Counterfeiting in Colonial Connecticut

Author
Scott, Kenneth, 1900-1993
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Numismatic Notes and Monographs
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American Numismatic Society
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New York
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Worldcat Works

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Open access edition funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Humanities Open Book Program.

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I ROBERT FENTON AND HIS TESTIMONY

Before the printing of bills of credit the currency of Connecticut consisted of Massachusetts silver pieces, which passed at the value with which they were stamped, and "Sevil Pillar, or Mexico Pieces of Eight, of full Seventeen Peny weight," which passed at six shillings per piece, and half pieces, quarter pieces and one real pieces. It was formally enacted that such money be current in the colony, "Provided always, That such of the said Coynes, as pass by tale, be not diminished by Washing, Clipping, Rounding, Filing or Scaling." 1 The proviso would indicate that evil-minded persons were in the habit of thus diminishing the value of the coinage to their own profit or that the authorities anticipated such practices.

The first recorded case of counterfeiting in Connecticut is that of Robert Fenton in 1699. He had been in difficulties on the same score in Philadelphia in 1683, when he, Samuel Buckley and Charles Pickering were arrested on suspicion of counterfeiting Spanish coin. Fenton and Buckley, who claimed that their mint was located outside of Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty, while Pickering was tried and convicted. Fenton had made the dies and had taken part in the coining, but, as he was only a servant, he was merely sentenced to sit in the stocks for one hour. 2 Apparently at some time after his punishment Fenton removed to Connecticut, where he had a shop, presumably for metal work. He was not, however, satisfied with legitimate profits, and on January 13, 1699, he was 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. 3

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 Mr. John Potterfield, and the two men together had made about twenty pounds of "bitts" out of pieces of eight (about one shilling's weight of alloy was put in each piece of eight and 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. 4

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, who, he said, met him at the smithy of James Dane in Stonington and spoke of ore and mines; yet he did not directly implicate Hollam in counterfeiting activities. Not so, however, in the case of 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 General Assembly in May, 1699, resolved "that it is the opinion of the Governour, Councill and Representatives in Generall Court assembled, That if any person be found guiltye of attempting and practising, the counterfeiting or clipping, rounding, filing or otherwise debasing any of the monies and coins currant in this Colonie, that it (is) in the power of the justices at their sessions (by virtue of the laws now in force in this Colonie) to bind such person (being thereof lawfully convicted) to good behaviour with sufficient sureties by the discretion of the justices before whome such delinquent shall be lawfully convicted; and if such delinquent shall not procure such surety, then may the justices comit such person to the comon gaole there to remain untill he shall be delivered, according to order of lawe." 6

End Notes

1
Acts and Laws of His Majesties Colony of Connecticut in New-England (New London: Timothy Green, 1715), p. 25.
2
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial Pennsylvania (N.Y.: The American Numismatic Society, 1955), p. 3.
3
Crimes and Misdemeanors (manuscript in the Connecticut State Library; this will henceforth be cited as C. & M.), I, 218, Fenton's examination, which was owned in court on May 18, 1699.
4
The term bit normally meant one real; if Fenton made sixteen bits out of eight pieces of eight (equivalent to 64 reales), then he was using the term bit for pieces of four reales or half dollars.
5
Robert C. Winthrop Collection (in the Connecticut State Library), III, 350a–350b and C. & M., I, 217a–217b.
6
Colonial Records of Connecticut (Hartford: Press of Case, Lockwood and Brainard, 1868), IV, p. 290. This work will henceforth be cited as Col. Rec. Conn.

II EBENEZER SEAMORE AND HIS ASSOCIATES

Early in the eighteenth century a new and fertile field was opened to counterfeiters. As Roger Wolcott put it, "in 1702, the Massachusetts put out bills of credit to pay their public debts; this was followed by the other New England governments. Connecticut came into it in 1709." 1 The Connecticut authorities had had a taste of what they might expect to befall their paper money, for on August 10, 1704, at Stonington they captured Thomas Odell, who had been concerned in forging the twenty shilling bills of Massachusetts and for whose capture the governor of that province had offered a reward of £30. 2 The criminal promptly broke jail and fled to Philadelphia, where he was taken up and forwarded to Boston. There he was finally delivered into the hands of the law, after having once escaped and been recaptured at Newport while in transit. He was tried on November 6 at the Superior Court of Judicature in Boston, was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of £300 and costs and to spend one year in prison. Nine years later he was again in the Boston jail on the charge of counterfeiting but escaped and apparently was not retaken despite the offer of a reward of £30 for his capture. 3

To protect its new bills against the machinations of such rogues as Odell the Connecticut Assembly in May, 1710, passed a law to this effect: Be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That such person or persons as shall be convicted before the courts of assistants of counterfeiting any of the bills of credit created by the aforesaid acts, or confirmed, ratifyed and made good by this present act, shall pay all damages that shall accrue thereby, to be adjudged and awarded by the said court, upon conviction as aforesaid, and suffer six months imprisonment, and such other penalty, or corporal punishment, as the said court (respect being had to the degrees of such crime,) shall judge meet, or inflict; one moiety of the said fine to the publick treasury aforesaid, and the other moiety to him or them as shall in the said court sue for the same and prosecute his suit to effect. 4

The first person to suffer the penalties prescribed by this law was Ebenezer Seamore of Farmington. On June 10, 1710, Joseph Shepard of Hartford showed to William Pitkin, assistant, a Connecticut 3s. bill altered to 10s., which he had lately received from Seamore. Pitkin at once issued a warrant for Seamore's arrest, and the same day the suspected counterfeiter was taken up and brought before Pitkin, who proceeded to examine him. The prisoner pretended innocence, though admitting freely that he had paid out a 10s. bill to Shepard the previous day. He explained that he had lately received bills of the treasurer, of Thomas Burd, of George Kilborn, of George Stillman, of Constable Sam Woodruff and of Josiah Woolcott. He admitted that he had tried to pass one 10s. bill to Mr. Dod, who said it was counterfeit, and that he then showed it to John Woodruff, who thought it genuine. It was possible, he granted, that this was the same bill that he paid to Mr. Shepard.

The next day, however, Seamore was examined again and then broke down, making the following confession: he had been at expense in court and, being in want of money, he decided to try his hand at counterfeiting. Thereupon he approached his cousin, John Woodruff of Great Swamp in Farmington, who at first cautioned him against the business and expressed the opinion that it was a cheat. Finally, however, they went to work, turning a 2s. bill into a 40s., a 5s. into a 40s., a 2s. into a 20s. and a number of other small bills into 10s. each. Woodruff, it seems, altered only two or three bills, then became penitent, tried to dissuade Seamore from passing further altered notes and put off none himself. Seamore acknowledged himself alone to be at fault in the matter and added that he had passed the following counterfeits: one of 10s. to Mr. Stillman, a 10s. and a 20s. to the wife of John Curtiss, Sr., one of 10s. to Thomas Moore, one of 40s. to Mrs. Allyn, one of 40s. to Jonathan Bidwell, one of 10s. to Captain Williamson, one of 10s. to Joseph Shepard and one of 10s. to Symon Chapman ( Plates I-II), while he still had at home one of 10s.

Pitkin at once caused John Woodruff to be apprehended on June 18. The next day the prisoner made a full confession, stating that sometime in the spring Seamore came to him and showed him two bills which he, Seamore, had altered "when he was a dressing Shingles." The two men then tried to alter a 10s. bill to 20s. but could not make it do, whereupon Seamore tore out the figures he had written and put off the bill to Mr. Judd. Later on Seamore came again to Woodruff's house and, learning from Mrs. Woodruff that her husband was in the lot, Seamore came to him there with a number of small bills on which he had already scraped out the figures, and the men made a 40s. bill out of a 10s. note. Still later Woodruff remonstrated with his cousin about the counterfeiting and refused to have any further part in the business.

As it appeared to the county court that one or more of the counterfeited bills had been burnt by Zachariah Seamore of Hartford, Zachariah was summoned and questioned about the matter. He admitted that on the night of June 17, at the desire of his brother, Richard Seamore, he had gone to the house of Ebenezer, searched among his bills of credit and, finding one that was counterfeit, burnt it.

On June 24 warrants were issued to summon the witnesses against Seamore at the court of assistants to be held in Hartford on Monday, June 26, at ten in the morning. These evidences were Jonathan Hollister, the wife of John Curtis, Sr., George Stillman, all of Wethersfield, John Hollister, Jr., of "Glassenbury," Symon Chapman and his wife, Thomas Moore, Widow Elizabeth Allyn, all of Windsor, Zachary Sandford of Hartford, Mary Wells and Edward Dod. In addition Zachariah Seamore was required to attend to answer to whatever might be objected against him relating to the bills of credit.

At the session of the court the Queen's Attorney charged Ebenezer Seamore, husbandman, with counterfeiting and passing. Seamore pleaded not guilty but was tried, convicted, and, on the following day, was sentenced to spend six months in prison, to pay a fine of £25, costs of £14/14/7 and prison fees and charges, while the keeper of the jail was instructed to secure him in irons. John Woodruff, who volunteered to turn Queen's evidence, was accepted as such, admitted his guilt, stated that he had burned the two bills he altered. Orders were given that he be not indicted, and he was discharged on payment of costs of £6/15/– and prison fees and charges. Zacharias Seamore was let off with the payment of costs of 50s. 5

Ebenezer Seamore found the Hartford jail anything but comfortable and his fine and costs more than he cared to pay, so after a few months he petitioned the Assembly to release him and to abate his fine, requests which were denied on October io. 6 As it was, his punishment was not severe enough to lead him to mend his ways, as will be seen later.

Naturally persons to whom he had passed altered bills had suffered loss, and on March 9, 1711, the governor and council ordered the secretary, Caleb Stanly, to reimburse some individuals out of the fine paid by Seamore. They were Richard Lord, who was to receive 40s. for a 2s. bill altered to 40s. ( Plate III) and Mr. Eliot, who was granted 10s. for a 2s. bill altered to 10s. 7 Similar reimbursements were made by Stanly on March 27, 1711, as follows: to Elizabeth Wilson for a 2s. billaltered to 10s., to Symon Chapman for a 3s. bill made into a 10s., to Thomas Moore for a 3s. altered to 10s., to Joseph Shepard for a 3s. bill altered to a 10s., to Zachariah Sandford for a 2s. bill altered to a 10s. ( Plate IV), to Elizabeth Allyn for a 5s. bill altered to 40s., to John Curtis, Sr., for a 3s. bill altered to 10s. and a 2s. bill altered to 20s., to Elizabeth Marshall for a 2s. bill altered to 10s. and to Captain Joseph Whiting for a 2s. bill altered to 10s. 8 Joseph Shepard not only recovered his ten shillings but also in October, 1712, was voted by the Assembly a reward of £3 for informing against Seamore. 9 Of the notes altered by Seamore six have been preserved, those passed to Lord, Moore, Shepard, Whiting, Sandford, 10 and Symon Chapman. 11

End Notes

1
"Memoir Relating to Connecticut," Connecticut Historical Society Collections 3 (Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1895), p. 332.
2
Richard LeBaron Bowen, Rhode Island Colonial Money and Its Counterfeiting (Providence: Society of Colonial Wars, 1942), pp. 8–9.
3
Ibid., 9 and Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York (New York: The American Numismatic Society, 1953), pp. 11–12.
4
Col. Rec. Conn., V, 158.
5
The evidence in this case is found in C. & M., II, 32–47 and C. & M. (counterfeiting, unbound), III, 91, 92; Records of the Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1687 to 1715, 168–170.
6
Col. Rec. Conn., V, p. 174.
7
Ibid., V, p. 199.
8
C. & M., I, 46b.
9
Col. Rec. Conn., V, p. 357.
10
C. & M., II, 38–42.
11
In the collection of Mr. Harley Freeman of Ormond Beach, Florida. The bill, as is indicated on the back, was passed by Seamore to Sarah, the wife of Symon Chapman of Windsor, and she was reimbursed the ten shillings on March 27, 1711, by Secretary Stanly.

III THE SECOND DECADE OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

Counterfeiting and altering of bills of credit of the Colony of Connecticut were forbidden by law but there was no such provision with respect to the paper money of neighboring colonies. In May, 1711, the Assembly took steps to rectify this situation, and a law was passed to the following effect: Be it Declared and Enacted by the Governour, Council and Representatives, in General Court Assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That whosoever shall presume to Forge, Counterfeit or Utter, any Bill or Bills (Knowing the same to be False and Counterfeit) of the Tenour, or in Imitation of any of the Bills of Credit of this Colony, or of the Bills of Credit of the Provinces of the Massachusetts-Bay , New-Hampshire, New-York, Rhoad-Island, and the New-Jersies, that now are, or hereafter shall be, by the Law Established, either in this Colony, or either of the aforesaid Provinces; or that shall Counsel, Advise, Procure or in any ways Assist in the Forging, Counterfeiting, Imprinting, Stamping or Signing, of any such False Bills; or Engrave any Plate, or Make any other Instrument to be used for that purpose, every person or persons so Offending, being thereof Convicted before any of the Superiour Courts in this Colony, shall suffer Six Months Imprisonment, and such other Fine, Penalty or Corporal Punishment, as the said Court (Respect being had to the degree of such Crime) shall Judge meet or inflict: The said Fine to be to the Publick Treasury of this Colony: And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That whosoever shall make Discovery, and give Information of such Vile, Wicked Practises, of Making, or Knowingly putting off any False and Counterfeit Bills, so that the person or persons guilty thereof, be Tendered to Justice, and Convicted; every such Informer shall have and receive, as a Reward for his good Service therein, the Sum of Twenty Pounds, to be Ordered out of the Publick Treasury; and to be Re-payed into the Treasury out of the Offenders Goods or Estate, so far as that will extend, by Order of the Court where the Conviction shall be. And be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That every person Convicted of Altering or Increasing, the Sum of Figures set and expressed in any of the aforesaid Bills of Credit; or Forging or Counterfeiting, any Name, Hand, Stamp or other private Mark, that are, or may hereafter be Ordered to be made or set thereon, shall be Punished for either of the Offences aforesaid, in the same manner as is provided by Law, for the Punishment of Forgery; and be further Sentenced by the Court before whom the Conviction is, to pay Treble Damages to the Parties Injured thereby. And it is further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That the Last Paragraph of an Act made May the Eleventh, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ten; Entituled, An Act for the better Regulating and giving a more Effectual Currency to the Bills of Publick Credit; (which Paragraph respects the Punishment of such as Counterfeit the Bills of Credit on this Colony) be Repealed; and it is hereby Repealed accordingly. 1

William Barker and Samuel Munn

Early in January, 1712, William Barker and Samuel Munn, who were thought to have come together from Okinoke to Milford, were at Mr. Richard Bryant's house, where Munn paid the reckoning. Both men passed altered bills of credit, and on January 8 a complaint against Barker was made to John Ailing, assistant, at Guilford, who at nine o'clock that evening ordered a hue and cry after Barker, who was said to be a trader from Rhode Island and was thus described: "of red hair, a well made portly man, black wigg, light collourd loose Coat, dark Colourd straight Coat, speckled vest dark Colourd stock Stockings washt leather Breeches who is Charged with ye Crime of Counterfeiting or altering a five Shillings bill of this Colony to five pounds ..."

The object of the hue and cry was apprehended at Lyme the next day and was taken before Captain Ely, J.P., of that town, who, after examining the prisoner, ordered the constable of Saybrook to take him to New Haven. On the road Barker broke away but was soon retaken and brought again before Justice Ely. The magistrate now ordered the captive's portmanteau searched, and in Barker's pocket-book were found three counterfeit bills, one of 3s. made into £5, one of 3s. altered to 20s., and one of 2s. raised to 10s. ( Plates V-VI).

This paper money was sealed up by the justice, and the criminal was sent off again under guard to New Haven, where he was examined by Warham Mather, J. P. It was discovered that Barker had stopped at a tavern in Killingworth, at Eastchester and at the house of Abraham Chanker, to whom he had passed a counterfeit 10s. bill to pay a reckoning of about ⅛. He likewise had uttered to Tavernkeeper Stiles in Milford a counterfeit 10s. Connecticut bill, no. 3931, which is preserved in the Connecticut State Library. 2

Justice Mather and John Ailing committed their prisoner to the jail in New Haven on January 11 but three days later, as was reported by Sheriff Joshua Hotchkiss, Barker broke prison and made his escape despite a vigorous pursuit, in the course of which three men set out from Branford in the hope of overtaking the fugitive, Seth Morse and John Hoadly to Guilford and Jacob Carter to Killingworth, all under the supervision of Constable Isaac Foot. 3

Barker's acquaintance, Samuel Munn of Woodbury, was not as fortunate as his companion. At Milford on January 7, 1712, Samuel Eells, assistant, acting on a complaint lodged by Samuel Stone of that town, issued a warrant to Deputy Sheriff Gideon Buckingham to arrest Munn. Stone charged that on the morning of January 7 at the house of Edward Wilkinson in Milford Munn offered a Connecticut 5s. bill altered to £5 to Wilkinson, who refused it, and then to Samuel Clark, Jr. About nine or ten o'clock John and Samuel Stone arrived and together with Wilkinson pointed out to Munn that the bill was altered. Munn told them that he had received it from Samuel Hawley, Sr., of Stratford and that he would go at once to Stratford to induce Hawley to take back the bill.

Munn was apprehended the same day that the warrant was issued and he was examined before Justice Eells and Jonathan Law, J.P. At first he told the magistrates that he got the counterfeit bill from "old Mr. Samll Hauley," who, he explained, owed him £5 and sent the money by Jonathan Stiles to Francis Stiles, who delivered it to him (Munn). He intended, in case he could not pass the bill in Milford, to destroy or burn it. Finally, however, he confessed that he had bought the bill for 40s. from a stranger from Long Island at Mr. Richard Bryant's house.

Munn was bound over to the next Superior Court to be held at New Haven on the second Tuesday in March but was released on bail provided by Daniel Munn and Ephraim Warner. His sureties brought him into court, where he was indicted for having on January 5 altered a 2s. Connecticut bill to 10s. and passed it to John Camp of Milford; also for having on January 7 altered a 5s. Connecticut bill to £5 (Plate VII) and passed it to Samuel Clark. The witnesses against him were Sergeant John Camp, Edward Elberton, mariner, Edward Wilkinson, Samuel Clark, John Stone and Gamaliel Prime. He pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned for six months and to pay a fine of £45. The informer against him was granted the reward of £20 established by law. 4

Barker, doubtless encouraged by his escape, continued his career of crime but on November 15, 1717, made the mistake of passing a counterfeit 20s. bill of Rhode Island to Captain John Raymond, Jr., in Norwalk. Raymond quickly detected the cheat and sent his son after Barker, while he himself hastened to make a complaint to Major Peter Burr, J.P., of Fairfield.

The suspected counterfeiter was soon seized and, when he was searched, two more false 20s. Rhode Island bills were found on him, as well as three 5s. Connecticut bills, a half crown Connecticut bill, three 10s. Boston bills, one 10s. Rhode Island bill and one 5s. and one is. Boston bill. At his examination before Major Burron November 16 he said that he was from Rhode Island, where he had a father and brothers. He had, he admitted, been in jail in New York and his father had sent £70 there to redeem him. About five years before, he confessed, he had escaped from the jail in New Haven in order to save his life, as he was like to freeze to death. He added that he had not been to Rhode Island for thirteen months and that he came last from the Widow Mead's at Horseneck on Long Island. As for the counterfeit bills, he claimed that he had received two of the 20s. bills from Charles Congrove at the Oyster Pond on Long Island and that he had changed silver with a Hartford man for two 20s. bills. He planned, he said, to obtain money from his father to buy land for a settlement in the "New Country."

Justice Burr was not favorably impressed, especially when a bill, not quite finished, was found in Barker's pocket, so he ordered the prisoner committed to the jail in Fairfield. On the night of November 20, however, Barker broke out but this time was recaptured and returned to prison on November 23 by John Bagly and Lieutenant John Taylor. Now he was confined in irons.

At the Superior Court held in Fairfield on December 11, 1717, Barker, described as late of Newport, Rhode Island, was indicted for having, about November 15 at Norwalk, counterfeited four 20s. Rhode Island bills and for having uttered one of them. He pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and at the next sessions of the court on February 5, 1718, was sentenced forthwith to be given thirty lashes on the naked body and again, during the first week in March, to receive another thirty stripes. In addition he was to be imprisoned for six months and to pay costs of £14/0/4. The informer had some difficulty in obtaining his reward, as well as his 20s. and the treble damages due him by law. He therefore memorialized the Assembly in May, 1718, and was granted the reward of £20. 5

End Notes

1
Acts and Laws of His Majesties Colony of Connecticut in New-England (New-London: Timothy Green, 1715), pp. 169–170 and Col. Rec. Conn. V, pp. 241–242.
2
Superior Court Files (manuscripts in the Connecticut State Library), New Haven, 1712. These Files will henceforth be cited as S. C. Files, followed by the name of the county.
3
The sources for this case are: Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1687–1715, p. 203; Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Courts 1710–1749, p. 36; S.C. Files, New Haven, 1712.
4
S.C. Files, New Haven, March, 1712; Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1687–1715, p. 227; Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Courts 1710–1749, pp. 31–32, 122.

Shubael Rowly, Jr.

At the Superior Court held in New London on March 25, 1712, Shubael Rowly, Jr., of Colchester was supposed to appear. In the latter part of November, 1711, he had altered three Connecticut bills, one of 2s. to 20s., one of 3s. to 30s. and one of 5s. to 50s. The first he passed to Thomas Atwell in New Haven, the second to Sergeant Strickland and the third to Richard Christophers. Christophers at once detected the cheat and bound Rowly over to appear at the next Superior Court. Shubael Rowly, Sr., and Joshua Hempstead provided bail in the amount of £40. The following day, according to Christophers, young Rowly confessed that he had altered the bills and had passed two of them, of which he had taken up one and was desirous of taking up the other.

At the March session of the Superior Court Rowly was called three times but neither he nor his sureties appeared. He was, however, indicted, his bail was declared forfeited, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Sometime later, probably in September, John Reed, the Queen's Attorney, recovered from Shubael Rowly, Sr., £36 of the forfeited bond and, apparently because of a deal between Read and the father of young Rowly, the Assembly in October, 1712, was persuaded to pass a resolution that Shubael Rowly, Jr., should not be further prosecuted on his indictment. As Christophers pointed out, the Assembly seems to have considered the answering of the bond as equivalent to the miscreant's conviction. Christophers was, as the informer, entitled to the reward of £20, which the Court advised him to seek of the Assembly and which that body finally granted him in May, 1713. 6

End Notes

5
C. & M. II, 147–148a; C.C. Files, Fairfield, 1712–1719, A–F; S.C. Records I, Dec., 1717, Febr., 1718, March, 1718; Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 58.

Joseph Elderkin

Jonas Hambleton and Paul Wentworth both of New London, and Joseph Elderkin of Norwich were brought before the Superior Court held in New London in September, 1712, on suspicion of having passed an altered Connecticut bill but it was discovered that the first two were not involved and they were cleared by proclamation, each being ordered to pay costs of £5/11/9. Elderkin, however, was indicted for uttering a 2/6 Connecticut bill altered to 20s., to which charge he pleaded not guilty. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to spend six months in prison and to pay a fine of £15 and costs of £10/18/6. Paul Wentworth, who had informed against Elderkin, in open court requested that his costs and those of Hambleton be deducted from the reward of £20 due him as informer, and the court ordered Elderkin to pay £20 to be turned over to Wentworth. 7

Elderkin, who was in poor health and feared the consequences of spending the winter in what was doubtless an unheated jail, petitioned the Assembly for "the abatement of his imprisonment," and in October it was voted that "if the petitioner shall give bail to any of the judges of the superiour court to render himself to him or any of the said judges upon command at any time within a twelve month after the session of this Court, the time yet to come of his imprisonment, according to the sentence given against him, shall commence when the prison and weather will allow him to be imprisoned without danger of hazarding his health." 8

End Notes

6
Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1687–1715, pp. 242, 244; Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1710–1749, pp. 54, 59, 73; C. & M. II, 67a, 67b; Col. Rec. Conn. V, pp. 340–341, 345, 356, 380.
7
Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1687–1715, pp. 260–261; Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1710–1749, pp. 96–97.
8
Col. Rec. Conn. V, p. 355.

Timothy Parkhurst

About the beginning of March, 1713, Timothy Parkhurst of Plainfield was brought before Justice Williams of that town on suspicion of counterfeiting bills of Massachusetts and passing. When the prisoner was on his way to jail, he fled from the constable and made good his escape. The governor and council, meeting in New London on March 4, ordered that a proclamation be published offering a reward and reasonable charges to anyone who should take the fugitive and bring him before any justice of the peace in the colony. 9 The proclamation brought results, for Parkhurst was captured and then indicted at the Superior Court in New London on March 23, 1714, for having passed two counterfeit Massachusetts bills, one of 15s. and one of 10s. He pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned for six months and to pay a fine of £35 and costs of £10/15/5. 10

Parkhurst, like Elderkin, was desirous of selecting a favorable season in which to serve his sentence in the New London jail. He therefore petitioned the Assembly at its May session, 1714, for the abatement of his imprisonment, and his request was granted on the same terms stipulated with regard to Elderkin. Hence his term in jail could commence when the prison and weather entailed no hazard to his health. In his case, however, there was a proviso that he must pay the fine and costs before he could be released. 11

The altering of Connecticut bills from a lower to a higher denomination "by some evil persons" and the "considerable damages" suffered on that account by various individuals caused the Assembly in May, 1713, to vote that £20,000 in bills be emitted and used by the treasurer for one and a half years after May 14, 1713, to redeem the bills outstanding, holders of which were to be notified by proclamation to bring them to the treasurer to be exchanged. 12 Following upon the action of the Assembly, the governor and council at a meeting in New London on June 11.1713, ordered that the plates formerly used for printing bills should be altered "for the preventing of such cheating practises" and that the following devices should be put on the plates: on the 2s. a dove, on the 2/6 a cock, on the 3s. a squirrel, on the 5s. a fox, on the 10s. a lamb, on the 20s. a deer, on the 40s. a horse and on the £5 a lion. 13

Almost a year later, at a meeting held in New London on June 2, 1714, the governor and council had further cause for concern. Richard Christophers laid before them a 40s. bill of the first emission of Connecticut which bore the date of July 12, 1709, only and not the additional date of May, 1713, "over the names of the committee signing, as in all the late emitted bills." The bill in question was examined and, on comparison with a true bill, was found to be taken from a false plate, as was shown by the bad cut and unevenness of the letters making up the body of the counterfeit bill. The council at once resolved that a proclamation be issued signifying the cheat and instructing all holders of Connecticut bills of the first emission to take them to the treasurer and have them exchanged by him for bills of the same value of those lately emitted. 14

Even the treasurer, Captain Joseph Whiting, had been deceived by some counterfeit bills, for William Pitkin and Joseph Talcott, a committee for drawing out of the treasury and destroying the dead stock of bills that had been drawn in by the constables in several rates, in June, 1714, came upon six 5s. bills altered to 40s., five half crown (2/6) bills altered to 40s. and four 3s. bills also altered to 40s. On June 26 they likewise drew out of the hands of Mrs. Mary Haynes of Hartford £975/3/-, in which sum they discovered two counterfeit 40s bills. 15

The situation in 1717 was serious enough to warrant action by the Assembly. This body, by an act of October, 1714, had extended to June 1, 1715, the time for exchanging bills of the emission of 1709. It now, in October, 1717, extended the time for exchange to May 15, 1718, after which date it was provided that the bills need not be accepted by creditors. In taking such action the Assembly noted that some persons had been negligent about bringing in the bills to have them exchanged by the treasurer, whereby opportunity had been given to evil-minded persons to practice cheats and forgeries by means of false plates and otherwise, all of which had proved and might still prove to be of great damage. 16

In May of 1717 the Assembly had also passed an act "for the more Effectual preventing the Spreading or Passing of False, Altered, or Counterfeited Bills of Credit." The preamble read: "This Assembly considering the great Mischief Suffered both by the Publick and by particular Persons, by reason of the many Altered, False and Counterfeit Bills that are Passing among the People, notwithstanding the great Care which has been taken to Suppress all Evil Practices upon the said Bills." Then the text continues: It is further Provided by this Assembly, and the Authority thereof, That when and so often as it shall happen, that any such False, Altered or Counterfeit Bills, shall be brought to the Treasurer of this Colony, or Offered to him in Payment of Rates, or to be Exchanged, he shall Secure them; and he is hereby Authorized to Seize and Retain them, entering the Name of the person in whose Possession the Bill or Bills were, on the Backside thereof. And further, Every Assistant and Justice of the Peace in this Colony is hereby also Authorized and Impowred to Seize or take into his Custody every such Bill as aforesaid, which he shall See, Observe, or have Cognizance of, and the same to Retain, Entring on the backside thereof the Name of him from whom he takes the said Bill, and at his Discretion to Administer an Oath to him to Declare the person of whom he Received it, and to send forth his Precept, or otherways to Cause the Person to come before him to be Examined in the Premises, and to proceed in his Inquiries after the Author of this Mischief as far as his Discretion will guide him. 17

End Notes

9
Ibid. V, p. 362.
10
Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1687–1715, p. 333; Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1710–1749, p. 233.
11
Col. Rec. Conn. V, p. 443.
12
Ibid. V, p. 378.
13
Ibid. V, p. 387.
14
Ibid. V, p. 448.
15
Ibid. V, pp. 466, 475–476.
16
Ibid. VI, pp. 30–31. As the bills of the emission of 1709 were not all in by July, 1718, the governor and council, meeting at Guilford, ordered that the treasurer and all officials appointed to receive public debts should take the 1709 bills in payment (Col. Rec. Conn. VI, pp. 66–67). The time limit for exchanging the bills was later extended to Nov. 1, 1719 (Col. Rec. Conn. VI, pp. 129–130.).

