in order to warn all Germans in the whole country that in the future no one may any longer incur that
kind of sin and shame to their own injury and that of others, not at all out of passion and hatred against anyone, but for
their profit and improvement. Immediately thereupon one of those struck by it, who does not want, as it seems, to mend his
ways, or it may be that there are more than one of these, has had printed in the Philadelphia German Fauna a libel against Sauer, to which he is not willing to answer a word, except that he is not willing in the future
to desist from printing in the paper whatever redounds to the honor of God, serves for his neighbor's benefit and for the
disclosure and discovery of the realm of the devil, whether it be a question of living swindlers, of cutpurses in the body
or in the spirit or whether they be as dead as Judas, about whom it is still written seventeen hundred years after his death:
"He was a thief." One may to his heart's content hereafter scold, slander and defame Sauer, tell lies about him or write what
one wants, he will utterly disregard it, and, if someone wants to print something in the paper to the aforementioned purpose,
he may send it in free. Sauer will be glad to allow himself to be scolded, dishonored and vilified; but no one is to expect
scolding and vilifying in return; that kind of thing he will leave to bad boys and the like, and he will act as one who goes
his way and allows each bird to sing its song according to its fashion, for, so long as the devil still has children and servants,
it is not to be expected that anyone who has as his aim the slightest good or useful thing might remain unattacked.
Unfortunately Sauer had named no names, but the persons arrested were tried, convicted and sentenced the last week in September, 1749, when the SupremeCourt had before it the cases of a number of coiners. Two were probably the Dutchmen named Hawke, who had been committed to jail in Philadelphia during the second week in September on suspicion of being concerned in counterfeiting doubloons and pieces of eight. 45 Others were beyond question persons tried at a Court of Oyer and Terminer held in Bucks County during the second week in September. At this court "several Indictments were found against Persons concern'd in Coining and Uttering bad Silver and Gold Money." One of these, convicted of coining, was fined £40 and sentenced to stand one hour in the pillory on October 5; two were convicted of having agreed with several others to make base metal pass for silver and gold. Since, however, some questions arose as to rendering a judgment on the verdict of the jury, the determination was deferred to the Supreme Court, which was to be held the last week in September. 46
It is probable that the two men named Hawke, the three persons from Bucks County, and individuals taken in Germantown were associates. This, however, is not definitely established, and the account given by Sauer in the Pensylvanische Berichte of October 16, 1749, apparently is concerned only with persons arrested long before the Hawkes or the individuals from Bucks County. He states that the case of the money makers came to an end at the Supreme Court during the last week in September, after the accused had been a full year in prison or going about on bail. Their lawyer could make no better plea than that the jurymen themselves should reflect carefully before imposing too severe a judgment. And the judgment was, indeed, a mild one: one of the coiners of silver was fined £40, another £20 and another £5, while each of the coiners of gold was sentenced to pay a fine of £10.
There was, at the close of 1749, a plague of counterfeits in Philadelphia, this time of forged paper bills of credit. The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 30, 1749, desired its readers "to beware of Counterfeit Pennsylvania Twenty Shilling Bills, which have lately appear'd among us: The Words, Arms, and Ornaments, of the Counterfeits, are done with a Pen; whereas the Words of the True Ones are done with Printing Letters, and the Ornaments, &c. cut. Also of Counterfeit Jersey Six Shilling Bills; the Impression is very black and fresh, they are done from a very bad Copperplate, and the Letters are so badly proportioned, and stand so irregular, that they may be easily discover'd. The True Ones are likewise done with Printing Letters. The Counterfeits of both Sorts may be seen at the Post-Office."
The Pensylvanische Berichte, which appeared the next day, December 1, gave a detailed description of what were apparently quite different counterfeits of the Pennsylvania twenty shilling bills. These were dated August 10, 1739, bore four crowns, and had appeared after some ships arrived in Philadelphia with Newcomers and Newlanders. The bills were well executed, save that the crowns were a little too pointed, especially on the right; there were a couple of other marks of distinction, which, however, the swindler could easily change. But the clearest mark was the fact that the paper of the counterfeits was whiter than that of the true bills, for the Pennsylvania money was intentionally made so that one side of bill was white and the other grey; the false bills were patched, and on the back each one had a piece stuck on though they were not torn, and they were on purpose sullied, as if they were already old. In spite of the fact that they were well executed, as soon as a printer saw them, he would know them as certainly as a weaver of linen knows what is linen or half linen and it could not be hidden. If the swindler made them correctly, the words, "To Counterfeit is Death," would be on the back.
The Pennsylvania Gazette of December 12 warned against forged threepenny bills, done from copperplate but so badly executed that they might be known at first sight; the newspaper cautioned the public to be on guard against ninepenny, sixpenny and fourpenny bills which might also have been counterfeited. 47
At this same time New Jersey six shilling counterfeits also appeared and were described as blacker than the good ones, as still fresh, and printed from poorly cut copperplates. They could be readily detected as false if compared with a genuine bill. 48
(Courtesy of Lancaster County Court of Quarter Sessions)
Ms. Quarter Sessions Docket, Chester County, 1733–1742, pp. 174, 178.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 10, 1742, p. 3.
Ibid., March 10, 1743, p. 2.
The American Weekly Mercury, Aug. 2, 1744, p. 3; the same item is reprinted in The Boston Evening Post Aug. 13, 1744, p. 4. On the career of Tom Bell see the article on him by Clifford K. Shipton which will appear in volume 9 of Sibley's Harvard Graduates.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Aug. 9, 1744, p. 3.
Diary No. 2 in the Ridgway Library in Philadelphia.
Ms. Minutes of the Supreme Court, Appearance Docket, Sept. 1740 – Sept. 1751, p. 93.
Der Hoch-Deutsch Pensylvanische Geschicht-Schreiber, Sept. 16, 1745, p. 3; the same item in English appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 21, 1745, p. 2.
Ms. Criminal Docket of Bucks County, 1742–1750, March, June, September and December Sessions, 1746.
Ibid., September term, 1746, and the recognizance in the Bucks County File of documents of criminal cases, September, 1746.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, p. 674.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , V, p. 94.
Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., I, p. 765.
Ms. Criminal Docket of Bucks County, 1742–1750, September and December terms, 1747.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, April 16, 1747, p. 4 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, May 16, 1747, p. 3.
Ms. Quarter Sessions Docket, Chester County, 1742–1749, p. 92.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, nos. 973 and 975 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, Sept. 16, 1747, p. 4. The Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette, No. 973, p. 2, in a Philadelphia item dated August 10 had reported that the previous Friday several persons were committed to the local jail on suspicion of counterfeiting pieces of eight.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , V, p. 119.
Ibid., V, p. 125.
In the collection of Mr. J. N. Spiro of Maplewood, N. J.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , V, p. 134.
Ibid., V, p. 140.
Ibid., V, p. 145.
Ibid., V, p. 268.
Warrant dated August 17, 1748, in the J. N. Spiro Collection.
Warrant dated August 20, 1748, in the J. N. Spiro Collection.
Ms. Criminal Docket of Bucks County, 1742–1750, Sept. 17, 1747.
The New-York Evening Post, Aug. 5, 1751, p. 3.
The Boston Evening Post, March 13 and 20, 1749; The Boston Weekly News-Letter, March 16 and 24, 1749; Crimes and Misdemeanors (ms. in the Connecticut State Library) IV, fols. 123–126; Colonial Records of Connecticut IX, p. 465; Superior Court Files (ms. in the Connecticut State Library), New London County, March, 1750; The Court Diary of William Samuel Johnson 1772–1773 (Washington, D.C.: The American Historical Association, 1942), p. xliii.
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 75–77 and 154–170.
The New-York Gazette, revived in the Weekly Post-Boy, Dec. 6, 1747, p. 1; the same is found in German in the Pensylvanische Berichte, Dec. 16, 1747, p. 2.
The Pensylvanische Berichte, Aug. 16, 1748, p. 2 and The Pennsylvania Journal, or Weekly Advertiser, July 28, 1748, p. 3.
Minutes of the Common Council of Philadelphia , p. 520.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 10, 1748, p. 2 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 16, 1748, p. 3.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 24, 1749, p. 2.
Ibid., Feb. 14, 1749, p. 2.
The Pensylvanische Berichte, Feb. 16, 1749, p. 3.
Penn's Letter Book, II, p. 281 (in The Historical Society of Pennsylvania).
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Sept. 14, 1749, p. 2.
Ibid., Sept. 21, 1749, p. 3.
The same item is also found in the Pensylvanische Berichte, Dec. 16, 1749, p. 3.
The Pensylvanische Berichte, Dec. 16, 1749, pp. 2–3.
In The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 15, 1750, appeared the following notice: "The Public are caution'd to beware of new Counterfeit Half-Crown Bills. They are of the Year 1744, and may be distinguish'd, by observing that they are struck from a Copper Plate; whereas the true Bills are done with common Printing Letters. In the Motto of the Coat of Arms the Word JUSTICE is spelt JNSRICE. And in the Word Province, the r stands close under the Bow of the P. They are supposed to be brought from Germany." 1
Ten days later the public were warned to be on guard against counterfeit ninepenny bills, dated 1749 and struck from a copperplate, whereas the true bills were done with common printing letters. In the motto of the coat of arms the word JUSTICE was spelled JNSTICE, and in the word pass, there was almost room enough to insert another letter between the p and a. 2
In January, 1751, a man who went by the name of John Jones, "supposed to be a Coiner, and an Out-law of Virginia, for whom 'tis thought a considerable Reward was offered by that Government some Time ago," was discovered in a haystack and committed to prison. 3 The Virginian for whom John Jones was taken was one of the brothers of Low Jackson, a silversmith of Nansemond County, who had been indicted for counterfeiting Spanish double doubloons. 4
The Pennsylvania authorities, towards the close of the year 1750, discovered a band of coiners, some of whom were Quakers. John Smith, in his diary, which is preserved in the Ridgway Library, under the date of 20th 10th mo. 1750, wrote: "Anthony Benezet and I visited Samuel Jackson in person to deal with him for being concerned in Counterfeiting Cobs & Dollars &ca" Smith's Letter Book, in The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, reveals that on the lst mo. 27, 1751, he wrote to Edward Cathrall of Dublin: "We have had (Friends I mean) a great deal of trouble since thou left us, on account of some of our members being charged with some concern in Counterfeiting Spanish Money. They are to have their Tryals the beginning of next month when tis probable it will be known how far they are Guilty Therein."
Another of the gang appears to have been named Whitmore, for The Pennsylvania Journal, or Weekly Advertiser of February 19, 1751, reported: "Wednesday last, one hitmore, who lives near to Lancaster, and a Negroe Man, was committed to Prison for Coining and uttering several false Pieces of Eight." Two accomplices, Christopher Marshall and John Eastburne were indicted at the April, 1751, term of the Supreme Court "for aiding" and put on trial. One of the jurors, however, becoming dangerously ill, left the jury before a verdict was reached, so the case was continued for trial the next term. 5 On the first of the third month Smith wrote to Cathrall that Marshall and Jackson had been tried but that no verdict had been rendered; and on May 18, 1751, James Logan, Jr., wrote to John Smith: "We have been much surprised to find you have had money Coiners belong to your Monthly Meeting." 6
At the same April, 1751, term of the Supreme Court Christopher Marshall, Samuel Jackson, Benjamin Whitmore and John Eastburn (or Eastburne) were indicted "for a Conspiracy &c.," and the witnesses for the King were recorded as B. Whitmore, Jno. Eastburne, Philip Syng, Jr., Jno. Conrad Sweighausen, Jr., Samuel Golden, James Read, John Levi …, one Clarkson, Benjamin Betterton, Anthony Benezet, Samuel Howell, Israel Pemberton, Jr., William Logan, Reese Meredith, and Robert Towers. 7
The coiners were tried at the Supreme Court at the April, 1752, term. Christopher Marshall was found not guilty on two indictments, but on a third the jury found that "Christopher Marshall is Guilty of a Misdemeanor in knowing of & concealing the Stamps mention'd in the Indictmt. but as to the Residue of the matters charg'd in the Indictment he is not guilty." On the same indictment the jury found Samuel Jackson guilty of the whole. On still another indictment (against Benjamin Whitmore and Samuel Jackson) Jackson was found "guilty of counterfeiting the Spanish Pistoles mention'd in the Indictmt. in manner & form." On a third indictment the jury said that "Samuel Jackson is guilty of receiving the false Pieces of Eight mentd. in the Indictmt. and thereby aiding, & abetting Benjamin Whitmore, in manner and Form." The sentences imposed on April 20 were as follows: Jackson was to stand one hour in the pillory on the coming Saturday, pay a fine of fifty pounds, be imprisoned for four months and give security for his good behavior for twelve months, himself in the amount of £100 and two others in the amount of £50 each. Marshall was to be imprisoned for two months in the Philadelphia jail, to pay a fine of fifty pounds and to give security for his good behavior for twelve months, himself in the amount of £100 and two others in the amount of £50 each. 8
At a meeting of the Common Council of Philadelphia on November 17, 1752, a petition from Samuel Jackson was read. He set forth that he had received the corporal punishment and suffered imprisonment for his crime of having counterfeited Spanish pistoles but that he was unable to pay the fine of £50 to the Corporation. As he had several small children depending on him for their support, he prayed that the fine might be remitted. The council, considering his poverty. agreed to take his bond for the sum and to discharge him on condition that he immediately leave the province. 9
John Eastburn, at the April, 1752, term of the Supreme Court, was required to give security for his appearance at the September term of the same court, himself in the amount of £500 and David Clarke in the sum of £250. He duly appeared, and, on October 18, 1752, was discharged, after paying costs of prosecution and furnishing security for his good behavior for twelve months, himself in the amount of £100 and each of two other persons in the amount of £100. 10
In February, 1751, the public was cautioned to beware of hammered, unmilled counterfeit pieces of eight. They seemed to have been cast in sand and then hammered smooth towards the sides, though the ground within the figured part appeared rough. Outwardly they had the complexion of silver, but, if part of the coin were scraped and then rubbed on the short hair of the head, the copperish color would begin to appear. 11
The maker of these pieces of eight was soon discovered, for The Pennsylvania Gazette of June 20, 1751, printed the following item: "Saturday last Hercules Roney, of Horsham, Weaver, was committed to the Jail of this City, for counterfeiting Unmilled Pieces of Eight. They are cast, and hammer'd; are of a very dull Colour, sound very ill, and seem as if there was little or no Silver in them. And on Monday Benjamin Gilbert, a Blacksmith, was also committed, on Suspicion of having made his Tools." The same newspaper, on June 27, added further information about the false coins: "A Gentleman who has seen a Parcel of the Mill'd Pieces of Eight, made by Hercules Roney, says, they are not so large as the true Ones; that on weighing them, they want Three Penny Weight, odd Grains; when scrap'd or rubb'd, appear quite Copperish; and have a shriller Sound than the genuine Pieces."
The list of prisoners in the Philadelphia jail contains among the names of criminals "Hercules Rhoney" on July 2 and October 29, 1751. 12 About a month after the last date Roney was tried. The Pennsylvania Gazette of December 5, 1751, printed this item: "Tuesday last Hercules Roney, of Horsham Township, Weaver, … was indicted at the Court of Quarter Sessions, and convicted of having counterfeited the Unmill'd Pieces of Eight; for which he was sentenced to stand one Hour in the Pillory on Wednesday the 18th Instant, and to be whipt Twenty-one Lashes."
During the summer of 1751 arrests for counterfeiting occurred in Bucks County. On June 14 one Margaret Thomas appeared before Alexander Graydon, apparently a justice of the peace, and was charged with uttering false pieces of eight. She was released on her recognizance in the sum of £20 and with Thomas Owen as a security in the sum of £10. 13 She came before the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County at the September term, when Joseph Hart and Alexander Graydon bore witness against her. She was indicted for passing false dollars, pleaded not guilty, and thereupon her case was continued to the December term and then again to the March, 1752, term, when she was tried, found not guilty and discharged. 14
On July 29, 1751, a certain James Huston, charged with passing several false fifteen shilling New Jersey bills, was released on his own recognizance and that of his wife, Mary, in the amount of £100. 15 At the September, 1751, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County he was indicted, pleaded not guilty and was tried. The King's witnesses in the case were Simon Butler and Richard Walker. The jury brought Huston in guilty, and he was sentenced to be imprisoned until October 22 and then to be put on the pillory for one hour and to pay a fine of £30. 16
At this same term of the court John Beard was charged with counterfeiting money, and the witnesses against him were Lawrence Growdon and Joseph Hart. Beard was, however, more fortunate than Huston, for the jury brought in his indictment Ignoramus. 17
It will be recalled that in November, 1750, counterfeit half crown bills were circulating, thought to be brought from Germany, and that in December, 1750, false ninepenny bills were also discovered. It turned out that both sorts had been made in Germany, as was revealed by the following item published in The Pennsylvania Gazette of October 17, 1751:
Last Week, at a Court of Oyer and Terminer, held in Lancaster, two Men (Father and Son) both nam'd Sigismund Hainly, were tried for counterfeiting the Halfcrown and Ninepenny Bills of
this Province, found guilty, and receiv'd Sentence of Death. The following is the Substance of the Confession of the Father,
which he made to several Gentlemen in Jail, after he receiv'd Sentence, viz.
That when he was last in Germany, he applied to a Person in Hamblebaugh,
in the Principality of Fulda (whose Name he could not remember) to engrave Plates for printing the Halfcrown and Ninepenny Bills: That the Person applied
to was a Printer, who accordingly printed and sign'd about Twenty Pounds of them, and deliver'd them to him: That he brought
them over with him, and utter'd about Six Pounds of them: That when they were discover'd to be bad, he put the rest into a
hot Oven, and consum'd them: That no Person was privy to or concern'd with him: That after he receiv'd this Quantity of bad
Money from the Printer, he saw him erase the Engraving from the Plates, in order, as he supposes, to use them for other Purposes.
He solemnly declares his Son's Innocence, and says, That he paid him about Twenty Shillings in false Bills, but never told
him they were Counterfeits.