Thomas Banks, John Andrews and the Greenman Gang

One Connecticut bill, that of the denomination of 10s., had been counterfeited by the Greenman gang, which had secured the plate from Freelove Lippencott, along with plates for bills of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This ring of money makers included Captain Edward Greenman and his sons, Silas and Edward, Jr., all of Kingstown, Rhode Island, Joseph Atwood of Newport, Joseph Jones of Boston, Thomas Banks of Branford, Connecticut, and others. The three Greenmans were tried and convicted at Newport on November 28, 1718, and Connecticut sent Thomas Banks to testify against them. 18 On December 1 the father was sentenced to stand in the pillory and have his ears cropped and be whipped twenty-five lashes or pay £600 by January 1, 1719, and give bond with sureties in the amount of £700 to pay double damages for all bills that appeared to have been made from his plates. The sons received the same sentence, save that they were only to pay £300 each and give bond with sureties in the amount of £400 each to pay damages. 19

The Governor of Connecticut and Council in New London on January 25, 1720, ordered that "the counterfeit ten shilling bill taken off Greenman's plate, which is in the files of the superiour court and upon which Banks was taken up and prosecuted, 20 be transmitted to Coll. Fitch at Boston, for a pattern to distinguish those bills from the true bills in exchanging the two hundred and fifty pounds committed to his care for that end." Colonel Fitch was also to be sent very detailed information about the Connecticut paper money and likewise six bills of different denominations: a true 40s. bill of some of the former emissions; a 40s. bill from a counterfeit plate, which plate had never been found, while the counterfeits from it had not been known to be uttered for a considerable time; a true 10s. bill of the former emissions; it had a character on its face by which the false 10s. bill from Greenman's plate could easily be distinguished, as the counterfeit was of a paler ink than the true bill (It was pointed out that no counterfeits of any Connecticut bills by false plates had been discovered save these two, the 40s. bill and the 10s. bill struck from Greenman's plate.); a 10s. bill from Greenman's plate; a 3s. bill raised to 40s.; a 5s. bill altered to 40s. The memorandum to Colonel Fitch read: "There has been no late practice of this kind taken notice of here, nor anything of this nature attempted upon the bills of the later emission, which have the forms of living creatures on them." 21

Two Connecticut men involved in passing Greenman's paper money were Thomas Banks and John Andrews (or Andross). Banks, who was a tailor of Branford, got into difficulties through carelessness. On Saturday, July 6, 1717, he lodged at the house of John Hill and early in the morning set out for Stonington. After his departure Hill's eleven-year-old daughter picked up a piece of paper that Banks had dropped and brought it to her father. It was a letter dated June 21, 1717, and signed by John Lovel. Inside was a counterfeit 10s. Connecticut bill which was neither numbered nor signed ( Plates IX-X). Lovel was a tailor, a servant for debt to a tailor in New London named Farrand, from whom he ran away, presumably a short time before or after Banks dropped the note. In the note Lovel asked his wife for eight or nine pounds, with which he wanted to pay Mr. Thomas Farrand in order that he might be released and come to join his wife and child.

On Thursday, July 11, John Austin and a fellow traveller named Aply stopped on their way from New London at Justice Hill's "in Naragansett country." Hill was not at home but his wife showed them the counterfeit bill dropped by Banks. The following Saturday, on his way back to New London, Austin again stopped at Hill's and Justice Hill gave him the spurious bill to be sent to William Pitkin. Austin reported to Pitkin that people said Banks "was very great with one Leepincutts Wife who is now att New London, She is ye Woman ytt was accus'd, & imprison'd att Rhoad Island for counterfeiting Bills." One Meergratt, keeper of a coffee house in Rhode Island, told Austin that he and his wife suspected Banks of being "naughty" and that Banks had been in Rhode Island to get a sloop built.

Banks was soon arrested and on July 20 was examined at Branford before William Pitkin, assistant, and two justices of the peace, Edward Barker and John Hall. The prisoner said he had come to Branford about three years before, admitted dealings with the Lippencotts but claimed he had received only an insignificant sum from them for keeping Mrs. Lippencott at his house. Then he recounted in some detail a trip he had made to Rhode Island about three weeks before, with special explanation of his finances on the journey.

At the October sessions of the Superior Court at New Haven he was indicted for having, about July 8 at Groton, passed a false 10s. Connecticut bill to Mrs. Savell Latham, widow of Samuel Latham. His indictment, however, was returned ignoramus by the grand jury.

Further information on Bank's activities subsequently came to light through the arrest of John Andrews (or Andros) of Milford. A warrant for his apprehension was issued at Milford on August 9, 1718, by Samuel Eells and Jonathan Law to the constables of that town. One Jones at Boston, who confessed himself a member of the ring of counterfeiters, apparently stated that Andrews had secured plates from Banks. Andrews was taken into custody and on August 11 was examined before Justices Eells and Law. His press was found and he said that Banks, who owed him money, had sent him plates and told him to make bills with them. Instead, he maintained, he threw them into his well and never made any money with them. He was sent with an officer, and the plates were recovered from the well. Andrews was then released on bail of £40, furnished by Samuel Baldwin and John Harpin of Milford, for his appearance at the next Superior Court to be held at New Haven in September.

On September 9 he was indicted for having on the last day of May passed counterfeit bills of several New England colonies to the value of £29. At this he made a full confession, which was as follows: When he was once at the house of Samuel Miles in Milford, Thomas Banks showed him a letter he had received from Silas Greenman of Kingstown, Rhode Island, in which Greenman wrote that he had a horse for sale for £20; Banks explained that by "horse" Greenman meant "paper money" and by "£20" that he would provide £100 in bills of his own making for £20 of good money. Andrews then agreed to a proposition made by Banks that they go shares in procuring and passing some counterfeits. In March, 1716, Banks went to Greenman for some money but came back empty-handed, since Greenman had no money made. Captain Greenman, however, promised to have some bills ready by May 8 and that one of his sons would then meet Banks between the New London ferry and Edward Dennison's at the bridge.

Banks and Andrews at the appointed time and place met Edward Greenman, who gave Banks only £40, explaining that his brother Silas, who signed the bills, had been chosen justice of the peace and was unwilling to sign any more. Later on Banks went in company with Jones to Captain Greenman's and brought back plates for making the following bills: £3 Rhode Island; 10s. Connecticut; 3s., 3/6, 20s. and 50s. Boston. Soon after this Banks was arrested for passing false money. In October, Andrews said, Banks gave him the plates to keep and then went away with his family to New York, whence about the end of July Banks wrote asking Andrews to send the "things" to him to New York. Andrews himself had had £29 in bogus money from Banks, who, incidentally, told him that Mr. Lippencott had secured false money from Captain Greenman.

The judges had promised to intercede in Andrews' favor because he made this confession and produced the plates. The court sentenced him to be imprisoned for six months and to pay a fine of £50 and costs of £5/4/0. The governor and council on October 28, 1718, heard a petition from the counterfeiter and because of his confession of guilt ordered his release from the jail in New Haven on condition that he furnish to the jailer satisfactory security for the payment of £30 of his fine and costs of prosecution to the next Superior Court to be held in New Haven. 22

End Notes

17
Acts and Laws of His Majesties Colony of Connecticut in New-England (New-London: Timothy Green, 1715), p. 236; Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 62.
18
Richard LeBaron Bowen, op. cit., p. 39ff. Bowen gives the evidence in full.
19
The Boston News-Letter, Dec. 29, 1718, p. 2. The paper commented: "The whole Country rejoices in the discovery and equity of the Sentance."
20
Banks's indictment had been returned ignoramus by the Grand Jury.
21
Col. Rec. Conn. VI, pp. 167–168.

Ann Lockwood

When the Superior Court met at Fairfield on September 3, 1717, it had the task of determining who had altered a 2/6 Rhode Island bill to 10/6. Three persons were involved, Lieutenant Richard Higgenbotham, Sergeant Richard Lockwood and Ann Lockwood, the wife of Gersham Lockwood, Jr., of Greenwich. Higgenbotham was cleared by proclamation and it was ordered that the charges of prosecution be paid out of the public treasury. 23 Richard Lockwood gave bail for his appearance in the amount of £100 but did not come into court, sending a note to the effect that he was too ill to attend because of pains in his neck. His bond was declared forfeited, and a scire facias was issued for his appearance before the next sessions in March. At that time he was brought into court, when his case was continued until September. He appeared then but his case was apparently dropped, and there is no further notice of it. 24

Ann Lockwood was the real culprit. It was revealed that about the beginning of July Mrs. Richard Higgenbotham went from Cos Cob with four pairs of stockings for Mrs. Lockwood to sell in Greenwich. While in Greenwich Mrs. Higgenbotham sold two pairs of the stockings, one to Joseph Knap for Indian corn and another to Mr. Jessup for four shillings. She left the money and the remaining two pairs of stockings with Mrs. Lockwood. A few days later Lieutenant Richard Higgenbotham and his wife went to Ann Lockwood and gave her a 2s. bill and a 2/6 Rhode Island bill. She was to add this to the 4s. she already had from them and was to purchase for them some wool. When Mrs. Lockwood looked at the Rhode Island half crown bill, she remarked that it was a fair opportunity to change the 2 to a 10 because of a vacancy in the paper. At this Mr. Higgenbotham told her not to do so and she said that she would not.

The temptation, however, proved too strong. She altered the bill and paid it out, together with three 2s. bills, to Benjamin Hobby for nine and a quarter pounds of wool. But soon Hobby found that the altered bill would not pass and returned it to her. Ann, thoroughly frightened, on Saturday, July 13, took the altered bill to the Higgenbothams. She told them it was the way the apple tempted Mother Eve and that she would never do such a thing again. She talked with them for about an hour under a green tree, asking them to take back the bill and to stretch the truth by saying that they had the bill of a stranger. If they would do this, she promised them £20 and said they could live at one end of her house and have the use of her cows. Her husband knew of her crime and so did his brother Joseph, who had informed her that he had a good mind to knock her on the head because her husband was like to be ruined by her confounded tricks. Subsequently Gersham Lockwood begged Higgenbotham to burn the bill and to say nothing about Ann's confession.

Eventually Ann was taken into custody by Constable Joshua Reynolds. In September she was indicted for having altered the bill, pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and sentenced to stand in the pillory on three several lecture days or days of public meeting for a half hour each day. She was further to be disabled to give any evidence before any court, magistrate, or justice of the peace and was to pay costs of prosecution amounting to £6/13/6. On Saturday, September 7, she was discharged on bail provided by her husband on condition that she would appear at Fairfield on the public days appointed by the Deputy Governor to receive such parts of her punishment as had not yet been executed. 25

End Notes

22
S.C. Files, New Haven, Oct., 1717, and Sept., 1718; S.C. Records II, Sept. 9, 1718 and Col. Rec. Conn. V, pp. 91–92.
23
S.C. Records I, Sept. 3, 1717.
24
Ibid. I, Sept. 3, 1717; Sept. 7, 1717; March 4, 1718 and II, Sept., 1718.
25
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1712–1719, G–L, Sept., 1717; S.C. Records II, Sept. 3 and 7, 1717.

Nathaniel Beach

On October 10, 1717, Nathaniel Beach of Stratford paid away a 4/6 bill of New Hampshire, altered to 40s., to Benjamin Peat, who in turn paid it to Benjamin Fairweather. Fairweather, finding that the bill had been raised, on October 29 lodged a complaint with James Bennet, J.P., who had Peat arrested. Peat at once swore the false bill on Beach, who was taken into custody, examined and then released on bail of £50 furnished by himself and Fairweather. He was indicted at the Superior Court held in Fairfield on March 4, 1718, at which the witnesses summoned against him were Lieutenant James Bennet, Major John Burr, William James, Samuel Wheeler, Louis Lyron, Job Sherman and Jonathan Styles. Beach pleaded not guilty, was tried and acquitted, being discharged on payment of costs of £5/3/6. 26

At about this time or a little later the Connecticut 40s. bill was being counterfeited, for the Boston News-Letter of June 9, 1718, printed the following dispatch from Piscataqua, dated June 6: Yesterday two Young Men were Impillored here, and had their Ears cut off, for Forging and uttering a Connecticut Forty Shilling Bill and a Fifteen Shilling Bill of this Province ... Their Names we forbear incerting, hoping they;l Repent of their Wickeness, and relate the Facts as a warning to all others both in this & in the Neighbouring Provinces to prevent others from committing the like Crimes; who if should, being fairly warned are not to expect the like Indulgence.

Benjamin Simpson

On January 12, 1719, Samuel Miles gave entertainment in his house at Milford to Benjamin Simpson of Weston and John Cole of Wells, and Simpson paid out to Miles a 15s. bill of New Hampshire. After their departure Miles discovered that the bill was counterfeit, secured a warrant for their arrest and during the night pursued them to Stratford, where he seized them at the house of Mr. Burroughs and brought them before the authorities. Upon examination Simpson owned that he had passed the bill to Miles and said that he had obtained it, along with two other 15s. New Hampshire bills, among the notes making up £6 paid him near Groton for a horse. He did not know who the purchaser was but thought him a sailor lately come from England. He could not tell what he had done with the other two bills and demanded to be searched. This was done, and no paper money was found on him. Cole, however, was also searched and on him was discovered a 20s. Boston bill judged by all the spectators to be false. Cole said that the money was not his but Simpson's, to which Simpson agreed.

It appeared that Simpson had offered one 15s. bill to Mrs. Burroughs, who refused it, telling him it was false. Further Joseph Blackledge and several others testified that after Simpson's arrest they had seen a considerable number of bills in his hand and Blackledge had looked at several of them and handed them back to Simpson. When he was questioned about them, Simpson admitted that he had burned the 15s. bill he had offered to Mrs. Burroughs and he finally requested liberty to go look for the rest of the money, which, he said, he had dropped along the way.

In company with the constable and Samuel Whitney he went back to Mr. Burroughs' house, where, behind the log, they found one 15s. bill partly burnt, and, when Mrs. Burroughs swept the hearth, another 15s. bill came to light. Then a careful search along the road produced a bundle of good bills amounting to fifty-nine shillings, wrapped up in paper and lying in the snow, as well as eleven 15s. New Hampshire bills. Then one more 15s. bill was located in the snow. Simpson admitted that the money was his and finally confessed that he had passed one 15s. bill before coming to Milford. This was scrupled but accepted, so that he feared all the bills were false and therefore burnt some and dropped the others. He was then committed to prison to remain there until the next Superior Court met at Fairfield, while Cole, who had readily answered the questions put to him and had been fully cleared by Simpson of having owned any of the paper money, was released. 27

When the Superior Court met at Fairfield on March 3, 1719, the keeper of the jail, Samuel Hubwell, being ordered to produce the prisoner, "declared that the sd. Prisoner had broken Goal and made his Escape out at the Chimney as he apprehended." Joseph Curtis of Stratford in reporting by letter to the Honorable Nathan Gold, Esq., in Fairfield, commented that Simpson's escape was a "great pittee," since such escapes encouraged criminals. Miles, because of Simpson's flight, had lost the reward due to him as informer, so upon his petitioning the Assembly in October that body voted him the sum of £5. 28

The concern of the authorities over the steady circulation of false paper money is indicated by the action of the governor and council at a meeting held at Saybrook on December 4, 1718, when it was resolved that a proclamation should be made requiring all persons in authority who had secured any counterfeit bills to have them returned to the treasurer of the colony before a certain day in May that the General Assembly might decide what should be done with them. 29

It is quite likely that Ebenezer Seamore was responsible for some of the counterfeits. He was arrested in 1718 on suspicion of altering and putting off paper notes. He retained as his attorney John Read of Lone Town and gave Read his promisory note for £20. Read, however, went off to Springfield and Seamore had to secure the services of another lawyer, As it transpired, Seamore was not brought to trial but was dismissed, though he had to pay Read the £20, much to his chagrin. 30 Before long he was to get into serious trouble through his connection with Ovid Rushbrook.

End Notes

26
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1712–1719, A–F, March, 1718; S.C. Records I, March 4, 1718.
27
C. & M. II, 155–156; S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1712–1719, M–S, March, 1719.
28
C. & M. III, Counterfeiting (unbound), 102–103.
29
Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 97.
30
C. & M. III, Counterfeiting (unbound), 93–94.

IV THE YEARS 1720–1730

Ovid Rushbrook and his Associates

On December 3, 1718, a general council held in Boston appointed Samuel Partridge, John Pyncheon, Joseph Parsons, Samuel Porter and John Stoddard to serve as judges of a special court of Oyer and Terminer to be held at Northampton for Hampshire County on the third Tuesday in December for the trial of Ovid Rushbrook (or Rutchbrock) for counterfeiting the bills of Massachusetts and Connecticut. 1 Rushbrook apparently escaped conviction but one of the judges, John Pyncheon, Jr., writing from Springfield in March, 1720, said of Rushbrook that at his trial "it was Generally Thought by ye Court, and other persons, That he was Guilty of The Fact he was Charged with." Pyncheon added: "It is generally Concluded by ye People here in Springfield, That This Last year, he has very much Practiced, The Counterfeiting & altering of Bills of Credit." 2

Before long Rushbrook transferred his activities to Connecticut, and on February 25, 1720, William Pitkin, assistant, having received information that Rushbrook, Joshua Booth, Benoney Blodget, Dr. Whipple and others were counterfeiting bills of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, ordered the Sheriff of Hartford County to go to Tolland and arrest the abovementioned persons or any other individuals who might be found in Whipple's house. The sheriff was likewise commanded to search for false bills or instruments for making them and, if necessary, to break open any house, chest or other place in the course of his search. On February 29 Deputy Sheriff Thomas Spencer reported that he had arrested Thomas and Abraham Whipple, Ovid Rushbrook and Benoney Blodget and had seized two copper plates found hidden in Thomas Whipple's house. 3 The persons taken up were examined, and from their answers it appeared that visitors at Whipple's home of late had been William Cromey from Coventry, Benoney Blodget and Joshua Booth. Rushbrook, who had followed the clothing trade in Springfield, had come away from that town to avoid paying money upon a charge laid upon him and had been boarding at Whipple's for about a month. All the witnesses professed great ignorance about the provenance of the two copper plates, and, when they were questioned as to how a certain board came to be as black as it was, they professed that it was from powder for making a skyrocket. After the examination of the suspects, it was decided by Pitkin, Joseph Talcott and Aaron Cook, J. P., that Thomas Whipple, Sr., and Ovid Rushbrook should find surety in the amount of £20 each to appear at the Superior Court to be held at Hartford on the third Tuesday in March or otherwise be committed to jail. Samuel Whipple of Groton furnished the bail of £20 for Whipple but Rushbrook was locked up in jail. Whipple's sons, Thomas, Jr., andAbraham, were discharged on payment of costs.

Before the meeting of the court in Hartford considerable evidence was collected by Justice John Pyncheon in Springfield and sent to the Connecticut authorities. David Ingersoll of Springfield testified that Rushbrook seemed to have money, slyly looking at it in his pocketbook and taking great care that no one should get a good look at it. Ebenezer Stebbins, who had worked together with Rushbrook much of the past winter, swore that Rushbrook was very remiss in his business yet seemed to have money from some source.

Other witnesses before John Pyncheon gave more damaging details. Jonathan Merrick stated that Rushbrook had told him it was an easy thing to alter bills by taking pieces of small bills and grafting the pieces onto bigger bills. On one occasion he examined Rushbrook's pocketbook and found in it pieces of bills, some with the word "shillings" on them and some other words or figures. He took them to Rushbrook and told him he thought he was engaged in altering bills with these pieces but Rushbrook made no reply.

Margaret Merrick testified that during the summer of 1719, when Rushbrook was boarding at the home of her father, Lieutenant John Merrick, Rushbrook, who owed her father fifteen pence, seeing her with a fifteenpenny bill, told her that if she would turn it over to him he would give her a half crown bill and thus pay his debt. This was done, and soon after, on entering the shop where Rushbrook worked, she saw behind his loom his open pocketbook. She took it up and saw in it the fifteenpenny bill, now raised to fifteen shillings, and she recognized the bill by a particular mark which she had observed on the note which she had given to Rushbrook.

Robert Carton gave evidence that the night before Rushbrook left Springfield in company with Thomas Whipple the two men were at Ingersoll's, where they called for a private room and a fire. Carton, who was waiting on them, observed to Rushbrook, when Whipple had stepped out, that "they were about Roguery." Rushbrook said that he would like to secure three shilling and half crown Rhode Island bills if the house had any. Later, on passing through the chamber, Carton heard Rushbrook tell Whipple he, could make New York money easily.

Mary Day, wife of Lieutenant John Day of Springfield, stated under oath that one evening Rushbrook and Jonathan Old were at their house whispering together. Old asked her for a light that they might go aside into another room, a request which she refused. The next morning Old came asking after his pocketbook, which he said he had lost the night before. This same pocketbook was found by Henry Rogers of Springfield, who brought it to Justice Pyncheon and told him that papers in it indicated that the owner was Jonathan Old. In the purse were also two counterfeit 40s. ( Plate XI) Rhode Island bills. Pyncheon kept the matter secret until he received a message from Justice Wolcott of Windsor asking for information about Rushbrook. Old was then summoned and examined, first by Pyncheon and later by Pyncheon and Major Stoddard together. After many shiftings and evasions Old admitted receiving the two forged bills from Rushbrook and that Rushbrook later begged him to keep silent about the loss of the pocketbook lest Rushbrook get into trouble on account of the bills. Pyncheon had Old sign an acknowledgment on the back of each bill that he had received it from Rushbrook. The justice then sent the money to the judges of the Superior Court in Hartford, where one of the bills in question is still preserved in the Connecticut State Library.

In Connecticut new evidence against Rushbrook came to light, for it was discovered that he had passed to Joseph Hatch of Hartford a fifteenpenny New Hampshire bill altered to three pounds ( Plate XII), a bill which Hatch had passed to Widow Abigail Baker of Windsor, who discovered the cheat and brought the matter to the attention of Justice Aaron Cook.

On May 20, 1720, Thomas Whipple was indicted for having prepared, together with Rushbrook, copper plates for counterfeiting the bills of the colonies in New England. On the twenty-sixth of the same month Rushbrook was indicted for counterfeiting bills, making copper plates for such purpose and for passing counterfeit money.

A report reached Rushbrook in prison that his trial was to be put off to a later session, whereupon he petitioned the judges, asking for a prompt trial along with Dr. Whipple and closing with these words: "I remain in a friendless and Moneyless, and almost in an Lunitick Condition thinking what will Become of me who Sprung of so Noble a stock." The trials of both men, however, did not take place, for Peter Pratt, the King's Attorney, stated that at the moment certain witnesses could not be had and therefore moved that the trials be deferred until the witnesses might be procured. As Rushbrook escaped and there is no record of a trial of Whipple, it is probable that Whipple's case was dropped. 4

In May, 1720, a law was passed to the following effect:

Whosoever shall Stamp, or any other ways Counterfeit any of the several sorts of Coin, mentioned in a certain Law, Entituled, An Act for Ascertaining the Value of Coins Currant within this Colony; or any other Species or sort of Coin; or that shall Utter or put off any such Counterfeit Coin, knowing it to be Base, False and Counterfeit; and shall be thereof Convicted before any of the Superiour Courts in this Colony, shall be Sentenced to suffer Six Months Imprisonment, or such other Fine or Corporal Punishment (respect being had to the degree of the Crime) as the said Court shall judge meet or inflict: Such Fines to be to the Publick Treasury of this Colony. 5

It may be presumed that there was some suspicion that counterfeit coin was being made or uttered, though the extant records give no evidence on the point.

By September it was discovered that the 10s. bills of Connecticut were being forged. Samuel Shute, Governor of Massachusetts, on September 5, 1720, issued the following procamation: Whereas notwithstanding the Care of this Government to prevent and punish the Counterfeiting and Falsifying the Bills of Credit, (more especially of this Province,) a Discovery has been lately made of a considerable number of Forged and Counterfeit Bills, in Imitation of the Five Pound Bills of this Province, Signed by Four Hands; and others in Imitation of the Ten Shilling Bills of the Colony of Connecticut; Which Counterfeit Bills have been Uttered by One John Bishop of Guilford (as he calls himself) who is supposed to be the Forger and Counterfeiter thereof, and to have been assisted by one Joshua Booth of Enfield, and one William Tucker: I have therefore thought fit by the Advice of His Majesty's Council to issue forth this Proclamation, hereby to give Publick Notice of the said Counterfeit Bills, in order to prevent the Inhabitants of this and the Neighbouring Provinces from being imposed upon and cheated thereby, and to call upon all His Majesty's good Subjects, as they will do their Duty to the Government, and as they tender the Interest thereof, to use their utmost Endeavour to make Discovery of the Authors and their Accom- plices in such Wicked and Detestable Practices; Hereby also promising a Reward of Ten Pounds, and the necessary Charges (to be paid out of the Publick Treasury) to such Person or Persons as shall discover and apprehend the abovesaid John Bishop (as he is called) so as he be rendered up to Justice: The said John Bishop is described as follows, viz. He is of the Age of about Twenty one Years, of middle Stature, having short brown Hair somewhat curled, and having on a blue Cloth Coat, Leather Breeches and light coloured Du Roy Jacket. 6

John Bishop, alias John Blyn, had been arrested at Woodstock on September 2 and taken before the authorities. At his examination he was found to have some of the counterfeit 10s. Connecticut bills on his person but in some fashion he managed to flee, and the same day a hue and cry was issued after him. 7 While the search was on in both Massachusetts and Connecticut, Benjamin Judd, a constable of Farmington, learning of the affair and making inquiries, discovered where Bishop was concealed and with the aid of others found and apprehended him. The prisoner was taken before Major Talcott to be examined. Bishop confessed that he had counterfeited and passed many bills of Connecticut and other colonies. There is no record of his punishment and he very likely escaped by breaking jail, as happened so often because of the weakness of the prisons. His captor, Benjamin Judd, petitioned the General Assembly for some reward for his services. 8 It will be recalled that the name of Bishop's associate, Joshua Booth of Enfield, had been mentioned in the examinations made into the counterfeiting activities of Rushbrook and Whipple. It is not known whether Booth and Tucker were captured but presumably they escaped arrest, since there is no further mention of them in the court records.

It was anticipated that there might be occasion to employ persons in the colony's service "in bringing such as are or may be taken up for counterfeiting bills... to just punishment," for on November i, 1720, the governor and council placed a sum of money at the disposal of Joseph Talcott to be used on orders of the governor and council. 9

It was probably the activity of Bishop and his associates which on November 2, 1720, prompted Governor Shute of Massachusetts to say in a speech to the General Assembly of that province: The Vile practice of Counterfeiting the Province Bills, is carrying on not only in many parts of these Provinces; but also in Great Britain, which if not timely prevented must prove very fatal to most of the American Settlements, whose Medium of Trade are Bills of Credit, I therefore recommend it to you, as one of the best Expedients to prevent the growth of this wicked Practice, to make it a Capital Crime by a Law, and strictly to put it in Execution, without which, making of good & wholsome Laws, will be of no signification, and instead of tending to strengthen the hands of Government, which is the principal design of making them, will rather render the Government weak and feeble. 10

End Notes

1
Boston News Letter, Dec. 8, 1718, p. 2.
2
C. & M. II, 190b.
3
Ibid. II, 170a, 170b.
4
The sources for the counterfeiting activities of Rushbrook and Whipple are C. & M. II, 170–190. A 40s. bill passed by Rushbrook to Jonathan Old has been preserved and is in the Connecticut State Library (item 183 in C. & M. II).
5
Acts and Laws, of His Majesties Colony of Connecticut in New-England (New-London: Timothy Green, 1715), p. 153 and Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 193.
6
Boston News-Letter, Sept. 12, 1720, p. 1.
7
C. & M. II, 220–221. Jonathan Rogers of New London was especially active in the pursuit.
8
C. & M. II, 222a.

Edward Denison

The first recorded case of counterfeiting in 1721 involved Edward Denison of Stonington, who had no connection, as far as is known, with Rushbrook. On January 24 James Smith of Bellingham, Massachusetts, complained against Denison to Richard Christophers, assistant. Smith charged that at Stonington, on December 30, 1720, in the presence of Samuel Rich, Denison, in paying off a bond, gave Smith a 3s. Massachusetts bill which was found to be altered to 30s. ( Plates XIII-XIV). Smith scrupled it but Denison said he did not have enough money to take it back and had his son write his (the father's) name on it. Denison, who claimed that he had borrowed the bill from someone, was bound over to appear at the March sessions of the Superior Court to be held at New London and was released on bail of £100 furnished by himself and James Packer of Groton. It would seem that the evidence was insufficient, for the grand jury returned the indictment ignoramus. 11

End Notes

9
Col. Rec. Conn. VI. pp. 227–228.
10
Boston News-Letter, Nov. 7, 1720, p. 1. The same newspaper of December 19, 1720, p. 2, notes that the governor had assented to an act against counterfeiting the bills of credit of Massachusetts and the neighboring governments.

John Thomas

Toward the close of the same year John Allison, a wigmaker of Wethersfield, complained on December 20 to Justice John Goodrich at Wethersfield that John Thomas, a laborer of Middletown, had on the previous day passed him a Connecticut half crown bill altered to 40s. One witness, Mehitabel Rose, swore that Thomas had said the bill he gave to Allison was good and that, if it were not, he would take it back and also that he had received it from Mr. Watson. Other witnesses, John Francis and Luther Latimer, stated that in their presence on December 19 Thomas offered 20s. to Solomon Gillman for an altered half crown bill and that Gillman warned Thomas that the bill was altered and that he must not put it off for 40s.

A warrant for the arrest of Thomas was issued and he was apprehended and examined by Justice Goodrich on December 20. The magistrate set bail of £200 for the appearance of Thomas at the Superior Court to be held at Hartford in March. On December 23, however, Joseph Talcott, assistant, released Thomas on bail of £50 furnished by Thomas Binen of Middletown and Joseph Baker of Hartford. At the March sessions Peter Pratt, the King's Attorney, informed against Thomas for uttering the altered bill, 12 but as there is no further record of the case it is possible that Thomas fled or that the grand jury failed to indict him.

Joseph Drake, Jr.

On August 2, 1722, William Pitkin issued a warrant to either of the constables of Windsor to arrest Joseph Drake, Jr., of that town and bring him before Pitkin in Hartford at eight o'clock on the morning of August 6. Zebulon Taylor and Samuel Piney, Jr., both of Windsor, were also summoned to give evidence against Drake for having sometime in April passed a counterfeit dollar to John Smith of Windsor. On August 6 Pitkin adjourned the court to Monday, August 13, when Drake appeared and was questioned. During his examination Drake admitted having sold a piece of pewter in the shape and form of a dollar to Smith for five shillings, a sum which Smith had not yet paid him.

Taylor and Piney testified that once in the house in Windsor where Jonathan Day lived they heard Smith speak to Drake "about his puting off false Dolers or false Money." At this time Drake pulled out a piece in the shape of a dollar, which Smith said that Drake dare not pass. Drake affirmed that he did and offered to let Smith have it for five shillings and claimed that it was good money.

Pitkin thought the evidence against Drake so strong that he required his appearance at the next Superior Court to be held in Hartford on the second Tuesday in September. The prisoner was then released on bail of £50 provided by Drake and his father, Joseph, Sr. When the Superior Court met, the King's Attorney informed the justices that he was of the opinion that there was not sufficient evidence to support a prosecution of Drake and therefore had nothing to object against him. 13

End Notes

11
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1721.
12
The documents relating to the case are in C. & M. II, 225–230.

Samuel and Abel Chapin

Ovid Rushbrook, while being examined at Springfield, had confessed that he had concealed two plates, one for making the £5 bill of Massachusetts and the other for forging the 10s. Connecticut bill. One Samuel Chapin of Springfield, who happened to be present at the examination, went out and found the two plates. Together with a cousin named Abel he then struck off some £5 notes but he found that the plate for the Connecticut bill had a crack in it which rendered it useless. In May, 1723, the cousins were arrested in Newport, Rhode Island, for passing bad money, were tried, convicted, pilloried, cropped and required to pay double damages to all whom they had defrauded, as well as costs of prosecution. 14

End Notes

13
C. & M. II, 223–224b.

Mary Peck Butterworth

Another counterfeiter of this period was Mary Peck Butterworth of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, who as early as 1716 was forging paper money of Rhode Island. She later made bills of Massachusetts and the £5 Connecticut bill. She did not employ a plate but did the work with a pen, selling her product at half the face value but not passing it herself. One of her agents, Nicholas Camp of Rehoboth, was caught passing bad money and was examined at Newport in August, 1723. He confessed that he had uttered about £50 in false Connecticut £5 bills made by Mrs. Butterworth, and one of her products may well be the counterfeit Connecticut £5 bill, dated 1713, now in the possession of the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford. 15

The New England governments had good reason to be alarmed by the activities of Mrs. Butterworth and others. Governor Dummer of Massachusetts on August 9, 1723, issued a proclamation designed to protect not only the bills of his province but also those of the other colonies in New England. It read: Whereas notwithstanding the Care taken by the several Governments to secure their Bills of Credit from Forgery and Corruption, by ordaining such Punishments as were thought sufficient to deter all Persons from that wicked and villanous Practice, and altho' the same by a late Law of this Province is to be punished by Death; And notwithstanding the former Examples of Justice inflicted on such Offenders, Divers Persons have of late been so bold and hardy as to Counterfeit the Bills of this and the Neighbouring Governments; more especially the Five Pound and Thirty Shilling Bills of this Province, and the Five Pound Bill of the Colony of Rhode-Island; several of which Bills have lately pass'd to the manifest Lessening the Credit of the true Bills, as well as to the Loss and Wrong of particular Persons: I have therefore thought fit, with the Advice of His Majesty's Council, and at the Desire of the Representatives in their present Session, to issue forth this Proclamation, Hereby Requiring all Officers and Others His Majesty's good Subjects to use their utmost Endeavour to discover and bring to Justice all Persons whatsoever that may be concern'd in the said wicked Practice of Forging and Counterfeiting the Bills of Credit of this Government, and the Neighbouring Governments of New-Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode-Island; Hereby likewise Engaging that such Persons shall receive the Rewards provided by Law for such Services, and promising pardon to any One or Two Persons that have been concern'd in the Making or Uttering Counterfeit Bills, as aforesaid, who shall on or before the First Day of October next make a plain and full Discovery thereof, and as far as they know of their Accomplices, or Other Persons concern'd in those vile Practices; And in Case the said Accomplices or Others concern'd, shall be thereby detected and by Law convicted of the said Crime, the Person or Persons making such Discovery, as aforesaid, shall be Entitled to the Reward of Fifty Pounds each, and their necessary Charges. 16

End Notes

14
Kenneth Scott, "The Counterfeiting Venture of Abel and Samuel Chapin," Rhode Island History II (1952), pp. 93–95.
15
Richard LeBaron Bowen, op. cit., esp. pp. 63–78.

Ovid Rushbrook and Ebenezer Seamore Again

Not much later, on October 25, 1723, Daniel Tuttle of Wallingford, Connecticut, yeoman, was arrested and examined in Boston concerning his passing to Elizabeth Ellis a false £5 bill of Rhode Island. He claimed that Francis Brown of New Haven had given it to him some ten days before and had asked him to purchase handkerchiefs with it in Boston. During the examination he tried to chew up a 40s. bill, which he managed to reduce to pulp before it was taken from his mouth. Three days later he was further examined by Justice Habijah Savage and he told how Ebenezer Seamore that summer had brought back £5 and 40s. bills of Rhode Island from the Jerseys and had later showed him, Tuttle, plates for making them which had been engraved by Rushbrook. Tuttle had kept the plates for Seamore under straw in his barn. On November 9 Tuttle petitioned Governor Dummer and his council to be permitted to give information against Seamore. Tuttle was tried in Boston on December 13, 1723, and was acquitted, for the jury decided that his putting the bill in the hands of Elizabeth Ellis was not "uttering" it. 17

By the end of December Tuttle was back in Connecticut giving evidence against Seamore and his associates. Seamore was taken up at Wallingford, sent to Hartford and, after his examination on November 3, 1723, was committed to jail. The next day John Wyard (or Wiard) of Wethersfield was examined by Joseph Talcott, assistant, who also at that time questioned James Poisson (or Pison). Wyard was arrested and examined again on November 6, 7 and 13. He had put off false bills, obtained from Seamore, in Waterbury and in Woodbury. At Seamore's request he later sent John Hurlbut to get back the bills uttered in Woodbury. At his first examination he admitted having gone to Philadelphia with Seamore and mentioned Seamore's having made a trip to Egg Harbor in the Jerseys, but he confessed to nothing damaging either to himself or to Seamore. On November 6, however, when he was offered a reward of £20 and promised that all possible favor would be shown him if he could apprehend the principal actor and bring about the seizure of the press, he hesitated but said he was as capable as anyone of being King's Evidence in the matter. His further examination was then postponed until the seventh, when he was released in bail of £200. On that day he was closely questioned about a bill he had passed and was finally released again on bail of £250. At his final examination on November 13 Wyard admitted that he had been together with Seamore and Daniel Tuttle in Wallingford, and, with respect to a £5 bill he had passed, he explained that he had originally received the money from James Poisson and later got him to take it back. Still, however, he revealed nothing dangerous to himself or Seamore.

James Poisson, who was examined on November 4, told quite a different story. Wyard, according to Poisson, brought him a Rhode Island £5 bill which Wyard had passed to Hezekiah May and May had returned. Poisson inspected it, declared it to be false and tore it to pieces, acting thus as a friend to Wyard to keep him out of trouble. May confirmed the fact the Wyard had given him a counterfeit bill, which he had returned, and Elnathan Strong told also of receiving a 40s. Rhode Island bill from Wyard which proved to be forged and which Wyard took back. In like fashion John Hurlbut and Ensign Curtis had received false Rhode Island paper money from Wyard.

Daniel Tuttle, who was back in Connecticut on December 31, was apparently quite willing to talk freely and told what is probably the true story, which is as follows: in the spring of 1723 he was hired by Seamore to pilot him through the woods to Guilford, where Seamore said he was going to get John Blyn, the same man who had been formerly prosecuted for making money. Seamore planned to send Blyn to get Ovid Rushbrook to go with him, Seamore, to the Jerseys to make plates and money. A short time later Seamore informed Tuttle that Blyn would not go to Rushbrook and that Rushbrook would not be concerned with Blyn because Blyn had once before betrayed him. So Seamore went himself to Rushbrook in Springfield. Rushbrook promised to meet him soon in Wallingford and presently came there. At the end of May or beginning of June, 1723, Seamore, Rushbrook and one Robinson of Wallingford set out for the Jerseys. On the way, as Seamore said, he bought "half a pint of Lincott oyl att Mr. Jeremiah Attwaters in New Haven to do the flourishes of the bills on the back sid."

Seamore, on his return to Wallingford about June 12 or 14, told Tuttle that they had made a £5 plate of Rhode Island and had struck from it six or eight bills which he thought would pass. They had made the money "near Thirty miles from any place," cutting a hole in a hollow tree and putting in a pry to press the bills. One or two of the notes had been passed off at Egg Harbor to a man named Risley from Wallingford, who later returned the bills to Seamore. Rushbrook and Seamore together made another trip to the Jerseys about the beginning of July.

On the second trip they made more money, of which Seamore passed one bill at Fairfield and another at Danbury. Seamore stated to Tuttle that every time he came up from the Jerseys, John Wyard got part of the bogus money; Wyard, sometime in August, accompanied Seamore to the Jerseys, where Rushbrook made a plate for the 40s. Rhode Island bill and Wyard had a press made. Seamore returned to Wallingford alone, while Wyard, coming later, brought with him fifty £5 Rhode Island counterfeits and fifty 40s. bills of that province made from the new plate; he left both plates and half of the bills with Seamore.

Seamore gave Tuttle a number of the false bills and on the Sunday night after Wyard's return asked Tuttle to keep the plates in a chest under lock and key. Tuttle took them but hid them in his haymow, where they were found later when a search was made for them. Seamore, as he told Tuttle, put off a 40s. bill to Ensign Nathaniel Roy, another to John Ives, Jr., and a £5 bill to a person whose first name was Jeremiah, all inhabitants of Wallingford. On a trip to Boston and Salem Seamore had put off some £60 in counterfeit bills, one of which was passed to a Mr. Lewis of Boston.

Evidence secured by the authorities from John Blyn largely confirmed Tuttle's account. Blyn, moreover, added a number of details: Seamore and Wyard promised Rushbrook a horse and clothing for his services and Seamore gave Rushbrook a watch and £4 in New York money to encourage him. Despite this Rushbrook gave him the slip and afterwards, when Seamore had been arrested and broken jail and escaped, he told Tuttle that when he (Seamore) and Wyard were in Philadelphia they heard that Rushbrook was also there. They went to the house where he was said to be staying but the residents denied that he was there, so the two men went away. Coming again a half day later, they entered and saw Rushbrook run upstairs, so they followed him and asked him why he had taken their money and then left them in the lurch. He maintained that he was afraid but they finally won him over and he made the two plates for them. Tuttle added that Seamore had offered him his expenses and a horse if he would go down to Rushbrook and get more plates but Tuttle refused to have anything to do with the business.

As a result of the investigations Wyard was indicted in March, 1724, for uttering a false bill, and James Poisson, shopkeeper, was presented by the grand jury in September of the same year, also for passing. Poisson, at an examination on March 30, 1724, when asked where and when he got the counterfeit £5 Rhode Island bill he had passed to Caleb Bull ( Plate XV), replied that he had picked it up on the highway between Hartford and Wethersfield and that he had found in all nine £5 and seven 40s. Rhode Island counterfeit bills, all wrapped up in a paper. When further pressed by the examining magistrates, he made it clear that John Wyard, who owed him money, had dropped it for him to pick up. The name of John Pierce had been written on the bill passed to Caleb Bull, and Poisson admitted he had written the name on the money in order to swear that he had the counterfeit from Pierce. Poisson said he suspected the bills because he did not believe Wyard had so much good money also and because the false bills were paler than true ones and because they looked so new. Poisson, at the conclusion of his examination, was released on bail of £200 provided by Jonathan Easton for his appearance at the September session of the Superior Court in Hartford.

After his indictment he pleaded not guilty but was tried, convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned for six months, to stand an hour and a half in the pillory at Hartford between the hours of ten and one on some day in November, to have the lower part of his right ear cut off and to pay costs of £9/10/–. When, however, he was called three times, he failed to appear, and the bond given by Easton was declared forfeited. 18 Easton died soon after and the recognizance was sued out against his administratrix to final judgment. Peter Pratt, the King's Attorney, therefore, informed the Assembly in October, 1725, that Poisson was "like wholly to escape punishment for his flagitious crime, and the innocent widow and fatherless made the only sufferers." The Assembly then had a warrant issued for the immediate arrest of Poisson, who was to have the sentence of the Superior Court against him executed unless he should pay the £200 and sheriff's costs before December 31, 1725. 19 The sum was evidently paid by Poisson, for in April of the next year thirty pounds of it, by direction of the governor and council, was ordered paid to Major Roger Wolcott for official business. 20 Apparently, if Easton had not died, Poisson, by his non-appearance in court in September, 1724, would have escaped punishment altogether, and justice would have been satisfied by the forfeiture of the bail. After his absconding Poisson had been living unmolested in New Haven, apparently with the full knowledge of the authorities. 21

Seamore also was an elusive person. He was arrested 22 and was to be tried at the Superior Court held at Hartford on March 10, 1724, but broke out of the Hartford jail and fled. Bail for his appearance in the amount of £150 had been provided by Samuel Seamore (or Seymour), and when Ebenezer was thrice called and failed to appear, this bail was declared forfeited. 23

Seamore was, however, again taken into custody and at a Superior Court held in Fairfield on August 25, 1724, was indicted for having, on July 1, 1723, in Danbury tried to cheat Samuel Starr by putting off to him a counterfeit £5 Rhode Island bill. He was called, appeared, pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned for six months, to stand an hour and a half in the pillory near the court house in Fairfield in November on some day between the hours of ten and one, to have the lower part of his right ear cut off and to pay costs of £9/6/6. 24 Unhappily for the cause of justice he escaped from jail, though it is npt stated whether any of the pun- ishments had been inflicted on him. 25 In May, 1726, the Assembly considered a request of Samuel Starr that he be awarded £5 in lieu of the counterfeit £5 bill he had received from Seamore and had turned over to Joseph Talcott, Esq., and that he also be granted the reward of £20 due to an informer. The Assembly voted him the £5 but refused him the reward. 26

Daniel Tuttle, who had given such damaging evidence, does not seem to have been prosecuted by the Connecticut authorities. Wyard, too, escaped punishment, for after his examination on March 30, 1724, it did not appear to Joseph Talcott, assistant, that there was enough evidence to convict him, so he was released on bail of £500 to appear before the Superior Court to give evidence against Seamore, Poisson or any other person guilty of making plates, counterfeiting or passing. 27 Despite the fact that Wyard, who seems to have been deeply involved in the affair, was indicted by the grand jury in March, 1724, there is no record of his trial and the case was probably dropped, as he was to give evidence against Seamore and Poisson. 28 With regard to James Poisson, it would be interesting to know why he and his brother, described as "French refugees residing at Wethersfield," were late in 1708 or early in 1709 warned out of that town by the selectmen. 29 Possibly the selectmen had more foresight than the General Assembly, which voted these refugees permission to live where they pleased in Connecticut.

The Connecticut authorities were alarmed by the counterfeiting which was being carried on, and the governor and council on February 20, 1724, ordered that a proclamation be issued "for the more effectual discovery and conviction of such as have been guilty of counterfeiting bills of credit, or of uttering them willingly, or of making any plates or other instruments for such an end, or of counselling, aiding, or abetting any such wickedness." 30

It was natural, no doubt, that the colony should decide on more severe penalties as a deterrent to counterfeiters. In May, 1724, the following law was enacted: Be it Enacted by the Governour, Council and Representatives, in General Court Assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That whosoever shall presume to Forge, Counterfeit, Alter or Utter any Bill or Bills of Credit of this Colony, or of the Bills of Credit of the Provinces of the Massachusetts-Bay , New-Hampshire, New-York, Rhode-Island and the New-Jersies, knowing them to be such, that now are or hereafter shall be by the Law Established, either in this Colony or either of the aforesaid Provinces; or that shall Council, Advise, Procure, or any ways Assist in the Forging, Counterfeiting, Imprinting, Stamping, Altering or Signing of any such false Bill or Bills, knowing them to be such; or Engrave any Plate, or make any other Instrument to be used for that purpose, every Person or Persons so offending, being thereof Convicted before any of the Superiour Courts in this Colony, shall be Punished by having his right ear cut off, and shall be Branded on the Forehead with the Letter C. and be committed to a Work-house and there be confined to Work under the care of a Master till the day of his Death: and never depart from said House without special Leave from this Assembly, under the penalty of being severely Whip't; and that all the Estate of any Person offending as aforesaid, shall be Forfeited to this Government: also the Person so offending as aforesaid, shall be for ever debarred of any Trade or Dealing within this Colony in any wise, upon the penalty of being severely Whip't. 31

End Notes

16
Boston News-Letter, Aug. 15, 1723, p. 1.
17
Richard LeBaron Bowen, op. cit., pp. 82–83.
18
S.C. Records IV, Sept. 8, 1724.
19
Col. Rec. Conn. VI, pp. 561–562.
20
Ibid. VI, p. 580.
21
C. & M. III, 19a and 19b.
22
Col. Rec. Conn. VI, pp. 436–437.
23
S.C. Records, III, March 10, 1724.
24
Ibid. III, Aug. 25, 1724.
25
Boston News-Letter, Oct. 8, 1724, p. 2.
26
Col.Rec. Conn. VII, pp. 41–42 and Conn. Archives, Finance and Currency II, 30.
27
C. & M. III, 14b and 15.
28
Ibid. III, 10. Most of the material concerned with Seamore, Poisson, Wyard and Tuttle is to be found in S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1720–1729, M.-S., 1724 and C. & M. III, 1–19; see also Col. Rec. Conn. VII, p. 84.
29
Col.Rec. Conn. XV, p. 557.

Ephraim Shevie

In addition to Rushbrook, Seamore, Tuttle, Wyard and Poisson, others were suspected of counterfeiting at times. One such person was Ephraim Shevie, alias John Rideout, who was arrested by Benjamin Judd on December 13 and taken, along with Thomas Stedman and Israel Scias (or Sias), who were with him, to Major Talcott, assistant. The three men were closely questioned by Talcott, who ordered Shevie to be confined in the Hartford jail.

Shevie was by profession a maker of sundials, although he had also probably taught school and apparently felt qualified as a teacher. He had been acquainted with Dr. Whipple of Tolland and John Blyn and seemingly knew much about Rushbrook. At his examination he admitted that he had hidden his tools some thirty rods from his lodging but was full of excuses and lies and claimed that he had boasted that he would make a plate for counterfeiting only in jest.

Stedman and Scias told a different story, for Stedman said that Shevie had asked if he could have a private room at his house and had told Scias he would make the room into a mint room for making bills. Their account was that Shevie asked Stedman for a new 10s. bill and claimed he would make a plate for it. He also wished Stedman to have ready for him 30s., 20s., and 10s. bills. Shevie likewise had told them he had made a £5, a £3/10 and a £3 plate and had struck off bills from them, the best bills ever made, When asked to show the plates, he said they were in the woods some two miles away. He also promised he would make £300 in bills for Scias and asserted that the best place to finish his plates would be in the chamber of Joseph Butler.

The authorities now began to question other persons thought to have knowledge of Shevie's money making, among whom was Abigail Conwell of Middletown. She seems to have interested Israel Scias in trying to benefit by Shevie's work and she declared that she had heard Shevie and Daniel Martin talking of making false money and that Shevie had affirmed he could make £1,000 of bills that would not be suspected.

For some time Shevie had boarded at the home of Nathaniel and Hannah Barns in Middletown. Now Constable Thomas How of that place brought them before Justice Hamblin to be questioned. According to the Barns, Shevie boasted he could engrave a plate for making money if Barns would give him new bills. Barns did give him a 5s. Connecticut bill and presently Shevie produced a plate he had made to print such money and also showed another plate with flowers engraved on it. Barns took the plates away from Shevie's workshop and hid them under the roots of a tree, whereupon Shevie became angry and protested that the plates were worth £50. Once Shevie tried to persuade Barns to ride to New York to bring him supplies for making bills, "Indian black" and "Linset oyl." Mr. and Mrs. Barns admitted that they had passed off half of a 5s. Connecticut bill to Captain Nols, the tailor, but, when he declared it false, they took it back. They explained that they got the half bill from Jonathan Prat, a shopkeeper in Wethersfield.

At his examination on December 20 Shevie admitted he had engraved letters on a plate and also an escutcheon, but only to try his skill. Towards the end of the month, however, he sent the jailer to Talcott to say that he would make a confession. Talcott, accompanied by Justice Cook, went to the jail and Shevie told them that Nathaniel Barns induced him to make the 5s. plate, since Barns wanted to make money to redeem his mortgaged land. The bills came off blotched and Shevie burnt them, while Barns carried away the plate.

Shevie was most indiscreet, for at the house of Obadiah Allyn he "bragged" in the presence of Daniel Marcom to one Thankful Baker that he could make £5 bills and pulled some from his pocket. When the persons present said they would complain of him, he threw the bills in the fire. On another occasion, at the house of John Williams in Middletown, when Ebenezer Hubbert, Joseph Starr, Williams, Ebenezer Robind and Moses Bidwell were there, Shevie pulled out about £10 in bills and asked Williams if he could change a £5 bill, a £3 bill or one of 40s. or 20s.

At the next Superior Court in Hartford in March, 1724, Shevie, formerly of Middletown but lately of Wethersfield, was indicted for having made a plate to print the 5s. bill of Connecticut ( Plate XVI). He was tried, convicted and sentenced to be imprisoned, to stand in the pillory and to have his right ear cropped. That same month, writing in prison, he addressed a petition to the judges of the Superior Court. He pointed out that he had already spent sixteen or seventeen weeks in a dark, stinking and nasty jail, with only a little straw for a bed and with poor clothing on him. This was also in the winter, and his bodily health and mind had suffered. He requested that he be not maimed by cropping so as to be debarred from earning his daily bread in any honest employment of schooling or other labor. What town, he asked, would receive him as schoolmaster with a cropped ear? He begged to be released from payment of fines or costs and asked to be allowed to take an oath in secret never to counterfeit and also to act as an informer and agent to seek out counterfeiters and denounce them to the authorities.

By May he had stood in the pillory and had been cropped. He then petitioned the Assembly, asking to be released and complaining that he now had no straw on which to lie, that he was always in iron chains, that it was bitterly cold and that there had been no fire in March and April. His old outer coat had not been off him at all, and, of late, he had received a short allowance of food, so that he suffered gripes within his body as well as anguish of mind. Perhaps Shevie exaggerated when he wrote of the prison fare, for James Henderson, keeper of the Hartford jail, said he spent seven shillings on Shevie for food and drink instead of the 2/6 allowed. 32

In September Shevie directed a last desperate appeal for mercy to the Assembly. He had been, he wrote, a prisoner in the Hartford jail for nearly eleven months in close confinement and all the time in iron chains; his suffering was more than tongue or pen could express; he had received his public punishment in May and since March had been given only bread and water, supplemented by a little food sent him by charitable persons; he had no bed to lie on; his breeches were nearly worn off him; his strength was weakened, his understanding was impaired and he was perplexed with vermin. This time the Assembly harkened to his prayer and ordered his release on condition that he leave the colony within one month and with the under- standing that he be imprisoned again if he did not depart within that time or if he again came into the colony. 33

Israel Scias had the effrontery to ask for the £20 reward as informer against Shevie, 34 but this was denied and it was granted, properly enough, to Benjamin Judd. 35 Barns was indicted in March at the Superior Court held in Hartford for having printed a 5s. Connecticut bill upon a plate of pewter, 36 but there is no record of any trial.

End Notes

30
Ibid. VI, pp. 435–436.
31
Acts and Laws of His Majesties Colony of Connecticut in New-England (New-London: Timothy Green, 1715–1731), p. 301 and Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 467.
32
Conn. Archives, Finance and Currency III, 376.

Peter Gardner

Connecticut was deeply interested in the case of one Peter Gardner, who, according to Judge Sewall, was examined in Boston "about his putting off Connecticut £5 Bills of Credit, being Counterfeit." 37 Gardner was committed to prison on Saturday, August i, 38 and news thereof was sent by the Secretary of Massachusetts to Connecticut. At its October, 1724, session the Connecticut Assembly considered the letter which requested that two of the signers of the Connecticut bills be present at Boston on the first Tuesday in November to convict Gardner. Mr. Secretary Wylly, one of the signers, was clerk of the county court to be held at Hartford, and the court was adjourned that he might go to Boston. 39 The Assembly also instructed Timothy Green, printer of the Connecticut bills, to attend the court in Boston to testify against Gardner and to take with him the plate from which the genuine £5 bills were struck. 40 Despite the efforts made by Connecticut, the jury saw fit to acquit Gardner. 41

End Notes

33
Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 487. The evidence concerning Shevie is found in C. & M. III, 24–41, Conn. Archives, Finance and Currency II, 377 and S.C. Files, Hartford, March, 1724. A 5s. bill made by Shevie is item 39 in C. & M. III.
34
C. & M. III, 32.
35
Col. Rec. Conn. VI, pp. 472–473.
36
S.C. Files, Hartford, March, 1724.
37
Sewall's Diary, 5 Massachusetts Historical Collections III, p. 339.
38
Boston Gazette, Aug. 3, 1724, p. 2 and Boston News-Letter, Aug. 6, 1724, p. 2.
39
Conn. Archives, Finance and Currency I, 363.
40
Ibid. I, 360 and Col. Rec. Conn. VI, p. 490.
41
The New-England Courant, Nov. 16, 1724, p. 2.

David Colver, John Stevens and John Williams

A 5s. Connecticut bill, altered to 40s. ( Plates XVII-XVIII) and now in the Connecticut State Library, involved three persons, David Colver of Groton, John Stevens of Windsor and John Williams of Stonington, in considerable difficulty. The story of the bill would seem to be as follows: Stevens got it from one William Dyer in Rhode Island, probably at Kingstown, where a Mr. Sheffield saw it and said he thought it might be false; about January 10, 1724, at the house of John Williams, Stevens offered the bill in payment of his reckoning to Desire Williams, wife of the landlord. She took it to her husband, who questioned it and offered to give 20s. for the 40s. note. At once David Colver, who was present, took it off Williams' hands, giving him an additional five shillings for it, and then passed it later to Jonathan Colver. Jonathan discovered it was false, and, when David refused to take it back, he showed it to Nehemiah Smith, J.P., who went with Jonathan to David. When David again refused to take it back, the justice of the peace took possession of it and it was shown to the treasurer of the colony and declared false.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of David Colver, John Williams and John Stevens, all of whom were bound over to appear at the Superior Court to be held in New London in September. Colver was released on bail provided by himself, John Williams and Moses Fisk of Groton, while Stevens was freed on bail in the same amount provided by himself and John Dean of Groton; Williams also secured a bail bond in the amount of £150.

Both Colver and Stevens were indicted at the September session of the Superior Court but the grand jury returned both indictments ignoramus and the prisoners were freed by proclamation upon payment of costs. Williams did not appear at the March session of the court in 1725 but his wife informed the judges that he was too ill to attend and he wrote the court a letter to that effect, so that his case was continued to September, when he was indicted, pleaded not guilty, was tried, acquitted and discharged on payment of costs. 42

End Notes

42
S.C. Files, New London, Sept., 1724 and Sept., 1725; S.C. Records IV, Sept. 24, 1724, March 23, 1725, and Sept. 28, 1725.

William Carrick

Information was lodged, presumably in 1725 or 1726, against a certain William Carrick, for making and passing counterfeit bills. The disposition of the case is not recorded but the informer, Joseph Dewèy of Hebron, asked and received from the Assembly in October, 1726, the sum of £4. 43 Since he did not obtain £20 it is likely that Carrick was arrested and then escaped from jail.

Another affair of which the outcome is not recorded concerned a Dr. Holloway, who lived in Pomfret or Killingly. An informer complained against him to the governor, who laid before the council an information that Holloway with some other persons in company, have got ingraving irons, molds to cast plates in, colours to print with, and are intending to print false bills in imitation of the true bills of this Colony. The matter of information appears so credible, that 'tis believed something of that nature is practicing. Whereupon it is resolved, That the Governour direct the informer to go to Pomfrett to said Holloway, make further private discovery how far they have proceeded, and where the utensils for carrying on that vile practice are lodged, and then make speedy information of the matter to Justice Levinz of Kellingly, that the said justice may arrest the persons and examine them, and proceed further in that affair as his prudence shall direct him. 44

End Notes

43
Col. Rec. Conn. VII, p. 84.
44
Ibid. VII, p. 118.

V THE YEARS 1730–1740 Samuel Wood

About the middle of June, 1730, Samuel Wood, a transient person, was arrested and brought before the county court in Hartford, where he told the following story: he had come from Esopus, New York, together with Peter and John Levingston and one Gardner in a boat commanded by Captain John Knott; his business was to receive some money from Thomas Starr of Middletown, where in April he had passed a £3 New York bill to a Mr. Banks, who returned it to him; he then passed the same note to John Smith of Hartford, who discovered it to be altered from 3/6 to £3 ( Plate XIX); in April he had also uttered a £4 New York bill to William Hooker, who had returned it to him on the ground that it was altered; Wood asserted that he had received the £3 bill from a Palatine who lived about eighteen miles above Esopus and the £4 bill from John Person in Esopus. Wood was released on bail of £20 furnished by himself and John Biggelow jointly for his appearance at the next Superior Court to be held in Hartford.

From the evidence of three persons who were questioned it became clear that Wood knew full well that both bills were altered before he uttered them. Thomas Colman testified that he saw the £4 bill before it was passed to Mr. Hooker and that he told Wood it was counterfeit, showing why this was so. Joseph Gilbert, Jr., on June 23 made oath that toward the end of April at Mr. Cook's in Hartford Sam Wood had showed him the same £4 bill, which he, Gilbert, declared to him had been altered from a 4s. or a 4/6 bill to £4 and warned him against passing it. Wood, indeed, had agreed that it must be false and promised that he would not utter it. Captain Knott declared that Wood had asked him to change the £3 New York bill which Wood had later paid Smith. Knott had refused and pointed out to Wood that the bill was altered, showing that the £ at the bottom of the bill was leaning the wrong way, that there was no £ sign to two three pounds at the bottom within the body of the bill and finally that he could not find "three pounds" where it should be mentioned in the body of the bill. 1

At the Superior Court held in Hartford on September 8, 1730, Wood was called three times but did not appear, so the bond provided by John Biggelow was declared forfeited. 2 On June 24, 1731, the Sheriff of Hartford County was ordered to bring Biggelow to court to show cause why execution should not go forth against him for the £20. 3

John Abbott and Joseph Waterhouse

A dispatch from New London in the Boston newspapers reported that on November 25 John Abbott had been committed to jail in that place for counterfeiting the last emission of the £5 bills of Rhode Island and that a few days later the plates from which the bills were struck had been found. 4 Abbott, however, did not come to trial, for on February 7, 1732, he made his escape as is told in the following account in the New-England Weekly Journal of February 14:

In our Number CCXLVI we inform'd the Publick that one Abbot was committed to New London Prison ... of whom we have this further Account, that as he was in close Prison his Wife had frequently the Liberty of being let into the same to visit him, that last Monday Evening she being let in as usual, while they were there, they got off his Fetters and chang'd Apparel one with another, after which Abbot call'd to the Keeper to let out his Wife, and the Door being open'd he came out being dress'd in her Apparel, and went thro' a Room where was several Persons sitting, making them the usual Complements of a Woman, and pass'd off undiscover'd; the next Morning Abbot's Wife call'd to the Keeper, and desir'd to be releas'd from her Confinement, which accordingly was done, tho' to his great surprize. There had been diligent Search made for the said Abbot , but nothing could be heard of him on Wednesday last. 5

Before long Abbott was heard of again, this time in the company of Joseph Waterhouse of Saybrook. About the middle of April, 1732, Waterhouse, who was master of a sloop lying near "Eles Neck," employed Thomas Monk and Samuel Suard to go to buy for him two quarts of rum, some pork and three pounds of sugar, to pay for which he gave Suard a 40s. Rhode Island bill. Suard turned the money over to Monk, who bought the sugar and rum from Hannah Hull, wife of Captain Josiah Hull, and gave the change to Suard, while Suard handed it over to Waterhouse. Waterhouse himself went one night to Lydia Lockwood, wife of Lieutenant James Lockwood, and bought of her, in the presence of Mrs. Deborah Benedick, a barrel of cider, which he took away in a cart. He paid with a 40s. Rhode Islandbill, and Mrs. Lockwood gave him twenty shillings in change. He also at about this time uttered another 40s. bill to Joshua Raymond of Norwalk.