Sometime before November 1 Hainly's (or Hänle's) wife saw the Lieutenant Governor in Philadelphia and besought him to spare her husband and son. The Lieutenant Governor, however pardoned only the son, and with that she was said to be satisfied, since she loved her son dearly. 19 Her husband was hanged in Lancaster early in November, and Christopher Sauer commented in his newspaper: "Not all are hanged who deal falsely with their neighbors but judgment is spared until eternity for them, who leave the world without repentance or change of heart." 20
Before long another counterfeiter was apprehended. "Saturday last," reported The Pennsylvania Gazette of February 11, 1752, "one William Kerr was committed to the Jail of this City, on Suspicion of having counterfeited the Mill'd Pieces of Eight. There were several bad Ones found upon him, and a Receipt for the mixing of Metals. He pretends to be a Weaver, and says he lives at Bethlehem, in the Jerseys, with one William M'Cracken. The Pieces are cast in Sand, and are filed upon the Milling; they look very rough, and are more of a Lead than Silver Colour, and sound like Brass." 21 The same paper of February 25, 1752, announced that the previous week Kerr had been indicted, tried and convicted at the Mayor's Court and had received the following sentence: "to stand in the Pillory one Hour To-morrow, to have his Ear nail'd to the same, and the Part nail'd cut off: And on Saturday next to stand another Hour in the Pillory, and to be whipt Thirty-nine Lashes, at the Cart's Tail, round two Squares; and then to pay a Fine of Fifty Pounds."
This sentence was also mentioned in the Pensylvanische Berichte of March 1, 1752. This German newspaper, however, added two paragraphs which read as follows:
"Daniel Müller, Edward Durry and Edward Blayster were likewise examined and declared guilty of death, and it was ordered that they be lashed tomorrow (February 26)."
"The above mentioned William Kerr thought to save his ear and discovered three others who shared with him in making dollars; hence he has not yet been punished. The other three however received their lashes on Wednesday, February 26."
From the above it would appear that Müller, Durry and Blayster were probably the accomplices denounced by Kerr to save his ear. Kerr finally stood in the pillory on a Saturday late in October and was whipped at the cart's tail round two squares. 22
At a meeting of the Common Council of Philadelphia on November 17, 1752, a petition from Kerr was read. He was in prison, for he had been unable to pay his fine of £50, since he was "afflicted wth sickness and reduced to great Poverty." He therefore prayed that the fine might be remitted. The Council was informed that he was really unable to pay the sum but that there was a "Charge against him in the Jerseys of a high Nature, which the detaining him here prevents his being called to Account for." It was thereupon referred to the recorder, if he should see cause to deliver Kerr to the Jersey officers. 23
An item in The Pennsylvania Gazette of June 4, 1752, revealed that on the preceding Tuesday a certain Francis Huff was indicted at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County for uttering counterfeit milled pieces of eight. He was convicted and sentenced to stand an hour in the pillory on the next Saturday and to be whipped twenty-one lashes.
Another person, a talented silversmith from Rhode Island, Gideon Casey, was arrested and committed to jail in Philadelphia during the first few days of August, 1752, on the charge of having passed counterfeit doubloons. In October he was tried at the Mayor's Court, convicted, and received the extremely light sentence of a fine of £50, without corporal punishment. 24 The fact that he got off so easily may have encouraged Casey, for he continued in his evil ways. He was later arrested in New York for counterfeiting and passing but was not convicted because of some legal technicality. 25
At the beginning of October a one shilling New Jersey bill, altered to six shillings, was passed in New York. The word one had been cut out and the word six put in, while the other parts of the bill had been so defaced that the deceit could not be detected at first glance but only upon close examination. The public was warned to be on guard against such altered bills. 26
At the beginning of the year 1753 counterfeit cased doubloons were said to be circulating in Philadelphia. The inside was of silver, plated over with gold, and so well executed that they might readily pass with persons not familiar with genuine ones. The color and impression were good, and the best way of detecting them was to remark their uncommon thickness around the edges. It was reported that double pistoles, done in the same manner, were also passing. 27
In York County at the April term of the Court of Quarter Sessions a certain Michael Linch was indicted for uttering one counterfeit piece of eight. He pleaded not guilty, and his case was continued to the July Session and then to the October term, 1753, next to the January, April, July and October terms of 1754, when his case disappears from the minutes of the court. It is probable that there was merely no prosecution. He had been released after his indictment on bail of £40. 28
The Pennsylvania Gazette of May 3, 1753, cautioned its readers to beware of false twenty shilling Pennsylvania bills, exceedingly well done with a pen, which might easily pass with other money to persons not warned about them. 29 The same newspaper on October 25, 1753, warned of "Counterfeit New-Castle Ten Shilling Bills, in Imitation of those dated the 28th of Feb. 1746. — — — — — Besides that the Counterfeits are struck off from an engraved Copper-Plate, and the true Bills from common Types or Printing Letters, the former may be known by these Marks. In the first Word, THIS, the S is made too tall in Proportion to the other Letters; the Letters of the Word INDENTED (except the I) are made leaning a little forward, which in the true Bills are upright; and in the Arms, the Word DROIT is made DPOIT. On the Back, the Word Counterfeit is spelt thus, Couuterfeit. There is Reason to believe these Counterfeits are imported from Germany. People are therefore desired to observe Carefully what Money they receive from the New-comers or Newlanders, or their Acquaintance; a great Reward will be paid to him that shall discover the Importer."
The following month the public in Philadelphia was warned about counterfeit English halfpence, whose circulation in New York City had led to a riot there and had caused virtual panic among the population.
The notice printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 15, 1753, read:
Our Readers are cautioned to beware of counterfeit English Halfpence, great Quantities of which we understand are lately imported. They are of all Kings and Years from King William downwards;
but besides being of base Metal, they are much lighter than the true Ones. They may be known by their Colour, Thinness, and
Roughness, occasioned by their being cast in Sand. 'Tis said that above Forty Thousand Pounds Sterling in such Halfpence, have been lately made in England; but their Currency being now stopt at home, some evil-minded Persons are buying them up to send to the Plantations. The
other Provinces are already on their Guard, and 'tis hoped our People will likewise be too prudent to give them a Currency;
since if they can be passed here, our Silver and Gold, to an equal Value, will be carried off in Exchange for them, to the
Ruin of the poorer Sort, in whose Hands they must at last sink; since all Merchants and knowing Dealers, will absolutely refuse
This timely caution may have had something to do with the fact that Philadelphia did not suffer from these counterfeits.
Early in December it was reported that two Germans had been arrested. One of them, Jacob Greator, was convicted, according to a notice from Reading, of having offered in payment a counterfeit piece in the likeness of a caroline; for this crime he received the extremely light sentence of a fine of £5 and imprisonment for one month. 31 The other German was a certain Daniel Jeffron, a Newlander, who was apprehended the first Friday in December for passing counterfeit Maryland ten shilling bills, of which some one thousand, all numbered 4452 but not all signed, were found in his chest. The engraving was not as neat as in the true bills and the word Maryland (apparently a watermark) was wanting in the paper. The money, Jeffron stated at first, was made in Germany but later said he had purchased it in Amsterdam of a man who made it his business to counterfeit paper currencies. He had lived for some years near Frederickstown in Maryland. 32 About the middle of February, 1754, he was tried at the Mayor's Court in Philadelphia and convicted on two indictments for passing false Maryland ten shilling bills. He was sentenced to be whipped twice, then to stand one hour in the pillory, to have the tip of his right ear nailed to it and to have the part nailed cut off. The sentence was carried out on the Saturday after the judgment was pronounced. 33
Jeffron claimed that he had come in the summer of 1753 from Amsterdam to Broad Bay in New England with a woman confederate. She intended, he said, to go to Boston a short time after he left her, and he thought it probable that she would offer some of the counterfeits there to persons who traded with Maryland. 34 Nothing more is known of the woman, but Jeffron, after suffering punishment in Philadelphia, was brought down to Annapolis the second week in April and there committed to prison. 35
In Maryland Jeffron must have been released without any punishment. The reason is found in the following letter written on May 11, 1754, by Governor Sharpe to Calvert, in which he stated: "My proposing an Act for the Support of the Currency of the neighbouring Colonies was occasioned by a Person's being lately convicted in Philadelphia for uttering counterfeit paper Currency of this Province, for which (tho a vast quantity of Bills were found in his possession) He escaped with a light punishment in comparison to what his Offence deserved: for want of such a Law as I have recommended He could be only punished by them as a Cheat; as the Crime was committed out of this Province (tho we must be much affected by such Offences) we could not take Cognizance at all of the fact of which he was accused." 36
Governor Sharpe's suggestion met with favor in the eyes of the Maryland legislators, and in 1754 a law was passed making it penal to counterfeit bills of Pennsylvania, New York, the Jersies and the three lower counties on Delaware, or knowingly to pass such counterfeits. The law was to be in force for three years, and in May, 1758, the act was continued for three years and was extended to cover also the bills of Virginia. It expired on April 24, 1762. 37
At the August term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County Robert Duncan, yeoman, of "Salsberry" Township, was in- dicted for a misdemeanor in having passed two false doubloons, made of brass and other mixed metals, to a certain William Langrell (or Langsall). The witnesses against Duncan were Langrell and one James Smith. Langrell, who had formerly lived in Dorset County, Maryland, made deposition before Justice Thomas Clark that he had received the two counterfeit coins from a certain Robert McCormick, who swore under oath that Duncan admitted that they were the same coins he had passed to Langrell and that Duncan had offered him, McCormick, either goods or money to get them back. At the August term Duncan was released on his own recognizance in the sum of £40 and on that of Patrick Duncan in a like amount. The case was continued to the November, 1754, term and then to the February, 1755, term, when it disappears from the records of the court. 38
Before the end of August, 1754, one William Shremer must have been tried and convicted at the Mayor's Court in Philadelphia of passing a New Jersey fifteen shilling bill. As part, or possibly all, of his punishment he was to pay a fine of £15. In any event, on August 31, 1754, his petition was read at a meeting of the Common Council of Philadelphia. In it he alledged that he had received the bill as genuine from a person unknown and that he was altogether unable to pay the fine. The Council out of consideration for his poverty, remitted ten pounds of the fine. 39
In March, 1755, the public was warned to beware of counterfeit milled pieces of eight then passing. They were exceedingly well done, were dated 1754, but could be easily discovered because they had PHILIP instead of FERDINAND on them; when they were rubbed a little, the base metal would appear. 40 Perhaps those concerned in putting out the false dollars were Matthew Berry and Dennis Connell, yeomen, who were presented twice at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County, once for having on June 30 passed one counterfeit piece of eight to Jacob Heller and again for having on the same date in the township of Leacock passed one false piece of eight to Jacob Yoner. Yoner and Heller were evidences for the King on both indictments. 41 At the August term of the court Berry and Connell pleaded not guilty to both indictments, were tried and convicted. On the first presentment they were sentenced each to receive eight lashes at the public whipping post on the next day, August 8, 1755, between the hours of nine and twelve, and to pay the costs of prosecution; on the second indictment each was sentenced to receive seven lashes on the bare back and to pay costs of prosecution. 42
According to The Maryland Gazette of September 25, 1755, a man was then in prison in Frederick County awaiting trial at the approaching assizes there for having counterfeited the ten shilling Pennsylvania bills dated August 10, 1739. "The Counterfeits," stated the paper, "are most wretchedly done, and are very unlike the true Bills; the Crest on the Coat of Arms, looks more like an Owl than a Demi-Lion; the two Flowers, one on each Side of the Coat of Arms, in the false Bill, look more like Apple-Dumplins than Crowns; the false Bills are pasted on the Back to conceal the Rose Leaf and Sage Leaf, and the Words, To Counterfeit is DEATH. In short, the whole is so badly done, that the Fraud may be discovered with half an Eye; notwithstanding which, several Persons in this Province have been imposed on with them, and the Intent of publishing this, is, to prevent further Impositions of the Sort."
The Pensylvanische Berichte of Germantown on August 1, 1756, noted that more New York money than ever before was being offered in Pennsylvania, and the public was cautioned to beware of counterfeit New York bills, especially those dated March 25, 1755, false bills which the New Yorkers themselves could not readily detect. The newspaper added that a law had been made in New York imposing the penalty of death on all convicted of being concerned in the forging or passing of such bills.
On November 4, 1756, The Pennsylvania Gazette warned of false Maryland twenty shilling bills which had recently appeared in Philadelphia. "The Utterers of them," continued the account, "have cut off the Signers Names from a true small bill, with the Figures 48, and pasted them nicely to their Counterfeit Bills, upon a thin Piece of Paper. Tho' there have none but Twenty Shilling Bills of that kind been seen hitherto, yet it is probable that all the Bills of a high Denomination are counterfeited in the same Manner; but after this Notice may be easily discovered.
"There are Counterfeit FIVE SHILLING Bills of the same Money also passing at present, not pasted as the above, but the Signers Names all done, it is thought, by one Hand, and the Plate very badly engraved." 43
The same newspaper on November 25, 1756, printed a warning that false ten shilling New Castle bills, done from copperplate, dated 1746 and having in the arms DPOIT instead of DROIT, had again appeared. They were the same counterfeits advertised in the paper on October 25, 1753. 44 Toward the end of November there were in circulation false Spanish dollars which could scarcely be detected because they were so well struck; when they were rubbed, however, they became somewhat redder than the good ones; 45 towards the latter part of January, 1757, they were again passing in Philadelphia. 46
The Pennsylvania Gazette of January 13, 1757, gave notice of counterfeit ten shilling Pennsylvania bills. "They are dated," it read, "August 10, 1739, and are done with Printing Letters; but the Ornaments, in general, both on the Faces and Backs of them, so ill done, that it is almost impossible to be mistaken in them. In the true Bills the Words TWO CROWNS, are neatly cut at the Bottom of the Faces of the Bills, but in the Counterfeits they are made TWO CROWES." 47 These same false ten shilling bills made their appearance again in July. 48
Some light is thrown upon the counterfeiters or passers of these bills by the following item which was inserted in The Pennsylvania Gazette of August 11, 1757, by John Stockton, a leading citizen of Princeton. It read:
Whereas sometime in the Month of March past, two Men, who said they lived at Lancaster, in the Province of Pennsylvania, came on Horseback, with Packs of Linen and some other dry Goods, to Prince-town, in the Province of New Jersey, and offering to pass several Ten Shilling Bills of Credit, of the Pennsylvania Impression, to Persons in the said Town, the said Bills were suspected to be Counterfeit, and the Subscriber hereof (a Magistrate
of the County of Somerset) was thereupon applied to, who on inspecting the said Bills did judge that they were Counterfeit;
and thereupon enquired of the said Men how they became possessed of the said Bills, they informed the said Magistrate that
they had received them of a Person in Trenton, and requested to have the Liberty of going to the said Person at Trenton, in order to show their Innocency in the Matter; the said Magistrate refused them that Liberty until they offered to leave
their Packs (which appeared valuable) as a Pleadge for their safe Return. The said Packs being thus put in the Possession
of the said Magistrate, the said two Men went off, under Pretence of going to Trenton and returning immediately, but to this Day have never returned; the said Magistrate therefore thinks it proper to make this
Advertisement as publick as may be, as well to find out such Enemies to the Government as the Counterfeiters of Money are,
as to inform all Persons whom it may concern, that the said Packs of Linen &c, unless they be properly redeemed, will on Thursday,
the first Day of September next, at Princetown, be sold by publick Vendue, and after paying the Charge of this Advertisement, and Sale, the Surplus of the Money arising
therefrom will be put in the Hands
of the Overseers of the Poor of the Western Precinct of the County of Somerset.
At about this time the public was likewise warned against counterfeit Maryland twenty shilling bills, dated October, 1748, and done from a very bad copperplate. In them the S in the word CRESCITE seemed to be inverted; the C next to it, in the same word, was shorter than the other letters. The whole bill, however, was so badly cut that these counterfeits must be detected at first sight, especially as the genuine Maryland bills were most beautifully engraved. 50
It was probably during the summer of 1757 that Joshua Potter and William Pettyjohn were convicted of coining. Presumably they were sentenced to stand in the pillory or to be lashed, or both, and certainly to be fined, for while in jail at Lewes they petitioned the Provincial Council for the remission of their fines. The Council on August 25, 1757, decided that they must continue in prison for some time, to be discharged later on entering as soldiers or sailors into the King's service. 51
Several two shilling Pennsylvania bills, altered to ten shillings and dated January, 1756, were circulating in January, 1758. 52 About two months later a warning was printed that counterfeited, milled pieces of eight, dated 1747 and well executed, had appeared. The letters around the pieces, however, were not so much raised as in the true coins, and the pillars were not quite so broad and long as those of the genuine pieces. 53 Further, on the 27 of the same month, March, Governor Horatio Sharpe of Maryland sent to Richard Peters, Secretary of Pennsylvania, the following counterfeits: 666 unsigned ten shilling Pennsylvania bills and 162 of the same which had been signed. 54 A little later, at the end of August, the public was cautioned to be on guard against counterfeit bills of another province, Virginia, which were passing in Pennsylvania. The forged bills, dated December 11, 1755, of the denomination of ten shillings, seemed to be cut on wood and very badly done both as to the ornaments and cutting of the letters, whereas the true ones were neatly ornamented and the body of the bill was done with common printing letters. 55
The same appeared in German in the Pensylvanische Berichte, Dec. 16, 1750, p. 2,
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. 25, 1750, p. 2 and the Pensylvanische Berichte. Jan. 1, 1751, p. 2.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 22, 1751, p. 2.
Ms. Minutes of the Supreme Court, Appearance Docket, Sept., 1740–Sept., 1751, p. 366.
Cited by Gillingham, Counterfeiting in Colonial Pennsylvania , pp. 25–26.
Ms. Minutes of the Supreme Court, Appearance Docket, Sept., 1740–Sept., 1751, p. 366.
Ms. Minutes of the Supreme Court, Appearance Docket, April, 1752–1758, pp. 14, 15, and 23.
Minutes of the Common Council of Philadelphia , p. 561.
Ms. Minutes of the Supreme Court, Appearance Docket, April, 1752–1758, pp. 24, and 26.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 19, 1751, p. 2. A letter from Philadelphia dated February 19 was printed in part in The Boston Evening Post, March 11, 1751, p. 4, and stated that the magistrates had just detected, arrested, and examined three gangs of coiners, who for some years past had made great quantities of doubloons and dollars.
Ms. Court Papers (1715–1790) in The Historical Society of Pennsylvania under the dates mentioned above.
Ms. File of Bucks County Papers, recognizance dated June 14, 1751.
Ms. Criminal Docket, Bucks County, 1750–1760, September and December terms, 1751, and March term, 1752.
Ms. File of Bucks County Papers, recognizance dated July 29, 1751.
Ms. Criminal Docket, Bucks County, 1750–1760, September term, 1751.
Ibid., September term, 1751.
Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 1, 1751, and The Pennsylvania Gazette.
Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 16, 1751, p. 2.
The same account is found in the Pensylvanische Berichte, Feb. 16, 1752, p. 3.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Oct. 26, 1752, p. 2.