His companion was about the same nefarious business, for Elizabeth Hoyt, wife of Daniel Hoyt, was paid a 40s. Rhode Island bill by a stranger who was a "short well set man, broad flatt face a short neck a brownish complexion," whose name she was later told was Abbott.

It was presently discovered that all these bills were false, and on April 19 a warrant was issued at Greenwich by Joshua Knapp, J.P, for the arrest of Waterhouse and Abbott. Samuel Miles, Sr., of Greenwich seized Waterhouse and found in his chest on board the sloop two copper plates, from which the bills had been made, and six or seven bills not yet finished. With a posse of eight men he also made a vain pursuit after Abbott.

Two days later Constable Isaac Brown of Norwalk complained to John Copp, J.P., who issued a warrant for the arrest of Waterhouse, who, it would seem, must have been released by Justice Knapp or had escaped from custody. In any event Waterhouse was now taken and turned over to the jailer in Norwalk by Constable Joseph St.John of that town.

In May, Waterhouse, confined in the jail of Fairfield County, sent word to his brother, Abraham Waterhouse of Saybrook, begging him to take pity on him and to furnish the bail necessary for his release. Abraham was induced to sign a bond of £300 for his brother's appearance at the Superior Court to be held in August. When the court met, Waterhouse was indicted for passing false bills but failed to appear, so his bond was declared forfeited. Abraham Waterhouse sent a memorial to the Assembly and in October, 1733, that body reduced the amount he must pay to £150 plus costs, and the sheriff of the county, Ebenezer Dimon, was then to be acquitted of the judgment of £300 given by the Superior Court against him for his failure to produce Joseph Waterhouse. 6

End Notes

1
The material dealing with Wood is found in C. & M. III, 148–149. The £3 bill is item 147 in C. & M. III.
2
S.C. Records 5½, Sept. 8, 1730.
3
C. & M. III, 150.
4
New-England Weekly Journal, Dec. 6, 1731, p. 2; Boston Weekly News-Letter, Dec. 9, 1731, p. 2.
5
The same version is printed in the Boston Weekly News-Letter, Feb. 17, 1732, p. 2.

Joseph Miller , Hezekiah Cox and Hill Chandley

On April 26, 1732, three persons, Joseph Miller of Wethersfield, his journeyman, Hezekiah Cox, who was a saddler by trade, and a transient, Hill Chandley, were taken into custody because of a complaint made against them by Joseph Farnsworth. The story of their activities, as learned from their examinations and a petition of Cox, is as follows: Cox was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he married and had one child; on coming to Connecticut he found employment with Joseph Miller in Wethersfield and lived at the home of Miller and his wife Abigail; there Cox was introduced to some evil-minded persons who intended to engage in counterfeiting; Miller gave Hill Chandley some 2s. Connecticut bills, which Chandley imitated in about half an hour; later Chandley forged £3 Massachusetts bills and with money given him by Miller bought paper, lampblack and red lead for counterfeiting purposes; Cox passed some of the bad money, one £3 bill to John Austin of Hartford and another to Mrs. Anne Smith, also of Hartford.

When the authorities instituted a search after them, Cox and Chandley fled and hid in the barn of Charles Buckley. They were, however, found and taken up, together with Miller, and all three were lodged in jail from April 27 to June 2. Cox and Chandley were indicted on May 23 at the Superior Court held in Hartford, Chandley for forging two £3 Massachusetts bills and Cox for passing them. Miller apparently was not prosecuted but was released on June 2. Chandley was tried and acquitted but Cox was convicted and punished in accordance with the law. Farnsworth, as informer, asked for and doubtless received the reward of £20 due him. 7 In October the Assembly took under consideration a petition sent by Cox from the workhouse, where he had been sentenced to serve for life. He begged that he might be released and allowed to trade and deal in order to support his wife and child. His release was voted on condition that he pay all costs and then leave the colony and reside no more therein. 8

End Notes

6
The material relating to this affair is to be found in C. & M. III, 171–172; S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1730–1739, Smi-Z, Aug., 1732; Col. Rec. Conn. VII, p. 478.

Thomas Enis, Jr.

In July, 1732, Thomas Enis, Jr., of Lyme tried to induce Mary Blague of Saybrook, at the house of Isaac Watrus (or Waterhouse), a joiner of Lyme, to change a 3s. Rhode Island bill that had been altered to 30s. Mrs. Blague refused and then Enis passed it to John Ingraham, Jr., of Saybrook, and he, in turn, uttered it to Samuel Tinker, who discovered that it was false. The cheat was brought to the attention of John Griswould, J.P., of Lyme, who on February 15, 1733, had Enis arrested and after examining him bound him over to appear at the Superior Court. Enis was then released on bail of £300 furnished by himself, his father, Thomas Enis, Sr., and Ephraim Brockway, all of Lyme. 9 The final disposition of the case is not recorded.

End Notes

7
On this affair see C. & M. III, 155–161 and S.C. Records 6, May 23, 1732.
8
C. & M. III, 162.

John Bellamy

John Bellamy, a blacksmith, who had a shop in the Parish of Horseneck in Greenwich, was complained of on January 23, 1735, to Nathaniel Peck, J.P., by Solomon Close, a grand juror of Fairfield County. Close charged that the blacksmith had been coining and passing half pistoles. The justice issued a warrant, and Constable Nathan Reynolds apprehended Bellamy and took him before the magistrate. At the hearing Jabez John Quick, John Adington, Ely Parson and Uriah Harmell gave evidence that induced Justice Peck to order that the prisoner be jailed. Thomas Hill, the sheriff, however, released his charge in bail of £100 but the blacksmith failed to appear at the Superior Court held in Fairfield on February 25, 1735, so that the sheriff was ordered to pay a fine of £100.

Constable Reynolds on April 30 complained of Bellamy to Ebenezer Mead, J.P., who had the suspected counterfeiter arrested, examined him and bound him over to the next session of the Superior Court. This time Bellamy secured bail of £500, furnished by Gersham Lockwood. The witnesses at the hearing before the justice were Abraham Todd, Theophilus Peck, Joshua Knapp, Nathaniel and Ezekiel Lockwood and Nathan Smith. Nathaniel Lockwood had obtained a half pistole, made by Bellamy, from his brother, Ezekiel Lockwood. Abraham Todd stated that after Bellamy had forfeited his bond of £100 by not appearing at court in February he, Todd, had seen iron dies in the blacksmith's possession and had remonstrated with him about his evil conduct, telling him what a grief he would be to his father. Bellamy was charged at the Superior Court on August 26 with having made Spanish half pistoles out of brass and other base metals but the grand jury returned the indictment ignoramus, and he was discharged on payment of costs. 10 From Branford Bellamy sent a petition to the Assembly in October asking that he be permitted to give a bond of £100 and that the sentence against Sheriff Hill then be declared fully satisfied, 11 a request which was probably granted. In any event Bellamy does not seem to have been further molested until 1739, when he was residing in Wallingford.

A little is known of his movements between 1735 and 1739: he had made a trip to England, probably in 1736, and in the summer of 1738, according to the testimony of Thomas Philips of Durham, he was going by the name of "John Bello" and travelled in Philip's company from Litchfield to Albany. He had not mended his ways, for about the middle of February he passed two counterfeit 5s. New York bills, one to Samuel Cooke of Cheshire and the other to Henry Bristoll of Wallingford. Samuel Darling of New Haven traced one such bill back to Bellamy and on February 27, 1739, complained against him to Joseph Whiting, assistant. Whiting had Bellamy arrested and examined him on March 2. The prisoner said that he had obtained the false bills either three years before from Moses Clark of New Haven or from his father, Matthew Bellamy, in the summer of 1738. He was released on bail of £300 provided by himself and his father for his appearance at the Superior Court to be held in New Haven in August. On the second day of the session he came before the court and was indicted, but on the following day, when called three times, he did not appear, and the bond was declared forfeited. Darling, the informer, was granted the reward of £20. 12 Bellamy seemingly decided that it was too dangerous to remain in Connecticut and now transferred his counterfeiting activities to the Jerseys. 13

End Notes

9
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1733.
10
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1730–1739, August, 1735; S.C. Records 5½, Febr. 25 and Aug. 26, 1735.
11
Col. Rec. Conn. VIII, p. 23.
12
S.C. Files, New Haven, all terms, 1741; C. & M. IV, 9–11; S.C. Records VII, Aug. 28, 1739. In August, 1740, Matthew complained to the Superior Court in New Haven that he should not pay the forfeited bond since it had been given for John's appearance to answer to a future accusation and John had actually appeared (S.C. Files, New Haven, all terms, 1741).

Ivory Lucas

In 1735 one Ivory Lucas, a worker in metals, presumably either a silversmith or a blacksmith, was living in New London and had in his service two apprentices, Nicholas Ghanter and George Dennis. In June he executed a commission for John Gardner of the Isle of Wight, referred to by one of the apprentices as "My Lord Gardner." The task was the making of about one thousand Spanish pistoles of brass (probably with alloy of other metal), which were stamped out on a rock, both sides of the coin being struck at the same time. The result was, apparently, fairly satisfactory, for Lucas told his apprentices that the pieces would do to send off to sea. Gardner, who paid ten pence for each counterfeit, put away the coins at home in a box and probably intended to take them away to the Isle of Wight. In any case it was his plan to keep them until his death and leave them for his children.

The business probably came to light through the fact that Ghanter found one of the false pistoles and gave it, to be kept for him, to Mary Tilden of Lebanon, to whom he recounted the whole story. Mary very likely talked of the matter and in any event it came to the attention of John Richards, J.P., who on June 12 had Lucas arrested and bound him over to the Superior Court to be held in New London on September 23. The suspected coiner was released on bail of £500, which was furnished by Lucas himself, Solomon Coit of New London and William Brookfield of Lyme. He was indicted in September for coining and passing, was tried, found guilty of coining, though not of passing, and sentenced to be imprisoned for six months and to pay costs of £13/11/2. 14

End Notes

13
See Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial Pennsylvania (New York: The American Numismatic Society, 1955), pp. 61–62 and "Earliest Counterfeiting in New Jersey," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society LXXV (1957), P. 20
14
S.C. Files, New London, Sept., 1735; S.C. Records VI, Sept. 23, 1735.

Henry Basil (or Bassell)

Henry Basil (or Bassell) of Middletown fell under suspicion of making and passing bad paper money. He had lived, before coming to Connecticut, in Newport, Rhode Island, where he had a brother named John and where, according to depositions made by a Mr. Lyndon and by Joshua Stetson of that town, he was considered to be worth £1,000 and was known to have money to lend. He was taken into custody on August 23, 1735, by Deputy Sheriff Timothy Bigelow and was examined by Nathaniel Stanly, assistant. Bigelow had found four counterfeit bills in his possession, three of £5 and one of 10s., all of Connecticut. The prisoner claimed that he had received the 10s. bill from a man in Westfield for two books but said he did not recall where he had obtained the other notes.

Previously, it was ascertained, Basil had tried in Boston to pass a bad £5 Connecticut bill to a Mrs. Bridgham, who scrupled it, and, when a justice of the peace there named Tylor asked to see the bill, Basil had refused to show it. One Abijah Bunce, a sailor on Captain James Knowles' sloop, testified that when the ship was at Boston Basil had put on board two boxes, which he said were worth £500, and told Bunce to take special care not to wet them. Soon Deacon Bridgham had sent for Bunce and questioned him about Basil. According to the deacon, Basil had offered him a false £5 Connecticut bill and, when he informed Basil that it was counterfeit, Basil had hastily snatched it out of his hand.

Nathaniel Stanly set bail for his prisoner at the extraordinarily high figure of £1,000, which Basil could not furnish, so that he was imprisoned until the next session of the Superior Court at Hartford in September. He was then charged with forging a 10s. Connecticut bill but the grand jury returned his indictment ignoramus, and it was ordered that he be dismissed on payment of costs. 15

End Notes

15
S.C. Files, Hartford, Sept., 1735.

William Mortimore and his Associates

In September, 1735, discovery was made of a band of counterfeiters who included in their operations the forging of Connecticut paper money. The Boston Evening-Post of Monday, September 15, 1735, published this item: We have an Account from Providence, that one Dilsell has lately been committed to Prison there, for uttering counterfeit Bills on the Colony of Connecticut , there being found upon him when taken up, near One Hundred Pounds in the said Counterfeit Bills, mostly of the highest Denomination. 'Tis said he has made a full Discovery of that villanous Affair, and that he received his Bills of one William Mortimore , to put off for him, for which Service he was to have one half, and said that Mortimore was gone towards Boston, and that another Person was concerned, who lives at the Eastward. Information of this coming to Town, Search was made for the said Mortimore , and last Monday Night he was taken in a publick House near the Town-Dock, and carried before Mr. Justice Savage, where he was examined and searched, and there was found in his Pocket-Book, 4 counterfeit Ten Shilling Bills, and in the Foot of a Stocking in his Portmanteau one Five Pound and 8 Ten Shilling Bills. He said he took them in Trade, and denied that he knew them to be counterfeit: However, he was committed to Prison, where he is like to lie till the Assizes in February next. He has been used for some Time to Trade in Lumber between the Eastward and Rhoad-Island. It is said that these counterfeit Bills were struck off and signed in Ireland , and a Chest full of them brought into these Parts, and that Ten or Twelve Thousand Pounds has already been uttered. They are of the following Denominations, viz. Five Pounds, Forty Shillings, Twenty Shillings, and Ten Shillings.

The person named Dilsell was probably the "Forrist Dolzin" mentioned in correspondence between the governors of Connecticut and Massachusetts. Governor Talcott wrote from Hartford on September 29, 1735, to Governor Belcher: And, Sir, I hear you have taken into custody, Forrist Dolzin, and Wm Mortimore, on suspicion of counterfeiting the £5 and ten s. bills of this Govrment, &c. And it's also reported here that a chest is secured, wherein is found £100,000 counterfeits. If so it be, it's a favor to us in particular, and if the perpetrators of such Villineys may be convict and receive their just punishment, that others may here fear, it will be a favor to the world. I remember when Peter Gardner had his tryal at Boston, for counterfeiting the £5 Bills of this Govrment, our Printer was sent for to bring the Plate, &c. And if these fellows, or either of them should be brought to tryal, and our plates or anything else from us will be necessary to be had there, I shall be glad to hear of it by the bearer, or the first opportunity, that nothing may be wanting on our part for the effectual prosecution of such wretches as would destroy the publick currency, and thereby bring a disadvantage upon all trade and commerce between the Govrments. 16

The Council of Connecticut did not share Governor Talcott's views on cooperation and through its secretary, George Wyllys, informed the Governor of Massachusetts that their signers were prevented by bodily infirmities from attending the trial and that neither their presence nor that of the Connecticut plate was deemed necessary for conviction, as Governor Belcher seemed to believe. 17 It is small wonder that Belcher replied expressing the surprise of his government at the answer from Connecticut and the doubt of the judges in Massachusetts that the persons would be convicted for want of the signers and plates. 18

The Massachusetts authorities in any event were energetic in their investigations, which had started with the arrest of Dilsell or Dolzin. The Boston Evening-Post of September 22, 1735, carried this account: On Tuesday last, John Davis , Master of a coasting Sloop, was committed to Prison here (Boston), on Suspicion of uttering counterfeit Bills on the Colony of Connecticut. He has several Times since been examined by some of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace, and has made a free and open Confession of his Guilt, and discovered his Accomplices, and 'tis not doubted but that he will be admitted an Evidence for the King against such of his Brethren in Iniquity as are or shall be taken. We hear that two Men have been taken up for the same offence at Wells, but instead of committing them to Prison, we are told they are admitted to Bail, one in three and the other in five hundred Pounds, tho' it is Death by the Law to counterfeit the Bills of Credit, or to utter them knowing them to be such, Tis said the principal Offender has made his Escape.

Davis' confession, made on September 18, 1735, has been preserved and tells how, about November, 1733, he met William Patten of Wells at his blacksmith shop. Patten gave him ten 25s. bills of New Hampshire and told him he might keep half of the proceeds from all he could pass. At Piscataqua, however, Davis heard talk of counterfeit 25s. bills in circulation, so he made no effort to pass those he had. Later, at Wells, he gave an account of this to Patten, who told him that John Macdonnell was gone to Ireland to get some £5 bills made and that upon his return Davis might have some of the £5 bills to pass.

In the fall of 1734 Davis met Patten in Boston, and Patten then came to Davis' house in company with Macdonnell and William Mortimore. Davis took Mortimore to Wells, where Mortimore showed him a bundle of £5 Connecticut bills which he said he had brought over with him. Later in the same day Patten gave Davis £42 in £5 and 10s. bills to be passed off, while a few days later Macdonnell gave him twenty-two £5 bills for the same purpose. Davis then sailed for Boston and kept the bills in a wig box. Eventually he tried to pass a £5 bill to Mr. Brewster and another to Captain Winter but both bills were refused as bad. Still later he heard that one Bragden, a miller in York, had a considerable quantity of the new bills.

In August, 1735, Davis seemingly became worried, for he threw them overboard, tied up in a piece of bunting with a brick, keeping out only six £5 bills which he passed in Newport. In July he had obtained of Mortimore five 25s. bills, one of which he passed in Rhode Island and the rest of which he tore into pieces at sea. Davis also claimed that he saw Mortimore pass a number of counterfeits: a £5 bill at Mr. Whiting's and another of the same denomination at Burden's Ferry in Rhode Island; a 10s. bill to Mr. Howard at Newport and another to Mr. Jackson on the Long Wharf in Boston, and a £5 bill to a woman who kept a public house at the Sign of the White Horse between Newbury and Hampton. 19

As a result, no doubt, of Davis' disclosures five persons were arrested in York County, among them Macdonald, who was said to have brought in £100,000 in counterfeits from Ireland. 20 A special court of Assize was appointed to try the counterfeiters but was, for some reason, quickly dissolved. 21

The Connecticut General Assembly in session in October, 1735, being informed that the colony's £5, 40s., 10s., and 2s. bills had been counterfeited, ordered that £25,000 of new bills be struck from new plates "to be engraved deeper and fairer" and that the Treasurer of the Colony use them to exchange for the emission that had been counterfeited. 22 It was further decided that the public be warned, and the following proclamation signed by Governor Talcott and dated "Hartford, November 11, 1735," was printed as an advertisement in the Boston Evening-Post of December 1, 1735: To prevent Persons being deceived, and suffering Loss and Damage by Counterfeit Bills, &c. Let all Persons, and more especially the Treasurer of this Colony of Connecticut, take heed at their Peril, that He or They be not deceived in Taking the Counterfeits of the £.V 40s. 10s. 5s. or 2s. Bills of the said Colony taken off of the old Plates; especially the Halves or Quarters of said Bills, which are much more Difficult to be discern'd when Counterfeit, than when they are Whole.

The Assembly in May of the next year passed an act forbidding the halving or quartering of any Connecticut bills and ordering the treasurer to accept halved or quartered bills up to May 20th next but after that date not to receive or pay out such divided bills. The preamble to the act reads: Whereas the bills of credit of this Colony of sundry denominations have been counterfeited and uttered by evilminded persons; and further to carry on the fraud and deceit, it hath been wickedly practiced to break said bills into halves and quarters; whereby our publick officers and private persons are rendered unable to discover the counterfeit bills and the cheat and deceit therein... 23

It may be noted that the Massachusetts Assembly soon took similar action by forbidding the tearing or defacing of its own paper money or of the bills of the neighboring colonies, and in October, 1737, Connecticut passed a further act to prevent the dividing of its bills. 24

Massachusetts had a number of persons charged with counterfeiting who were to be prosecuted. Before they came to trial, one of them, William Mortimore, on January 29,1736, escaped, in company with a burglar and a deserter, from the jail in Boston, and a reward of ten pounds was offered for his capture. 25 In June the trial of the remaining prisoners was held and was reported as follows in the Boston Weekly News-Letter of July 1, 1736: At His Majesty's Court of Assize and general Goal delivery held at York, in and for the County of York, on the 3d Wednesday of June current, William Patten of Wells in said County, Joseph Bragdon and Jeddidiah Prebble both of said York, and William Mortimore late of said York, were indicted by the Grand Jury for said County, for counseling, advising and assisting in forging and counterfeiting several false and counterfeit Twenty-five Shilling Bills of the Province of New-Hampshire , and several Five Pound and Ten Shilling Bills of the Colony of Connecticut ; and at the said Court John Mackdonald , of Wells, aforesaid, was indicted for procuring to be forged and counterfeited several false and counterfeit Twenty-five Shilling Bills of New-Hampshire aforesaid, and several false and counter- feit Five Pound and Ten Shilling Bills, of Connecticut aforesaid: The said Patten pleaded Not Guilty, & the Jury declared him Not guilty, and he was acquitted, paying Costs: The said Macdonald also pleaded Not guilty, but the Jury found him guilty, and the Verdict being recorded, the Court ask'd the said Macdonald , What he had to say, why Sentence should not be given against him according to the Law on which the Indictment was founded? who prayed the Benefit of Clergy which was granted him; and Sentence was that he should be burnt in the Hand, suffer six Months Imprisonment and pay Costs. - - - Bragdon and Prebble were not tryed, Mr. Attorney General moving to the Court, he had not some Evidence, which he was in hopes of getting by next Term. Mortimore was not tryed, he having sometime since escaped out of Boston Goal; but it is to be hoped there will be an Opportunity for him to clear himself, or to suffer the Punishment he deserves.

John Macdonald was also sentenced by the court to make good to the parties concerned all counterfeited 25s. New Hampshire bills that had, by his means or procurement, been passed and uttered and that should be brought into the office of the clerk of the court within the next six months. 26

End Notes

16
The Talcott Papers, Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society IV (Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1892), pp. 322–323.
17
Ibid. IV, pp. 325–326.
18
Ibid. IV, p. 330.
19
Davis' declaration is published in the Boston Public Library Bulletin VII (1902), PP. 75–77.
20
Boston Evening-Post, Sept. 29, 1735, p. 2; Boston Weekly News-Letter, Oct. 2, 1735 p. 2.
21
Boston Evening-Post, Oct. 13, 1735, p. 2 and Nov. 3, 1735, p. 2; Boston Weekly News-Letter, Nov. 6, 1735, p. 2.
22
Col. Rec. Conn. VIII, p. 17.
23
Ibid. VIII, pp. 34–35; the Boston Weekly News-Letter, Dec. 2, 1736, p. 2, carried an advertisement about the act and called on all holders of halved or quartered Connecticut bills to turn them in to the treasurer before May 1, 1737.
24
Boston Weekly News-Letter, Feb. 24, 1737, p. 2 and Dec. 8, 1737, p. 2.
25
Boston Evening-Post, Feb. 2, 1736, p. 2.

Amos Allen

In June, 1735, in Norwich Amos Allen of Windsor passed to William Whitney of Norwich a 20s. Connecticut bill which considerably later was discovered to be altered from 2s. to 20s. ( Plates XXI-XXII). Whitney took the bill on November 28 to Samuel Lynde, assistant, who immediately had Allen arrested and proceeded to examine him. Allen said he had obtained the note from Thomas Warner, and Warner had secured it from Benjamin Babcock. Allen was released on bail of £50, furnished by Allen himself and Jonathan Avery of Windham, for his appearance at the Superior Court to be held in New London in March, 1736. The indictment for passing was brought in ignoramus by the grand jury, so Allen was dismissed. 27

End Notes

26
Ibid., June 28, 1736, p. 2.
27
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1736. The bill in question, torn into two pieces, is preserved in the Connecticut State Library.

Samuel Fox, 2nd

In December, 1738, a false £5 Connecticut bill was stopped in the hands of one Waterhouse in Lyme by Richard Lord, J. P. Lord examined Waterhouse and then other persons until he came to the conclusion that the culprit was Samuel Fox, 2nd., of New London. He released Fox on bail of £100 for his appearance at the Superior Court to be held in Norwich on March 4, 1739. Fox was indicted but when called three times he did not appear and his bail was declared forfeited. Justice Lord then applied to the Assembly for a reward of £20 as informer, but this was refused. When, however, the magistrate pointed out that "at one time and another" he had stopped six £5 counterfeit Connecticut bills, four £5 Rhode Island counterfeits and also several bills of the denominations of 40s., 10s. and 5s., amounting in all to nearly £60, the Assembly voted him £10 for his services. 28

By March 30, 1739, Fox had been taken up and also in custody were Hugh Mosier and Stephen Potter, all of them suspected of having passed the false bill. On that date a warrant was issued summoning as witnesses against the three prisoners William Darrow, Benjamin Lester, James Harris, Lucia Harris (wife of Richard Harris), Asa Manering and Charles Hayns, all of New London. There is no record of what befell Fox or Mosier, but the indictment against Potter, who was charged with having passed the counterfeit bill about December 25, 1738, to Nathan Marvin of Lyme, was returned ignoramus by the grand jury, and he was discharged. 29

Counterfeit Connecticut 5s. bills were circulating in 1739, as was discovered when Major Pyncheon at Springfield on January 30 committed to jail some men who had uttered false £5 bills of Rhode Island and 5s. bills of Connecticut. When they were searched, counterfeit Rhode Island bills to the value of £400 and Connecticut counterfeits to the value of about £40 were found on them. 30

In July a warning to this effect appeared in Boston newspapers:

To prevent unwary Persons from being imposed upon 'tis tho't proper to inform the Publick, that last Monday a Discovery was made of a fresh Counterfeit, in Imitation of the Five Shilling Bill of the old Plate of Connecticut: The Face of the Bill seems nearly imitated, except that it is done off something smutty; but the Back side of the Bill at first View discovers it must be False; instead of Types or Printing-Letters, a Plate is made use of, the Mark of which evidently appears; and the Letters engraven throughout, are wretchedly uneven and disproportioned. 31

Some of the authors of this cheat were discovered, as is revealed by the following item in the Boston Evening-Post of October i, 1739:

Several Men belonging to the County of Essex , have lately been committed to his Majesty's Goal in this Town (Boston), on a strong Suspicion of their being concern'd with others not yet taken, in striking off and uttering false or counterfeit Bills in Imitation of the Rhode-Island Five Pound Bills. Vast Numbers of these false Bills are passing among us, and we are credibly informed, that there have been several Persons constantly employed in the above mentioned County, to strike off those Bills, which have been delivered to other vicious Persons their Accomplices to vend in the Country, which they have done with too good Success, notwithstanding the Publick has for a long Time been apprized of their being abroad: And by the Number and Circumstances of those said to be in the Conspiracy, (some of whom are Persons of Estate and Character) one would be tempted to think, that they had argued themselves into a Belief, that it is no Sin or Crime to cheat and defraud their honest Neighbours of their Substance, to raise their own Fortunes. But these are wretched Casuists! We are told, that the same Gang of Villans have prepared Plates for striking off several other Denominations, viz. Rhode-Island Three Pounds, Connecticut Five Shillings, &c. The Connecticut Five Shilling Bills are abroad, but ill done, especially the back side, which is cut on Copper, whereas the true Bills are printed on the Back with Types, as this Paper is.

In October of 1739 the Connecticut Assembly passed legislation to deal with one aspect of counterfeiting and passing. The act reads:

Whereas some persons, through ignorance and inadvertency, receive for their debts and in their dealings and business, false and counterfeit bills, made in imitation of the bills of this or the neighbouring governments; and their being no expedite remedy already provided in the common course of the law for the possessor or possessors against such person or persons that shall have delivered and passed said bill or bills; whereby great injustice is done: For remedy whereof,

Be it enacted by the Governour, Council and Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That whensoever any person shall be the possessor of any false or counterfeit bill, made in imitation of the bills of credit of this or the neighbouring governments, it shall be the duty of such person, upon his discovering the same to be false or counterfeit, to carry and deliver the same to some assistant or justice of the peace and inform him that he concludes the same to be false and counterfeit; and if such assistant or justice of the peace shall suppose the same to be false, as aforesaid, he shall seize the same and write the name of the person of whom he receives it on the back side thereof, and that it was delivered to him as a counterfeit bill. And such person that so delivers up such bill may, after such delivery, go to the person of whom he received the same, and demand of him pay for such bill, informing him where such bill is. And if the person of whom he received the said bill shall refuse or neglect to make him satisfaction therefore, or without such demand or refusal, if need so require, may bring his action for his damages in not paying him for said bill, or for putting off such bill to him, before any court, assistant or justice of the peace, proper to try the same, alledging the same to be delivered up as aforesaid. And in the tryal of any such cause, if the bill be found to be false or counterfeit, to the satisfaction of the court that tries the same, the said court shall proceed to enquire into the equity of the cause, by examining the parties under oath and taking any other evidence as they shall judge just and right; and, upon their finding to their satisfaction that such plaintiff received the same bill of the defendant, they shall give judgment for the plaintiff for his just damages and cost of delivering up the said bill to the authority and prosecuting his action; provided always said bill was delivered up, as aforesaid, before the plaintiff offered said bill back to the person of whom he received the same.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That it shall be the duty of every assistant or justice of the peace that shall have such bill delivered to them, safely to convey the same bill to any court where the same may be wanted. And all and every person that hath had any such bill that shall by the possessor be delivered up, as aforesaid, and hath satisfied the person to whom he delivered said bill for the same, shall have the like liberty in prosecuting and taking remedy as aforesaid; provided always, that no person shall be prosecuted, in form aforesaid, but within one year after he puts off such bill, which fact may be inquired of in form aforesaid.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any court, assistant or justice of the peace, hath had the possession of such counterfeit or false bill for the space of one year, he shall destroy the same. 32

End Notes

28
C. & M. IV, 21–22, 29.
29
S.C. Files, New London, 1739.
30
Boston Gazette, Feb. 5, 1739, p. 2; Boston Evening-Post, Feb. 5, 1739, p. 2; Boston Weekly News-Letter, Feb. 8, 1739, p. 2.
31
Boston Weekly News-Letter, July 19, 1739, p. 2; Boston Evening-Post, July 23, 1739, p. 2.
32
Col. Rec. Conn. VIII, pp. 281–283.