Minutes of the Common Council of Philadelphia , p. 560.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Aug. 6, 1752, p. 2 and October 26, 1752, p. 2; the Pensylvanische Berichte, Aug. 16, 1752, p. 2 and Nov. 1, 1752, p. 2.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Oct. 12, 1752, p. 2 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 1, 1752, p. 2.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 2, 1753, p. 2.
Ms. General Quarter Sessions Docket No. 3, 1752–1754, York County, pp. 11, 12, 17, 41 and Docket No. 4, July term, 1753.
The same notice appeared in German in the Pensylvanische Berichte, May 16, 1753, p. 3.
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 102–109.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. 6, 1753, p. 2.
Ibid., Dec. 6, 1753, p. 2; The Pennsylvania Journal, or Weekly Advertiser, Dec. 6, 1753, p. 3; The Maryland Gazette, Dec. 20, 1753, p. 2. At a meeting of the Maryland Council on December 12, 1753, it was represented by the Commissioners of the Paper Currency Office that a certain "Lewis Desharoone" had been recently apprehended at Philadelphia for counterfeiting and uttering large quantities of Maryland bills. The council then advised Governor Horatio Sharpe to write to Governor Hamilton requesting that Desharoone, after his trial in Pennsylvania, might be delivered to an officer from Maryland that he might be brought to Maryland to be proceeded against according to law ( Maryland Archives XXXI, pp. 20–21). From the date and all the circumstances it is clear that Lewis Desharoone was none other than Daniel Jeffron and that the Commissioners of the Paper Money Office had been misinformed as to the name.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 19, 1754, p. 2.
The Boston Weekly News-Letter, Jan. 3, 1754, p. 2.
The Maryland Gazette, April 11, 1754, p. 3.
Maryland Archives, VI, pp. 65–66.
Ms. Lancaster County Road Docket 2, 1742–1760, p. 208; Ms. Indictments File, Lancaster County, 1754–1759, August term, 1754, indictment of "Robert Dunkin"; Ms. Criminal Papers File, Lancaster County, 1745–1755, depositions of William Langrell (or Langsall) and of Robert McCormick and recognizance of Robert and Patrick Duncan.
Minutes of the Common Council of Philadelphia , p. 576.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, March 11, 1755, p. 2 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, March 16, 1755, p. 3.
Ms. Indictments File, Lancaster County, 1745–1759.
Ms. Lancaster County Road Docket 2, 1742–1760, p. 236.
Also found in the Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 27, 1756, p. 3; cf. The Pennsylvania Journal, or Weekly Advertiser, Nov. 4, 1756, p. 2.
See also the Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 27, 1756, p. 3.
Pensylvanische Berichte, Nov. 27, 1756, p. 3.
Ibid., Jan. 22, 1757, p. 3.
Also found in the Pensylvanische Berichte, Jan. 22, 1757, p. 3.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 21, 1757, p. 2 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, July 23, 1757, p. 3.
New Jersey Archives, XX, pp. 124–125.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 21, 1757, p. 2 and the Pensylvanische Berichte, July 23, 1757, p. 3.
Colonial Records, VII, p. 725.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 26, 1758, p. 3.
Ibid., March 23, 1758, p. 3. and the Pensylvanische Berichte, April 1, 1758, p. 4.
Pennsylvania Archives, First Series, III, p. 365.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Aug. 31, 1758, p. 3.
According to a Philadelphia dispatch published in The Boston Evening Post of November 3, 1760, one John Bruleman, who was executed on October 8, 1760, for the murder of a Mr. Scull, had formerly been an officer in the Royal American Regiment but had been detected counterfeiting or uttering counterfeit money and had been discharged from the service. It is not clear, however, whether his counterfeiting was a recent occurrance, but that would seem probable from the account found in Weyman's New York Gazette of October 20, 1760, which adds that Bruleman was a silversmith by trade before he entered the army and that upon his discharge he "returned to Philadelphia, and growing insupportable to himself… determined upon the commission of some crime, for which he might get hang'd by the law…"
Late in June, 1761, the authorities in New York City arrested men believed responsible for altering New Jersey six shilling bills to six pound bills and New York two pound bills to ten pound bills. It was discovered that Ichabod Higgins, his brother John, Archilaus Lewis, Richard Cooly and Greenbury (or Newberry) Dawson had been concerned in this altering and passing of currency. When Ichabod Higgins, Lewis and Cooly were apprehended, John Higgins, a man of about thirty years of age who had been born of a good family at Alexandria, Virginia, was absent on one of his frequent trips to Philadelphia to change altered money through the Jerseys and Philadelphia. 1 On his way back to New York he was arrested at Cranbury, between Bordentown and Amboy Ferry. He was taken to New York, where he was tried and convicted at the January term, 1762, of the Supreme Court. On Friday, February 12, 1762, he died on the gallows at Fresh Water. His brother escaped from the jail in New York, and the fate of Lewis and Cooly is not known. Dawson apparently was never captured. 2
In June or July one Samuel Griffith was apprehended on suspicion of counterfeiting and released on bail, himself in the amount of £100 and three sureties, John Keys, John Griffith and George Stevenson, each in the amount of £50. At the July term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of York County the jury returned the indictment of Samuel Griffith Ignoramus. 3
At about this time there was a plague of altered bills, New Jersey six shilling bills to six pound bills and three shilling bills to three pound bills, New Castle two shilling bills to ten shilling bills. Wherever the denomination of the bill stood, the false amount was pasted on, so that, to detect the counterfeits, the people were to check the color of the notes at these spots or to look for erasures, for it was difficult for the criminal to make all the changes so that there would not be at least one place where the alteration would be visible. 4
Counterfeit Virginia forty shilling and ten shilling bills, very badly cut (whereas the true ones were neatly done on printing letter) but with the signing pretty well imitated, were circulating in Philadelphia in January, 1762, and the public was cautioned to beware of them. 5 Perhaps one Charles Green was concerned in the business, for at the April, 1762, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of York County he was indicted "for a Counterfeit." When he was solemnly called, he did not appear and orders were given that he be arrested. 6 As there is no mention of him in the minutes of the July session or later sessions of the court, it is probable that he had fled and was never taken.
Late in November the people of Philadelphia were cautioned to beware of forged New Jersey thirty shilling bills, so poorly done that they could be recognized at first sight. The true ones were neatly made in the common printing manner, but, in the case of the counterfeits, the whole bill was extremely ill cut and the letters were very irregular and in no sort of proportion. 7
The Pennsylvania Gazette of February 17, 1763, reiterated its warning about the New Jersey thirty shilling counterfeit bills and added that of late false three pound New Jersey bills had also appeared. "They are badly done," ran the notice, "on a Copperplate, dated April 8, 1762, and are printed in three Folds of Paper, pasted together, the Letters in the whole Bill being very irregular, and standing much out of Line; whereas the true Bills are neatly and regularly done in the common Printing Manner, and printed on two Folds of Paper. In the first Line of the Face of the Counterfeit, the O in POUNDS is shorter and thicker than the other Letters in that Word, and in the third Line the last E in JERSEY, is not like a printing E, but is made in the Manner commonly used in Writing. In short, the whole is so ill executed, that we think, after this Notice, no Body can be imposed on by them."
The counterfeiter, it appears, or one of the counterfeiters, of the three pound bill, and very likely also of the thirty shilling
one, was a certain Billings. Benjamin Lightfoot in Reading, on the 2 mo. 17th. 1763, wrote to James Pemberton:
There is since I wrote thee last an ugly Affair broke out on his (Weiser's) Premises if not in his dwelling House. A New England man one Billings, who was as I have understood obliged to leave his country for Coining, was whiped out of a Regiment at
Pittsburg for Coining Dollars and escaped out of Maryland from Prison and under Sentence for the like wickedness. took up his abode in Frederik Weiser's House near or about a Year
ago under pretense of getting a living by Engraving and Printing and has lately uttered a number of New Jersey £3 Bills those that I have seen dated I think in 1762. He is now in Reading Goal and told a certain Magistrate he thought
it hard a poor Man should suffer for a Crime in which Rich men were equally concerned with him and talked of petitioning the
Governor about Something of the sort. I have ever since I heard of this strangly suspected F.W. but he may be clear for aught
against him. I have not heard particularly of any Tools being found for this Work only a Plate begun on which an Unicorn was
drawn in an Escutcheon and some Embelishment round the Edges which he said he only made for diversion. The Bills I have seen
appear to me to be easily discovered, The strokes in the Arms are much blacker and clumsier done than the true and the Letters
very irregular and the Type not good. The Red Ink much dirtier than in the true and the Sage leaf on the back less.
Connected with Billings, very likely as an accomplice, was one Herman (or Harman) Rosencrans (or Rosencrantz), who was arrested in Bucks County, probably in March, 1763, by two constables, John Kelley and William Dungan. 9 At his examination on March 19, 1763, Rosencrans claimed that on November 6, 1762, at Tulpehocken he had sold a horse to a certain Joseph Billings for £18 in thirty shilling New Jersey bills. 10 At the June term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County the Grand Jury presented Rosencrans for a misdemeanor in passing a thirty shilling counterfeit Jersey bill to Mary Lewis and a second time for uttering a false thirty shilling Jersey bill to William Doyle. To both indictments he pleaded not guilty and was admitted to bail to appear at the September term. 11 At the next term, however, Rosencrans claimed that a material witness was wanting, and the case was put off to the December term. In the meantime Rosencrans was released on recognizance, himself in the sum of £400 and two sureties, Timothy Smith, Jr., and James Dyer, each in the sum of £200. At the December term he again maintained that a material witness was not present, so that once more the case was postponed, this time to March, 1764. 12 At that term the trial was finally held, with John Craig, Mary Lewis, Joseph Kirkbride, Thomas Yeardley and Richard Lannig as witnesses, and the jury found him not guilty "in manner and form as he stands indicted." 13 More will be heard of both Billings and Rosencrans at a later date.
Early in 1763 the counterfeiting of coin was detected. Benjamin Lightfoot on the "1 mo. 27, 1763," wrote from Reading to James Pemberton concerning Adam Wittman and Jacob Kern: "Many Men of Credit and Veracity and Estate both in and out of the Commission have reason to believe and do believe beyond a doubt that they have both been privy to and assisted in Counterfeiting and passing Spanish Milled Dollars, for which a Poor Wreck suffered alone sometime ago." In a postscript he added: "… its to that affair of the Counterfeiting &c. the Dollars, the Criminals examination & Confession which had not corruption prevented would have been taken proper notice of is in thy Cousin J.R's hands & the Stamp for making the Pieces in F. Parvins." 14 The final outcome of the affair does not seem to have been recorded.
One John Blair was apprehended in May or June, 1763, in Bucks County. It seems that a certain Mary Ryan had received from Jared Nelson a five shilling bill, which consisted of only the back part of a bill, and Nelson swore the bill on Blair, who claimed that he had received twelve shillings sixpence in a Spanish dollar and the five shilling bill. Blair stated under oath that he obtained the bill of an innkeeper in Northampton named Richard Ledrum. 15 On June 11, 1763, one John Hutchinson gave evidence that Blair had offered him the five shilling bill, which he had refused on the ground that it was false, and that Blair had said that he had the bill of Richard Lathem. 16 Blair was indicted at the June term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County for a misdemeanor in passing the back part of a five shilling bill, and the witnesses against him were Jared Nelson, John Hutchinson and Mary Ryan. Blair pleaded not guilty and entered into recognizance to appear at the next term. At that session, in September, when Blair appeared, certiorari was produced, read and filed. 17
In the same county it was suspected that a gang of coiners was at work, and at the December, 1763, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions Thomas and William James were indicted for coining five silver dollars and John Gilkey, Jr., was indicted for making and passing a counterfeit dollar to Archibald Finley. The witnesses for both cases were the said Finley and Michael Hayes. The cases were put off until March, 1764, and then when the three defendants were called they were not to be found. 18 It is recorded that on December 5, 1763, one David James entered into recognizance to appear to testify against Thomas James of New Britain, cordwainer, for making and passing pewter dollars. On this date also John Cadwallader and Jacob Fryer gave security to appear to testify against Thomas James, as did Michael Hayes on December 10. Archibald Finley, also on December 10, furnished security for his appearance to testify against Lewis Grant, John Gilkey, Jr., and William Williams (probably a mistake for William James) for counterfeiting dollars of pewter. 19 It would seem that all those charged with counterfeiting were warned or alarmed in time to flee from justice.
In 1752 John Eastburn was, as has been noted, involved with Christopher Marshall, Samuel Jackson and Benjamin Whitmore in counterfeiting and passing Spanish coin and had apparently gotten off by providing security for his good behavior for the period of one year. 20 He turned again to counterfeiting or, perhaps, never desisted from it, for at the January, 1764, term of the Mayor's Court in Philadelphia he was indicted for a misdemeanor in passing a forged dollar, a charge to which he pleaded not guilty. At the same term of this court Benjamin Eastburn, doubtless a relative, was likewise presented by the Grand Jury for the like offense. John Eastburn, it would seem, was not admitted to bail, but Benjamin entered into recognizance to appear at the next Mayor's Court, himself in the sum of £500 and John Carver and Joseph Bolton each in the sum of £250, while John Carver furnished bail in the amount of £50 for the appearance of Samuel Carver to give evidence in the case for the King at the next session of the court. 21 At the April term both Eastburns were tried and convicted and received the same sentence: to stand in the pillory for one hour between nine and twelve of the forenoon of Saturday, April 7, and on that day to be whipped twenty-one lashes at the public whipping post and to pay a fine of £25 and the costs of prosecution. 22 John Eastburn was unable to pay his fine and petitioned the Common Council of Philadelphia to forgive him the payment. On May 28, 1764, the Council voted to have him discharged from his confinement on his giving his bond for the amount of the fine and "shipping himself out of the Country." 23
False twenty shilling Pennsylvania bills were reported to be circulating in Philadelphia in July. They were well executed, printed in italics like the genuine ones, dated May 1, 1760, and signed with the names of Charles Jones, Joseph Stretch and Charles Thompson. The paper on which they were printed was double but much thinner and whiter than that of the true bills. The counterfeits were not done from regular types, and, though they looked well at first sight, close inspection would reveal many imperfections: the letters were very ill proportioned, the lines for the most part were crooked, and Charles Thompson's name was made Charles Thonnon. 24
Two, at least, of the counterfeiters of these bills were on August 18, 1764, taken up and committed to jail in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. They had paid for three horses there with the false twenty shilling Pennsylvania bills, dated May 1, 1760. One of the men was named John Hannah (or Hanna) and the other was Herman Rosencrans, who had been indicted at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County in 1763 for passing a false thirty shilling Jersey bill but had been acquitted at his trial in March, 1764. 25 Unless Rosencrans escaped from the jail of Elizabethtown, he was doubtless convicted, as Hannah was, and the sentence for each was almost certainly to stand in the pillory, to be lashed, to have one ear cropped and to pay a fine and costs. Hannah, after suffering corporal punishment, escaped from the jail, and Moses Ogden, sheriff of the borough, on November 3, 1764, offered a reward of £5 for his capture, stating that Hannah had broken out of the jail at about two o'clock that morning. He described Hannah in these terms: "an Irishman, about 6 feet and one inch high, very much pock broken, long visage, and may be easily known by a deficiency in his left ear, having been lately cropped for passing counterfeit Pennsylvania bills." 26
At Lancaster at the February, 1765, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions, Ann Tew, of Lancaster County, spinster, was indicted for a misdemeanor in having passed, at Lancaster, on January 20 a two shilling Pennsylvania bill altered to ten shillings to one Abraham Rinehart. The witnesses for the King were Rinehart and Michael Hubloy. 27 Ann pleaded not guilty, was tried and convicted. She was sentenced to stand in the pillory for one hour on March 25, between the hours of two and four in the afternoon, to have both ears cut off and nailed to the pillory, to be given thirty-one lashes at the public whipping post, and to pay a fine of £100 to the governor and also to pay costs of prosecution. 28
One might have thought that the severe punishment would have induced her to mend her ways, but, a year later, at the February, 1766, term of the court in Lancaster, she was presented for a misdem- eanor in having, "a person of bad fame and wickedly intending," on January 1, 1766, passed to a certain Wendal Gilbert a one shilling Pennsylvania bill altered to ten shillings. With the indictment is preserved the bill in question (see illustration opposite p. 77), dated June 10, 1764, and endorsed in ink on the back: "Wendal gilbert" and "Wentel Gilbert." 29 Ann again pleaded not guilty but, as before, was convicted and sentenced, according to law, to stand one hour in the pillory on Tuesday, March 25, between nine and twelve in the fornoon, to be whipped thirty-one lashes, to have both ears cut off and nailed to the pillory and to pay a fine of £100 and costs. 30
In The Pennsylvania Gazette of June 6, 1765, appeared the notice that counterfeit milled dollars, dated 1758, had recently been discovered in circulation. They seemed to have been cast, but the crown and pillars were badly done; in the word VNUM the M was "very blind," and on the other side the V in FERDND. VI. was scarcely to be seen. The next number of the same newspaper, dated June 13, cautioned the public to beware of false milled dollars dated 1757 and exceedingly ill done; the metal was very base, the coins looked rough, were of a leadish color and sounded like lead.
A warning appeared in The Pennsylvania Gazette of February 13, 1766, concerning counterfeit New Jersey thirty shilling and three pound bills. There were two emissions of the thirty shilling denomination, dated 1762 and 1764, of which the first was badly done and might be discovered from the whole face of the bill, on which the letters ran into the escutcheon. On the other hand, those dated 1764 were so well executed that they could only with difficulty be detected. In fact, the only sure mark was that on the back of the counterfeits, at the stem of the sage leaf, 30 was left out of 30 s., which appeared in the genuine ones. The false three pound bills, dated 1761, were not so well printed as the true ones; the impression of the forged notes was deeper in the paper, and in the word PLATE the P was directly over the A of APRIL, which was not the case in the genuine money. It was supposed that the counterfeits had come to New York City in one of the last vessels from England and that a large sum had already been passed in that city. One of the accomplices was said to have been arrested and to be in the jail of New York, while another, Michael Smith, had gone to New Jersey with a large sum of the false currency with which to purchase cattle.