VI THE YEARS 1740–1748

Ephraim Sheeler

On February 6, 1740, Thomas Welles, J.P., of Glastonbury seized a false £5 Rhode Island bill found in the hands of Joseph Parks of Middletown. Parks, however, swore that about November 8, 1739, on Long Island he had received the bill from Ephraim Sheeler (or Shayler) of Bolton. Sheeler was arrested on February 7 and was bound over to the next session of the Superior Court to be held in Hartford in March, 1740. When the court met, proclamation was made, and, when no one appeared to prosecute, the prisoner was dismissed on payment of costs. 1

William Baxter

Henry King of Middletown in March, 1741, complained to Jabez Hamlin, J.P., against William Baxter of Westchester, New York, for having on March 14 altered a 2/6 New York bill to 10s. and then passed it to the wife of Henry King. A warrant for Baxter's arrest was issued, and King, with help, went in hot pursuit of him and arrested him. Justice Hamlin committed the suspected counterfeiter to jail but Baxter was released presently on bail of £100 for his appearance at the Superior Court to be held in Hartford in September. When, however, he was called three times, he failed to appear, and his bond was forfeited. King petitioned the Assembly for the £20 reward due him as the informer and for expenses which amounted to £6/8/6, and eventually the £20 was granted him. 2

End Notes

1
S.C. Files, Hartford, March, 1740.
2
C. & M. IV, 46–48; S.C. Files, Hartford, September, 1741; Col. Rec. Conn. VIII, p. 470.

Daniel Orr

In the summer of 1742 Connecticut was faced with new threats from counterfeiters. The Boston Evening-Post of July 26, 1742, carried the following item: "We hear that Daniel Orr was lately committed by the Authority at New London in Connecticut , for putting off some counterfeits in imitation of the Five Shilling Merchant Notes of the last Emission, there being no less than 24 of them found upon him." There seems to be no record of any trial of Orr, so it is not unlikely that he escaped from jail, though possibly he may not have been prosecuted for want of sufficient evidence.

Jonathan Richardson and Edward Aldrich

Within a matter of days after the arrest of Orr others were taken up. The Boston Evening-Post of August 2, 1742, reported:

By Letters from Hartford in Connecticut , we are informed, that they have in Goal there ... Two [Men] for counterfeiting the Rhode-Island Bills emitted in the Year 1738, and Four for counterfeiting the Merchant's Notes of the last Emission. 'Tis said they had almost finished a Plate for striking off in Imitation of the Connecticut Three Pound Bill, which passes for Ten Pounds Ten Shillings. 3

It was known a few days later that one of the two men mentioned as lodged in the Hartford jail was from Providence and the other from Uxbridge. 4

The two men were Jonathan Richardson of Providence and Edward Aldrich of Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Unhappily for them, they became acquainted with several persons in Salem, David and Joseph Boyce, Joseph Verey, and one Linsey. David Boyce, about July 10, 1742, delivered to Richardson two false 40s. bills and told him they were such. Linsey told Aldrich that he had the plates in his house and that Joseph Boyce had printed some money on them, bills of the denominations of £3 and 40s., Linsey also stated that he had almost finished a plate for Connecticut new money and that, if Richardson and Aldrich came in about a fortnight, they should have as much money as they would. Joseph Boyce had the plate from which the Merchants Notes were made and displayed a handful of them unsigned; Boyce informed them that he had let William Philips of Windham have some of them and he gave Richardson £36 in false bills in an exchange of horses. Verey gave Aldrich a 40s. counterfeit bill to pass, with the understanding that he could keep half the profit. When Richardson and Aldrich left Salem, they had a considerable sum in bad bills, Richardson about £104 and Aldrich about £153.

In Hartford on July 22 Aldrich passed to Hannah Pitkin, wife of Samuel Pitkin, three counterfeit bills of the 1738 emission of Rhode Island, two of 40s. and one of £3, while Richardson uttered, apparently to the Pitkins, three £3 bills and one 40s. bill. Pitkin quickly discovered the cheat and complained to Joseph Buckingham, J.P., who issued a warrant for the arrest of the two men. Deputy Sheriff Timothy Bigelow overtook them in Simsbury, where he found six £3 and seven 40s. bills, all counterfeits, on the person of Aldrich; between the joist and the floor of the room where he seized the men he found a pocketbook belonging to Richardson with three £3 bills and three 40s. bills in it, all false. On July 23 Justice Buckingham bound the counterfeiters over to the next session of the Superior Court in Hartford and set bail at £500 for each. On September 7 both were indicted for passing and were tried, convicted, and sentenced, each to have his right ear cut off, to be branded on the forehead with C, to be imprisoned for life, to have all property confiscated, to be debarred forever from any trade or dealing and to pay costs. 5 The Boston Evening-Post of October 18, 1742, in reporting the sentence imposed on the counterfeiters, commented: "If some such moderate Punishment were to be inflicted on such Offenders in this Province, instead of Death, 'tis tho't we should soon exceed any of our Neighbours in Convictions."

From jail Aldrich and Richardson in October, 1742, sent to the General Assembly a joint memorial, setting forth that each had a wife and several children and little or no estate. Early in the year they had fallen in with evil persons who induced them to pass counterfeit money and they were arrested at the very beginning of their operations. Now in jail they suffered from anxiety for their families and from pinching hunger. They knew no trade to work at in jail and had but a naked floor beneath them. Their prayer for release was granted on condition that they pay all costs of prosecution, imprisonment and support in jail and the reward, £40, to the informer. Their freedom, however, was further to depend on their never being found in the colony once ten days from the date of their release had elapsed. If they should ever be discovered in Connecticut again, they would returned to the workhouse for life. 6

End Notes

3
Cf. The American Weekly Mercury, Aug. 12, 1742, p. 2.
4
Boston Weekly News-Letter, Aug. 5, 1742, p. 2.
5
C. & M. IV, 55, 57; S.C. Records 8, Sept. 7, 1742.

Robert Neal

Connecticut was so fortunate as to escape a veritable flood of false bills through a timely arrest made by the Massachusetts authorities. On August 26, 1742, Josiah Willard, Secretary of Massachusetts, wrote as follows to Governor Jonathan Law of Connecticut:

His Excellency our Governour directs me to acquaint your Honour with a notable Discovery made here, of a Quantity of unsigned Counterfeit Bills, in Imitation of the Bills of Credit of your Colony, which with the Plates from which they were struck we seized in the Hands of one Robert Neal, who is committed to Goal; A Specimen of the Bills is herewith inclosed... 7

The Boston Weekly News-Letter of the same date as Willard's letter, August 26, carried the following detailed account of the affair:

Last Week Robert Neal a Marriner, belonging to Salem, who lately came hither from London in Capt. Fones, was apprehended and examin'd before two of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for uttering false Bills of the Colony of Rhode-Island in imitation of those emitted in the Year 1740, five of which Bills, were found about him, viz. four Ten Shillings and one of Five Shillings.

Upon some further Examination he acknowledged that the said Bills were made and sign'd in London, and that he brought over a Number with him, which were in a Box hid in a rocky Place, at Salem; accordingly the Officers, taking him along with them to the Place he told them of, and after considerable Pains in turning over a great many large Stones, they at last found the said Box hid underneath one of them, and came to Town with it last Saturday Evening; Upon opening.the Box there was found in it four Plates engraven, one Plate containing 2 Bills in imitation of the above mention'd 10s. and 5s. of the Colony of Rhode-Island, with a Plate for the Back-side of the said Bills; on another Plate, was two in imitation of the 7s. and 12s. of the Colony of Connecticut, the last Emission, and also a Plate for the Back-side of the said Bills in imitation of printing Letters. In the said Box there were likewise 800 Sheets which were struck off the Plates upon extraordinary good Paper, but none sign'd, viz. 357 Sheets of Rhode-Island at 3£. is 1071£. old Tenor, and 449 Sheets of the Connecticut, is 1492£. 18s. 6d. amounting in the whole to 2563£. 18s. 6d. old Tenor.—This was a most seasonable Discovery; for the Engraving so near resembles the Original (except the Back-side of the Connecticut Plate) that if he could but have obtain'd an accurate Signer, they might have been soon spread all over the Country to the great Damage of the Publick, which is now prevented, not one of them being out.

End Notes

6
C. & M. IV, 56, 58.
7
The Law Papers (Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society) (Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1907) I, p. 56.

Joseph and William Robinson

Two brothers of Killingly, Joseph and William Robinson, Jr., during the winter of 1742–1743 had obtained some paper money altered by one Potter and were active in putting it off: Joseph uttered a bad 40s. Rhode Island bill to Elizabeth Hosmer, wife of Urian Hosmer, left a counterfeit £5 bill in pawn with Lieutenant Henry Green for a loan of 20s., tried to induce John Grover and Joseph Cutler to pass false £8 bills and Noah Leavens and Ezra Hutchins to put off a bad 12/6 bill, while he and William together got Urian Hosmer to change an £8 bill of Potter's counterfeit money.

William Robinson persuaded Stephen Covel to take a counterfeit £5 bill and three pounds in other money and redeem a bad £8 bill that William had uttered to Benjamin Belknap in Providence; William also tried to induce Joseph Simons to change a 50s. bill where he was not known; he told Samuel Winter that he had changed a false note in Scituate; he offered 10s. to Nathaniel Coller if he would pass a counterfeit 50s. bill.

Both brothers were quite brazen about their nefarious doings: Joseph boasted to John Grover that he did not mind losing his ears if he had money enough; Hannah Covel, who lived for about a month during the winter at Joseph Robinson's, testified that one night William Robinson came and the two brothers sat drinking before the fire, when Joseph pulled out a bunch of money. When William asked what made him pull out "that Divellish Counterfeit money," Joseph threw one bill into the fire and put the rest back in his pocket.

During their examinations before Joseph Leavens, J.P., they stoutly denied everything but the justice bound them over to appear at the next Superior Court and set bail at £250 for each. A bond in such an amount was furnished by Joseph and Captain John Dwight and another by William, Thomas Batman and Enoch Moffitt. David Shapley, a grand juror, complained of them to Joseph Cady, J.P., who had them arrested by Deputy Sheriff Isaac Dana. Joseph was indicted in September for altering a 5s. bill of Rhode Island of the emission of 1740 to 40s. ( Plates XXIII-XXIV) and passing it to Urian Hosmer; he was tried, acquitted and discharged on payment of costs of £12/4/6.

William was also indicted for having helped Joseph to alter a is. bill but Mr. J. Lee, who had been assigned to him by the court as his attorney, pointed out that the altered bill was a 5s., not a is. note, and that William could not be held to trial as an accessory, since Joseph had already been acquitted. The court agreed, and it was ordered that William be dismissed on payment of costs of £11/11/7. 8 The evidence which has survived indicates that both men were actively engaged in passing and Joseph must have escaped conviction because of some legal technicality.

End Notes

8
S.C. Files, Windham, Sept., 1743; S.C. Records 8, Sept. 20, 1743.

Elisha Parker and Robert Martyn

On July 13, 1744, Elisha Parker and Robert Martyn, both of Wallingford, were in Killingworth, where they passed some counterfeit Massachusetts and Rhode Island bills to Elisha Willcocks and others. Willcocks detected the fraud the same day and complained against them to Samuel Hill, J.P., of New Haven County. A warrant was issued for their arrest, and they were apprehended on July 14 at the house of Captain John Scranton in Guilford by Constable Timothy Meigs of that town. The constable found in Parker's pack ten half crown Rhode Island bills, new tenor, four 7/6 Rhode Island bills, old tenor, and two 5s. Boston bills, old tenor; in Martyn's pack he found one 7/6 Rhode Island bill, old tenor. He took his prisoners before Justices Andrew Ward and Samuel Hill at Hill's home in Guilford.

Parker, when examined, said that he got £39/10 for a horse which he had sold to a stranger, who said he came from Rhode Island, in the woods between Wethersfield and Great Swamp, while Martyn said that the bill in his possession came from Parker. The justices committed both men and set bail for each at £300.

The prisoners had uttered the bad paper money in New London County. Elihu Hall, discovering that the two men therefore could not be arraigned in New Haven County for crimes committed elsewhere, sought for evidence of other offences and found that the men had passed forged bills to persons in Wallingford. 9

Parker was indicted at the Superior Court in New Haven on October 9, 1744, for having about July 13 in Guilford uttered to Abraham Bradley of Guilford a counterfeit 2/6 Rhode Island bill bearing the date of February 2, 1741, and also for having, about the beginning of July, in Wallingford uttered to Enos Johnson of that town another bad 2/6 Rhode Island bill. Martyn was indicted at the same court for having about July 13 at Guilford uttered to Abraham Bradley a false Rhode Island 7/6 bill dated 1738 and also for having, about the end of May or beginning of June, in Wallingford passed to Asaph Cook of that town at the house of Gamaliel Parker a false Rhode Island 2/6 bill dated February 2, 1741. Both men pleaded not guilty, were tried, convicted, and sentenced in accordance with the law. 10 Both Willcocks and Elihu Hall claimed the reward. The General Assembly in October decided the matter by denying Hall's petition and granting the reward to Willcocks. 11

Parker and Martyn petitioned the Assembly in October, 1744, for release from prison, to which they had been sentenced for life, and their requests were granted on the same terms in each case, so it will suffice to give the text of the resolution in respect to Martyn, namely

that if said Robert Martyn shall pay all charges of his prosecution, imprisonment, and premium, or procure good security, and find sufficient surety or sureties to become bound to the Treasurer of this Colony in the sum of two hundred pounds in bills of credit of the new tenour, that he will no more offend in like kind, and shall be bound out to service for ten years to such master as this Assembly, or a committee by them appointed for such purpose, shall approve of, then the said Martyn shall, on the second Monday of December next, be released from said imprisonment, under this restriction, that he then forthwith repair to the town of Wallingford to which he belongs, and there remain during life, and so often as he shall be found or known to have been without the bounds of said town, without special lycence of his said master, under his hand, he shall be liable to be whipt not exceeding twenty stripes on his naked body, by order of the nearest authority; and Colonel Benjamin Hall, John Southmaid, Esqrs, and Capt. Elihu Hall, or any two of them, be a committee for the purposes aforementioned. 12

Parker had property, which, of course, was forfeited to the colony, and the committee above mentioned, or any two of them, was to execute proper instruments for the conveyance of Parker's estate. 13 On May 9, 1746, Benjamin Hall reported to the Assembly that the committee had sold Parker's lands and taken for them two bonds, one of £103 and another of £54/4/o. 14

End Notes

9
C. & M. IV, 83, 85, 86.
10
S.C. Records 8, Oct. 9, 1744.
11
C. & M. IV, 82, 84, 86; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 79.
12
Col. Rec. Conn. IX 79 and 78–79 (the action of the Assembly with respect to Parker); C. & M. IV, 87, 88.

The Oblong Gang and Associates

In 1744 the attention of the authorities in Connecticut, as well as in other provinces, was directed to a band of counterfeiters residing in the Oblong or Equivalent Tract, which had been ceded by Connecticut to New York on May 14, 1731. In a letter dated August 18, 1744, Governor Morris wrote to Governor Clinton of New York about the matter and sent along several examinations and papers concerned with the business. Clinton communicated his information to Governor Jonathan Law of Connecticut, who sent instructions to several justices of the peace to inquire into the matter. 15

Governor Law on January 2, 1745, wrote from Milford to Governor Clinton: I have lately received an Acct from one of our Justices near ye Western Borders of this Govt that he has coimageitted one Andrew Nelson to Goal for putting off a Counterfeit 20s. Bill of Rhoad Island equal to 4" wth wm he found 72" of ye same sort, and the place where this Wickedness is supposed to be carryd on is the Oblong and it is probable that great Quantities of it are handed about by a confederated Gang of wch I thôt fitt to advise you... 16

Nelson, who was, as has been seen, in custody early in January, swore a number of false bills, which were either found on his person or had been traced to him, upon Israel Keith and Samuel Browne of Dover, New York, and Benjamin Stone of Litchfield. Nelson was released on bail provided by himself and his father, William Nelson, for his appearance at the Superior Court in New Haven in August. On August 19, 1745, Justice Samuel Hutchinson issued instructions to the constables to summon as witnesses against Nelson Captain John Sprague, John Gay, James Betts, John Neland and Daniel Parke, all of Sharon. In his indictment Nelson was charged with having on the evening of December 3, 1744, in Sharon, passed a false 20s. Rhode Island bill to James Betts. When the court convened and Nelson was called, he did not appear.

An explanation was forthcoming, for a letter, signed by Andrew Nelson and his father, had been sent to Samuel Darling of New Haven. It stated that Andrew had been pressed into the King's service, had got a substitute and that the substitute had fallen ill. The captain then insisted that Andrew serve. Accompanying documents showed that Captain Leonard Hoar, acting on orders from Colonel John Stoddard, had impressed Andrew to serve in guarding the western frontier and ordered him to impress his father's firelock gun for his use. 17 In this way Nelson escaped almost certain conviction.

Before long more of these 20s. Rhode Island bills were passed by men from the Oblong: Jeremiah Thornton on February 5, 1745, at Colchester passed to James Glass of that town such a forged bill of the emission of 1741. Glass detected the cheat and reported the matter to Nathaniel Foot, J.P., of Colchester, who had Thornton arrested. On the same day Thomas Cooper, also from the Oblong, uttered to Joseph Chamberlain in Colchester another counterfeit Rhode Island bill ( Plates XXV-XXVI). Both men were tried and convicted at the March session of the Superior Court in Hartford and were sentenced in accordance with law. 18 On May 9, 1745, these two criminals, encouraged, no doubt, by previous action of the Assembly in similar cases, petitioned for release from life imprisonment in case they could find someone to pay their expenses and charges. Their prayer was granted on condition that they pay all costs and charges and £20 each (the rewards given to the informer or informers against them, one of whom was James Glass) and with the understanding that if they were ever found in the colony after the ten days following their release had elapsed they were to be returned to the workhouse for life. 19

In addition to these two members of the Oblong gang still another two, Joseph Boyce, Sr., and John Scias (also spelled Scious and Syas) had been taken up, through the efforts of Robert Clark of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, and lodged in the jail in Hartford. In May Clark requested of and received from the Assembly aid in having the two offenders transported to Hampshire County in Massachusetts. 20

Other members of the gang appear to have been Joseph Boyce, Jr., Samuel Thompson, Joseph Plummer, Henry Bosworth, Israel Keith of New Sherburn, Seth Sherwood and a certain Hurlburt. It also seems likely that Justice Daniel Hunt and Captain Augustine Hunt were somehow involved. Some of these persons were apprehended, as is shown by the following letter of June 19, 1745, sent by Governor Law to Governor Shirley. Law wrote:

Saturday night was Sennit a Justice of peace on our western Borders informed me of one who Contrived to Expose young Boyce and others to be taken in ye Very act of using ye Counterfeit plates in a Certain Swamp in ye Oblong on tuesday following but it being out of this Govermt I sent ye Justice directly to Govr Clinton to Inform of ye Stratagem thinking nothing was wanting but an authority & assistance Sufficient would readily be had of our people within ten miles of ye Spot, he Shewed me two rhoad island xxs bills one with Divers mistakes in it ye other with these errors rectified taken of ye day before, and ye Justice returned with a Letter ye Govr Signifying yt ye Council were of opinion yt yr was no foundation for a warrant, ye Justice being able to Sware only to here Says but ye undertaker had found ye plates a 20 s Rh and a half a Crown Plate & a N.Y. plate of 20 s not perfectly Compleated, Press cloths and other implements &c: Sends them over ye line, Decoys Boyce & one Hurlburt a partner into ye Edge of this Govmt Seizeth them & they are in N. Haven Goal Hurlburt Confesseth himself Guilty and accuseth 22 persons as Confederate with them Boyces father and Scious were transported through this Govrmt to you some time Since. 21

The persons concerned in giving information against or seizing these malefactors (Sherwood, Boyce, Nelson and Hurlburt) were William Drinkwater, who informed against Sherwood, James Betts, who informed against Andrew Nelson, and William Spencer and Ephraim Seeley. The Connecticut Assembly voted Drinkwater and Betts £20 each, while Seeley was given £50 for having helped to detect the criminals and because it was feared he might suffer from the vengeful practices of the delinquents and their associates. Spencer, aided by others, had probably taken an active part in the capture of some of the counterfeiters, all of whom escaped conviction, since some were released on bail, which they forfeited, and others escaped from jail. 22 The two who broke jail were Hurlburt and Joseph Boyce, who escaped from prison in New Haven between July 18 and August 21, leaving only their plates in the hands of the authorities. 23 Sherwood, like Nelson, must have been released on bail and forfeited his bond by failing to appear.

End Notes

13
Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 79.
14
Ibid. IX, pp. 223–224; C. & M. IV, 89.
15
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York, p. 58.
16
The Law Papers I, p. 248.
17
S.C. Files, New Haven, 1745.
18
S.C. Records 8, March 6 and 7, 1745; S.C. Files, Hartford, March, 1745; C. & M. IV, 95.
19
C. & M. IV, 93–95.
20
The Law Papers I, p. 312; C. & M. IV, 92; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 112.

The Gang in Derby

A gang of counterfeiters in Derby began operations in 1745 and, at least through Joseph Boyce, was connected with the Oblong gang. The downfall of the men in Derby was brought about by Daniel Grant of Newtown, who in October, 1746, received from Samuel Sherman of Newtown a 20s. Connecticut new tenor bill. It seemed suspicious, so Grant took it to New Haven to Secretary George Wyllys, who judged it to be counterfeit. Sherman was arrested and released on a bail bond of £300 furnished to Sheriff Thomas Hill by Samuel and his brother Benoni. Sherman's story was as follows: in April, 1746, in Newtown he and Dr. George Weed talked about money and on May 11 they went to Woodbury, where Sherman got three quarters of Connecticut money from him and passed them in Woodbury. Dr. Weed said that his brother, Samuel Weed in Derby, signed them and could counterfeit any man's handwriting. Later George Weed at Sherman's house showed him a Connecticut bill that was not printed on the back and subsequently passed it in Norwalk. George told Sherman that the gang had a Rhode Island 40s. old tenor plate. Again, on the night of October 13, George Weed came to Sherman's home and gave him three 20s. Connecticut bills—which he said were good—and Sherman gave him credit for them. It was one of these that he passed to Grant and which caused him to be imprisoned in the Fairfield County jail. On the night of October 26, while Sherman was in jail, Dr. Weed, who was let in by John Whitear, visited the prisoner and got a mug of flip, which he, Sherman and a negro prisoner drank. George Weed said that he had that same night passed to a tavernkeeper in Stratford a 20s. counterfeit that came from the house in Derby and he urged Sherman to break jail. Sherman said he could easily do so in a quarter of an hour but decided against it, since he expected to get bail the next day. In this he was not disappointed, for he was released on bail on October 27.

Immediately after his release Sherman set out to prosecute George Weed, whom he at once had arrested, The doctor, however, promptly broke away from the constable and made good his escape. Sherman then sent to Derby to have Samuel Weed and the rest of the gang apprehended. He himself failed to appear in court and his bond was forfeited, so that on May 20, 1749, he asked the Assembly to cancel his bond if he would pay all costs and charges, a request which that body rejected. Later, in large part no doubt because of the recommendation of Justices Thomas Tousey and Job Sherman, given because of his full confession and instrumentality in bringing the Derby gang to justice, the Assembly ordered the court to chancer the bond down to such an amount as would cover the charges and the premium allowed to Grant as informer. 24

On November 16, 1746, Samuel Riggs, J.P., issued a warrant for the arrest of Samuel Weed, who was apprehended the next day by Samuel Tomlinson, Constable of Derby. In Weed's house the constable found a press, two bottles of red ink and a sheet of paper judged to have a bill cut out of it. It seems probable that Weed was released on bail, for about the end of February, 1747, on an information lodged by Elihu Hall, he was arrested and jailed in New Haven. His wife soon set about planning his escape and enlisted the aid of his son, David, Joseph Weed of Waterbury (Samuel's brother), Joseph Trowbridge of Waterbury, and Samuel's negro slave Zadock. Zadock was promised his freedom for his part in the undertaking, while Trowbridge, who felt that Samuel was wrongfully imprisoned, was promised a reward and was encouraged by Ephraim Washborn. Sarah Weed, Samuel's wife set about to procure suitable tools for the attempt on the jail; to Trowbridge she gave money with which he purchased in Milford a file and a gimlet; she also had Daniel Tucker, a blacksmith of Derby, make her a burning iron three inches wide with a cutting edge, and this she took, together with a cold chisel and a file, to be used in the projected jail break.

On Saturday evening, March 30, Trowbridge, Zadock, David and Joseph Weed all set out for New Haven, separating in order to avoid attracting attention, and then meeting again near the jail. Joseph went first to the prison and when he came back he reported that Samuel already had his irons off. Zadock had brought along a shoe knife and a tap augur, while Joseph had brought one iron and David another. While Trowbridge kept watch, the others bored a hole in the stud, then inserted a spike and got the stud out. At this a cry was raised and they fled and did not see Samuel when he escaped. All this took place between midnight and four o'clock in the morning. On his way back from New Haven Trowbridge took from Derby two cows for a debt owed him by Samuel Weed, while Samuel Weed, Jr., drove some cattle to the house of Trowbridge's father to be cared for by John Weed.

Samuel Weed apparently made off for Waterbury, where he was presently seized by Constable Jacob Blakeslee and conveyed to the jail in New Haven. At the Superior Court held in that town he was indicted on April 29, 1747, pleaded guilty to a charge of counterfeiting 20s. bills of Connecticut and 40s. bills of Massachusetts and was sentenced in accordance with law.

Before long action was taken to investigate the jail break and to take up the persons responsible for it. David Weed, probably because of his youth, was not apprehended but Trowbridge, Joseph Weed and Zadock were arrested on April 4 and examined by Justice John Hubbard. Zadock and Trowbridge confessed their guilt but Joseph pleaded not guilty until, on April 10, he also confessed that he was guilty. Each of the three was bound over in bail of £5,000 and committed to jail. At the April session of the Superior Court in New Haven Joseph Weed was fined £100 and sentenced to find surety for his good behavior in the amount of £200 and to pay costs of £37/9/11; Zadock was sentenced to receive twenty stripes on his naked body; Trowbridge apparently was not punished and presumably was accepted as King's Evidence.

The authorities, of course, were also interested in determining who the confederates of Samuel Weed were and in bringing them to justice. On December 23, 1746, Samuel Bassett, J.P., issued a warrant for the arrest of Edward Washborn of Derby and examined him. On the twenty-sixth Washborn was further questioned at the home of Captain John Riggs and then committed to the New Haven jail, from which he was released on bail of £500 provided by himself and his brother Ephraim. He was under suspicion of issuing six counterfeit 20s. bills, and Constable Samuel Tomlinson had informed the justice that Silvester Wooster of Derby had made a press for Edward Washborn for counterfeiting bills. Apparently, from the silence of the records, Edward escaped prosecution. Another suspected member of the gang was Jonas Tomlinson, also of Derby, who was charged with counterfeiting bills. On a warrant issued on April 29, 1747, he was arrested by Ebenezer Lines, a sheriff's deputy, and was examined by John Hubbard who bound him over to the Superior Court to be held in New Haven in August. He was then released on bail of £500. He, too, appears to have escaped prosecution.

Other associates of Samuel Weed were less fortunate. On April 15 Nathaniel Wooster of Derby was examined at an inferior court in Derby, at which he pleaded not guilty to a charge of passing. He admitted, however, that he knew about the counterfeiting, that he had two false 20s. Connecticut bills, that he had seen one Robert Lennox making plates and that he had seen Sam Weed and Edward Washborn strike six or seven twenty shilling bills new tenor. Finally he confessed that he had pressed one bill himself at the desire of Lennox. He was committed to the New Haven jail, was indicted in April, 1747, was tried and convicted and sentenced in accordance with law.

Daniel Tucker, blacksmith of Derby, was apprehended on a writ signed April 8, 1747, by Captain Samuel Riggs, J.P., and was examined on the next day by Justice Hubbard. He at once made a full confession, which gives the clearest picture of the whole affair: in August, 1745, on the Town Street of Derby he met Gideon Washborn, who asked if he, Tucker, could shoe his horse for him. In the course of their conversation Gideon took out his pocketbook and showed the blacksmith a 40s. new tenor Massachusetts bill, saying that they could have as many of these as they wanted.

Later on Gideon had Tucker make him steel pens and told him that they had gotten Boyce out of jail, that Boyce was in Derby and that he was going to make some plates for himself, Gideon, for Edward Washborn and for Samuel Weed. The confederates needed copper for their plates, so they sent Jeremiah Ocain towards New York to buy some metal for their purpose, and he returned with a copper tea kettle, which they brought to Tucker and had him cut it into the form of a plate. With money supplied by Sarah Weed, Tucker bought a copper pot at Mr. French's and also fashioned it into a plate. The gang needed ink and first tried lampblack and oil, which did not do at all. Therefore Weed sent to Boston by William Clark, who brought back for them nut galls and Ivory Black but reported that he could get no Frankfort. They set up their press in Edward Washborn's house, and there Edward and Gideon Washborn, Samuel Weed and Tucker struck off a number of bills. Tucker received two 20s. Connecticut bills from Edward Washborn but returned one to him and burned the other. Edward also gave him a 2s. bill and some quarters of 2s. bills, and Tucker passed two quarters to Mrs. Clark.

The other associates set about passing their bills. Weed and Gideon Washborn told Tucker that they had uttered nearly £20 in Stratford, and Wooster claimed he had passed off some quarters of 2s. bills to Mrs. Clark, also explaining to the blacksmith how he pressed one 20s. Connecticut bill new tenor and one 12s. bill "with his Tailors Goose on the Backside to press down the Letters that are stamped on the Same with a Card in Order to prepare the Same for a Plaister of Wax on ye Plate to take Letters out of the Backside of the Bill in Order to cut the Plate by..." At Mr. Clark's in 1745 Jonah Tomlinson had told Tucker about the making of money at the Oblong and later had showed him a 20s. Connecticut new tenor bill which had been finished off by Boyce himself. Tucker was indicted at the Superior Court in New Haven in April, 1747, for having made instruments for engraving plates to counterfeit the 20s. Connecticut new tenor bill and the 40s. Massachusetts new tenor bill, and also for having passed two six pence quarters to Mrs. Clark of Derby. Tucker pleaded guilty and was sentenced in accordance with law.