The person in jail in New York was one John Davis, who had been arrested in Orange County, New York, with £3,500 in counterfeit Jersey bills on his person. He was tried and convicted at the Supreme Court of New York, sentenced to stand an hour in the pillory and to give security for his good behavior for one year. His accomplices, Michael Smith and William Gilliland, were apprehended and indicted but then their cases seem to have been dropped. The New Jersey counterfeits were of the three pound, thirty shilling, twelve shilling and six shilling denominations. At the same time there were detected in Philadelphia three shilling New Jersey bills altered to twelve, which possibly were also the work of Davis and his associates. 31
The Pennsylvania Gazette of February 20, 1766, carried the following item: "Two Men (Brothers, we are told) were committed lately to Chester Gaol, for altering the Bills of Credit of this Province, viz. Two Shilling Bills into Tens, and Five Shilling Bills into Fifties; but as the Two Shilling Bills are not at all like the Tens, and much less the Fives like the Fifties, the Fives being printed all black, and the Fifties red and black, we apprehend very few can have suffered by their intended Fraud —— A third Person, it is said, is concerned, but we have not heard of his being yet taken." Nothing further appeared in the press but it may be safely assumed that one of those suspected was James Jones, who at the August, 1766, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Chester County was indicted for altering a bill of credit but was then acquitted and discharged upon payment of costs. 32
Perhaps another of those thought to be implicated in the altering of the bills was David Duncan of Marcus Hook, who in the latter part of April, 1766, was arrested and committed to jail in Philadelphia, "there being found upon him a Number of the Bills of Credit of New-Jersey, and Pennsylvania, altered from lesser to higher Denominations." 33
In Philadelphia at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County held in June, 1767, a certain Alice Richards was indicted for a misdemeanor in counterfeiting Virginia paper currency. 34 Her case was transferred to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, where it is found on the docket of the terms of April and September, 1768. 35 She was tried at the April, 1769, term of the Supreme Court on an indictment "for forging & publishing two Virginia Bills of Credit." The witnesses for the King were Mary Small, William Small, Joseph Carson, William Crisp, William Parr, E. Shippen, Nicholas Waln, Richard Footman and Isaac Jones. The verdict of the jury was "that Alice Richards is not guilty of the Misdemeanor in forging the sd Bills of Credit but that she is guilty of passing the the same knowing them to be counterfeit." Her sentence was that she be committed to the jail of Philadelphia County for six months without bail or mainprize and that she pay the costs of prosecution. 36
On July 12, 1767, a man was committed to jail in Philadelphia on suspicion of altering the money bills of Pennsylvania,
and towards the end of September, 1767, a warning was printed to the effect that
counterfeit milled dollars were in circulation.
Such forging of foreign gold and silver was in this year the subject of legislation, for it was enacted in Pennsylvania:
That if any person or persons within this province, after the publication of this act, shall falsely forge and counterfeit
any coin of gold or silver, which now is or shall be passing, or in circulation, in this province, every such person or persons
so offending, and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall suffer death, without the benefit of clergy; and every person or
persons, who shall pay, or tender in payment, any such forged and counterfeit coin of gold or silver, knowing the same to
be so forged and counterfeited, and being thereof convicted in any court of record in this province, such person or persons
shall be sentenced to the pillory for the space of one hour, and to have both his or her ears cut off, and nailed to the pillory,
and be publicly whipped, on his or her bare back, with twenty-one lashes, well laid on; and, moreover, every such offender
shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds, lawful money of this province, one half to the use of the Governor, and the other
half to the discoverer, with costs and charges of prosecution.
At the Court of Quarter Sessions of Cumberland County held in January, 1768, one John Anderson was indicted for a misdemeanor in counterfeiting and uttering bad silver money and halfpence. He pleaded not guilty but was convicted and the following sentence was given: "that John Anderson be whipped at the public Whipping Post with twenty one lashes on the twenty second Instant on his bare Back & on the twenty ninth Instant be again whipped with twenty one Lashes at the public Whipping Post between the Hours of twelve and two in the afternoon of the same Day & stand in the Pillory for the Space of two Hours at the same Time, pay the costs of Prosecution, give Security himself in £200 & two good Sureties in £100 each for his Good Behaviour for one Year & stand committed till this Judgment be complyed with." Anderson's two sureties were Torgneis West and Thomas Holmes. 40
The following month, at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Lancaster County, one George Doubenhour was indicted for uttering a counterfeit ten shilling bill, 41 but there is no further record of the case. There may have been no prosecution because he had fled or because the evidence was not deemed strong enough for conviction.
The Pennsylvania Gazette of March 3, 1768, reported that attempts had been made in Philadelphia to pass Maryland bills of the denomination of the sixth part of a dollar, altered to six dollars. They were so poorly done that they might be discovered at first sight: the word One, the letters th in Sixth, and the words of a were erased all over the bill; the letter S was pasted to the word Dollar to make it pass for Dollars, while on the back of the bill, in the words equal to 9d. Sterling, there was an unintelligible mark for 27 s.
These Maryland bills, New Jersey one shilling bills altered to fifteen shillings, and Pennsylvania one shilling bills altered to ten shillings were mentioned as being in circulation by The Pennsylvania Journal, or General Advertiser of March 10, 1768. The same newspaper of June 23 gave the following detailed description of the altered Pennsylvania money: "The Public are cautioned to beware of counterfeit Ten Shilling Bills. They are counterfeited on Pennsylvania One Shilling Bills, the One Shilling being cut out and a Piece very artfully pasted in the Room, Ten Shillings, and in the Body of the Bill, the Word One is taken out and Ten pasted in the Room of it. —— The One Shilling at the Bottom of some of them is scratched out, in others the Word Ten is pasted in the Room of One. They may be readily detected, as the genuine Ten Shilling Bill has the arms in the center of it, and in the One Shilling Bills the Arms are on the left Side near the Bottom." 42
On March 9, 1768, a man was committed to the Philadelphia jail on suspicion of counterfeiting and passing several five pound Pennsylvania bills, dated May 1, 1760, and signed T. Tilbury, Jos. King and T. Gordon. The counterfeits were very badly done and much rubbed; the paper on which they were printed was much thinner than that of the genuine bills, and on the back whited brown paper was pasted. 43
Some two weeks later it was reported that forged Pennsylvania twenty shilling bills, dated August 10, 1739, had lately been discovered. The whole of the bill, with the ornaments, was exceedingly well done, with a pen as it was believed. The words TWENTY SHILLINGS seemed made with a different sort of ink from the rest of the bill and looked fresher. The signing was well imitated, and the bills looked old and a good deal rubbed, as if they had gone through many hands. 44
Counterfeit eight dollar Maryland bills were also circulating in June. They were not done with printing types, as were the true bills; the letters were not so regular, and the arms and ornaments were not so neatly finished; they were printed on double paper but the true bills on single paper. The whole bill was rather well imitated but might be easily discovered on a little inspection. 45
Late in 1769 counterfeit New Jersey bills made their appearance. Those of the denomination of twelve shillings, dated June 22, 1756, were done with common printing types; the arms were badly cut and also the sage leaf on the back; the face and back of the bills were printed on two pieces of paper pasted together, not so thick as the genuine bills; the counterfeits were much soiled to prevent their being detected; the number and signers' names seemed to be written with the same ink and by the same hand; they seemed to be done lately, but the names were not intelligible. 46
The other denomination of New Jersey bills being counterfeited was that of three pounds, dated April 16, 1764. Their description was given by the newspapers in these words: "They are very badly cut, and stamped; the Letters most irregular, and in general much larger than the true Bills; the Arms, and other Ornaments ill done, and appear very pale: The Three POUNDS, at the Top of the Bill, are placed at a greater Distance from the Left-hand Ornament, than in the true Ones. The A in the Word April, remarkably large, and the THREE POUNDS, at the Bottom of the Bill, considerably larger than in the true Bills. There are two Sorts of them, but both so badly done, that they may easily be detected, after this Notice. The Backs appear to be done with a Pen, and the Word Woodbridge, in some of them, is spelt Woodbrige." 47
On December 16, 1769, a person involved in this counterfeiting was apprehended in Philadelphia. The earliest newspaper account of his arrest reads thus:
Last Saturday Night was committed to the Gaol of this City, on Suspicion of counterfeiting Paper Money, a Low-Dutchman, who
goes by the Name of Rosey Grant; he is about 60 Years old, rather corpulent, about 5 Feet 10 Inches high, says that he was
born in New York Government, and that he lived some Time in Esopus. He was detected by Robert Taggart, a Shopkeeper in Market Street, whom he endeavoured to deceive, in the Dusk of the Evening.
The Bill not appearing regularly printed, Mr. Taggart went and showed it to several Gentlemen, who also doubted the Legality
of the Bill; but when he returned to his Shop, the Man was gone, and had left the Goods behind him. Mr. Taggart immediately
searched after him in several Taverns, and at last found him in one in Strawberry Alley. Upon searching him, 68 Three Pounds
Bills were found in his Breeches.
The Pennsylvania Gazette of December 21, 1769, gave the notice of Grant's arrest, noted that his sixty-eight bills of three pounds each were dated March 1, 1769, and were in general badly engraved on copperplate, whereas the true ones were done with common printing types; the letters were very irregular; both the back and face of the counterfeits were blacker than the genuine bills; the signers' names and the number were all written with the same very pale ink and seemed done by the same hand; the paper was thinner, smoother and whiter than the true bills. 49
At the same time a different type of New Jersey three pound bills, dated April 23, 1761, appeared and were described as follows in the newspapers: "They appear to be very badly done with common printing Types, the Impression Stronger in the Paper, and not so beautiful in Colour as the true Bills; the Arms and Ornaments appear very blind in the Counterfeits; the Word Eight in the Face of the Bill is made Eight, and the P in the Word PLATE, is right over the A in the Word April, which is not so in the genuine Bills; on the Back of the Counterfeits, the Paper is whiter than the true Ones. They are the same as advertised in February, 1766, and by observing the above Description of them they may readily be detected." 50
It had been discovered by December 28, 1769, that the name "Rosey Grant," was only an alias of Herman (or Harman) Rosencrans (or Rosencrantz), 51 who had twice before been involved with the law because of counterfeiting. 52 He was indicted at a Court of Oyer and Terminer held in Philadelphia in April, 1770, for uttering counterfeit three pound Pennsylvania bills. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to die and was executed in Philadelphia early in April, 1770. 53
Another person connected with the forgery of Pennsylvania three pound bills was taken up on December 30, 1769. His name was given as Edward Moran, of Carlisle, in Cumberland County, where he was committed to jail for signing and passing counterfeit three pound bills. 54
The Pennsylvania Journal, or Weekly Advertiser, July 2, 1761.
See Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 110–118.
Ms. Quarter Sessions Docket No. 6, 1760–1762, York County, pp. 26, 31.
Pensylvanische Berichte, July 31, 1761, p. 3.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 14, 1762, p. 3.
General Quarter Sessions Docket No. 6, 1760–1762, York County, p. 62.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 25, 1762, p. 2.
Pemberton Papers, XVI, p. 58.
File of Papers of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County, March term, 1763: charges of the two constables for fetching Rosencrans.
File of Papers of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County, March term, 1763: examination of Rosencrans.
Ms. Criminal Docket, Bucks County, 1760–1767, September and December Sessions, 1763.
Ibid., March Sessions, 1764.
Pemberton Papers, XVI, p. 58.
File of Papers of Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County: examinations of John Blair, the last dated June 6, 1763.
Ibid.: evidence of John Hutchinson, dated June 11, 1763.
Ms. Criminal Docket, Bucks County, 1760–1767, June and September terms, 1763.
Ibid., December term, 1763, and March term, 1764.
These recognizances are in the File of Papers of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County under the date 1763.
See p. 80.
Ms. Mayor's Court Dockuet, July 1759–April 1764, January Sessions, 1764.
Ibid., April Sessions, 1764.
Minutes of the Common Council of Philadelphia , p. 700.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 19, 1764, p. 2.
See above p. 00 and The Pennsylvania Gazette, Aug. 30, 1764, p. 2.
The New-York Mercury, Nov. 3, 1764.
Ms. Indictment File of Lancaster County, 1760–1768, February Session, 1765: indictment of Ann Tew.
Lancaster County Road Docket No. 3, p. 279.
Ms. Indictment File of Lancaster County, 1760–1768, February, 1766: indictment of Ann Tew.
See Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 121–126.
Quarter Sessions Docket, Chester County, Book A, August Session, 1766.
Ms. Philadelphia County Sessions Docket, 1766–1770, Quarter Sessions, June, 1767.
Appearance Docket, Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Sept., 1764 to Sept., 1768, pp. 617, 701.
Ibid., p. 53.
The Pennsylvania Chronicle, July 13, 1767, p. 3.
Ibid., Sept. 28, 1767, p. 2.
The Laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers, 1797), I, p. 477; The Acts of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Hall and Sellers, 1775), p. 477; James T. Mitchell and Henry Flanders, The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania 1682 to 1801 (Philadelphia: Clarence M. Busch, 1896) VII, p. 91, act passed February 21, 1767.
Ms. Quarter Sessions Docket 3, Cumberland County, 1765–1772, p. 122.
Lancaster County Road Docket No. 3, p. 188, February, 1768.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, March 24, 1768, p. 3.
Ibid., June 2, 1768, p. 3 and The Pennsylvania Chronicle, June 6, 1768, p. 6.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 16, 1769, p. 3.
The Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser, Dec. 18, 1769, p. 6.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Dec. 28, 1769, p. 3.
See above, pp. 98–99, 102.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 11, 1770, p. 3.
A new flood of forged bills, Pennsylvania currency of the denominations of three pounds and of thirty shillings, both dated March 1, 1769, were discovered circulating in July, 1773. They were done with printing types and were so like the true bills, that, unless they were examined very attentively, many persons might be deceived by them. 1 The authorities were justifiably alarmed, and, on July 19, 1773, Lieutenant Governor Richard Penn issued a proclamation in which he adverted to the circulation of counterfeits of these two denominations and then continued:
WHEREAS it is of the greatest Importance to the Trade and Commerce of this Province, that the Credit of all such Bills as have been emitted by Law, should be supported and preserved, and that the Forgers and Counterfeiters of them should be discovered, and brought to condign and exemplary Punishment, I HAVE therefore thought fit, with the Advice of the Council, to issue this Proclamation, hereby promising and engaging, that the public Reward of FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS, shall be paid to any Person or Persons, other than the Accomplices, who shall discover the Author or Authors of the said Forgeries, so that he or they be apprehended and brought to Justice. AND I DO also hereby promise the public Reward of TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS, as well as His Majesty's most gracious Pardon, to any one of the Perpetrators of the said Forgeries, who shall make Discovery of one or more of his Accomplices, so that he or they be prosecuted to Conviction. AND I DO moreover hereby strictly charge, enjoin and require, all Magistrates, Sheriffs, and other Officers, as well as all other His Majesty's liege Subjects within this Province, to exert themselves, and use their utmost Endeavours, to discover and bring to Justice all Offenders in the Premises. 2
At the time that this proclamation appeared the New Jersey authorities already had information as to the identity of the counterfeiters of these bills of Pennsylvania. The last week in June two silversmiths, John Swan and Stephen Waterman, were arrested in Middlesex County, New Jersey, on suspicion of coining dollars and half joes. One of them finally made an ample confession "by which several persons in different parts appeared to be concerned with them." 3 This confession and those of other coiners in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties led, as Governor Franklin stated, to the discovery of another gang of villains in Morris and Sussex Counties "who had for several years past been employed in counterfeiting and passing the Paper Currency of this and the neighbouring Colonies." 4
The information secured by the government of New Jersey was, it seems, imparted to the Grand Jury of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Morris County then sitting in Morristown. The jury was told on July 8 that a certain Josiah Hand in Hanover Township knew the name of a person who had told him, Hand, that he had seen counterfeiting tools in the possession of a person in that neighborhood. Thereupon Samuel Ogden, a Justice of the Peace of Morris County, sent a warrant to Hand, instructing him to fill in the name of the person who had the knowledge that this person might be brought to court as a witness. 5 For some reason the warrant was not filled out or used, but Ogden and another justice of the peace, Samuel Tuthill, apparently in consultation with Attorney General Cortland Skinner, displayed great energy in attempting to discover the counterfeiters, 6 and their efforts were crowned with success. Indeed, the Provincial Council subsequently praised the conduct of Justice Ogden as that of "a vigilant and upright Magistrate" and expressed the opinion that it was "in a great measure owing to his Activity and Zeal for the Publick Good, that a Gang of Villains, very mischevious to this and the neighboring Provinces, have been detected and some of them brought to Justice." 7
The leader of this gang was Samuel Ford, one of the most resolute and skillful counterfeiters of the entire Colonial Period. Samuel Ford was the son of Samuel Ford, Sr., and Sarah Baldwin, and the grandson of John Ford, who in 1721 settled in Monroe, two miles east of Morristown, on a tract of land given to him by John Budd, who desired to have the region settled. 8 Samuel Ford, Jr., married Grace Kitchell, the daughter of Joseph Kitchell of Hanover and the sister of Squire Aaron Kitchell, who was a United States Senator from 1807 to 1811. By Grace Kitchell, Ford had four children, Betsy, Phebe, William and Samuel. 9
Not long before 1765 Ford was engaged in the iron industry at Hibernia in company with Lord Stirling and Benjamin Cooper, a son of Daniel Cooper (one of the early judges of Morris County). The Hibernia industry, probably in 1764 or 1765, was involved in financial difficulties, and it would seem that Benjamin Cooper suggested to Ford that he counterfeit money to help them out of their financial problems. At least, in 1773, Ford wrote to Cooper: "You describe me as being the chiefest promoter and first introducer of the money making affair. Did you not in the time of our depressed circumstances at the furnace first move such a scheme to me?" 10
It is not known whether Ford at that time acted on his partner's advice. In any event, in 1765, Ford sold out his share in the Hibernia furnace and his property there to Cooper and to James Anderson, each of whom paid him £265/13/4. 11 With some of the proceeds he made a trip to Ireland, where he proceeded to marry an Irish girl of some means, and with her he returned to America in 1766. The young lady, of course, then discovered that Ford already had a wife and children, so she promptly left him and is said to have married an Irishman and to have resided at Whippany, New Jersey. It is probable that Ford returned early in June, 1766, and that he imported with him counterfeit New Jersey bills made in Ireland, for on June 28 the Governor of New Jersey issued a warrant of the treasury to pay the Honorable John Stevens to send an express to warn the inhabitants of the province that a large sum of false Jersey bills had just arrived in a vessel from England. 12
From the confessions made by Ford's accomplices in 1773 it was revealed that he had been in the business of money making for many years and that "in the year 1767, or 8, he followed it in New-York; but was apprehended on suspicion of making money, and admitted to bail, and even then set about preparing materials to renew the business.…" 13 Benjamin Cooper, when examined before Justices Ogden and Tuthill on September 24, 1773, gave a detailed and probably fairly accurate account of Ford's activities. His story was that sometime in 1767 Ford went from Hibernia to a money maker named Coon at Stony Hill. Coon had some false New York 40/ bills and some New Jersey 6/ bills with plates for striking them, and it was agreed that Coon should send the money and plates to Ford by John Cooper, Benjamin's brother. John brought about £40 of this bogus money to the home of Thomas Kinney, Esq., where Ford and his associates viewed the currency, decided it was very bad and eventually sent it all back to Coon except for a few 6/ notes which Ford kept. Early in 1768 Ford removed to New York and secured counterfeiting materials and studied the technique of making bills. He remained there at the lodging house of a Mrs. Blaw until he finally procured a house in "the back Part of the Town." He lived part of the time in this dwelling and part of the time at Mrs. Blaw's. 14
At some time prior to April 18, 1769, Ford had been arrested, for on that day he appeared under recognizance before the Supreme Court in New York City, at which time his case was put over to the 21, then the 22, the 24, the 27, the 28 and finally the 29, when he appeared "and Proclamation being three times made and no Person appearing to prosecute, On Motion of Mr. Kissam Ordered that the Defendant be discharged from his Recognizance." 15
He had been making 3/ and 6/ bills of New Jersey and when he was taken to jail he arranged with his brother-in-law to put away the money and tools, which Ford later told Benjamin Cooper was done by Kitchell or John Morris. 16
Thus the authorities, probably because of want of sufficient evidence, allowed a most accomplished criminal to slip through their fingers and to ply his nefarious trade unmolested for several years to come. After his difficulty with the law he removed to Hanover, Morris County, New Jersey, where he resided on his farm of some one hundred and thirty acres which went by the name of the "Hammock" 17 except for the trip to England in 1771, from which he returned in August, 1772.
More is to be learned about the man named Morris from a deposition made on September 24, 1773, by Bern Budd. Budd claimed that the day before Ford's arrest Ford told him that when he lived in New York he learned to carve from a woodcarver and got types from a journeyman printer, a drunken fellow, who lived with Hugh Gaine. In the same conversation Ford had boasted that he had counterfeited the 30/ and 60/ bills of Pennsylvania, the £3 bills of New York and numerous notes of New Jersey. He gave up making the £3 New York bills because the paper was so thin that he could not do a good job of imitation. 19
A hint of nervousness on the part of one of his associates may be found in the following advertisement placed in
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer of June 10, 1773, by Samuel Haines (or Haynes) of Morristown. It read:
Twenty Pounds Reward. Whereas on Friday or Saturday the 28th or 29th of May, came to my house at Morris Town, a man of middle size, aged between 25 and 30 years, of a lively countenance, and streight hair: Had on a brown coat, striped
jacket, white breches and stocking, rode a dark bay horse, says his name is Reddon, or Redmon, and that he came from Pennsylvania, with whom I chang'd a Ten Pound York bill (of the latest emission of that currency) for twenty-five dollars; the bill was
marked on the back H. in one of the corners. The dollars since prove to be counterfeit, of which he had many more with him,
and it is supposed will offer them to change for paper money. He enquired the road to Goshen and it is likely is gone that
way. If any person or persons will apprehend and secure him in any of his Majesty's goals, so that he may be brought to condign
punishment, he shall receive the above reward of Twenty Pounds, by me.
Since it was soon discovered that Haines was involved with Ford in counterfeiting, it appears not unlikely that through the advertisement Haines may have been seeking to divert suspicion from himself.
On July 16, 1773, Ford was taken into custody and imprisoned in the county jail on the green in Morristown.
The next day, Saturday, in the evening he fled, and
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer of July 22, 1773, reported:
On Friday last was apprehended at his house at Hanover, in Morris county, the well known Samuel Ford, who had been long suspected of counterfeiting the paper currency of New-Jersey, with which he was accustomed to travel into Pennsylvania, Maryland, and other provinces, and has for several years passed the same to a very large amount, as the lawful emission of the Jersey
Treasury. He went to Ireland six years, and England eighteen months ago, some time after the last emission of the New-York currency, no doubt with views of procuring dies, stamps,
paper and prints, to imitate the true bills in the most plausible manner, and to
carry on this pernicious practice of plundering the public. He broke gaol on Saturday night being aided in his escape by one
John King, a veteran in villainy and a confederate with him in this species of it. The Sheriff, at his wit's end, on occasion
of this unfortunate incident has raised an hue and cry, published a description of their persons, and offered a reward of
50 l. for apprehending Ford, and 25 l. for the person of King, which, with many other particulars, will be inserted in this
next week's Gazetteer.
The advertisement, which all printers were requested, as it was "a Matter of very publick Consequence," to place in their
newspapers, was dated "Morris-Town, 18th July, 1773," and couched in these terms:
FIFTY POUNDS REWARD. Broke from Morris County Gaol, the noted SAMUEL FORD, accused of, and committed to Gaol for counterfeiting New-Jersey Paper Currency. He is a well built Fellow, about thirty Years of Age, five Feet ten Inches high; had on when he went away,
a Nankeen Waistcoat and Breeches, a brown Coat, plain brown Thread Stockings, a good pair of Shoes, and silver twisted Buckles:
It is supposed he has taken with him a suit of pale sky coloured blue Clothes, with a large silver Twist gay Button, he has
short brown curled Hair, very red Cheeks, and a remarkable Dimple in his Chin. He is an artful Fellow, — with the Serious
and Grave, can put on the Face of Seriousness, Religion, and Gravity, and with the Gay, can behave with as much Levity as
any one. In the Year 1768, he was committed to the Gaol of the City of New-York on Suspicion of counterfeiting Jersey Paper
Currency: — Since which, in the Year 1771, he has been in England and Ireland, from whence he returned in 1772 to Halifax, from thence to Boston, and so on to this Place: And from that Time to the Day of apprehending him he lived in Morris County, and made frequent Excursions to Philadelphia and New-York, upon the Business (it is supposed) of exchanging Counterfeit Money. It is suspected that one JOHN KING, late
of Morris County, a square well set Fellow, about five Feet eight or nine Inches high, with short brown coloured straight Hair, full Face,
and rather dark Complexion; also accused of making and counterfeiting Money; is in Company with said Ford, as he absconded
at the same Time, and gave Ford Assistance in making his Escape. the said JOHN KING has been frequently within a few Years
past, at Philadelphia, and Fort Augusta, and in the Year 1770 and 1771,
was at Wioming, and served under the Government of Pennsylvania, against the New-England People. Whoever takes said Ford and secures him in any of his Majesty's Gaols, so that he may be had again, shall receive
the above Sum of Fifty Pounds, and all reasonable Charges: And whoever takes said KING, and brings him to me, or to the Gaoler
of said County of Morris, shall receive a Reward of twenty-five Pounds, and all reasonable Charges. The above Reward shall
be paid by me, THOMAS KINNEY, High Sheriff of the County of Morris.
It seems, however, that Kinney himself had been largely to blame for Ford's escape. John King, formerly undersheriff of Morris County and apparently no friend of Kinney, wrote after his flight to Governor Franklin, laying charges against the high sheriff in respect to Ford's breaking jail. Kinney was given an opportunity to reply thereto, and the Provincial Council, after a careful study of all the evidence, reached the conclusion that Kinney was "blameable for negligence in his Office respecting the Escape of Samuel Ford." The Grand Jury of Morris County also indicted Kinney "for Misbehaviour respecting the said Escape." 22
Ford, and presumably also King, went to a hideout known as Smultz's Cabin in the mountains near the Hibernia furnace. 23 While the whole countryside joined in the search for the two fugitives, who were thought to be concealing themselves in caves, 24 a person convicted at Perth Amboy of coining dollars and half joes gave information of several others concerned. Thereupon Samuel Haynes, one Eyres (or Ayres), Benjamin Cooper, Dr. Barnaby (or Bern) Budd, Captain Joseph Morris and David Reynolds were arrested and tried at a Court of Oyer and Terminer held in Morristown. On August 14 Cooper made a partial confession, which was followed by a confession by Budd. The trial of Cooper, Budd, Haynes and Reynolds began on August 19 and they were convicted and sentenced to be hanged on September 17. It was found that a Captain Joseph Richardson was also involved; he was arrested but escaped from the officer who had taken him. He was described as a middle-aged man, six feet one or two inches high, of fair complexion and light brown hair, well made, stout, and active. A reward of £500 was now offered for the discovery of the author of the counterfeited Pennsylvania bills. 25
A letter, dated Morristown, Aug. 30, 1773, and sent to James Rivington, gave the story of the trial conducted at the special Court of Oyer and Terminer.
It ran as follows:
This account you would have had sooner, but it was thought (for certain reasons) prudent not to publish it until this time.
You have already mentioned in your paper that Samuel Ford and John King had escaped from goal. Their escape made it extremely
difficult to discover their accomplices. The Court opened on Tuesday the 11th, and it was the Friday following before the
least intimation could be got of any person concerned, when one of them, who lay under the censure of three convictions, the one for aiding Ford and King in their escape, and the others for high misdemeanors, on being hard
pushed, and in order to mitigate his punishment for these crimes, began to make a confession, this soon alarmed another of
the accomplices, who made an ample and full confession.
By which confessions, and those of the persons afterwards apprehended, these facts appeared — That Ford had been in the business
of money making many years, that in the year 1767, or 8, he followed it in New-York; but was apprehended on a suspicion of
making money, and admitted to bail, and even then set about preparing materials to renew the business, that he soon removed
back into this county, where he again entered into it, and made a connection in Philadelphia, with a certain Captain Joseph Richardson, from whom he got a supply of types, he then attempted the New-York emission of
Three Pound Bills, and made a considerable sum, but complained of the thinness of the paper, and the bad credit of the currency;
at least in this and the neighbouring provinces, and gave a preference to the Jersey currency; but it is thought did little
at it till the Pennsylvania emission of 1769 came out, when he with Captain Richardson
went to Ireland, and from thence to London and the manufactoring towns, and Ford applied himself to learn the business of an engraver and type maker, and from his knowledge
before in the art of carving, and an uncommon natural genius, he in the course of three months became so perfect a master
of the business, that (on his return to America) he made all the types for his press, and in so masterly a manner, that the
imitation of the Jersey and Pennsylvania bills, which were struck by them of Three Pounds, and Thirty Shillings is so exact that the difference cannot be discovered
without the most strict examination of a person well acquainted with the true bills.
From the time of his return, till he was apprehended, he went on with uninterrupted success, and emitted large sums of the
Jersey and Pennsylvania currency; but principally of the latter, for these two years past, and was the less apprehensive of being detected for the
1st. His bills had stood the test of several treasurers examination, and had had their sanction, which he ever made an invariable
rule to secure before he passed any of his new emissions.
2dly. His press and all his implements were in an almost impenetrable swamp, at a mile distance from his house, and in which
the water, most part of the year, was half leg deep, so that no person could track him, and he must crawl on his belly some rods before he could reach it.
3dly. As no person, except King and Richardson, knew where he did work, or had ever seen the place, and these, and all others
concerned, were sworn to secrecy. — He used to go to his work at day light, in the morning, with his gun, so that no person
could suspect him. Ford was called the Treasurer for the three provinces. He signed his own bills. By direction of the Court a number of persons went into the swamp, in search of his types, &c.
but found only his press, and a leather that covered the bills when they were struck, on which was the impression of a Pennsylvania Bill of £3, of the emission of 1769.
Upon these facts the following persons (who were only concerned as passers of the money, except Reynolds, who procured some
types for Ford) to wit, Benjamin Cooper, Esq; Doctor Bern Budd, Samuel Haynes and David Reynolds, were indicted and plead guilty to their several indictments, and on the nineteenth they received sentence
of death, to be executed the 17th of September next. Few scenes ever were more truly affecting than the one in the court-house,
at the time of sentence passing.
— These four persons are remarkably handsome fine looking men, three of them about thirty, the other 40, they are all married
and have children. All are descendants from the first families in the province, and all have parents living, and numerous
relations — the attendance of their relations and friends added much to the solemnity of it, so much that it is better conceived
than described — among a thousand people there was scarce a dry eye. The spectators were more sensible affected for those
unhappy persons, as it appeared they had been drawn into it by the art, cunning and perswasion of that VILLAIN FORD.
These were all the persons apprehended for capital crimes, except justice Ayres, whose crime was committed in Sussex county,
it appeared he had not been in the practice for some time past, and if any judgement can be formed of his repentance, by his
conduct and carriage, it was sincere before he was suspected, as his life had lately been so exemplary, that the congregation
to which he belonged had promoted him to the rank of deacon, and the parson was so fully convinced of his innocence, that
on the Sunday after his committment he PRAYED for his protection from false accusers, and the Sunday following a report prevailed that he was released, when the Parson returned thanks for it; but alas! before
the next Sunday certain accounts were received that he had confessed his crime.
During these enquiries, sufficient evidence appeared to convince every one present, that Ford was one of the Persons that
robbed the Treasury of this Province some years since, both, from his own confession to one of the convicts, who declared
it on oath, as also from many other circumstance.
From this account of Ford, the Public must view him in the light of the most accomplished Villain, that this country ever produced, and it is hoped it will stimulate every well-wisher to the community throughout the continent,
to be watchfull for, and active in apprehending him, especially when they have the promise of 500 l. from the Governor of
Pennsylvania, for convicting the Person who counterfeited the Currency of that Province, and of his being the man, against whom there
is the fullest Proof. — It is supposed he is gone to the Ohio, and intends going down to the mouth of the Mississippi, Richardson has also made his escape.
The Grand Jury in a polite Address, thanked the Court and Attorney General for the great Pains they had taken, in aiding them
in their discoveries, and in a very particular manner gave their thanks; and those
of the County to some Persons, whose activity had laid a foundation for detecting and breaking up this nest of public robbers.
You should have had this at large with the answer to it, but too much of your Paper would be taken up thereby, for one subject
Thus Sir, I have given you a brief account of the facts that appeared to the Court, so far as they relate to the Paper Currency.…
The pursuit of Ford occupied considerable space in the newspapers for some time. On September 9, 1773, Rivington's New-York Gazetteer reported: "By a letter from New-Jersey, dated the 6th instant, we have certain intelligence that Ford the money-maker, was a few days past on the West branch of the Susquehanna, where a number of persons, from all quarters are gone in pursuit of him, so that the much injured public may now expect this most dangerous man will be apprehended, and exemplarily punished, a circumstance most ardently wished, as it may possibly lead to an extension of mercy in favour of several persons who have been unhappily, through his immediate means brought into the most shocking and desperate circumstances."
New light on the affair was shed by the following account published a week later in the same newspaper:
On the 3d instant a further and very strict search was made for printing materials (concealed by Ford, the money maker) in
the swamp where the press was found,
when, after much diligence exerted, a set of plates for printing the currencies of Maryland, Pennsylvania, New-Jersey, and New-York, with a quantity of types and other utensils for carrying on the counterfeiting bills of each province, were
discovered and secured. In the course of his flight he put off some Jersey bills of his own manufacture amongst the Indians,
who being afterwards apprized that they were counterfeited, very chearfully joined in the pursuit of this most pernicious
Eventually Sheriff Kinney located in the woods near the place where Ford's printing utensils had been found thirty-six counterfeit Pennsylvania thirty shilling bills and part of a three pound bill, all supposed to be Ford's work. Kinney sent them to the governor, who on February 8, 1775, laid the bills before the Provincial Council. That body ordered that they be committed to the care of the deputy secretary to be kept with the types and counterfeiting implements discovered in 1773 and already committed to his care. 28 Apparently at a much later time Sheriff Robertson, who purchased Ford's house, in making some repairs found counterfeiters' tools hidden in the walls. 29
On September 13, 1773, Rivington's New-York Gazetteer informed its readers of the fugitives: "Positive accounts are received that Ford and King were at Fort Augusta, near Susquehannah, on the 29th of August, he was hovering in a canoe on one of the branches of that river, so he is not very likely to escape.
"We are just now informed that Ford and King were on the 5th instant at a village called Annaquauga, and the chasseurs expected to be up with them the next night."
Despite the rumors concerning the flight of Ford he was all the time at Smultz's Cabin, and news of this seems to have forced Sheriff Kinney to act, for about mid-September, on a Sunday morning, he went with a posse to Rockaway, where he picked up Abraham Kitchell, Ford's brother-in-law as a guide, and proceeded in a leisurely fashion towards Smultz's Cabin. Young James Kitchell, Abraham's son, told one Joseph Herriman what was up, and Herriman, throwing off his coat, ran off along a short cut to the cabin and warned Ford, so that, when the sheriff arrived, it was too late and Ford had decamped. It was rumored that Kinney himself had been involved with Ford and had purposely tarried. It was related that Abraham Kitchell had that Sunday remarked to the sheriff: "You dare not, for your own sake, arrest him." 30
The next number of
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, on September 23, devoted space to the latest developments:
Last Friday between ten and twelve o'clock, was executed at Morris Town, East-Jersey, David Reynolds, who was convicted of counterfeiting and passing of base money; he died very penitent. Cooper Budd and Haines,
condemned with him, are respited to the 15th of October. The public shall shortly be made acquainted with many interesting
and authentic particulars relative to this dangerous confederacy. The last accounts of Ford, the most heinous of this destructive
community, are, that he was seen asleep under a tree, guarded by King, and another man well armed; they take their rest alternately
in this manner. Ford is reduced by a fever, joined to a complication of the most loathsome distempers, which prevent his travelling
now any more than five miles a day, and as there are some very determined people engaged in the pursuit, it is expected he
is ere now either found dead or taken alive.
The reason for the respiting of Cooper, Budd and Haines is probably found in this extract from a letter from Perth Amboy, dated September 15 and printed in the New-York Journal; or, the General Advertiser of September 23, 1773: "The Wives and Relations of most of the unhappy Money Makers, now under Sentence of Death, are here with the Governor, in Order to solicit him for a Reprieve. So many unhappy People wandering about the Streets, is really an affecting sight."