Sarah Weed, Samuel's wife, was arrested on April 29, 1747, and taken before Justices John Hubbard and Samuel Bassett, who proceeded to examine her. She confessed that she knew of Sam's making money after the bills were struck. She had, she said, suspected that her husband was having an affair with Widow Washborn, and, when she accused him of this, Sam took from his pocketbook about ten 20s. Connecticut bills, newly printed and not signed, and explained what was going on. She learned that Boyce was at their old place for three days, and, when she insisted that Boyce must go or she would complain, Boyce went to Edward Washborn's where her husband took him meat and cheese. She confessed that she had not done all that was proper, and the court dismissed her. 25

The Assembly in May, 1747, appointed Captain John Fowler and Captain Samuel Bassett as a committee to receive from Sheriff Samuel Mansfield of New Haven County the confiscated estates of Weed, Tucker and Wooster and to sell the same. At this time Captain Elisha Hall was appointed to start suits to recover property of Samuel Weed, who had apparently given title to it to other persons in order to protect it from seizure. 26

On May 12, 1747, Tucker and Wooster petitioned the Assembly for release from imprisonment. Wooster set forth that he had never enriched himself by a penny through counterfeiting, that his property had been purchased with his wife's money, that she was very infirm, that they had several children of whom the youngest was four months old, that his own health was impaired in jail and that his family must become town charges unless he be released to support them. Tucker pleaded that his estate, which in large part consisted of his blacksmith's tools, would no more than pay his just debts, that he had a wife and three small children who must, save for an aged father-in-law, who had an elderly and infirm wife, become town charges. Both memorialists were released on condition that each provide a bond of £500 for his good behavior and that each abide within the limits of Derby. 27

Tucker, after his return to Derby, was, as he put it, of "a humble and upright behavior" and in October, 1759, asked that he might have restored to him the liberties and privileges which had been lost through his conviction. The Assembly approved his petition and gave him back the right to contract, trade and deal as other inhabitants might do. 28

Samuel Weed, like Wooster and Tucker, besought the Assembly in May, 1747, to release him from confinement and to permit him to go to Waterbury and there reside permanently, but both houses turned down his request. 29 His wife at the same time asked that her son, Samuel, Jr., a boy of 17, might be permitted to keep the sheep and cattle which belonged to him and bore his mark, 30 all of which was probably a subterfuge to keep some of the father's property from being confiscated.

Weed made further breaks from jail, once from the New Haven jail, together with Joseph Bill, probably early in October, for on November 6, 1747, he was seized by Nathaniel Gunn and returned to prison, 31 while on December 26, 1748, Justice John Humphrey had him seized in Simsbury and then confined in the jail in Hartford. When Weed was taken this last time, he was armed with a pistol and had in his possession a milled dollar and forty-two copper pennies. He was evidently living in Simsbury, for he also had a bed, two goats, a deerskin, a brass skillet, a pair of brass shoe buckles, two chains of silver buttons, a pair of skis, a mare, a saddle and a bridle. 32 On December 27, the day after his arrest, the Superior Court in Hartford ordered that he be given twenty-five lashes on the naked body. 33

In May, 1749, Weed petitioned the Assembly for release from jail, and it appears that it was voted that he be put to work under a master in Hartford. Further, if he should be caught wandering outside of that town, the person who seized him was to be given a reward of £10, while Weed was to be given ten stripes on his naked body for so offending. He was, moreover, to secure a bond of £50 for his good behavior. 34 For some reason he does not seem to have been released until at least October, 1749. He then petitioned again, stating that he was reduced almost to a skeleton and had but few rags to cover him; the same measures were taken, seemingly for a second time, and a bond of £50 for his good behavior was furnished by Joseph Weed of Simsbury and Jonas Weed of Waterbury. 35

Weed sent another memorial to the Assembly on April 30, 1752, requesting permission to go from Hartford to Waterbury to see his children and take care of the estate left them by their mother, but his prayer was denied. 36 In February, 1756, it came to the attention of the Assembly "that the said Samuel Weed hath in divers instances behaved himself contrary to the tenor of the conditions of such bond, and is justly suspected to be confederate with those who counterfeit bills of public credit or put them off knowing them to be such, to the great disquiet of his Majesty's subjects." Jabez Hamlin, John Hubbard and Elisha Sheldon were therefore appointed a committee to examine Weed and inquire into his doings and then report back. These gentlemen questioned Weed and investigated the matter. They found that he had been to Dover, New York, on what business they could not discover, but they could obtain no proof against him. They reported, however, that common fame represented him as a very bad and dangerous man and that he corresponded with the counterfeiters of bills. 37 As Dover was the headquarters of Owen Sullivan and his associates, it seems likely that "common Fame" was correct with regard to Weed.

Weed made one more attempt to escape from being restricted to the limits of Hartford. On October 4, 1758, he memorialized the Assembly, setting forth that he wished to become a dresser of deer's leather and in that business travel from town to town, a prayer which the legislators wisely denied. 38

There were other persons who at this time were certainly or probably connected with Weed or the money makers in the Oblong. One Benjamin Barns of Waterbury was arrested in that town by Constable Samuel Scott, Jr., on a charge of passing false bills, perhaps obtained from Weed or from Dover, New York. He was taken to the jail in New Haven, 39 but nothing further is known of him. John Dexter was followed by officers from Dutchess County, New York, to New Haven, where he was arrested and jailed on suspicion of having counterfeited pieces of eight and pistoles, several of which were found on his person. As his crime had been committed in New York, he was sent there and imprisoned. The minutes of the Supreme Court for this year are lost, so it is not recorded what became of him. 40 This lack of New York Supreme Court records for this year also leaves uncertain the fate of Jeremiah Weyman, who, according to a report made to the Connecticut Assembly by Captain John Riggs, was taken up in Waterbury on suspicion of counterfeiting bills and committed to the jail in New Haven. He was afterwards delivered to an officer to be transported to New York for trial, 41 all of which indicates that his crime was committed in New York.

Abel Clark of Waterbury was informed against on September 3, 1748, by Hezekiah Kilborn for having on that day passed to Nicholas Ayrault of Wethersfield a false 12s. Connecticut bill of the emission of October 11, 1744. John Chester, assistant, at once issued a warrant for the arrest of Clark, who was speedily apprehended by Constable Oliver Denning of Wethersfield. At his examination before Chester the prisoner pleaded not guilty but refused to say where he got the false bill. There were found on his person a number of other counterfeit notes, two £2 bills of Rhode Island, two 12s. bills of Connecticut and one 20s. bill of Connecticut ( Plates XXVII-XXVIII). Bail for Clark was set at £2,000 and he was committed to the jail in Hartford. A month or so in prison induced him to send a memorial to the Assembly on September 17, 1748, in which he stated that he, a youth, had been about the beginning of August "bewitched" and "seduced" by Samuel Weed to take some £42 in counterfeit bills to pass, with the understanding that he was to keep half the profit. He had put off about half of them when he was arrested. He requested that he be admitted as a King's witness against Weed, a prayer which the Assembly voted to consider in May.

Now it happened that a fellow prisoner in the Hartford jail with Clark was Joseph Bill. A warrant for Bill's arrest had been issued in New Haven by Justice John Hubbard on May 19, 1747, on a complaint to the effect that Bill had lately engraved a plate of the lower left hand quarter of a Connecticut 2s. old tenor bill and also a plate of a 4s. Connecticut new tenor bill and had aided in striking and passing counterfeits. Bill was apprehended at once by Stephen Hotchkiss and pleaded not guilty. A 4s. Connecticut new tenor counterfeit bill was, however, found on him and he confessed that he had made it; two pieces of bills were likewise discovered in his possession, as well as an engraving tool. He then admitted that he got the tool and some small pieces of copper and a crucible from Isaac Doolittle in New Haven. He melted the small pieces and formed a plate, which he next engraved. While all alone in the woods in Cheshire, he struck the bill from the plate. He said that he did this because he had nothing else to do and he affirmed that he had never signed or passed any bills. He broke jail, probably early in October, together with Samuel Weed, but was later taken and jailed in Hartford. He now escaped from the Hartford jail and took young Clark along with him. Together they went to Boston and vicinity, where Clark seems to have occupied himself with a gang of money makers. By April, 1750, he was desirous of returning to Connecticut and therefore wrote to the Connecticut Assembly, stating that he wished to confess all and asking liberty to return home to his good parents, whose only son he was. His petition met with the negative vote which it deserved. 42

End Notes

21
The Law Papers I, p. 312; Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York, pp. 60–66.
22
C. & M. IV, 98–99; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 178.
23
The Law Papers II, pp. 2 and 31.
24
S.C. Files, New Haven, 1747; C. & M. Counterfeiting (unbound) III, 95–101; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 335.
25
For material concerning the Derby Gang see S.C. Files, New Haven, 1747 and 1748; C. & M. IV, 105, 384–388; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, pp. 377, 497; S.C. Records 9, April 29, 1747. Weed was also indicted for having forged orders on the treasurer of the colony and pleaded guilty. For this he was sentenced to stand one hour in the pillory on three successive lecture days or days of public meeting, to pay the treasurer £178/11/–, and to be disenabled to give any evidence or verdict.
26
C. & M. IV, 384, 386; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, pp. 302–303.
27
C. & M. IV, 103–104, 106–107; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 306.
28
Col. Rec. Conn. XI, p. 328.
29
C. & M. IV, 383.
30
Ibid. IV, 385.
31
Ibid. IV, 308–311, C. & M., Counterfeiting (unbound) III, 140.
32
Ibid. IV, 293–295.
33
S.C. Records 9, Dec. 27, 1748.
34
C. & M. IV, 296–298.
35
Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 489; C. & M. IV, 305, 306, 326.
36
C. & M. IV, 317–318.
37
Col. Rec. Conn. X, pp. 463, 464; C. & M. IV, 324–325.
38
C. & M. IV, 330–331.
39
Ibid. IV, 299, 302; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 497.
40
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 71–72.
41
Col. Rec. Conn IX, pp. 330–331; C. & M., Counterfeiting (unbound) III, 141.
42
S.C. Files, New Haven, 1747; S.C. Files, Hartford, Dept., 1748; C. & M. V, 335–336.

VII ISAAC JONES AND HIS GANG

On Tuesday, September 27, 1748, an exciting scene was enacted at the bottom of the Boston Common. The best account of the affair is found in the Boston Evening-Post of October 3, 1748, and runs as follows: ...one Isaac Jones having put off some counterfeit Bills, in Imitation of the Connecticut 7s. Bills, last Emission, and being observ'd to have a large Quantity of 'em about him, was followed to his House at the Bottom of the Common, where he stood upon his Defence (being armed with Pistols, &c.) and kept the Officers and their Assistants at a Distance for some Hours, but was at last taken and committed to Goal. He made a Stand at the Head of the Stairs, and while he defended his Post, some Persons in the Chamber were engaged in burning the Press and Bills: Several Pieces of the latter, and one almost entire, flew out of the Chimney, and were taken up by the People, and as Jones was taken by Force sooner than he expected, there were found in the Chamber some Parts of the Press, several Quires of Paper fit for striking of Bills, and a Quantity of Lampblack, Oil &c. for carrying on their Business...

One of his accomplices was taken up and jailed. His bills were described as a cheat which plainly might be discovered at first sight, for they were very pale, and the letters and lines were very uneven and miserably engraved both on the front and back. 1

It happened that Jonathan Trumble of Connecticut was present in Boston at the time and finding that the counterfeiter "was seized by a person who was exposed to great danger in doing the same, did as a gratuity bestow on him the sum of eight pounds old tenour, supposing it proper to be done for the honour of this [the Connecticut] government." This reward met with the approval of the Connecticut Assembly, which reimbursed Trumble for the reward to the person who apprehended the counterfeiter of their 7s. bills. 2

Jones was not an easy man to hold, and before long he broke jail and escaped. 3 Together with others he at once began his counterfeiting again and was detected through the arrest of some passers of his products in Hebron, Connecticut. In February, 1749, Justice John Bulkley of that town discovered that some persons in Hebron had been connected with Joseph Bill in counterfeiting paper money. As a result David Wilcox. Jr., and Elias Wilcox were taken into custody and examined by Bulkley and Joseph Phelps, another justice of the peace. The prisoners, who were charged with passing false bills of Connecticut, confessed, involved others, and said that one Bryant of Boston was the one who had undertaken to put off the paper money manufactured by Joseph Bill. They further explained that the money was to be passed "on shares."

It was thought advisable that someone should go to Boston to alert the authorities there, so Justice Bulkley asked one John Thompson of Hebron to undertake the business. After consulting with Jonathan Trumble and Joseph Fowler, who were of the opinion that the Assembly would reward him, Thompson, accompanied by David Wilcox, who was to serve as King's Witness, set out for Boston toward the end of February in extremely inclement and rainy weather. In Boston Thompson delivered to the authorities letters from Trumble and Bulkley. 4

Jonathan Bryant, a shingle maker of Boston, was arrested about March 8 or 9, and in his house were found the following counterfeit bills, ninety-five £3 and nine 7s. of Connecticut and thirty-two 10s. of Massachusetts. He admitted that Joseph Bill and Isaac Jones were counterfeiting money in a rented room in a house on Long Island, about two miles below the Castle. Bryant said that he thought he could find them, so he was allowed to go there alone. On his return he said he had conversed with the men and then he led the officers there. It seems, however, that Bryant had merely warned his confederates, so that when the officers arrived they found that Jones, Bill and their associates had fled. 5

A reward of £50 for the capture of any of the band brought results, for on Saturday morning, March 18, Bill and Jones were captured in Newton Woods, where they had set up their counterfeiting business. With them were found their plates, other utensils and some unsigned bills. They were committed to Cambridge jail, but it was decided to remove them to Boston. 6 While they were being transferred there, they escaped at Watertown, so that the officers arrived in Boston with the plates but no counterfeiters. 7

The extremely insecure jails of the day were no match for Bill and Jones. Bill had been arrested in New Jersey in December, 1747, for counterfeiting but had escaped from the jail in Hackensack. 8 He also broke out of the jails in New Haven and Hartford and Jones from prison in Boston. 9 Seemingly they were soon taken up in Connecticut and imprisoned but speedily escaped. The person who apprehended Bill on one occasion in Connecticut was Paul Welch of New Milford, who in October, 1749, informed the Assembly that he had "at great hazard and expence" taken up Joseph Bill, whereupon he was voted a reward of £20. 10

On the last day of March, 1749, Bill and Jones were in flight from the forces of justice. Led by an Indian squaw, they arrived at an early hour in the morning at the home of Jedediah Ashcraft in Groton. According to Ashcraft's evidence when he was examined—and he was probably far from telling the truth—they pretended that they had come from Rhode Island and had sent their horses back by someone. Bill apparently was going by the name of Doctor Wilson and pretending to be a famous physician. Ashcraft described him as a tall man, not thick of body and well dressed. Jones went by the name of Captain Wright and claimed that he had lost a vessel in the war. They wanted immediate transportation to Sag Harbor, where Ashcraft landed them and received, as he said at first, an £8 Rhode Island bill from Wilson. Later, however, he broke down and wept, admitting that he had lied and confessing that he had been given a £10/10 bill, apparently a counterfeit. He added the information that his passengers went to South Hampton, where they attended meeting and were on the Sabbath at the tavern at Zeb Howel's.

A warrant for Ashcraft's arrest had been issued at New London on May 5, 1749, and Daniel Collins, Deputy Sheriff of New London County, apprehended him at Groton on May 8. The same day he was examined by Daniel Coit, J.P, who questioned him sharply about a letter, addressed to Mr. Willet Larabe living in Norwich Long Society, which was found by Collins in Ashcraft's possession. Ashcraft explained that it was given him by "Wilson." It appeared to Justice Coit that Ashcraft had concealed, nourished and conveyed away counterfeiters and on Long Island had passed a false £10/10 bill to Nathan Fordham. The magistrate therefore bound Ashcraft over to the next Superior Court to be held in September, 1750, but finally he was released on bail of £1,000 furnished by Ashcraft, Parke Avery of Groton and James Tulley of New London. 11

The court records do not explain the content of the letter addressed to Willet Larabe and delivered to Ashcraft by Joseph Bill nor do they indicate why Justice Coit questioned his prisoner about the document. It seems, however, safe to assume that there was some message about counterfeiting and that Larabe was one of Bill's gang or at least in the same business, for early in November 1751, Willet Larabe was convicted at the superior court of King's County, Rhode Island, for passing several counterfeit twenty shilling new tenor bills of New Hampshire. He was sentenced to stand in the pillory for half an hour, to have both ears cropped, to be branded with R on each cheek with a hot iron, to be imprisoned for one month, to pay double damages to the persons injured by his counterfeit bills and the costs of prosecution, and to forfeit the remainder of his estate, both real and personal, for the use of the colony. The corporal punishment was executed at South Kingston on 7 November. 12

Ashcraft was before the Superior Court at Norwich on March 27, 1751, charged with aiding in counterfeiting bills. Fortunately for him, the one thing which could be proved against him and to which he had confessed was the passing of a counterfeit bill. This, however, had been done on Long Island and was not actionable in Connecticut, so no one appeared to prosecute him and he was freed by proclamation on payment of costs. 13

Jones' future activities may be revealed by a study of the court records of Massachusetts or Rhode Island but Bill's fate is known. He was associated in counterfeiting in 1751 with Jonathan Woodman and Dr. Samuel Dusten, and he and Woodman were jailed in New York City. When Woodman hanged himself in prison and thereby removed the only sure evidence against Bill, Bill was released and continued to ply his nefarious trade until late in 1772, when he was arrested in the Province of New York, tried, convicted and sentenced to death at Albany and executed there on April 2, 1773. 14

Bryant had incensed the Massachusetts authorities by his failure to cooperate with them and they desired that Connecticut send to Boston two of the signers of their bills and a certified copy of the act for emitting the money that had been counterfeited. The Connecticut signers, however, refused to go to Boston and expressed the belief that their presence was not at all necessary to obtain a conviction. 15 In this they were correct, for when Bryant was arraigned on April 11, 1750, at the Court of Assize in Boston on an indictment for passing a counterfeit £3 bill, he pleaded guilty, prayed the benefit of his clergy, which was granted him, and was burnt in the hand in open court. 16

The passers of Joseph Bill's paper money were numerous in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, and, as has been stated above, the whole affair came to light through the detection of a number of the rascals by John Bulkley in February, 1749. Of the gang were Amos and Timothy Fuller of Lebanon, Samuel Ingham, Aaron Wilcox and David Wilcox, all of Hebron, and probably Alpheus Wickwire of Norwich. David Wilcox, as has been seen, had at his examination made a clean breast of the matter and fully cooperated with the authorities by turning King's evidence and thus escaping prosecution. One of his friends, Samuel Ingham, had shared a room with David at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Gale. In a chest in the room of her lodgers Mrs. Gale discovered a letter which indicated that Ingham was passing counterfeits. He was arrested and was examined by Bulkley, an assistant, at Colchester on March 7, 1749. It appeared that Ingham received from David Wilcox a £3 Connecticut counterfeit bill ( Plates XXXI-XXXII) and passed it off to a Mr. White at Killingworth and a similar note to one Rossiter of the same town, while Mr. Gale had also received similar false bills from him. Jonathan Factor in Branford secured one of these bills from Gale and sent it to Captain Edmund Ward in Guilford, who turned it over to Samuel Lynde, assistant. If Gale would swear the bill on Ingham, it seemed that Ingham could be convicted but Gale was unwilling to do this. Ingham was indicted at the Superior Court at Norwich on March 28, 1749, for having, on January 30, passed a false £3 Connecticut bill at Killingworth. He pleaded not guilty, was tried, acquitted and released on payment of fees of £43/2/1. 17

Aaron Wilcox was less fortunate. On March 2, 1749, Asael Phelps and William Sumner complained to Justice Joseph Phelps of Hebron that Aaron Wilcox had uttered counterfeit bills, and the justice of the peace issued a warrant for Aaron's arrest. He was apprehended on March 30 and examined the next day and also on April 3. At first he maintained that he did not know where he got the false £3 bill ( Plates XXIX-XXX) but later admitted he had obtained it from Elias Wilcox in exchange for a deerskin. He confessed that he had passed another of the £3 bills to John Alden in Lebanon. He denied that he had seen Joseph Collins (evidently known to be a counterfeiter) at his father's house but said he had once seen Joseph Bill there and also in the woods. He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in September and was released on bail of £500 furnished by himself and David Wilcox. At the Superior Court he was indicted for having at Hebron in January, 1749, passed to Thomas Fuller of Coventry a counterfeit Connecticut £3 new tenor bill of the emission of May 8, 1746. He pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 18

From the Hartford jail in October, 1749, he sent to the Assembly a petition in which he lamented his idleness in prison and his subjection to "pinching hunger" and "chilling cold" and requested release. His prayer was granted on condition that he pay all costs of prosecution and jail charges, secure a bond of £500 for his good behavior for life, and live within the town limits of Hebron and there conduct all lawful business. 19 On May 10 of the next year he again sent a memorial to the legislators, whom he informed that his father had sold his land in Hebron and purchased an estate in Harwinton. He requested permission to move there, and this was granted on condition that he remain within the limits of that town. 20 Four years later, however, when he besought the Assembly to remove all restrictions laid upon him, his plea was denied. 21

The two Fullers were indicted by the grand jury at the Superior Court held at Windham in March, 1749, Timothy for having on December 23, 1748, passed a counterfeit 10s. Massachusetts bill, new tenor, to Samuel Dewey of Lebanon, and Amos for having on December 15, 1748, helped to make three £3 new tenor bills of Connecticut of the emission of May 6, 1746. Both pleaded not guilty. Timothy was acquitted and released on payment of costs of £34/19/10 but Amos was convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 22 There had been no doubt of Amos Fuller's guilt, for Thomas Hubbard, who in Boston was active in having Bryant arrested and search made for Bill and Jones, wrote to Colonel Trumble that Amos had been "sadly guilty" and that Bryant stated he received the false paper money found in his possession from Fuller and one Clarke (doubtless Abel Clark of Waterbury). 23

Amos Fuller from the jail of Windham County in October, 1749, petitioned the Assembly for his release, stating that his health was endangered in jail and that he was willing to give evidence against the money makers if he were set free. The legislators granted his request on condition that he pay all costs and charges, find sureties in the amount of £500 for his good behavior and remain within the limits of the town of Lebanon. 24 Eight years later he again memorialized the Assembly desiring that his full rights of a freeman be restored to him in order that he might recover some debts owed him before his conviction, but his prayer was denied. 25

John Smith, J.P., of Voluntown on April 4, 1749, issued a warrant for the arrest of Alpheus Wickwire, who the next day was taken up by Constable Joseph Tracy, Jr. Wickwire was at once examined at Norwich by Hezekiah Huntington, assistant, on suspicion of being a counterfeiter and utterer of the bills of Connecticut and of other colonies. Wickwire was evasive in his answers and claimed he had forgotten when asked about point after point. It seems that he had ridden from Providence to Voluntown in company with some woman to whom he had, it was believed, spoken freely about counterfeiting and his own part in such criminal activities. At the end of December, 1748, one "Carpendor," doubtless Carpenter, had been at his home and he, Wickwire, admitted having had a £10/10 bill. He seemed on this and subsequent examinations to be guilty, so that on April 8 he was bound over to appear at the Superior Court to be held at New London in September and was released on a bail bond of £1,000 furnished by himself, Urian Hosmond (Urian Hosmer?) and Ebenezer Barstow. 26

The "Carpenter" who visited Wickwire was surely none other than Amos Fuller, who in 1747 was using the alias of "Jeremiah Carpenter" in New Jersey, where he was committed to the Burlington jail for passing false Jersey money. On September 19 he broke out of prison, and Sheriff Joseph Hollingshead, who had learned that the fugitive's real name was probably Amos Fuller, offered a reward of ten pounds for his capture. Fuller was described as of about six feet in height and of a pale complexion. When last seen, he was wearing a gray homespun jockey coat with brass buttons, old leather breeches, yarn stockings, a linen cap and an old hat. 27

It may be noted that John Thompson of Hebron, who had gone to Boston in the interests of Connecticut, was somewhat grudgingly compensated for his expense and trouble. The first sum given him did not satisfy him, so he petitioned for a further amount and in October, 1750, was voted £20 and again, in May, 1751, another £20. 28

End Notes

1
Boston Weekly News-Letter, Sept. 29, 1748, p. 2.
2
Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 396.
3
Boston Weekly News-Letter, March 16, 1749, p. 1.
4
C. & M. IV, 122, 125–126.
5
Boston Evening-Post, March 13, 1749, p. 1; Boston Weekly News-Letter, March 16, 1749, p. 1; C. & M. IV, 123.
6
Boston Evening-Post, March 20, 1749, p. 2.
7
Boston Weekly News-Letter, March 24, 1749, p. 2.
8
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , p. 76.
9
C. & M. IV, 124.
10
Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 465.
11
The material concerning Ashcraft is to be found in S.C. Files, New London, March, 1750; see also The Superior Court Diary of William Samuel Johnson 1772–1773 (Washington: The American Historical Association, 1942), p. xliii.
12
Boston Evening-Post, Nov. 11, 1751.
13
S.C. Records 10, March 27, 1750.
14
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 75–77; 154–170.
15
The Law Papers III, pp. 381, 384, 385.
16
Boston Evening-Post, April 16, 1750, p. 4.
17
Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Court 1710–1749, 337–338; S.C. Files New London, March, 1749.
18
S.C. Files, Hartford, Sept., 1749; S.C. Records 10, Sept. 5, 1749. The bill which he passed to Fuller has been preserved in the Connecticut State Library.
19
C. & M. IV, 129–130; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 490.
20
C. & M. IV, 131; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, p. 528.
21
C. & M. IV, 202.
22
Records, Court of Assistants and Superior Courts 1710–1749, 327–329.
23
C. & M. IV, 123–124.
24
Ibid. IV, 120, 128; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, pp. 489–490.
25
C. & M. V, 73.
26
S.C. Files, New London, Sept., 1749.
27
The New-York Gazette, Revived in the Weekly Post Boy, Oct. 12, 1747.
28
C. & M. IV, 122–127; Col. Rec. Conn. IX, pp. 330–331.

VIII THE YEARS 1750–1755

The Acts and Laws of His Majesty's English Colony of Connecticut , published in New London in 1750, contains an "Act against Counterfeiting Bills of public Credit, Coins, or Currencies; and emitting, and passing Bills, or Notes on private Credit: and to prevent Injustice in passing Counterfeit Bills." 1 The act reduced the reward to an informer from £20 to £10 but otherwise did not change the earlier laws on counterfeiting. Toward the close of the act, however, issuing of bills to take the place of money was forbidden in these terms:

Be it further Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Person, Society, Number of Persons, or Company within this Colony, shall presume to Strike, Emit, or put Out any Bills of Credit of the Nature, or Tenor of the Bills of Credit in this Government, on any Fund, or Credit of any Person, or Persons, Society, or Company, to be used, and improved as a General Currency, or Medium of Trade, as, and in lieu of Money, such Person, or Persons, Society, or Company, and Every of them shall be subject to the same Pains, Penalties, and Forfeitures, and be punished in the same Manner, as those are by this Act subjected to who shall be Convicted of Forging, or Counterfeiting the Bills of Credit Emitted by this Government.

And that if any Person, or Persons in this Colony, shall Utter, Vend, or Pass any Bills, or Notes, or any other Currencies whatsoever, which either have been, or hereafter shall be Struck, Emitted, or put Out to be used, as aforesaid, on the Fund, or Credit of any private Person, or Persons, Society, or Company whatsoever, either in this, or the Neighbouring Governments; he, or they so Offending, shall Forfeit double the Sum, or Value expressed in such Bill, Note, or other Currency. The One Half thereof to him, or them that shall Prosecute the same to Effect; and the Other Half to the Town Treasury, when the Trial shall be before an Assistant, or Justice; and to the County Treasury when it shall be before the County Court.

And all Grand-Jurors, and Constables are hereby Required to make Presentment of all Breaches of this Act.

The decade from 1750 to 1760 showed an enormous increase in counterfeiting and passing, most of which can be traced to the influence of what was called the "Money Club" at Dover in Dutchess County, New York, "where," as the New-York Gazette: or, the Weekly Post-Boy of March 15, 1756, put it, "'tis said a large Gang of Villains have harboured for a considerable Time past, few of which but have a Crop or a Brand-Mark upon them, as it is a Sort of Disgrace for one reputed honest to be seen among them."

Nathaniel Fales

Several persons, presumably in Norwich, were the victims of a coiner. The Pennsylvania Gazette of July 25, 1751, carried the following item: "We have Advice from Norwich in Connecticut, that Nathaniel Fales of that Town, has lately put off a great Number of counterfeit Dollars (supposed to be made by himself and a Gang of other Rogues) by which two honest Men are quite ruined, and several others are great sufferers. The said Fales is now gone to Halifax."

John Bill

In October, 1752, John Bill of Norwich was apprehended and brought before John Phelps, J.P., of Hebron through the efforts of Abraham Palmer, Elijah Buel and others. It appeared to the justice of the peace that the prisoner was guilty of counterfeiting bills of credit, so he committed him to jail in Norwich. Bill, however, broke out and escaped but was later recaptured and released on bail furnished by Joseph Bill of Norwich. John did not appear in court and his bond was declared forfeited. 2 He presently returned to his evil doing, as will be seen later.

End Notes

2
C. & M. IV, 195-198 and V, 179; Col. Rec. Con. XI, pp. 443–444.

Benjamin Force

Justice John Williams of Sharon, on a complaint made by Samuel Elmer of that town, issued, on November 13, 1752, a warrant for the arrest of Benjamin Force of Dover, New York, whom Elmer charged with having passed to him a counterfeit £3 Rhode Island bill. At first Force pleaded not guilty when he had been arrested and was taken before the magistrate for examination. Later, however, he expressed a desire to be accepted as King's Witness against several other persons. His bail was set at £200, which was furnished by David Hamilton, Daniel Parker and Samuel Elmer. On June 12, 1753, Justice Williams wrote to Samuel Pettibone, the King's Attorney, informing him that Force had testified in a court at Poughkeepsie against several persons, of whom two, Captain Joseph Boyce and Joseph Hicks had been convicted. The letter concluded with the hope that the "Club" might be broken up. 3

John George

Captain John Payson of Woodstock on December 28, 1752, complained to William Chandler, J.P., of Killingly against one George Kimball of Newbury in Essex County. Payson charged that he had received in trade of Kimball three counterfeit 20s. new tenor bills of New Hampshire. On a writ issued by the magistrate, Isaac Dana of Pomfret, Deputy Sheriff of Windham County, arrested Kimball, who was taken before Justice Chandler to be examined. The prisoner said that his name was John George and that he belonged to Hampton, New Hampshire. He admitted having knowingly passed the false paper money, which he said he had obtained from Dr. Sam Dusten at Haverhill for a horse, bridle and saddle. He had left two of the counterfeits with the wife of Mr. Kimball of Haverhill and had passed five of them in Connecticut. He added that he was to receive a parcel of £3/10 bills from one Bill, and he asked to be admitted as King's Evidence. His bail was set at £500, and, as he could not obtain a bond, he was committed to the jail in Windham. In February, 1753, he escaped because of the weakness of the building but was pursued and taken again by Eleazer Fitch, Sheriff of Windham County. Soon, however, though now secured in irons, he managed to break out again and on this occasion made good his escape despite a hot pursuit by Sheriff Fitch. 4

End Notes

3
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; S.C. Records 10, Aug. 14, 1753.