The New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury of September 27, 1773, thus recounted the execution of Reynolds in the presence of an estimated 15,000 spectators,
and the respiting of the others:
On Friday the 17th Instant at Morris Town in East New Jersey, was executed, David Reynolds, a Native of Ireland, about 32 years of age, for counterfeiting the money Bills of Credit of that Colony. He arrived there about ten Years ago,
and chiefly followed the farming business till getting acquainted with one Rosecrans
(executed some time ago for the like Crime, but without declaring his Accomplices) he was by him led into the
Scheme of making and passing counterfeit Money; after the Execution of Rosecrans, Reynolds accidentally met with Capt. Richardson
(of Philadelphia, who is fled) and getting acquainted with each other's Characters, was by him introduced to Ford, Haynes, Cooper, Budd, King,
and the rest of the Gang. Ford the Principal, termed by the Rest, the Treasurer of the three Provinces, had counterfeited
the Money Bills of New-York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in so Masterly a manner as not to be distinguished from the true Bills without the nicest Inspection, and also several of
the Gold and Silver Coins current in the British Colonies; and in passing these, Reynolds and the Rest of the Accomplices
continued, till Ford and King were apprehended and imprisoned in Morris County Gaol, from whence they soon after made their escape, as mentioned in the Papers. One of the Gang being convicted of aiding
them in their Escape and other high Misdemeanors, to mitigate his Punishment, made some Confessions tending to the Discovery
of the Rest, which alarmed another, who made an ample confession of the whole, in Consequence of which Reynolds, Haynes, Cooper,
and Budd, were tried, confessed their Guilt, and were condemned to be hanged. Their Execution was ordered to be on the 17th
Instant; before the Time, Budd and Haynes were respited for a Month, but Reynolds and Cooper were ordered to prepare for Execution
at the Time appointed. A few Minutes before the Time, Cooper confessed himself privy to the Robbery of the Treasury at Amboy,
and that he received Three Hundred Pounds of the Money; on which he also was respited till he should make further Discoveries.
Reynolds was therefore ordered for Execution alone…
Cooper confessed that he was privy to the robbery of the Treasury at Amboy, and received 300 l. of the Money, that it was
concerted by Ford and perpetrated by him and three Soldiers then quartered there; that the plan was, first to attempt to carry
off the Iron Chest, if that fail'd, next to take the Key from Mr. Skinner's Bedroom, and to kill him or any Person who should
discover them; and that if afterwards any of them should be suspected and convicted, they were to turn King's Evidence and
accuse Mr. Skinner as being the only Accomplice with them. When some of them were shocked at this Proposal as thereby an innocent
Person might lose his Life; Ford replied, no, damn him, he will only be condemned, he has Friends enough to save him from the Gallows. That after breaking into the Treasure's Office adjoining to his Bed Room, they attempted to carry off
the Chest, but finding it difficult, set it down again, and breaking open a Desk in the Room, in hopes to find Money, they
therein found an old Key to the Money Chest, which was rusty and thought unfit for Use (the Key then used being in Mr. Skinner's
Bed Room) with this old Key, they opened the Iron Chest, and thereby the Lives that would been exposed by their Search for
the other Key, were probably preserv'd. The Governor and Council of New Jersey, are to meet in a few Days, when further Particulars relating to this Matter will be known.
At a meeting of the Provincial Council of New Jersey on September 27, 1773, it was reported that Ford, King, Richardson and Thomas Budd had proceeded towards the Ohio "with an Intention of going to the Mississippi and according to Haynes's Confession were to wait for him at New Orleans till after Christmass next." Governor Franklin proposed on the basis of this information that trusty persons be sent to the Governor of West Florida and New Orleans to seize Ford and his friends on their arrival, and the Treasurer of the Eastern Division offered to advance the funds necessary for the travelling expences of the men dispatched. The council at this time suggested that the governor endeavor to have the Pennsylvania authorities assist by sending along to West Florida some persons from Pennsylvania. 34 At this same time, moreover, there was a rumor that Ford had embarked at Barnagat for St. Kitts and thence intended to go to St. Eustatia. 35
Word of Richardson reached New York, and then Boston, through a gentleman who came from Philadelphia. This person stated that it was currently reported in the latter city that Richardson was taken in Virginia, where he had been pursued by three men. It was said that he had killed two of them and made a pass with a sword at the third, who, with his hand parried the blow and took away the weapon. 36 With regard to the other fugitives and Richardson, the following report was published in Rivington's New-York Gazetteer of September 30: "The principal pursuer of Ford and King, Mr. Scott who, on account of his particular attachment to one of the present unfortunate persons at Morristown, was extremely interested in taking the first of these men, is returned without being able to come up with them, the persons he had chased in expectation of their proving to be those he went after were two Indian traders, all that he could learn from these was, that Richardson of Philadelphia and Thomas Budd joined Ford and King a little beyond Juniata, from whence they all sat [sic!] out together, well armed for the Mississippi, so that there remain very little hopes of their being secured."
An item dated New York, October 4, which appeared in the Massachusetts Gazette; and the Boston Weekly News-Letter of October 14, assured the public that Reynolds was not a native of Ireland, as had been stated, but was born in Pennsylvania, where his parents were still living. It also discounted a report current in some parts of New Jersey that Ford, Budd and King had escaped on a vessel bound to the West Indies and stated the following reason therefore: "The counterfeit specie lately put off by them amongst the Indians, on Susquehannah, is an incontestible proof of their flight towards the Ohio, as they are exactly described to the pursuers by the very Indians who had received the bills in payment from them."
Ten days later Rivington's New-York Gazetteer informed the public of the latest aspects of the pursuit: "The pursuit of Ford and King was continued until it was found that they were certainly making for the Ohio; the party not prepared for proceeding to so great a distance, desisted, after having dispatched a man down to that river, who was to follow them to the city of New-Orleans; from this person no accounts have been yet received. But we are assured some hopes are still to be entertained of apprehending them, as Colonel Guy Johnson, on hearing of their escape, some time ago, dispatched a Mohawk Indian, one of the best runners of that nation, with exact descriptions and proper instructions to follow them down the Ohio. In quest of these fugitives there have not been discovered the least traces of either Richardson or Budd, as has been reported, they are supposed to have taken another route." 37 The New-York Journal; or, the General Advertiser, on the same day, October 14, revealed that there was new incentive to apprehend Richardson and Ford, as the Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania on October 4 had proclaimed a reward of £300 for the capture of each man. Richardson was described in a proclamation issued by Governor Dunmore of Virginia and published in Rind's Virginia Gazette of September 9 as "about 43 years old, above 6 feet high, very stout, active, and resolute, of a fair complexion, very light brown hair, and well dressed… smooth of speech and sensible."
On December 13 it was reported in the press that Governor Franklin of New Jersey had pardoned Haines, Budd and Cooper,
but the desire of the authorities to lay hands on Ford and the others who had escaped was as great as ever. An item, dated
Baltimore, November 13, and printed in the
Massachusetts Gazette; and the Boston Weekly News-Letter of December 16, was concerned with Richardson. It read as follows:
A letter from Lancaster county to a gentleman in this town says, "The famous Richardson, who has long been in a fair, or rather foul way of making money,
after taking leave of his wife and family, who lived in the Great Valley, lodged, the night before he took flight towards the Ohio, at Mr. M……s; during his stay there, which was about nine hours, he discovered symptoms of a mind rather warily than fearfully
agitated, and seemed resolvedly fixed to defend the most desperate attack on his person. He was well armed, as was also a
man that attended him, who, soon as day dawned, took his station before the house, watching narrowly every person who passed,
until they departed. On Richardson's going off, being asked if he was not afraid of being taken, he replied, no; damn me!
A man whose pockets are lined with money, and his heart with courage, has nothing to fear but God; and before I am heard of
again in Pennsylvania, I shall be out of the reach of pursuit.'"
Governor Franklin of New Jersey, in the light of the recent events, on November 12, 1773, addressed the General Assembly of the province with these words:
A Discovery was made some time in the beginning of the last summer of a number of persons in the counties of Middlesex and Monmouth, concerned in making a base kind of Half Johannes, and Spanish Dollars, which happily led to the discovery of another gang
of villains in the counties of Morris and Sussex, who had for several years past been employed in counterfeiting and passing the paper currency of this and the neighbouring
colonies. From the confessions of some of them, corroborated by many striking circumstances, the affair of the robbery of
the treasury, which had remained so long enveloped in darkness, has likewise been brought to light. Unluckily some of each
gang have made their escape out of the province; but all of the former who were apprehended, and one of the chief of the latter
have received that punishment for their crimes which the law would permit; three others, who were sentenced to death, have
been respited, for very particular reasons, as you will see by the papers I shall order to be laid before you. No endeavours
have been, or shall be wanting on my part, to have those who escaped, apprehended and brought to justice.
As the Mischief in which these persons were engaged is of such extensive and pernicious a nature, I cannot but congratulate
you upon the stop which has been put to its further progress: Nor can I doubt but you will think with me, that the thanks
and grateful acknowledgements of the public are due to those Gentlemen who have with great zeal and abilities, and with considerable
trouble and expence, been the means of detecting and apprehending the authors of it.
On this occasion I think it proper to recommend to you the passing of a Law to make it a felony to counterfeit in this province
the silver and gold coin of foreign countries. Many of them have now so general a circulation here, that the mischiefs resulting
from their being counterfeited may be as destructive as the counterfeiting of our own paper currency.
Five days later Governor Franklin followed his speech with a proclamation offering a reward of £300 for the apprehension of Ford, a like sum for the capture of Richardson, and of £50 for the taking of John King. Rivington's New-York Gazetteer of December 16, 1773, which carried the proclamation, pointed out that the total of rewards for the three counterfeiters was £750 for Ford, £600 for Richardson and £75 for King. The newspaper added that it was suspected that Ford would use the alias of Samuel Samson and King that of John Horton.
The same newspaper on January 20, 1774, was still hopeful that Ford and King would be taken. "The pursuit of Ford and King the money-makers," wrote its printer, "has, ever since their escape from justice, been unremitted; and though it has not hitherto proved successful, yet there still remains great encouragement to expect they will be taken, – – an event that must reconcile every one to the pardon which has been lately vouchsafed to the three persons set at liberty from confinement at Morris Town; and it is hoped a few weeks will enable us to pronounce these adventurers to be in safe custody."
It turned out that Ford had left many creditors behind him, and the Inferior Court of Common Pleas of Morris County on or before October 30 appointed Samuel Tuthill and Jonathan Styles of Morristown and Thomas Millidge of Hanover to adjust and to settle the demands of his creditors. 40 Sheriff Kinney sold off Ford's farm and all his property, "even to a tin cup containing milk for the babe." 41 Ford's wife, in spite of his previous conduct and the straits in which she found herself, was for a time intensely loyal to her absconded husband. When James Kinsey, an attorney and member of the House, examined the evidence adduced against Ford in connection with the robbery of the East Jersey Treasury, declared it unreliable, and persuaded the majority of the House that such was the case, Grace Ford's joy knew no bounds. On January 15, 1774, she sent Kinsey a letter of thanks in which she expressed her gratitude for his having "lightened the load of ills, with which one of the unhappy sons of adversity has been unjustly depressed." She also urged him to undertake what she considered the lighter task of "acquitting" her "injured husband also from the charge of counterfeiting the paper currencies." 42 There may, indeed, have been reasonable doubt about Ford's having shared in the robbery of the treasury, and the issue is beclouded by the fact that the issue was a political one, 43 but there can be no doubts as to Ford's activities as a counterfeiter.
Ford, who apparently vanished from the scene completely, went neither to New Orleans nor the West Indies. He removed to Green Brier County, Virginia, now in West Virginia, where he assumed his mother's name of Baldwin and settled down. Together with a partner he engaged in the business of silversmith, and, during a severe illness, from which he did not expect to recover, he told his partner's wife of his real name and his evil past. Ford was, however, restored to health, and, when his partner later died, the partner's wife married Ford, although she knew full well that he already had a wife in New Jersey, Grace Kitchell Ford, who, indeed, lived on until 1818, when she died at the age of 77. 44
News of Ford's whereabouts in time must have drifted back to Morristown, and his eldest son, William, accompanied by a friend, Stephen Halsey, paid a visit to Ford in Virginia, where they found him living with a new wife and the children she had borne him. To them Ford vehemently denied any guilt in connection with the robbery of the treasury but expressed repentance for his general bad conduct. William Ford and Halsey reported that they found him "a most melancholy man." 45
Richardson for all his bravado, was eventually captured and confined in the Lancaster County jail. On June 19, 1777, he was given permission to secure bail and in the spring of 1780 was discharged from confinement on condition that he leave Pennsylvania and never return without permission. 46 Richardson could probably thank the Revolution, with its confusion and change of authorities, for the fact that he escaped death on the gallows.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, July 14, 1773, p. 2.
Ibid., July 21, 1773, p. 2 and Pennsylvania Archives, I Ser., X, p. 88.
See Kenneth Scott, "The Middlesex Counterfeiters," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society, LXX (1952), pp. 246–249.
Speech delivered before the House on November 12, 1773 (see New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XVIII, p. 396.
Ibid., XVIII, pp. 414–415.
Ibid., XVIII, pp. 522–523.
Ibid., XVIII, p. 818.
Andrew M. Sherman, op. cit., pp. 118, 119, 137.
Ibid., p. 119.
Ibid., pp. 120–121.
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, Sept. 9, 1773, p. 2.
Votes and Proceedings of the New Jersey Assembly (Burlington: Isaac Collins, 1775), p. 51 and p. 31.
Ms. Minutes Supreme Court of Judicature of New York, 1769–1772, pp. 2, 9, 10, 12, 14, 19, 21, 24.
Votes and Proceedings of the New Jersey Assembly, pp. 32–37.
Ms. Minutes of the Court of Common Pleas of Morris County, Bk. 5, p. 412.
Votes and Proceedings of the New Jersey Assembly, pp. 33 and 51.
Ibid., pp. 52–53.
Andrew M. Sherman, op. cit., p. 127.
New-York Journal; or, the General Advertiser, July 22, 1773, p. 3 and Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, July 29, 1773, p. 1.
New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XVIII, pp. 379–380.
Andrew M. Sherman, op. cit., p. 130.
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, July 29, 1773, p. 3.
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, Sept. 9, 1773, p. 2 and Supplement to the Massachusetts Gazette, Sept. 30, 1773.
The press and plates were examined by Thomas Powell and Isaac Collins, the printer for the province. Collins was of the opinion that no more than one bill at a time could be printed on the press, though he thought he could print four bills on one piece of paper on it (see Votes and Proceedings of the New Jersey Assembly, 1175 pp. 206–207.
New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XVIII, p. 525.
Andrew M. Sherman, op. cit., p. 131.
Ibid., pp. 135–136.
The Pennsylvania Journal; and The Weekly Advertiser, Sept. 22, 1773.
On Rosencrans'career of counterfeiting which terminated with his execution see above pp. 98–99, 102, 109–110.
New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XVIII, pp. 361–362.
Ibid., XXIX, p. 42.
See also the New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury, Oct. 18, 1773, p. 3.
The New-York Gazette: and the Weekly Mercury, Dec. 13, 1773, p. 3 and the New-York Journal; or, the General Advertiser, Dec. 16, 1773, p. 3.
Rivington's New-York Gazetteer, Dec. 16, 1773, p. 1 and the New-York Journal; or, the General Advertiser, Dec. 16, 1773, p. 1. The governor added: "In all Probability, if Government had been empowered to hire a Number of active Men to have gone off immediately in different Parties, in Pursuit of these Delinquents, they would ere now have received the Punishment due to their Crimes."
New Jersey Archives, I Ser., XXIX, pp. 85–86.
Andrew M. Sherman, op. cit., p. 138.
Ibid., XXIX, pp. 222–224.
Ibid., XXIX, pp. 258–263 and 276–282.
Joseph F. Tuttle, op. cit., p. 32.
Harrold E. Gillingham, Counterfeiting in Colonial Pennsylvania , pp. 42–44.
In 1763 Joseph Billings had been in Reading jail for counterfeiting, and it was reported that he had had to leave New England for the like crime, had been whipped out of a regiment at Pittsburg for coining dollars, and had been imprisoned in Maryland for similar wickedness. Herman Rosencrans and Billings were acquainted as early as 1762, when, as Rosencrans claimed, he
had sold a horse to Billings and received counterfeit bills for it.
When, in December, 1769, Rosencrans was again in the clutches of the law, it appeared that he and Billings had been accomplices.
On January 15, 1770, Lieutenant Governor John Penn issued the following proclamation:
Whereas I have received Information from the Chief Justice, that a certain JOSEPH BILLINGS stands charged, before him, with
feloniously forging and counterfeiting the Bills of Credit of this Province, and passing the same, to the great Injury and
Deceit of his Majesty's Liege Subjects. AND WHEREAS the Endeavours hitherto used for apprehending the said Billings have been ineffectual; and it is highly expedient, for the Discouragement of such pernicious and villainous Crimes, that
the said Joseph Billings should be brought to exemplary Punishment: I HAVE THEREFORE thought fit, with the Advice of the Council,
to issue this my Proclamation, hereby promising and engaging to pay the public Reward of FIFTY POUNDS, to any Person, or Persons,
who shall discover, apprehend, and secure the said Joseph Billings, so that he be prosecuted to Conviction. — — — — His Person is very remarkable, being 6 Feet 5 Inches high, long necked, and raw boned; he is about 50 Years of Age, and a Silversmith, or Watch-maker, by Trade, but often passes by the Name of Doctor Billings. He has formerly
been committed to several Prisons, in this and the neighbouring Provinces, for Practices of the same kind. AND I DO hereby strictly charge and enjoin all Judges, Justices, Sheriffs, Constables, Officers Civil and Military, and
all other his Majesty's faithful and Liege
Subjects, within this Government, to make diligent Search and Enquiry after the said Joseph Billings, and to use all possible
Means to apprehend and secure him, in one of the public Gaols of this Province, that he may be proceeded against according
In March news reached Philadelphia by way of Carlisle that "the notorious Billings (the principal Person concerned in counterfeiting the Three Pound Bills of this Province) was lately taken up, with another Man, after a long and obstinate Resistance, at Winchester, and committed to the Gaol of that Place." 3 Nothing more is known of Billings or of the man taken with him. The report of their capture may have been false, they may have escaped, or, if they were tried and punished, no report of the matter has been preserved.
Maryland eight dollar bills, dated January 1, 1767, and badly cut on copperplate, were circulating in May, 1770, and the public was warned against accepting them. Neither the arms nor the ornaments were as plain as in the true money, the letters were very irregular, and the forged bills might readily be detected with a little inspection. 4
At the end of October, 1770, one Josiah Pitt was indicted at the Court of Quarter Sessions of York County for altering a two shilling Pennsylvania bill of credit to ten shillings and for passing the altered note. He pleaded not guilty, was prosecuted by Attorney General
Andrew Allen, was tried and convicted. His sentence was that he
…stand in the Pillory in York Town on the twenty ninth Day of November next between the hours of ten and twelve in the forenoon for one hour. That then he shall
have both his Ears cut off and that they be nailed to the said Pillory. That the said Josiah Pitt shall then be whipped at
the publick whipping Post in the said Town with thirty nine Lashes on his bare back well laid on. That the said Josiah Pitt
pay a fine of one hundred Pounds of lawful Money of Pennsylvania the one half to the Governor of this Province for the support of Government and the other half to Patrick
McSherry the Discoverer that he pay the Costs of this prosecution, and as the said Josiah Pitt hath no Lands or Tenements,
Goods or Chattels to satisfie for the said one hundred Pounds that he be and is hereby adjudged to be sold for the term of
four years to make satisfaction for the said fine of one hundred Pounds and that he be committed until the Judgment is complyed
A warning was printed in The Pennsylvania Gazette of November 29, 1770, that counterfeit half Johannes, dated 1746 and made of base metal thinly gilded over, were circulating. They were somewhat broader, thicker and lighter than the true ones. If they were compared with the genuine coins, they might readily be detected, since the letters of the counterfeits were not so regular nor the workmanship so well executed.
A few days later a notice was printed in Philadelphia that counterfeit English guineas were passing in the city. They were made of old English shillings, gilded over, they appeared fresh and new but were easily discovered by their being considerably under weight. 6
The only recorded counterfeiting in Pennsylvania in 1771 was of eighteen penny bills of the Bettering-house money, dated March 10, 1769, which were issued for the aid of the managers of the almshouse in Philadelphia and appeared in August. The bills might be easily detected and were cut on copperplate. The letters were very irregular, and the paper was somewhat whiter and smoother than that of the genuine money. The whole was badly executed. 7
A dispatch from New York, dated February 3, 1772, was published in The Pennsylvania Gazette ten days later. It noted the appearance of counterfeit New Jersey three pound bills, dated December 31, 1763, and signed Smith, Johnston and Skinner. "They are," ran the notice, "well executed, but the Coat of Arms and Bordering appear more plain in them than in the true Ones: The Words, New-Jersey, Three Pounds, on the Margin of the Sun, is very visible and plain in the Counterfeits, and scarcely to be observed in the true Ones; the Coat of Arms is very remarkable in the Plainness of the Supporters. – – In the Word THREE in the Counterfeits, under the Sun, the two EE's are shorter than the Rest of the Word. – – – In the true Bills, on the right Hand Border, are two remarkable black Spots, near the upper and lower End, which are wanting in the Counterfeits: The Signers Names are wrote well, and rather better than the true Ones." 8
The same month, February, 1772, false milled dollars, dated 1770 and made of base metal, were circulating. They were supposed to be cast and apparently rather well done. When compared with genuine ones, the counterfeits looked darker, felt smoother and were nearly five pennyweight too light. 9
At the Court of Quarter Sessions of York County held the last week in April, 1772, one David Robinson was indicted for passing one ninth of a dollar of Maryland currency altered in its denomination to six dollars. He pleaded not guilty but was tried, convicted and given the comparatively light sentence of paying a fine of £10 to the governor and costs of prosecution and suffering three months of imprisonment. 10
It seems likely that Robinson was one of a gang or at least the accomplice of some other counterfeiter, for altered Maryland bills continued to appear. The Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser of June 15, 1772, printed this notice: "Within a few Days past several Persons in this City have been greatly imposed on in receiving MARYLAND PAPER MONEY BILLS, many of which are altered by some Villain or Villains, from a small to a higher Value; Circumspection is therefore necessary. – – – Some of the Bills are altered from One Dollar to Six, and others from Two-ninths of a Dollar, to Four Dollars." 11
On July 2 the public was cautioned against counterfeit New Jersey thirty shilling bills dated April 16, 1764, and signed John Johnston, Rich d. Smith, and S. Smith, but so unlike the signing in the true bills as to be easily detected. The impression was of a remarkably blackish appearance, the word New-Jersey on the left border was much plainer, as also the flourishing on the top and right edge, and very different from the true bills. They bore the printer's signature, G, but it was possible that some might carry another signature, especially after this warning. 12
The same month other forged bills, twenty shilling Pennsylvania notes, dated May 1, 1760, appeared in Philadelphia. They were badly cut on copperplate and might be easily distinguished, since the paper looked whiter and smoother than that of the true money. 13
Two other types of counterfeited Pennsylvania bills were mentioned in The Pennsylvania Gazette of August 19, 1772: one variety was of ten shilling notes, dated April 3, 1772, which were easy to detect, as there were no true ones of that date printed; the other counterfeits were two shilling bills altered to ten. These were well done but the fraud could easily be discovered, since the form of the two shilling bill was very different from that of any ten shilling bills of Pennsylvania. The same newspaper on September 9 warned that counterfeit eighteen penny bills of the Bettering-house money had appeared; they were done from a copperplate and could readily be detected, as the letters were very irregularly cut and did not look as clear as those made with common printing types. At the same time people were cautioned to beware of one shilling Pennsylvania bills altered to ten by the pasting of the word Ten over One, but so badly done that they might easily be recognized. It is likely that one of those concerned in altering the bills was John Underwood, who at a Mayor's Court held in Philadelphia at the end of October, 1772, was convicted of counterfeiting and passing counterfeit money of Philadelphia and sentenced to be whipped, to stand in the pillory, and to have both ears cut off and nailed to the post. 14 The nature of the sentence shows that his crime was altering money and passing it.
Early in June forged Maryland dollar bills, dated March 1, 1770 and badly cut on copperplate, were passing. The letters on the face and back stood very
irregular, and the bills on the whole were so poorly executed that one acquainted with printing letters could scarcely be
deceived by them.
The persons concerned in passing them may have been the individuals referred to in the following item in The Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser of Monday, June 21, 1773: "Last Tuesday was committed to our Gaol, two Men taken up at Potts-Grove, for attempting to utter a counterfeit Maryland Eight Dollar Bill, and on searching, there were found on them eighty of those Bills." The same account was printed by The Pennsylvania Gazette of June 23, 1773, which, however, added:
These Men were but just arrived from Ireland, and since their Commitment, their Chests were searched on board the Ship that brought them, when 874 more of the same Bills
were found therein.
The above Counterfeits are dated March 1, 1770; the Face of the Bill is done with Printing Types, but the Arms and Ornaments
are badly engraved on Copperplate, and the Words, Anno Domini, in Old English Print, are larger in the Counterfeit than in
the true Bills; the Paper is thinner, and the Backs are so ill engraved, that they might easily be detected, should any have
been passed by them before they were taken up.
One of these two men, Kelly by name, died early in July of a fever in the Philadelphia jail, and by the middle of the month his associate was so desperately ill that his death also was expected, 16 and it is probable that he escaped death on the gallows in the same manner as Kelly had done.
Aside from the activities of Samuel Ford and his accomplices, which are discussed in a separate chapter, the only further case of counterfeiting in 1773 was that of Thomas Collen, who was indicted at a Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County in September for "forging & counterfeiting 8 Dollars Bills." He was tried, found not guilty and discharged on payment of the costs of prosecution. 17
The activities of the Ford Gang and a particularly successful forging of the currency of Virginia contributed to the enactment of new legislation in Pennsylvania. At the end of September a law was passed setting the death penalty without benefit of clergy for anyone convicted of counterfeiting or passing paper money so counterfeited of any British colony in America. The penalty for altering or passing altered currency of any British colony in America was the following: to stand in the pillory, to have both ears cut off and nailed to the pillory, to receive thirty-nine lashes, to pay a fine of £100, one half to the governor and one half to the informer, to pay double damages to the person injured and to pay the costs of prosecution. If the culprit did not have the means to pay the monetary penalties, he or she might be sold for a term up to seven years to satisfy such payments. 18 And on November 6, 1773, the Assembly of New Castle, Kent and Sussex passed and sent up to the governor, who enacted it into law, a similar act "to prevent the Counterfeiting the Paper Money of other Colonies." 19
Early in 1774 counterfeit one shilling bills of the Bettering-house money, dated March 10, 1769, and done with printing types, appeared. The letters were not clear and looked blacker and the impression was stronger than was the case with the true bills. The paper of the forged notes was thinner and seemed of a dingy bluish color, while the ornaments on each side were somewhat different from the genuine ones. 20 During the first week in March several persons were committed to the Philadelphia jail on suspicion of counterfeiting and passing one shilling bills and ninepenny and threepenny tickets of the Bettering-house money, a considerable amount of which false currency was found upon them. 21 Possibly one of these persons was Bernard Repton, who at a Court of Oyer and Terminer in Philadelphia in April, 1774, was sentenced to be executed on April 30. 22
According to a dispatch from Philadelphia dated March 14 and printed in The Maryland Gazette of March 24, 1774, counterfeit Maryland dollar bills were circulating in Philadelphia. They were dated March 1, 1770, were badly cut on copperplate, and were printed on a paper which was much smoother and thinner than that used for the genuine bills.
The execution of Repton did not restrain others, for in October, 1774, false twenty shilling Pennsylvania bills, dated March 20, 1771, were found in circulation. They were printed from copperplate, looked much blacker than the genuine bills, and might easily be detected. 23
A Philadelphia dispatch dated January 9 and published in The Maryland Gazette of January 19, 1775, warned that counterfeit eight dollar Maryland bills, dated April 10, 1774, were passing in Philadelphia. They looked much blacker than the genuine bills and were altogether so badly done that they might be easily detected.
Likewise the fifty shilling Pennsylvania bills, dated October 1, 1773, were counterfeited and put into circulation by early March, 1775. The false bills were done with common printing types; the word Pennsilvania in the true money was made Pennsylvania in the counterfeits; the arms and ornaments were badly done; the denomination of the bill in red and black letters at the top could not be distinguished as in the true bills, where it was fair and clear; the back was badly imitated; the sun appeared larger and the rainbow smaller, while the paper was whiter and softer than that of the genuine money. 24
The counterfeiters of these fifty shilling bills, and perhaps also of the twenty shilling ones, were Andrew Stewart and John McAllister. They were tried and convicted at a Court of Oyer and Terminer held in Philadelphia on April 10, 1775, before Chief Justice Benjamin Chew, and Associate Justices Thomas Willing and John Morton. Their records were laid before the Provincial Council on Thursday, May 18, and, since the judges had reported to the governor no circumstances favorable to either prisoner, it was decided by the council that both should be executed on Saturday, June 3. 25
Both, however, escaped from jail, McAllister the first. He broke out of the public jail of Philadelphia County, and on May 27 Lieutenant Governor John Penn issued a proclamation offering a reward of £200 for his capture and delivery to the Sheriff of Philadelphia County. McAllister was described as "a young man, about eighteen or nineteen years of age, five feet eight or nine inches high, round shouldered, bow legged, a little pitted with the small pox," who wore his own hair. He had been found guilty of uttering and passing counterfeit bills of credit of Pennsylvania, knowing them to be such. 26
Within about ten days, McAllister's accomplice, Andrew Stewart, under sentence of death "for Counterfeiting and uttering Fifty Shilling Bills of the Province of Pennsylvania," had also made his escape from the jail, and in The Pennsylvania Gazette of June 7, 1775, Sheriff William Dewes had a notice printed offering a reward of £250 for his capture.
Shortly before the outbreak of the Revolution a plan to counterfeit Maryland and Pennsylvania bills was hatched abroad. The Virginia Gazette (Pinkney) of June 1, 1775, printed on its first page the copy of a letter signed Britannophilus and sent from Germany to John Wilkes, Lord Mayor of London. The mayor had given a copy of it to Arthur Lee, who, apparently, on March 22, 1775, sent it off from London to America. It read in part:
I live in a great city in Germany. Some weeks ago a printer came to me, and shewed me two bank notes [i.e. bills of credit] (not knowing the language, nor
the contents) which two foreigners brought to him, to re-print them exactly: I found the one to be a bank note of Annapolis, in Maryland, and the other of Pennsylvania, of 50 and of 5 shillings, both of 1774. I was surprized, and told the printer he should not at all meddle with the rascals
who brought these papers. Afterwards I heard that they have been at two engravers, to get two others counterfeited, and they
refused likewise. But as I do not doubt they will find out, in another town, some ignorant or hungry engraver, or printer,
I beg your lordship to communicate these contents of my letter to the public, in the
London Chronicle, to prevent any mischief and imposition on the honest Americans, vexed not only by taxes, but also by bad bank notes. It
will give me great pleasure to read in this paper my notice, to frustrate the designs of these impostors.
On Monday, January 1, 1776, Zachariah Smith Allen, a cordwainer, was detected in New York City passing counterfeit three pound Pennsylvania bills of the emission of March, 1769, signed with the names of Richard Smith, John Johnson and Stephen Skinner. An indictment was filed against him on January 19, 1776, for having, on December 28, 1775, in the East Ward of New York passed a false three pound Pennsylvania bill to William Thorn, and the witnesses against him were Thorn, Charles Brannon and John King. The same day a second indictment was filed against him in the Supreme Court of New York for having, on December 26, 1775, in the North Ward of the city, passed a false three pound Pennsylvania bill to Margaret, the wife of James Gordon, and in this case the witnesses were Margaret Gordon and Charles Brannon (or Brennon). Allen was arraigned on January 19, 1776, and pleaded not guilty, but there is no record of his having been tried. After his arrest a search of his lodgings revealed thirty-two £3 bills of Pennsylvania and about £70 worth of goods, which he had presumably purchased with his counterfeits. 27
See above Ch. VII
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Jan. 18, 1770, p. 3.
Ibid., March 29, 1770, p. 3.
Ibid., May 3, 1770, p. 3; The Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser, May 7, 1770, p. 3.
Ms. General Quarter Sessions Docket No. 10, 1769–1775, York County, pp. 78–79.
The Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Universal Advertiser, Dec. 3, 1770, p. 3.
Cf. Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , p. 144 and Pl. X.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1772, p. 3.
Ms. General Quarter Sessions Docket No. 10, 1769–1775, York County, pp. 172–173.
The same item is found in The Pennsylvania Journal, June 20, 1772.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Nov. 4, 1772, p. 3.
Ibid., June 9, 1773, p. 3.
Ms. Minutes of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia, Sept. 6, 1773.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , X, pp. 98–99 and Mitchell and Flanders, op. cit., pp. 339–340.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 9, 1774, p. 3.
Ibid., March 9, 1774, p. 3.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , X, p. 172.
The Pennsylvania Gazette, Oct. 5, 1774, p. 3.
Ibid., March 8, 1775, p. 3.
Colonial Records of Pennsylvania , X, p. 256.
Ibid., X, pp. 257–258; The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 31, 1775, p. 3.
Because of geographical location and a common governor, New Castle, Kent and Sussex had close ties with Pennsylvania. As a result, most of the cases of counterfeiting connected with the three lower counties were reported in the Philadelphia or Germantown newspapers and steps were frequently taken by the Pennsylvania authorities to apprehend the guilty parties. In the earlier chapters of this book many incidents concerned with New Castle, Kent and Sussex have been discussed: in 1724 William Sinton, jailed in New Castle for forging the paper currency, broke out and escaped; Governor Patrick Gordon in 1727 first discovered at New Castle the counterfeiting of Wallace and Willson; it was upon information supplied by a person in New Castle that a coiner, Zachariah Field, in 1730 was pursued by a hue and cry from the lower counties and was taken and punished; in 1734 Conway and Sherwin, who had been passing counterfeit ten, twenty, and probably also fifteen shilling New Castle bills, were discovered by Richard Grafton, who went from New Castle to Salem, New Jersey, for that purpose, 1 and were tried and convicted in New Castle; one Whitesides in 1738 brought in from Ireland more than a thousand twenty shilling New Castle bills, was arrested, jailed in New Castle and tried and convicted there; in 1740 Robert Jenkins was taken to New Castle for trial for having the currency of the three counties forged in England, and it is probable that he and his cousin, Peter Long, were both convicted; Jacob Ebberman of Germantown in 1742 was jailed in Philadelphia for altering New Castle currency but escaped from prison; in the following year counterfeit twenty shilling New Castle bills were in circula- tion, and bills of the same denomination were counterfeited again in 1748; in 1753 and again in 1756 the ten shilling New Castle bills were forged, and in 1761 two shilling New Castle bills altered to ten shillings made their appearance. 2
Unfortunately the court records of New Castle County are only partially preserved and those which have survived yield no information on cases of counterfeiting, though coiners and counterfeiters certainly came before the courts in New Castle, as is shown by the incidents mentioned above and by the following item printed in the Maryland Gazette of October 25, 1749: "We hear that a Man is in Gaol at Newcastle, for counterfeiting some of the Bills of Credit of this Province; and that the Plate, and some unsigned Bills, were found upon him: But they are so very ill done, and so unlike the true Bills, that the Fraud may be easily discovered."