Solomon Bill

On December 4, 1752, a complaint was made to Joseph Phelps, J.P., that Solomon Bill on October 15 passed to Daniel Newcomb of Hebron a counterfeit Mexican silver piece known as a cob. Bill was promptly arrested and at his examination before Justice Phelps stated that he got some cobs from a man in Boston near the Town House in November. He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in Hartford in March, 1753, and was released on bail of £200 furnished by himself, Noah Dewey and Robert Avery, all of Lebanon. In court Bill pleaded not guilty. The witnesses called against him were John Demmon, Nathaniel White and Simeon Curtis, all of Lebanon, and Elisha Dyer of Boston. Bill was tried, acquitted and ordered dismissed on payment of costs of £22/4/10. Daniel Edwards, probably Bill's attorney, took the silver piece to Charles Whiting, goldsmith in Norwich, and had the money tested. Whiting pronounced the coin to be of silver and genuine, so that Bill in October, 1753, petitioned the Assembly to excuse him from paying the heavy costs of prosecution, a prayer which was denied. 5

Jabez Cary, Jr.

Constable Paul Hibard of Mansfield on February 1, 1753, searched the house of Jabez Cary, Jr., and in a chest found the following items, a melting ladle, pieces of lead plated, twenty-two forms with holes through them and a peg holding them together, two pieces of white metal in imitation of pistareens, some borax, melted metal, and an account of time and money spent. Cary, it was learned, had sent his brother to take the false pistareens from the chest, but the lad arrived too late. Cary was charged with having made five pistareens on January 30 and was arrested on a warrant issued by Justices Jonathan Huntington and Eliphalet Dyer. The prisoner was released on bail of £200 furnished by himself and his father, Jabez, Sr. Richard Cary, a minor and no doubt the brother of the suspected counterfeiter, was released in bail of £100 to appear as a witness. On March 20 at the Superior Court in Windham Jabez was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of £50 and costs of £15/13/3. 6

End Notes

4
S.C. Files, Windham, March, 1753; C. & M. IV, 180–182, 191–192, 199–200.
5
S.C. Records 10, March 20, 1753; S.C. Files, Hartford, March, 1753; C. & M. IV, 189–190.

John Campbell

The Boston Weekly News-Letter of August 30, 1753, printed a New York dispatch, dated August 20, which read: "Last Wednesday a Man was taken up and committed to jail at Stanford, in Connecticut, on suspicion of belonging to a Gang of bold Villains who have lately committed several Robberies about that Part of the Country: On his Examination a Parcel of counterfeit Dollars and two Shilling Pieces were found in his Possession." The man referred to was John Campbell, and his arrest came about when Justice Jonathan Hoyt issued a warrant for the arrest of the vagrant. On August 16, 1753, a person dressed in a white frock and trousers, who refused to tell his name, was brought before the magistrate. A search revealed in his possession thirteen dollars, fifty-one half dollars and eighty-eight quarters, all presumably counterfeits. John Campbell, for such was his name, was not admitted to bail and was jailed until August 21, 1753, when he was brought before the Superior Court at Fairfield and indicted for having, about July 20 at Stamford, counterfeited milled dollars and half and quarter dollars. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to serve a term of six months in prison and to pay costs of £12/6/6. In February, 1754, when his term had been served, the Superior Court ordered that he be released if he paid the costs and an additional £4/1/6 for certain other charges. Otherwise he was to be sold for a reasonable time to pay the costs and charges. 7

End Notes

6
S.C. Files, Windham, March, 1753; S.C. Records 10, March 20, 1753.

Jacob Mace, John Cogswell and Jacob Wiley

On August 30, 1753, Thomas Bacon, Jr., a grand juror, complained to Henry Bowen, J.P., against Jacob Mace, blacksmith and transient person, and two residents of Woodstock, John Cogswell, yeoman, and Jacob Wiley, trader. All three had been passing counterfeit £4 Rhode Island bills of the emission of 1750 and were charged, Mace with passing such a bill on August 20 to Pennel Bowen, a hatter in Woodstock, Cogswell with passing such a bill on August 18 to William Chandler, shipjoiner of Woodstock, and Wiley with passing such a bill on August 15 to John Payson, gentleman. Warrants were issued, and all three suspects were arrested, Cogswell by Constable Daniel Child of Woodstock and Wiley by Deputy Sheriff John Chamberlin. The prisoners were bound over to the next Superior Court to be held in Windham and were released, each on bail of £100, furnished for Mace by himself, John Carpenter of Woodstock and Joseph Benjamin of Windham, for Cogswell by himself, Seth Hodges and William Bradin, all of Woodstock, and for Wiley by himself and Josiah Mills of Killingly. Cogswell, however, was presently discharged from the bond and taken into custody. All three were indicted at the September session of the court. 8

Mace was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law, 9 but before long was either released from the workhouse or, much more likely, escaped, for soon he was in the Province of New York and again engaged in counterfeiting. Wiley's case was put over to the December session but when, on December 25, he was called three times, neither he nor his surety, Josiah Mills, appeared 10 and his bail was forfeited. He fled and joined Sandford's band of rogues in Ridgefield. Cogswell's trial also had been deferred to December and he was freed on bail of £100 provided by Joseph Benjamin. Unhappily for his surety, a hue and cry after Cogswell was proclaimed by the Rhode Island authorities because in June in that province he had passed to George Gardner seven false £16 Rhode Island bills. As a result Cogswell was seized and carried to Rhode Island, where he was tried and convicted at the Superior Court in Newport. Since he was confined in the Newport jail in December, he naturally did not appear at the Superior Court in Windham. His bail was declared forfeited, and, when Benjamin appealed in May, 1754, to the Assembly for relief from paying his bond, his prayer was denied. 11

End Notes

7
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Bra–C, Aug., 1753; S.C. Records 10, Aug. 21, 1753, and 11, Feb. 17, 1754.
8
S.C. Files, Windham, Sept. and Dec., 1753.
9
S.C. Records 11, Sept. 18, 1753.

William Shapley, Jedediah Cady and Jeremiah Lisha

By November 22, 1753, three inhabitants of Killingly, William Shapley, husbandman, Jedediah Cady, husbandman, and an Indian named Jeremiah Lisha were under arrest for counterfeiting. Constable Samuel Porter had complained that Shapley was involved in counterfeiting or passing £4 bills of New Hampshire and £8 bills of Rhode Island and had taken him up on a warrant issued by Justice William Chandler. Cady had been informed against to Chandler by Henry Bowen of Woodstock and arrested by John Corbin, Jr., a sheriff's deputy. Constable Hezekiah Cutler had complained to Joseph Cady, J.P., against Lisha for aiding Jedediah Cady in passing false Rhode Island bills of the emission of 1750 and he had been apprehended by Nathaniel Wales, Jr., a sheriff's deputy.

At his examination he stated that he had obtained twelve dollars and £150 in paper money from William Carpenter of New Salem and had passed two £8 Rhode Island bills of the emission of 1741 to Widow Joannah Utter of Killingly but he had not known the money was false. He was indicted at the Superior Court at Windham on De- cember 25, 1753, was tried, acquitted and released on payment of costs of £16/17/8. 12

Cady was indicted at the same time as Shapley for having on July 1, 1753, and at various times in the same month at Killingly assisted Owen Sullivan, a transient person, in engraving and making a counterfeit plate and in stamping therefrom a great number of counterfeit Rhode Island £4 bills of the emission of 1750. He pleaded not guilty, though at his examination before Justice Chandler he had admitted his guilt. He was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. An order was issued on January 2, 1754, that before the end of that month he be cropped, branded with C, sent to the workhouse and deprived of all his estate. On January 7 Sheriff Fitch performed the cropping and branding but could discover no estate. 13

Cady's home was remote from travel and distant from neighbors, a fact which probably induced Sullivan to seek his aid. In any event, Cady permitted Sullivan and his associates (Jeremiah Lisha told of one Bacon, Captain Cogswell, Sullivan and Jacob Wiley being present at Cady's house) to use the chamber in his house for their counterfeiting. When they had finished striking off bills, they gave Cady about £400 of the money, which he put in a box and buried in the ground. Later he took it out and burned all the paper money. From jail on May 8, 1754, he petitioned the Assembly for release, and a considerable number of fellow townsmen sent in a testimonial concerning his good care of his aged father and mother and his fine reputation before he was drawn into the counterfeiting scheme. The Assembly decided to release Cady, who was then about thirty years of age, on condition that he pay all costs of prosecution and find surety in the amount of £50 for his good behavior for life and the peaceable surrender of his body to the sheriff if so required. Further he was to go to Killingly and reside within the limits of the town, where he might carry on all lawful business. 14

The Indian, Lisha, at his examination on November 22, 1753, before Justice Joseph Cady, pleaded guilty and told how Jedediah Cady had given him £80 in bad money to pass, with the understanding that he keep half the profits. He added that he had passed it all in Rhode Island at Smithfield and Narragansett and that he had sent £40 to Jedediah by Elisha Herinton of Smithfield. He had, moreover, recently obtained £48 in bills from Jedediah and passed them all. He added the names of the persons to whom he had uttered the bills, but these persons denied having ever changed any money with Lisha, so it would seem that his imagination had been given free rein. Apparently the King's Attorney was of this opinion, for he decided that there was not sufficient evidence against the prisoner, so the court ordered him released on payment of costs of £6/5/–. Lisha, unhappily, had no money, so he offered to serve to pay the costs, and it was finally agreed that he serve Eliphalet Dyer, Nathaniel Wales and Isaac Warner, all of Windham, for two years, in return for which they paid his costs. 15

End Notes

10
S.C. Records 11, Dec. 25, 1753.
11
C. & M. IV, 234; S.C. Records 11, Sept. 18 and Dec. 25, 1753.
12
S.C. Files, Windham, Dec., 1753; S.C. Records 11, Dec. 25, 1753.
13
S.C. Records 11, Dec. 25, 1753; S.C. Files, Windham, Dec., 1753, and March, 1754.
14
C. & M. IV, 203–205; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 277.

John Clark and the Beardslees

In September, 1753, John Clark, alias Stoddard, a mason of Stratford, secured from the "Money Club in Dover" a large quantity of counterfeit £8 Rhode Island old tenor bills. He then approached Benjamin Beardslee of Stratford, son of Josiah Beardslee, and induced him to take eight of the bills to pass, and of them Benjamin uttered four. Soon Clark went away to get another parcel of bills, and during Clark's absence Beardslee, thinking over what he had done, burned the remaining four bills and then bought back the four which he had passed and burned them also. When Clark returned, Benjamin refused to take more bills from him, so Clark, it seems, got Israel Beardslee, 2nd, and John Beardslee to pass his bogus money for him.

Clark and Israel and Benjamin Beardslee were complained against by Constable Ebenezer Hinman of Stratford and were all arrested and brought before Samuel Adams, J.P., on December 3, 1753. Clark was committed to jail, Israel was released on bail and Benjamin was dismissed. When Clark was arrested, twenty-six £8 bills of Rhode Island of the emission of February 2, 1741, were found in his pocket. At the Superior Court held at Fairfield on February 19, 1754, he was indicted for having in October 10, 1753, in Stratford uttered to Benjamin Beardslee a counterfeit Rhode Island 40s. bill of the emission of 1741. Clark pleaded guilty and was sentenced in accordance with law. 16

After suffering corporal punishment Clark was returned to jail but soon broke out and made good his escape. Counterfeiters soon approached him but he refused to join them and gave information against them. His position was, indeed, a difficult one, for he was subject to arrest at any moment and was under sentence of imprisonment for life. In addition he was exposed to the hatred and malice of the counterfeiters against whom he had turned and was worried about the future of his wife and two small children. In these circumstances he petitioned the Assembly in October, 1754, to give him liberty to go about his lawful business, a request which was seconded by Justice Adams, who stated that Clark had been cooperative and well behaved of late. The Assembly lent a receptive ear and granted the liberty requested with the proviso that Clark remain within the limits of Stratford and that if he left the bounds of that town his privileges would be forfeited. 17

Benjamin Beardslee, who had at first been released as innocent by Justice Adams, some three or four weeks later returned to the magistrate and told him all, involving John Beardslee, who, until then, had not been suspected. John was taken up, charged with procuring counterfeit bills to be made and uttering them, was examined by Justice David Rowland, and released on bail of £50 furnished by himself and Francis Hawley of Stratford. When he was called at the Superior Court in Fairfield on February 19, 1754, John did not appear and his bond was declared forfeited. 18

Israel Beardslee, as has been stated above, had been brought before Justice Adams. The complaint against him, lodged by Constable Hinman of Stratford, was that he had been passing counterfeit Rhode Island 40s. bills of the emission of 1741. Adams released his prisoner on bail of £300, provided by Israel Beardslee himself, his father, Josiah, and his brother, Benjamin Israel's own account of his troubles is as follows: he let John Clark take a mare and saddle of his to sell when Clark went off to Dover to work there as a mason. When Clark returned, he gave Israel £136 for the horse and saddle, all in £8 Rhode Island bills. Israel had some doubts about the paper money but Clark insisted that the bills were good, and such competent persons as Captain Hyde and Captain Hawley of the Society of Ripton and Mr. Gibb and Captain Edward Ellen of Milford viewed the notes and pronounced them genuine. When, however, some bills were passed and scrupled, Israel tried to buy them back. He was, however, soon arrested and when released on bail intended to stand trial but was foolishly dissuaded by friends and relatives, including his father-in-law, Samuel French of Stratford, to whom Israel had passed two of the false bills. An appeal made to the Assembly by Israel met with success, for on May 12, 1755, it was ordered that his forfeited bond of £300 be chancered down to £50. 19

Benjamin Beardslee, who had finally made a full confession to Justice Adams, had been complained of, about January 26, 1754, to Justice David Rowland by Lyman Hall of Fairfield. Benjamin, when arrested, pleaded guilty and was released in bail of £50 to appear at the next Superior Court in Fairfield. He expected, on the basis of encouragement given him by Justice Adams, to be admitted as King's Evidence but that prospect evaporated when Clark pleaded guilty and another forfeited his bond. So Benjamin did not risk appearing in court, and the bond furnished by him and his father was declared forfeited. Benjamin. appealed to the Assembly in May, 1755, for release from the bond but without success. A year later, however, the Assembly ordered that the amount be cut from £50 to £25 if he would pay that sum, plus all costs, to Robert Walker, the King's Attorney for Fairfield County. 20

End Notes

15
S.C. Files, Windham, Dec., 1753; S.C. Records 11, Dec. 25, 1753.
16
C. & M. IV, 296a; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19, 1754; S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Bra-C, Feb., 1756.
17
C. & M. IV, 250–252; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 301.
18
S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19, 1754.
19
C. & M. IV, 271–274; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19, 1754; Col. Rec. Conn. X, pp. 370–371.

Zephaniah Stevens , Peter Smith and Eliphalet Sloson

In December, 1753, Zephaniah Stevens, described as head of a tribe of money makers, persuaded Peter Smith of Norwalk to admit him to his house, There, for some three days in December, Stevens, aided by Smith and Eliphalet Sloson, struck off £8 bills of the latest emission of Rhode Island. During a temporary absence of Stevens and Sloson, Smith became either frightened or remorseful and threw some of the bills in the fire. Then, on the advice of Ichabod Doolittle, he turned Stevens out of the house, though permitting him to take with him the rest of the bills. Later Smith and Sloson, who lived in Stamford, were complained of to Joseph Platt, J.P., and were both arrested by Nehemiah Rogers, a sheriff's deputy. Each was bound over to the next Superior Court to be held in Fairfield and each was released on bail of £100, furnished for Smith by Peter and Nehemiah Smith and for Sloson by Eliphalet Sloson and John Fancher of Stamford. Smith forfeited his bond by not appearing at the court in February, 1754, but in October was successful in an attempt to induce the Assembly to have his bond chancered down to £25 on condition that he pay that sum at once and also a further £25 with the costs of the suit on the bond. Sloson, as there was not sufficient time to try his case at the February session, was bound over to the August session, when the grand jury returned his indictment ignoramus and he was released on payment of costs of £13/4/6. 21

Stevens, described as a "transient person," had been complained of on January 8, 1753, by John Slocum of Newport, Rhode Island, and Samuel Brown of Norwalk, and was arrested by Ephraim Jackson, a sheriff's deputy, and taken before Justice Joseph Platt on January 10. On examination he confessed that he had assisted in counterfeiting £8 Rhode Island bills of the emission of March 18, 1750, and was committed to jail. He was indicted at the Superior Court held at Fairfield in February, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in accordance with law. 22

End Notes

20
C. & M. IV, 275–280; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19, 1754; S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, A-Bet; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 522.
21
C. & M. IV, 246–249; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19 and Aug. 20, 1754; S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Sil-Z, Jan. and Aug., 1754; Col. Rec. Conn. X, pp. 300–301. By October, 1759, Sloson had died (Col. Rec. Conn. XI, pp. 327–328).

Joseph Nichols

About the middle of February, 1754, complaint was made to Joseph Platt, J.P., that Joseph Nichols of Ridgefield was guilty of counterfeiting bills. A warrant was issued and Nichols was taken up and brought before Samuel Olmstead, J.P., who, upon examining him and not finding sufficient evidence to bind him over to the Superior Court, gave judgment that the prisoner be released on payment of costs, which were considerable. As Nichols could not pay them, he was confined in the jail in Fairfield, from which he presently broke out and fled to Ridgefield, where he was active as one of Sandford's gang. 23

Nathaniel Key

Another suspected counterfeiter, Samuel Key, made an equally successful escape from prison in New London at some time before April 5, 1754. On February 8 he had passed to Captain Richard Durfey of New London four counterfeit 20s. New York bills. Durfey complained at once to G. Saltonstall, assistant, who issued a writ, and Key was arrested that same day by Deputy Sheriff John Christophers. Key admitted that he had passed the money but claimed he did not know that it was false. In his pocketbook were found nineteen more counterfeit 20s. New York bills and a note, written at Killingly on January 17, 1754, and signed by Thomas Allen, who by the document gave power of attorney to his well beloved friend, Nathaniel Key of Killingly. It was observed that the handwriting of the note was like that of the signers' names on the bills. Saltonstall set bail at £100 and had Key committed to jail. The authorities in New York, when they heard of Key's apprehension, requested that the prisoner be sent to them but on April 5 Governor Wolcott of Connecticut sent the disappointing reply that Key had broken jail and escaped. 24

End Notes

22
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Sil-Z, Feb., 1754; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19, 1754.
23
C. & M. IV, 254.

Thomas Hugford

Thomas Hugford of Greenwich may have had a hand in making the New York bills passed by Key, for Hugford was arrested by Ephraim Jackson, sheriff's deputy, on January 16, 1754, on a writ issued by Joseph Platt, J.P., and charged with helping Owen Sullivan to strike off 40s. New York bills. At the Superior Court held in Fairfield in February his case was continued to the August term. In the meantime he was released on bail of £200 furnished by John Clap and Jabez Mead, both of Greenwich. At the August session of the Superior Court the grand jury returned Hugford's indictment ignoramus, and he was released on payment of costs of £13/4/6. 25

Averell and Coggshall

Two men from Connecticut, named Averell and Coggshall, were arrested and tried in March in Newport, Rhode Island, where they were convicted of passing £16 bills of Rhode Island. Averell was pilloried, cropped and branded in March but Coggshall's punishment was to be deferred to May. 26 It is probable that the bills came from a plate made by Owen Sullivan.

End Notes

24
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1754; Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 84–86.
25
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Hil-L., Jan. 1754; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 19 and Aug. 20, 1754.
26
Boston Weekly News-Letter, March 28, 1754, p. 2.

David Sandford

On January 25, 1754, David Sandford of Salem in the Oblong in the Province of New York set out from Waterbury for Woodbury in the company of two other travellers, Barnabas Merwin of Wallingford and Elisha Hall, Jr., of South Kingston, Rhode Island. Sandford told the others that unless he could change a 20s. New York bill he could neither eat nor drink. When they arrived that evening at the tavern of Isaac Brounson, Sandford pretended to be intoxicated and sought to get the landlady to change the money but she refused. Another patron of the tavern, however, James Lewis of Bateman's Patent, changed the bill.

As the travellers proceeded on their way, Sandford spoke of being well acquainted with Jacob Mace and also of knowing where plates for counterfeiting were. When Merwin and Hall informed him that they suspected he had been putting off counterfeits, he bade them say nothing and go with him, for he would make them gentlemen and put a thousand pounds in their pockets. Then, as they approached Hurd's tavern in Woodbury, he said he was going to put off some more money and offered to bear their expenses, threatening, however, to kill them if they said a word to expose him. The next day he offered a false 20s. New York bill to pay the reckoning.

In Waterbury on January 25 Sandford had passed nine 20s. New York bills and one of 40s., all of the issue of December, 1737. One of his victims, Joseph Hopkins of Waterbury, on January 26 made a complaint against Sandford to Thomas Clark, J.P., in Waterbury, and Sandford was arrested the same day. When questioned by Justice Clark, Sandford said he had received the 20s. bills from Nathaniel Nichols of Woodstock and the 40s. bill from an Irishman named Sullivan. He admitted that both these men were counterfeiters and that they had lived in his house, where they had the liberty of a chamber for carrying on their business of counterfeiting. He added that one James Brown told him that Nichols had passed two 20s. New York bills from the same counterfeit plate, one in Redding and the other in Bedford, New York. Sandford was committed to the jail in New Haven and at the Superior Court held in that town of February 26 he was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 27

From a complaint sent to the Assembly in May, 1754, by a large number of inhabitants of Ridgefield and Norwalk, something is learned of his subsequent activities. After previously being imprisoned in New Haven, he had broken out and fled to his family in Salem, New York, where he assembled a gang at his house and there counterfeited the bills of New York and Rhode Island and also Spanish dollars. In the fall of 1753 he had kept in his home Owen Sullivan, a notorious money maker, and together they had stamped a large quantity of New York bills.

About April 26, 1754, Sandford and his gang planned to rescue some neat cattle which had been attached for debt but the officer in charge guarded the cattle with some twenty men, and the attempt of the desperados failed. The same night, however, they tried to set fire to a barn where the cattle were being kept under lock and key but the evil design came to naught, since a guard had been set and he fired at the counterfeiters. These villains immediately set fire to some fences in a neighboring field, and a high wind fanned the flames. While the people were trying to quench them, Sandford and his followers set new fires on the other side of the field.

A week later, at dead of night, the counterfeiters came to the Parish of Wilton to the home of Mr. Deforest, who had the attached cattle in his keeping, cut the tongue out of one of his cows and set a brisk fire near the house. Had the blaze not been discovered in the nick of time, both the house and barn would have been consumed and probably also the people in the house.

Two of Sandford's active abettors were Jacob Wiley and Joseph Nichols. Nichols had been convicted of forgery and both men had been prosecuted for counterfeiting. The rogues were bent on taking revenge on those who had been instrumental in exposing their villainies. With this intent Nichols came to the back side of the house which had been mentioned in the deed he had forged and, looking in at the window, he asked his daughter, who was busy weaving, why she stayed there. When she replied that it was to finish the cloth, Nichols told her that she would pay for it if she did, as he, Sandford and Wiley would burn or destroy the house that night. He then ordered her to give him all the shot in the house and, when she would not at first comply, he pointed a pistol at her and forced her to do his bidding. He told her, moreover, that he would certainly kill her if she told of his design.

The poor girl was terrified but ventured to tell a woman in the neighborhood, and she promptly made all known, so that a watch was set. The watch saw Sandford's dog and suspected the criminals were near. Presently fires broke out at some distance from the dwelling and, before they were put out, considerable damage was done. Nichols had further told his daughter that he planned to burn the house of Samuel Olmstead, the justice of the peace who had prosecuted him.

The people of Ridgefield and Norwalk were incensed at such outrages. In their petition to the Assembly for relief they pointed out that the desperate fellows went armed in defiance of all law and government. Sandford, for example, showed one man three pistols and another which he carried loaded, and swore to be the death of the first man who should venture to lay hands upon him.

Despite this bravado, a number of young men of Ridgefield, with the aid of the Constable of Salem, captured Sandford without any bloodshed, and their prisoner was remanded to the New Haven jail, from which he had escaped before. On his way back to prison he "Spoke terrible words in Defiance of all the Goals in the Colony." The memorialists stated that the damage caused by fires set by the gang was computed to exceed £4,000, while the loss of time and labor by people watching and working to save their property in this time of drought was estimated at £100 a day. In case Sandford escaped again, he would be more dangerous than before.

The petitioners prayed that he be kept secure in jail and also all the others who might be taken. Their capture was considered a dangerous undertaking and one not to be accomplished without the shedding of blood. In the gang were Nichols, Wiley, one of Sandford's sons and others, all of whom were distressing people by setting fires and lurking armed about the borders of Ridgefield.

In keeping with a report made by a committee of the Assembly appointed to study the matter, that body in May, 1754, ordered the King's Attorney to see that Nichols and his band were taken and that officers of all counties help him and that he secure as much assistance as was needed. The Assembly likewise went on record in commendation of Abigail Nichols, Joseph Nichols' daughter. Their resolution reads:

This Assembly, observing the prudent and good Conduct of Abigail Nichols of Ridgfield and her just attachment to publick Virtue and the common Good, when under violent Temptation to the contrary, in Disclosing the wicked Design of certain convicted Desperados and Banditti in said Town, and the special Danger she is in, of becoming a Victim to the merciless Rage of those detestable Miscreants; as incidentally represented in the Memorial of some of the Inhabitants of sd Town now before this Assembly, think proper to manifest their high Approbation of the Conduct of the said Abigail Nichols; and recommend her to the special Care and Protection of the Civil Authority; and the charitable Compassion of all true Lovers of their Country. 28

End Notes

27
S.C. Files, New Haven, Feb., 1754; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 26, 1754.

Litchfield County Counterfeiters

In the summer of 1754 a number of passers of counterfeits were detected in Litchfield County. About July 14 Sheriff Oliver Wolcott complained to Ebenezer Marsh, J.P., that William Mallory of Kent, John Clothier, Jr., of Cornwall and Odel Squire of Cornwall had passed, about May 9, some false Rhode Island bills of the emission of 1741. Squire at his examination before Justice Marsh on the charge of having passed an £8 bill ( Plates XXXIII-XXXIV) to Jacob Brownson of New Milford, who in turn had passed it to Captain Wolcott, said he was in partnership with Clothier and he told of having sold in April to Captain Joseph Boyce a yoke of oxen for £118. Odel was bound over to the next term of the Superior Court, committed to jail and released on July 24 on bail furnished by himself and Reuben Squire of Cornwall. Clothier was also taken up and examined by Justice Marsh on July 18 on the charge that he had passed two counterfeit £8 Rhode Island bills, one of them to Joseph Pangborn, Jr., of Cornwall. Clothier's story was that he had obtained one such bill from Silas Chapman—who took it back—and another from Mr. Hazzard of Stratford for canoes, while he had also received from a Mr. Atwater or a Mr. Hamblin a new £8 New Hampshire bill. Clothier was also bound over to the August, 1754, term of the Superior Court in Litchfield. 29

At this session of the court both men were indicted, pleaded not guilty, and, as there was no time for their trials, were bound over to the August, 1755 term of the court. They were released on bail of £130 each, furnished for Clothier by Phineas Spaulding and John Clothier, Sr., both of Cornwall, and for Squire by Reuben Squire of Cornwall and Joseph Pangborn, Sr., of Canaan. 30 At the August, 1755 sessions Odel Squire failed to appear, while Clothier was reported to be ill and unable to attend, so that his bail was continued. 31 At the Superior Court held in Litchfield on August 17, 1756, Clothier was still ill. The King's Attorney, however, entered a nolle prosequi and informed the court that he had been unable to find sufficient evidence against the accused. It was then ordered that Clothier pay costs of prosecution in the amount of £21/5/4. 32

Odel Squire's sureties in October, 1755, petitioned the Assembly, asking to be relieved from making good their bond which had been declared forfeited. Their prayer was granted on condition that they pay all costs and charges that had already arisen in Squire's case and that they bring him before the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield on the fourth Tuesday in November. 33 When Squire appeared at that court he was tried, acquitted and ordered to pay costs of £24/8/10. As Odel had no money with which to settle this obligation, Jesse Squire of Cornwall offered to pay and accept Odel in service in compensation therefor. The court agreed to this, ordering Odel to serve Jesse for five years, during which time Jesse was to provide him with meat, drink, washing, lodging and apparel. 34

William Mallory (or Mallery) was examined on July 17, 1754, by Justice Marsh and bound over to the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield in August, 1754. He was released on bail of £50 provided by himself and John Hamilton. It was charged that about June, 1754, at New Milford he had passed to Paul Welch, Jr., a false £8 Rhode Island bill of the emission of 1741. In August the grand jury returned his indictment ignoramus, and he was released. 35

Samuel Comstock and Sherman Boardman, both of New Milford, on July 15 informed against Jehiel Murry (or Murray) of Merryall to Paul Welch, J.P. They charged that he had passed two counterfeits, a £16 Rhode Island bill dated March 18, 1750, to Paul Welch Jr., of New Milford and another to Joseph Weller of the same town. Murry was committed to jail by the magistrate and at the August, 1754 term of the Superior Court at Litchfield was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law, while Comstock and Boardman as informers were granted the reward of £io. 36

Comstock and Boardman also complained to Justice Welch on July 16, 1754, against David Owen of New Milford for having passed counterfeit Rhode Island 40s. bills, one to Joseph Lamb (which Owen said he received from John Clothier), ( Plates XXXV-XXXVI) another to Samuel Comstock, and a third to Ebenezer Leonard. Owen was bound over to the Superior Court to be held at Litchfield in August, at which he was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. On May 7, 1755, his father, David Owen, Sr., of New Milford petitioned the Assembly, stating that his son, then about twenty-one years of age, would like to be released from jail to enlist without premium in the army and allow deduction to be made from his pay to satisfy all costs (which amounted to £15/19/9 as far as charges for prosecution were concerned). This request was rejected. 37

Owen also, it appears, got Samuel Cogswell of New Milford into difficulties, for in September, 1754, Owen brought him some molds and desired him to run some half and quarter pieces of eight out of pewter. Samuel ran ten of each in the shop while the folks were all gone from home and cracked the crucible by melting pewter in it. The pieces were put into a bag and the bag was hidden in a hole in the jamb, except for two pieces, of which one was given to Elisha Wood and the other was in the pocket of a pair of leather breeches hung up in the house, where one Ferris found the counterfeit coin. Cogswell was arrested, examined by Justices Samuel Canfield and Paul Welch and bound over to appear at the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield in August, 1755. On November 1, 1754, he was released on bail of £50 furnished by Daniel Bowman of Kent and Micah Palmer of New Milford. He was indicted in August, 1755, tried, convicted and sentenced to receive thirty-nine stripes and to pay costs of prosecution amounting to £17/8/6. 38

An £8 Rhode Island bill of the emission of 1741 got Samuel Little of Litchfield into trouble with the law. On August 30, 1754, Sheriff Oliver Wolcott complained to Timothy Collins, J.P., that about August 26 Little had passed the counterfeit to Captain Griswold of Litchfield. Samuel was arrested, examined before Justice Ebenezer Marsh and bound over to the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield in August, 1755. He was released on bail of £50 which was furnished by himself and Thomas Little. At the Superior Court he and his bail were called out by proclamation and his bond was declared forfeited. 39

End Notes

28
C. & M. IV, 206–209, 254–255.
29
Data concerning Squire and Clothier in S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R.
30
S.C. Records 11, Aug. 13, 1754.
31
S.C. Records 11, Aug. 12, 1755.
32
S.C. Records 12, Aug. 17, 1756.
33
Col. Rec. Conn. X, pp. 437–438.
34
S.C. Records 12, Aug. 17, 1756.
35
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R, Aug., 1754.
36
S.C. Records 11, Aug. 13, 1754; S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R, Aug., 1754.
37
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; S.C. Records 11, Aug. 12, 1755; C. & M. IV, 258.
38
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; S.C. Records 11, Aug. 12, 1755.