The court records of the other two counties, however, contribute somewhat to our knowledge of colonial counterfeiting. At the May, 1745, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Sussex County, Garret Condon was presented for uttering false and counterfeit money. It was ordered that the presentment "be put in Bill of form and process to issue." The case was continued to the August and November sessions. Condon was released on bail, for at the February, 1746, term of the court "John Worthington the Surety in this Case brings in the body of the sd. Garret." The prisoner was then committed to jail and the court ruled that he be allowed three shillings a week until his trial, which was to be continued to the Court of Oyer and Terminer. 3
The Grand Jury at the August, 1755, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Kent County, presented two men for passing Pennsylvania currency supposed to be counterfeit. One of them, Isaac Gray, was committed for want of security. The other, William Smith, provided bail, himself in the amount of £500 and three others, Benony and William Watson and Richard Smith, each in the amount of £250. Smith's case was continued from term to term until the May, 1756, sessions. When, at that time, no person appeared to prosecute him, he was discharged by proclamation on payment of fees. Gray, however, remained in jail, and his case was continued until at the August, 1756, term it was recorded in the minutes that he "Broke Gaol & Run away." 4
At the May, 1764, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Kent County James Wells, Jr., was indicted for uttering one false dollar. A subpoena was issued for Thomas Murphy, a blacksmith, and Stephen Davis to appear to testify against him at the August sessions of the court. Wells pleaded not guilty and was released on bail, himself in the amount of £500 and Henry Wells in the like amount. In August the case was continued and Wells was again released on bail, himself in the amount of £500 and Daniel Wright Newnan (or Newman) in the like amount. Murphy and Davis each were required to furnish bail in the amount of £50 for their appearance to testify. The case was continued to November, when bail for Wells' appearance was provided by Murphy and Newnan. In February, 1765, the case was again continued, and Wells was committed to the sheriff for want of bail. Henceforth the case was continued from term to term until in May, 1769, it disappeared from the court docket. 5
One Philip McGaugy was twice indicted at the May, 1767, term of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Kent County, on each count for passing a counterfeit dollar. A subpoena was issued for Fenwick Fisher, Esq., Richard Lee and Alexander Munroe to testify for the King at the next sessions. The prisoner pleaded not guilty, and George Read prosecuted for the King. At the August term McGaugy changed his plea on each count to guilty; on the first count he was fined £5, required to pay fees and to give security for his good behavior for twelve months; on the second count he was sentenced to pay £5 and costs. 6
At the same time that McGaugy was indicted, in May, 1767, one Barnet (or Barnett) Ripton was presented by the Grand Jury at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Kent County for counterfeiting and passing dollars. Fisher, Lee and Munroe also were the witnesses against him. Ripton pleaded not guilty. At the August, 1767, term of the court he was tried, convicted and sentenced to stand one hour in the pillory, to receive thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, and to provide security in the amount of £50 for his good behavior for twelve months. 7 His sentence was doubtless so much severer than that of McGaugy because Ripton did not admit his guilt and also because he both counterfeited and passed the coin. It seems not at all unlikely that Barnet Ripton was the "Bernard Repton" who was convicted of counterfeiting at a Court of Oyer and Terminer in Philadelphia in April, 1774, and executed at the end of that month. 8
In November, 1769, an indictment of one William Morgan for uttering counterfeit dollars was returned Ignoramus by the jury at the Court of Quarter Sessions of Kent County, and the defendant was discharged on payment of fees. 9
As has been already mentioned, 10 the assembly of the Three Lower Counties passed an act fixing the pillory and a fine of £100 for the counterfeiting of its bills of credit. In keeping with the general trend in the other colonies the penalties became more severe. An act of 1759 appointed the penalty of death without benefit of clergy for those convicted of counterfeiting or passing counterfeited bills of the Three Lower Counties. The informer was to receive £50 from the property of the convicted criminal but, if the person convicted was insolvent, the trustees of the Loan Office were then to pay the informer £20. It was also provided that an individual convicted of altering the bills of the Three Lower Counties or of passing them when altered was to stand in the pillory, to have both ears nailed to the pillory and cropped, to receive thirty-one lashes on the bare back, to pay a fine of £100, one half to go to the informer and one half to the government, and to pay double damages to the person grieved, as well as all costs and charges of prosecution. If the convict had no property, he might be sold for any term up to seven years to furnish satisfaction. The trustees of the Loan Office were to pay £10 to the informer against an insolvent offender. The false bills were to be delivered to any of the trustees of the Loan Office, used as evidence at the trial, and then destroyed by the trustees in the presence of a committee of the assembly. 11
An act for emitting £30,000 in bills of credit, passed on September 2, 1775, provided the same penalties as those contained in the act of 1759, with, however, two minor exceptions: the sums to be paid by the trustees to an informer against an insolvent offender were cut in half. 12
In 1758 Maryland had passed a law making it penal to counterfeit bills of certain provinces, including the currency of the Three Lower Counties on Delaware, or to pass the same knowing them to be false. 13 The Three Lower Counties in 1773, in accord with suggestions made by Virginia, passed an act making it penal to counterfeit the paper money of the other British colonies. 14
These items may be found above Ch. II, 5, 8; III, 1, 5, 6, 7; IV; V, 1, 2, 15; VI, 8, 12; VII, 2.
Ms. Kent County Quarter Sessions Docket, 1762 Feb.–1764 Nov., May, Aug. Nov. terms, 1764; Ms. Minutes Kent County Quarter Sessions, 1763–1765 Feb., old # 68–1, May, Aug., Nov. terms, 1764; Ms. Kent County Quarter Sessions Docket, 1765 Feb.–1766 Nov., Feb., May, Aug., Nov. terms, 1766; Ms. Kent County General Sessions Docket, 1765 May–1766 Aug., May, Aug. Nov. terms, 1765, and Feb., May, Aug. terms, 1766; Ms. Minutes Kent County Quarter Sessions, 1766 Nov.–1768 Aug., Feb., May, Aug., Nov. terms, 1767, and Feb., May terms, 1768: Ms. Minutes Kent County Quarter Sessions, 1767 Feb.–1770 May, May, Aug., Nov. terms, 1767, Feb., June, Aug., Nov. terms, 1768, and May term, 1769.
See above Ch. IX, p. 7.
See above p. 41.
Laws of the State of Delaware , I, pp. 585–586.
Maryland Gazette, May 18, 1758, p. 3.
Laws of the State of Delaware , I, p. 529.
The amount of money counterfeited during the Colonial Period can never be precisely ascertained. In many instances the sums forged have not been recorded, and, of course, only when false currency was detected, was any notice taken of it. From certain cases mentioned in this book, however, an idea of the considerable volume of counterfeits may be obtained.
In the Seventeenth Century only coin was in use, and it is stated that on one occasion Charles Pickering had twenty-four pounds of silver mixed with base metal to be coined into bits. John Rush was said to have sworn that he spent half his time in making false Spanish money, and towards the close of the century the great quantity of lead and pewter farthings and half pence in circulation induced some fifty-three citizens of Philadelphia to petition the general assembly to suppress the counterfeits.
David Wallace, it is known, imported £1,000 in false New Jersey bills from Ireland; one Eanon, who died during the crossing from Ireland to America, had 118 New Jersey counterfeit bills in his chest; in the chest of an associate, William Scot, 582 false 18d bills were found, and another partner, Anthony Adamson, was said to have had a large quantity of the same. A coiner, Zachariah Field, had on his person false pistoles, pieces of eight and Lion dollars, while 101 false dollars were discovered in his saddle bags. A certain Grindal, it was charged, imported 600 twenty shilling bills from Ireland. Robert Conway and an associate named Sherwin were said to have brought in £5,000 in forged bills and to have passed about £700 of them before they were seized, while bills to the amount of £1,668/15/– were taken from Conway and burnt. William Bodie imported £700 in half crown bills; in the possession of one Whitesides 1,029 New Castle bills were found; Peter Long passed off nearly £6,000 in counterfeits without being detected, and in the chest of his cousin, Robert Jenkins, 971 forged twenty shilling bills were discovered; a man turned over to the authorities by Tom Bell had £17 in bogus currency on his person; in the pocketbook of John Bellamy were found four false pistoles, a counterfeit New York five shilling bill and £80 in forged Rhode Island currency; Lummis and Bradford, seized in New Jersey, had about them 102 fifteen shilling bills, 142 twelve shilling bills and 89 six shilling bills; Heinrich Jaeger admitted that he had made £40 in counterfeit money; Germantown coiners apparently put into circulation a vast number of false doubloons and dollars; Sigismund Hainly confessed that he had imported £20 in counterfeit paper; Daniel Jeffron, when taken up, had on him about 1,000 false Maryland ten shilling bills, which Governor Sharpe of that province referred to as "a vast quantity"; John Davis, when arrested, was in possession of £3,500 in counterfeits; Herman Rosencrans had on his person when apprehended 68 bills of £3 each; Samuel Ford, Jr., was so prolific and successful in his counterfeiting that his associates called him she treasurer of the three provinces; one Kelly and another Irishman had on them when taken into custody 80 False Maryland eight dollar bills, and in their chests were found 874 more bills, all brought in from Ireland; in the lodgings of Zachariah Smith Allen in New York were discovered 32 forged bills of £3 each and £70 worth of goods, presumably purchased with counterfeits.
The above items, incomplete as they must of necessity be, show the serious nature of the attempts to counterfeit the money of the colonies and the evil effects on the credit of the provincial paper currency. Lieutenant Governor Gordon in 1727 compared counterfeiting with poisoning the waters of a country and declared that it "would effectually overthrow all Credit, Commerce and Traffick, and the mutual Confidence that must subsist in Society, to enable the Members of it to procure to themselves and Families their necessary Bread," and David Lloyd, Speaker of the House, spoke of it as a "detestable Crime." Lieutenant Governor Thomas, in advocating severer legislation against counterfeiting, stated: "Few things require more the Attention of a Government than the Money current in it; for upon the real value of that depends all confidence in Trade, Forreign and Domestick. Yours has been so frequently counterfeited of late, that there is reason to apprehend the Security of your Laws has given encouragement to it." Later, Governor Belcher of New Jersey, reporting to the council and assembly of that province the activity of a band of counterfeiters, remarked: "And this Matter well deserves your speedy Care and strict Enquiry, as it strikes at the very Vitals of your Currency, and so must nearly affect not only your Commerce, but your other Estates also." The importance of checking counterfeiting was also stressed by Lieutenant Governor Richard Penn when he wrote in 1773 in a proclamation: "It is of the greatest Importance to the Trade and Commerce of this Province, that the Credit of all such bills as have been emitted by Law, should be supported and preserved, and that Forgers and Counterfeiters of them should be discovered, and brought to condign and exemplary Punishment."
The greatest suffering from counterfeit money was on the part of the poor and ignorant. This fact was well known and was, for example, pointed out in the Pensylvanische Berichte by Christopher Sauer, who wrote that it was impossible to make a perfect copy of a bill, since the printer of the genuine currency "has…secret signs of which another person does not think. The poor man accepts the counterfeit and cannot keep it long; whoever has doubts about it then goes to the printer. The printer knows his own work, and thus the matter becomes apparent. It is shameful for one to try to support himself in this fashion, for usually the poor or the stupid or simple people have to suffer from it if they want to buy something or pay their debts when those who understand it do not take the money from them or when they make a cross through it."
Coin was, as a rule, counterfeited in the provinces, and, in the course of time, so was the paper currency to a greater and greater extent; a very large amount of paper money, however, was imported from England, Holland, Germany, and above all from Ireland. This may be readily understood, for suitable paper and capable printers and engravers were easily found in Europe. Jenkins, Long, Bodie and Davis, for example, had bills made in England. Daniel Jeffron secured his counterfeits in Amsterdam. Sigismund Hainly had false half crown and nine penny bills made in Germany; the New Castle counterfeit money circulating in 1753 was thought to be imported from Germany; in 1775 two "foreigners" were reported to be trying to have Maryland and Pennsylvania currency printed in Germany.
Lieutenant Governor Gordon in 1727 stated: "… the design has been laid to pour in upon us a Flood of our Own Bills Counterfeited from Ireland, where they have so artfully imitated most of those of Jersey, that it requires more skill to distinguish them, than is to be expected amongst the common, and especially amongst Country people." And Ireland was indeed the source of the counterfeits imported by Wallace, Eanon, Scot, Adamson, Grindal, Conway, Whitesides, probably Samuel Ford, and Kelly. Christopher Sauer, writing in 1747, remarked: "Sometimes before false paper money has been made in England or Ireland and brought into this country and invariably has been discovered at once." But Sauer was much too optimistic about the situation, as is shown by the fact that Peter Long had successfully passed away nearly £6,000 in forged bills brought from England. With regard to the two emissions of 1723 and supplements in 1725–1726 it has been stated that counterfeiting of them was so successfully practised, that "within four years after their first emission it was found necessary to call in the whole, as it was not possible to discern between the good and bad notes." 1
Often the occupation of a counterfeiter is not known, but sometimes it is recorded. Because of their technical knowledge a number of silversmiths are found among the counterfeiters: Charles Picker- ing, Edward Hunt, Andrew Clark, Gideon Casey, John Bruleman, Samuel Ford, Jr., at least after he settled in Virginia using the alias of Baldwin, and Joseph Billings, who, like Ford, had also learned engraving and printing. Likewise persons skilled in working with metals are fairly numerous among the counterfeiters: blacksmiths such as Richard Thomson, Stephen Barnes, John Lummis, and Benjamin Gilbert; Zachariah Field is described as understanding in metal work; John Jones was a smelter; Benjamin Cooper had been a partner of Ford in the iron business; Heinrich Jaeger, a printer, apparently became involved in crime because of his trade.
Other counterfeiters or passers came from various walks of life: Robert Fenton was a servant, and a skilled metal worker; John Jay, Thomas James and Zachariah Smith Allen were cordwainers; Hercules Roney and William Kerr were weavers; Anthony Adamson was a ship captain, and Ichabod Higgins and probably also Robert Jenkins were sailors; Robert Duncan, Matthew Berry and Dennis Connell were described as yeomen; Rice Price was a slaughterer; Thomas Carr was a laborer; Archilaus Lewis was a tavernkeeper; Richard Cooley was a perukemaker; Bern Budd was a doctor; John King had been undersheriff of Morris County; Squire Ayres was a justice of the peace and deacon; six women were concerned in counterfeiting: Martha Hunt, the wife of Edward Hunt, Rebecca Johns, Margaret Thomas, Susannah Buckler, Ann Tew and Alice Richards.
A remarkable number of counterfeiters broke jail or fled from justice, an indication of their resourcefullness and of the insecurity of the jails of the time: William Sinton, John Jones, Joseph Watt, Isaac Gray, Joseph Bradford, Ichabod Higgins, John Hannah, Samuel Ford, Jr., Grindal, Andrew Stewart, and John McAllister were successful in breaking out of jail; Jacob Ebberman fled from the officer who was taking him to prison, as did Joseph Richardson; John Nicholas and Henry Bosworth forfeited their bail and fled; Thomas James, William James, and John Gilkey, Jr., took to their heels and could not be found when wanted by the court.
In the seventeenth century an amazing difference is found in the punishment meted out to counterfeiters: Pickering, Buckley and Fenton were convicted of counterfeiting and circulating Spanish coin – – they claimed that their mint was not in Pennsylvania – – and Pickering, found guilty of a high misdemenor, had to make satisfaction to the persons injured, pay a fine of £40 and give security for good behavior; Buckley was fined £10 and required to furnish security for good behavior; Fenton was sentenced to sit in the stocks for one hour. Lasy, who confessed that he had counterfeited Spanish money and passed it, was sentenced to stand at the public place of correction in Chester on two different court days for three hours each day, to bear affixed on his breast a paper with his crimes written in capital letters, and to pay costs.
Only two years later, however, Charles Butler, convicted only of passing false Spanish coin, was charged with misprision of treason and sentenced to have his entire estate confiscated and to be imprisoned for life. To be sure, the council of the province recommended mercy in his case and he was probably pardoned.
In 1720 Edward Hunt, who had counterfeited Spanish coin, was convicted of high treason and executed, while his wife, Martha, who was convicted of passing her husband's counterfeits, was fined £500 and sentenced to imprisonment for life.
When the first Pennsylvania paper bills were emitted, it was provided that counterfeiting or passing should be punished by pillorying, cropping of both ears and whipping with thirty-one lashes. In addition a person convicted was to pay a fine of £100, costs, double damages to the person grieved, and, if insolvent, might be sold for a term up to seven years to make satisfaction.
A law passed in 1739 made counterfeiting the Pennsylvania bills, within or without the province, or knowingly passing such counterfeits, punishable by death without benefit of clergy, while altering or passing altered Pennsylvania bills was punishable by pillorying, flogging with thirty-one lashes, cropping of both ears, and paying a fine of £100, costs, and double damages to the person grieved.
In 1767 Pennsylvania provided the death penalty for counterfeiting any gold or silver coin current in the province. A person convicted of knowingly passing such false coin was to stand one hour in the pillory, have both ears cropped, and pay a fine of £100 and costs and charges of prosecution.
In 1773 an act was passed imposing the penalty of death without benefit of clergy on any person convicted of counterfeiting the paper currency of any British colony in America or of passing it when so counterfeited. For altering or passing altered currency of any such colony the penalty was pillorying, cropping of both ears, flogging with thirty-nine lashes, paying double damages to the person grieved, a fine of £100 and all costs. The same year the assembly of New Castle, Kent and Sussex passed a similar act.
The Three Lower Counties on Delaware set as the earliest penalties for counterfeiting their paper currency or for passing it when so counterfeited the pillory and a fine of £100. An act of 1759, however, made such offences punishable by death without benefit of clergy, while a person convicted of altering their bills or of knowingly passing them when altered was to stand in the pillory, have both ears cropped, receive thirty-one lashes, pay a fine of £100, all costs and double damages to the person grieved.
Persons executed for counterfeiting in Pennsylvania were Edward Hunt, Sigismund Hainly, Sr., Herman Rosencrans and Bernard Repton. Three others were condemned to death, Sigismund Hainly, Jr., Andrew Stewart and John McAllister, of whom Hainly was pardoned and the other two broke jail and fled.
The legislation mentioned above in general guided the courts in the eighteenth century. There was, however, considerable variation in the severity of the sentences meted out. As a rule there was a combination of punishments inflicted. Persons punished with the pillory, cropping of both ears, and thirty-one lashes appear to have been Richard Kinner, John Hawkins, Lawrence Wolverston, Joseph Watt, Cornelius Walraven and Ann Tew. Some of these also incurred fines and other financial penalties. Others who stood in the pillory in Pennsylvania or the Three Lower Counties were Samuel Jackson, Hercules Roney, James Huston, William Kerr, Daniel Jeffron, John Underwood, Barnet Ripton, John and Benjamin Eastburn, John Anderson, Josiah Pitt, Anthony Adamson, William Scot, Robert Teas, Robert Black, Robert Conway and his partner, Sherwin, Whitesides, James Williamson, John Thomas Jones, Stephen Barnes and Francis Huff.
Individuals flogged were Roney, Huff, John and Benjamin Eastburn, and Anderson, each with twenty-one lashes; Kerr, Ripton, Tew and Teas, each with thirty-nine lashes; Robert Black with twenty lashes; Matthew Berry and Dennis Connell each with eight lashes on one indictment and seven on another; other persons flogged – – the number of lashes is not stated – – were Müller, Durry, Blayster, Jeffron, Conway and Sherwin.
Kerr, Jeffron, Hannah and Rosencrans each had one ear cropped; Robert Black, Walraven, Conway, Sherwin and Underwood were also cropped, but it is not recorded whether one or both ears were cut off.
Imprisonment was frequently imposed as a penalty in the eighteenth century, for example, on George Perkins, Samuel Jackson (four months), Christopher Marshall (two months), Jacob Greator (one month), David Robinson (three months), Joseph Richardson, Alice Richards (six months), John Thomas Jones (six months) and Stephen Barnes (six months).
Sometimes all property was confiscated, as apparently in the case of George Perkins. Fines were often imposed: £100 in the cases of Ann Tew, Josiah Pitt, Robert Teas, Conway, Sherwin and Whitesides; £50 in the cases of Christopher Marshall, William Kerr, Gideon Casey and Samuel Jackson; £40 in the cases of some convicted coiners; £30 in the case of James Huston; £25 in the cases of John and Benjamin Eastburn; £20 in the cases of certain coiners; £15 in the case of William Shremer (later £10 of this was remitted); £10 in the cases of David Robinson and of certain coiners of gold; £5 in the cases of Jacob Greator, Philip McGaugy, and some coiners of silver.
In some instances those convicted were required to furnish security for their good behavior, sometimes for twelve months,