Caesar Trick , Peter and Mary

In December, 1754, Caesar Trick, a mulatto "famous for Stealing Commiting Burgalary and almost all other Crimes and Misdemeanors," 40 was indicted for counterfeiting in Lebanon on December 1 four £2 Rhode Island bills, four £2 New Hampshire bills, five 2/6 New Hampshire bills ( Plate XX) and two 6s. New Hampshire bills and signing two 2/6 bills and one 6s. bill. He had for some time lived in the wilderness "Armed with weapons and Instruments of terror and Death to Prevent his being taken and brought to Justice and was a Common Nusance to ye Publick." Among his other offences Caesar had stolen a mare from Abner Hyde of Norwich. Nathaniel Huntington of that town determined to rid the community of Caesar. Having obtained a writ in favor of Hyde against Caesar for the theft of the mare, Huntington pursued and captured the mulatto. The Superior Court in Windham in February, 1753, gave judgment against Caesar for £24 damages and £9/—/6 costs and assigned him to Hyde for eight years of service to pay the judgment. Huntington paid the money to Hyde and, having thus gotten legal possession of Caesar for eight years, he jailed him in irons until he could arrange to send him out of the country. Caesar, however, "according to his wonted practis Soon Broak Prison and Run away and Returned to his former wickedness with ye addition of Counterfeiting and passing bills of Publick Credit." 41

At the Superior Court held in Windham in December, 1754, Caesar was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. It was ordered that on January 1, 1755, between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon, he have his right ear cut off, be branded on the forehead with C, and be committed to prison for life. 42 Nathaniel Huntington now applied to the Assembly to have his servant released to him upon some reasonable terms, and the Assembly in January instructed Joseph Fowler of Lebanon to release the prisoner to serve Huntington for life if Huntington pay, or give good security to pay, all costs and charges, which amounted to £24/8/4, for which sum Huntington gave Fowler a note. 43

Caesar soon effected another break from the jail of Windham County but Huntington with great trouble and expense recaptured him and sold him for £200 to Captains John and Joseph Denison of Stonington to be transported to the Bay of Honduras and sold there. 44

Nathaniel Harvey, a sheriff's deputy, on December 12, 1753, had arrested Caesar at the house of a negro named Peter, formerly the servant of the late Mr. Richardson of Lebanon, and his wife, an Indian named Mary, In their house were found the counterfeiting plates and some £30,000 or £40,000 in paper bills which Caesar had brought there. Peter had on December 8, 1753, passed to Samuel Clark of Lebanon a false 2/6 bill of New Hampshire and the next day Mary had uttered a counterfeit 6s. New Hampshire bill to Elizabeth Alden, wife of John Alden of Lebanon. Peter was indicted, tried, convicted, and sentenced in accordance with law, and his ear was cut off and he was branded on January 1. His release from the workhouse was requested by David Richardson, presumably the son of his former master. The Assembly granted the request and Richardson was given Peter as his servant for life on payment of all costs and charges. 45 Mary was indicted, tried, acquitted and ordered discharged on payment of costs of £15/19/10. Since she had no money, it was ordered by the court that in order to satisfy the obligation she enter into the service for fifteen years of David Richardson of Lebanon, who was to provide "Meat, Drink, Apparrel, Washing, lodging Suitable and sufficient for Such a Servant." 46

End Notes

39
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; S.C. Records II, Aug. 12, 1755.
40
Caesar, late servant of Stephen Gardner, had, for example, been indicted at the Superior Court held in New London in April, 1749, for having on October 13, 1748, broken open the house of Prosper Wetmore in New London and attempted to rape Anne Wetmore, Prosper's wife (S.C. Files, New London, March, 1749).
41
C. & M. IV, 257, the memorial of Nathaniel Huntington to the Assembly.
42
S.C. Records 11, Dec. 24, 1754; S.C. Files, Windham, Dec., 1754.
43
Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 333; C. & M. IV, 253, 257.
44
C. & M. IV, 257.
45
S.C. Files, Windham, Dec., 1754; S.C. Records 11, Dec. 24, 1754; C. & M. IV, 253; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 333.

Nathan Knap

Nathan Knap of Redding was arrested, probably in November, 1754, on a complaint that about November 6 at Fairfield he had passed a counterfeit Rhode Island bill to Ezra Hecock of Norwalk. Knap was bound over to the Superior Court to be held at Fairfield in February, 1755, and was released on bail of £100 furnished by Knap and Peter Malery of Redding. He was indicted on February 18 but, when he was called three times, he did not appear, and his bond was declared forfeited. 47

End Notes

46
S.C. Records 11, Dec. 24, 1754.
47
S.C. Records 11, Feb. 18, 1755.

End Notes

1
Pp. 24–27.

IX THE YEARS 1755–1760

The Superior Court held at Windham on April 3, 1755, had before it the cases of four suspected counterfeiters, two of them, Jacob Preston and Edward Sumner, Jr., from Ashford. On March 5 Nicholas Parker of Killingly complained to Henry Bowen, J.P., that Preston had passed to him a false £8 New Hampshire bill, whereupon a writ was issued and Preston was taken up by John Chamberlin, sheriff's deputy. Preston was bound over to the Superior Court and released on bail of £100 furnished by Preston and Alexander Sessions of Pomfret. When the court convened, Preston was called three times but did not appear and his bond was declared forfeited. Parker was granted the reward of £10. Sumner was arrested about March 14, charged with having on February 14 passed a false New Hampshire bill to Daniel Dow of Ashford. His indictment was returned ignoramus by the grand jury and he was dismissed. 1

A third passer of New Hampshire counterfeits was David Adams, alias Timothy Green, of East Haddam, who at Woodstock on March 27 passed a false 2/6 bill to Samuel Morris, Jr., of Killingly. Morris at once complained to Justice Bowen, who had Adams arrested and, after examining him, bound him over to the Superior Court, setting bail at £200. As Adams could not provide a bond, he was committed to jail. He was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. On the evening of April 10, the day he was sentenced, he broke jail in company with Samuel Dusten and was not retaken. 2 It is not unlikely that he was the "Timothy Green" who in 1767 tried to have plates made in New York City for counterfeiting the bills of North Carolina and was punished by being pilloried for an hour and then whipped through the streets of the city. 3

The source of the false New Hampshire money was doubtless Dr. Samuel Dusten (also called Dustin, Dunston, or Dunstin) "of Haverhill, Essex County, physician." In the summer of 1751 Dusten had been associated with Jonathan Woodman and Joseph Bill in counterfeiting and passing New York and New Hampshire bills and later that year had been arrested and tried in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for passing bogus paper money of that province. By some strange chance, for he was surely guilty, he had been acquitted. A New York newspaper in August, 1751, described him as a tall, slim man, wearing red plush breeches and a black wig. 4

On March 27, 1755, at Woodstock Dusten made the following counterfeit bills: of Rhode Island ninety of 40s. and fifteen of £5; of New Hampshire thirty-eight of 1s., three hundred and forty-five of 2/6 and three hundred and sixty-five of 40s. Captain John Payson complained of Dusten to Justice Bowen, and the physician was arrested, examined and bound over to the Superior Court, with bail set at £200. At the April sessions he was indicted, tried, and convicted. On April 10 he was sentenced in accordance with law but the same night, together with Adams, broke jail and fled to parts unknown. 5

Daniel Meach of Canterbury was probably an accomplice of Dusten. On March 27, 1755, John Hughes complained against Meach for having in Stonington, about February 20, passed three 40s. Rhode Island bills dated February 2, 1741, to Ephraim Smith of Stonington. Meach was arrested by Isaac Warner, sheriff's deputy, and examined on May 28 in Norwich by Hezekiah Huntington, assistant, and Justices Ebenezer Backus and Jabez Huntington. Bail was set at the unusual sum of £1,000 and Meach was committed to jail, from which, with the aid of some "vile accomplices," he broke out and escaped. 6

Counterfeiters in Sharon

About the middle of July, 1755, Jonathan Hunter of Sharon discovered that three of his fellow townsmen, Amos Tyler, Caleb Strong and Ebenezer Jackson, Jr., were involved in counterfeiting and passing. Upon his complaint to John Williams, J.P., they were arrested and examined by Justices Williams and James Landon. Hunter charged that Tyler had in his custody false bills, coin or counterfeiting implements, and when Tyler was taken up, David Hamilton, sheriff's deputy, found a counterfeit Spanish dollar in the chimney wall of Tyler's house. At their examination, however, there appeared to be nothing conclusive against them, when suddenly Jackson, who apparently had been engaged in counterfeiting for only a short time, offered to turn King's Evidence. He then admitted that he had received £50 in false Rhode Island bills, of which he had passed about half, for example, one 40s. bill and two £5 bills to Zachary Hoffman of Dutchess County, New York. He also denounced his associates.

At his first examination, before Justice Landon, he swore that he had received a bad dollar as good from Amos Tyler as part of the payment for a yoke of steers. Later, however, after he had been accepted as King's Evidence, he admitted that the dollar had been passed him by Tyler with the full knowledge of both men that the coin was counterfeit, Because of this contradiction the justices decided to use him no longer as King's Evidence, and he was bound over to the next Superior Court to be held in Litchfield to answer to a charge of perjury. He was then released on bail of £100 provided by himself and his father.

Before the next sessions of the Superior Court a grand juror, learning that Jackson had put off some counterfeit £5 bills, lodged a complaint against him and Jackson was arrested, bound over to the August sessions of the Superior Court and released on bail of £60. The King's Attorney decided not to prosecute Jackson for perjury but, when he was called three times on August 12 at the Superior Court to answer to the charge of having passed counterfeit bills, he did not appear and both his bonds were declared forfeited.

Jackson, on May 15, 1756, petitioned the Assembly that his bond be forgiven or abated. He stated that he could not pay in full without bringing ruin on his father and pinching want on his wife and children. The petition was accompanied by a testimonial to his good conduct, signed by a number of persons before Samuel Hutchinson, J.P., on May 14, a certificate by Cotton Mather Smith that Ebenezer had conducted himself "like a true and humble Penitent," a statement that on the Lord's Day Jackson had publicly made confession of his sin, and a declaration about his good conduct made by Justice John Williams. The Assembly was favorably impressed and voted that he was to be discharged from the bonds on payment of £30 and all costs. 7

David Hamilton, sheriff's deputy, on July 22 made a thorough search of Amos Tyler's house, where he found nine counterfeit £5 Rhode Island bills on a shelf and eight more wrapped up in paper and placed under a stone. Tyler had shown him these bills, for before the magistrate he had made a full confession. He admitted that, persuaded by a "wicked man," he had received and passed counterfeit Rhode Island bills. He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield and was released on bail of £60 furnished by himself and Bezaleel Tyler, Jr., of Sharon, and this he forfeited by failing to appear in court. Like Jackson, he petitioned the Assembly, stating that he could not pay his bond without the ruin of his father and innocent brother and claiming that he had been trying night and day to discover the man who had led him into passing false money. The Assembly reduced his bond to £20 plus all costs. 8

Caleb Strong at his examination by Justice Landon was acquitted by the magistrate of passing a false dollar but Justice Williams bound him over to the next Superior Court to be held in Litchfield in August to answer to a charge of perjury, since he had denied that he knew the dollar he passed to Jackson was false. He was released on bail of £100 furnished by himself and Jonathan Gillet of Sharon. When he was on his way to his trial, he was arrested by Deputy Sheriff David Hamilton on a charge of passing counterfeit bills. He was acquitted of this charge but his arrest prevented his appearance to answer to the charge of perjury, so that the £100 bond was declared forfeited. On May 16, 1756, he memorialized the Assembly, setting forth that he was a poor man with a wife and numerous children and that he owed various just debts. His request for relief from payment of the bond and costs was granted. 9

End Notes

7
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; C. & M. V, 11–15; S.C. Records 11, Aug. 12, 1755; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 511.
8
C. & M. V, 7–9; S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 518.

Passers of Rhode Island Counterfeits

On August 13, 1755, David Ensign of New Hartford delivered to Justice Roger Sherman a false £5 Rhode Island bill of the emission of 1737 ( Plates XXXVII-XXXVIII), which he said he had received of Ephraim Wilcox, alias Wilcoxen, of New Hartford. Wilcox was arrested and at his examination admitted that in July he had received six such bills from Silas Brigs at Pepper Cotton, of which he had passed one to Constable Eliakim Merrolds, one to Roger Crow, two to Stephen Chub of New Hartford, one to Mr. Cole of Farmington, while he had sent one by Francis Garret to Joshua Moses in Simsbury. He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in New London in September and was released on bail of £100 posted by himself and Ephraim Wilcox of Lymebury in Hartford County. He was indicted on September 23, 1755, tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 10

In Middletown on August 23, 1755, Timothy Bigelow of that town complained to Jabez Hamlin, J.P., against Hugh Gillespy, Eliphalet Stephens (or Stevens) and John Ryan for uttering false £5 Rhode Island bills dated August 15, 1738 ( Plates XXXIX-XL). All three were arrested, and, after they had been examined, Ryan was dismissed, while, for want of bail, Stephens and Gillespy were committed to jail. Both were indicted at the Superior Court in Hartford, Gillespy for having passed counterfeits to Sampson How, Jno. Bird, Elijah Dean, David Strickland and John Ryan, Stephens for having passed bad money to Return Meigs, Elihu Starr and Ann Fisk (wife of Jno. Fisk). Both were tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 11

It appears that Gillespy was also wanted by the authorities of Fairfield County for passing bad bills, for he was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in Fairfield in August, 1756, and on February 23, 1756, was ordered to be committed to jail by Justice Samuel Smith. On May 12, however, he petitioned the Assembly, requesting his release on condition that he enter the army or go into the King's service on board some ship of war that was going off from the coast. The request was approved by the upper house but denied by the lower house, which, however, later concurred with the upper house. The Sheriff of Hartford County was ordered to provide the prisoner with the necessary clothing and, if he did not enlist, was to return him to jail "either with or without further corporal punishment. 12

Another suspected counterfeiter and passer of Rhode Island paper money was William Hambleton (or Hamilton), of Dutchess County, New York, against whom George Cable of Fairfield complained on August 23, 1755, to David Rowland, J.P. Hambleton was arrested by Benjamin Keeler, sheriff's deputy, and was bound over to the Superior Court, with bail set at £100. 13 There seems to be no record of what was done with him at this time but it is probable that he was committed to jail, escaped, and was the William Hamilton of Danbury, who, as will be seen, was arrested and examined on March 9, 1756.

In 1743 William Robinson of Killingly, through a legal technicality, had escaped conviction for helping his brother to alter a bill. He had, however, failed to learn to mend his ways, for on September 16, 1755, Hezekiah Cutler, a constable of Killingly complained to Joseph Leavens, J.P., that Robinson had passed false £16 Rhode Island bills old tenor, known as "Crown Point Money." Robinson was arrested and at his examination admitted passing four bills to Samuel Cook, one to Thomas Newel's wife, one to David Waters, one to Amasa Sessions and one to his wife who was to pay it to Timothy Green. He claimed that he had got the bills from Samuel Stuart for a horse. He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held at Windham in March, 1756, at which he was indicted for having passed a counterfeit £16 bill on August 11, 1755, to Josiah Mills of Killingly. He pleaded not guilty, was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 14

Another suspected passer of these £16 Rhode Island bills at about this time was a transient person who called himself Anderson and who toward the end of August, 1755, in the home of John Smith, Esq., in Voluntown tendered to Smith a counterfeit bill. He told John Dixon and Joseph Eaton, both of Voluntown, who seem to have been present at the time, that he had obtained the bill from Caleb Green in Rhode Island. Eaton went to Green, who denied this, whereupon Eaton and Dixon complained to Jeremiah Kinny, J.P., who issued a warrant for Anderson's arrest. Peter Ayers, an officer specially appointed for this business, together with Eaton and Dixon, pursued Anderson to the home of Willet Larraby in Preston. At sight of his pursuers Anderson fled and hid in a field of corn, where he was found and taken to Larraby's house. When the bill could not be found on him, Anderson told them that he had destroyed it. Eaton then went to Rhode Island and returned, bringing witnesses, who had seen Anderson with the bill and also said that his real name was George Brown, a fact which he now admitted. Justice Kinny had Brown kept in custody for four days by Robert Jamison, Constable of Voluntown, and then dismissed him for want of evidence. 15

End Notes

9
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; C. & M. V, 44.
10
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; S.C. Records 11, Aug. 12 and Sept. 23, 1755.
11
S.C. Records 11, Aug. 26, 1755.
12
C. & M. V, 36–38; Col. Rec. Conn. X, pp. 535–536.
13
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, D–Hid.
14
S.C. Files, Windham, March, 1756; C. & M. IV, 282; S.C. Records 12, April, 1756; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 534.

Joseph Avery and his Accomplices

In July, 1755, information reached Samuel Coit, J.P., of Preston that Joseph Avery of Norwich had come from Dover, New York, with one Cocker, who was suspected of having counterfeited Connecticut bills of the emission of January 8, 1755, and that these two men had a large quantity of such bogus money. Coit issued warrants for their arrest, and Cocker fled to Rhode Island, whither Coit sent Deputy Sheriff Roger Bills after him. Governor Hopkins of Rhode Island renewed the warrant but the fugitive was not sent back to Connecticut. Coit did have Avery apprehended but could not obtain sufficient evidence to bind him over to the Superior Court. 16

The Connecticut 10s. bill had been counterfeited and these false notes were being passed in November, 1755. The Connecticut Gazette of November 22, under the heading of New Haven, stated: Thursday last a Man was apprehended in this Town, on Suspicion of counterfeiting Money of this Colony: There was found upon him 14 Bills of Ten Shillings lawful Money of the January Emission, which appear to be counterfeit; but are so dextrously done, as hardly to be distinguished by a nice Observer: Strict Examination is now making to discover the Bottom of this Iniquity, and to give suitable Descriptions that People may not be imposed on; but as the Types seem to be the same with the true Bills, great Caution is necessary to be used.—A counterfeit 3 1. Bill of NewYork Money, of 1746, was also found in his Custody.

A description of the counterfeit bill and a notice of the arrest of two more passers thereof appeared in the same newspaper of November 29. The item reads:

We hear one Man has been taken up at Albany , for passing some of the Counterfeit Ten Shilling Bills, of the January Emission, mentioned in our last, and another at Fairfield; the last of which, we are told, liv'd at New-London , and 'tis said has confessed the Types were stole from the PRINTER'S there, as they are certainly the same sort of Types with the Originals, and very exactly done, only the Flourishes round the Bill, not quite so neat as the Originals. In the Arms of the true Bills, in the Word SI GIL, the Letters are of an equal Size, but in the Counterfeits, the Letter S, is larger in Proportion, than the I, and the I is rather less in Proportion, than the rest of the Word. Also, In the Body of the Bill, in the Words By Order, the B is larger in the Counterfeit, than the true Bills, and both the r's in Order, are less than in the true Bills, the n stands a little below the Line, but is strait in the Counterfeits, also n, in Green, in the true Bills, is blotted a little, but clear in the Counterfeits. 'Tis said there are Twenty-Shilling and Forty-Shilling Bills of the same Emission counterfeit, as they have the same Arms and Flourishes, but we have not seen any of them.

The person taken up at Fairfield was John Dunlop. On November 19, 1755, in Fairfield he passed a false 40s. proclamation bill of Connecticut to Jonathan Bulkley of that town. The same day Benjamin Keeler of Ridgefield complained of him to Justice Samuel Adams, who issued a warrant for the arrest of the suspected counterfeiter. Constable Nathan Bulkley took him up and brought him before the magistrate. On his person were found four more counterfeit 40s. bills. He was bound over to the Superior Court and was released on bail of £200 furnished by himself and John Simson of New London. 17

At his examination Dunlop accused Daniel McLean of New London of aiding in counterfeiting and passing. Justice Samuel Adams of Fairfield at once sent word of this to Justice Pygan Adams of New London, who on November 21 had McLean arrested by Constable John Hempsted and committed him to jail because he could not find bail, which had been set at £300. McLean was indicted at the Superior Court held at Norwich on March 23, 1756, for imprinting four 40s. Connecticut bills and for assisting Dunlop in signing them. He was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 18 Dunlop, who was indicted on February, 1756, at first pleaded not guilty but then changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced in accordance with law. On February 20 he petitioned the court that execution of the sentence might be postponed until after May that he might have an opportunity to memorialize the Assembly. He stated that he was ignorant of the law and had been brought into the wicked scheme by another person. 19

The Superior Court at Norwich at this time also dealt with two other suspected counterfeiters, Joseph Avery and Zephaniah Spicer. Spicer, who came from Preston, at Norwich about January 1, 1756, passed four false 10s. Connecticut proclamation bills to Captain Ephraim Bill, who complained against him to Justice Ebenezer Backus. On the magistrate's warrant Spicer was arrested by Deputy Sheriff Prosper Wetmore and brought before Justice Backus, who bound him over to the Superior Court and committed him to jail since he could not furnish bail, which had been set at £150. At the Superior Court he was indicted for having passed the four bills to Captain Bill and also for having about December 15, 1755, passed sixteen false 10s. Connecticut bills to Joseph Brewster of Norwich. He was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law, while the informer, Captain Bill, was granted a reward of £io. 20 From the New London jail, to which he had been transferred on March 30 along with the other counterfeiters convicted at Norwich, he sent a petition to the Assembly. He stated that he was young, mentioned his poor, sickly wife and two small children and requested that he be released on condition that he enter the army for the expedition against Crown Point. 21 The Assembly promptly resolved that he might enter his name "in the form of enlistment with any enlisting officer of the troops of this Colony rais'd for said expedition." If he did not enter the service and remain in it until legally dismissed, he was to be subject to being remanded back to jail. 22

The Boston Weekly News-Letter of April 1, 1756, published the following item: "Also we hear that three Men were convicted at Norwich for counterfeiting Connecticut Bills; for which two of them received their Punishment on Saturday last, and the other on Monday." Two of them, as we have seen, were McLean and Spicer. The third was Joseph Avery, who had been arrested in the summer of 1755 but dismissed for want of evidence. Now, however, he was indicted for having at Norwich about May 31, 1755, made and signed four 20s. and ten 10s. Connecticut proclamation bills and also for having passed to persons unknown a 40s. Rhode Island new tenor counterfeit and some 20s. New Hampshire new tenor counterfeits. He was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 23 While he was in the custody of Dayton Smith, Keeper of the New London jail, Avery, McLean and Spicer apparently spent part of their time in picking junte. 24 Avery possessed a considerable estate, which was sold through a committee, appointed by the Assembly, consisting of Hezekiah Huntington, Isaac Tracy and Captain William Witter. The Assembly likewise was called on to decide about many claims against his estate, one of which was made by his mother, Tabitha Avery, who stated that she had lent Joseph £44/5/– old tenor and that he owed her £7/15/– for keeping his house, cooking, washing and caring for his seven cows. 25

End Notes

15
C. & M. Counterfeiting (unbound) III, 24–26.
16
C. & M. IV, 259.
17
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, D–Hid.
18
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1756; S.C. Records 12, March 23, 1756.
19
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, D–Hid; S.C. Records 12, Feb. 17, 1756.
20
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1756; S.C. Records 12, March 23, 1756.
21
C. & M. IV, 281.
22
Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 250; C. & M. IV, 278.

Owen Sullivan

Doubtless one of the most important counterfeiters of the Colonial Period was Owen Sullivan, who was taken up in the year 1756. The Connecticut Gazette of March 25, 1756, under the heading of New Haven, printed the following brief notice:

On Wednesday last was bro't to the Goal in this Town,......Syllavan, alias Johnson, the famous Money Maker, who was detected and taken in Dutchess County, on Hudson's River, about 120 Miles above New-York, in that Government, by the extraordinary Address and Resolution of Cornet Eliphalet Beecher.–We have a short Account of said Syllavan, which perhaps would not be disagreeable to our Readers, but for want of Room, must defer it till our next.

The account, which appeared in this newspaper on April 13, 1756, is not found elsewhere and it gives details of Sullivan's career which would not otherwise be known. It reads as follows:

Syllavan, alias Johnson, a few Years ago lived in Boston, and carried on the Goldsmith's Business, he was remarkable for being always flush of Money, tho' he lived in an expensive Manner, above his visable Income. A Difference between him and his Wife first bro't him under Suspicion: She having drank somewhat too freely, call'd him the £40,000 Money-maker, which being overheard, and several other Circumstances being collected against him, he was taken up on Suspicion, but got Securities for a very large Sum, stood Trial, and was acquitted, but not without a general Suspicion of his Guilt, which made him think proper to remove to Rhode-Island; where he counterfeited large Sums of Money, and had several Accomplices; but being suspected, they were all taken up. He strenuously pressed them to deny the Fact, and declare that the counterfeit Money proved to be passed by them, was received of him as true Money, assuring them, that if they acted according to his Direction, he would bring them all off clear; They all complied except one, who thinking to turn King's Evidence, confessed his having passed Money knowing it to be counterfeit; but his Evidence not convicting any of the rest, it was only taken against himself, the rest were all acquitted, he and Syllavan only were found guilty, and condemn'd to be cropt and branded. Syllavan being a Man of good Address, found Means to prejudice the Populace in his Favour, and got his Sentence executed in a Manner that did no Injury to his Person: And tho' he was by Sentence to remain a Prisoner, yet he obtained the Liberty to be present when the Sentence was to be executed upon his Accomplice, saying he would see it effectually done, as a Punishment for his Folly and Perfidy. Accordingly, being but slightly guarded, he broke from his Keepers, seiz'd a Cutlass, got into the Ring and encouraged the Executioner to do his Duty with Rigour, which being done, he fought his Way thro' the Crowd, escaped, and eluded the Pursuit made after him. A few Days after, he came and surrendered, saying, he would do that voluntarily, which he had shown them, they could not force him to do. A few Days after, he broke Goal, and tho' pursued, made his Escape Sword in Hand, much in the same Manner as before; and retired to Dutchess-County, in the Province of New-York, where he provided himself with a secret retreating Place, and a Set of Accomplices for vending the Money that had been, or should be made by him, and supplying Necessaries, Conveniencies and Correspondents for putting the Business upon a regular Footing, and living comfortably upon it. Being an excellent Artist at casing and engraving, he so nicely counterfeited the Paper Currency of almost all the neighbouring Governments, that hardly the best Judges, could discover his, from the true Money. He carried on the Business successfully, for a considerable Time, vending large Sums, and getting for them true Money, Bonds, or other valuable Effects, and a large Resort of Company to him, so that it may be suspected he has many Accomplices yet undiscover'd. As his Exploits in Boston and Rhode-Island, in some Measure, wore out of Mind, he ventured to travel incog, and once went over to Rhode-Island. A considerable Trade was carried on last Year with his Money, among the Soldiers; who not suspecting it, took it instead of, or in Exchange for true Money; but the Fraud being at last discovered, and trac'd till some of the Parties concern'd, were detected; some of them were cropt and branded, and more of the Gang bro't under Suspicion. Cornet Eliphalet Beecher having been active in this Discovery, and suspecting two Tavern Keepers (Hunt and Morehouse) to belong to the same Gang, he went to one of them, and taking Occasion to change some Money with him, was paid a counterfeit Bill in part of his Change: He charg'd the Tavern Keeper with it, who at first deny'd it was counterfeit, then deny'd he knew it was so; but refused to tell the Person he had it of, and would gladly have given other Money for it; but Mr. Beecher carried him before a Magistrate, and by his Confession, several more of his Accomplices, and many of their Proceedings were discovered; particularly the Place of Syllavan's Retreat, whom it is said, there was now a Reward offer'd for taking. Mr. Beecher, taking one of the Prisoners with him for a Guide, went in Search of Syllavan's retreating Place. His Guide led him to a Swamp, in a large unfrequented Wood, where in the Side of a small Cliff of the Hill, made by the Stream, he removed some Brush, and the Stump of a Tree, which very artfully conceal'd the Mouth of a Cave; into this Cave Mr. Beecher and his Company went, and found it led by a long narrow Passage, into a handsome large Room, cased round with Planks, and provided with many Conveniencies for lodging, sitting, eating, &c. &c. the Light was admitted by a Window cut from another Part of the Hill; but the Person they sought for was not to be found, for he hearing some of his Accomplices were taken, expected they would betray him, and discover his Habitation, and therefore abandoned it and fled to the Mountains, where he concealed himself 7 Days, from Saturday the 6th, to Friday the 12th of March, when being compelled by Hunger, he ventur'd to a House where he was acquainted, and hoped they would favour his Concealment, mean while Mr. Beecher search'd every House, which by the Information he could get from the Prisoners, and others, he had Reason to suspect: At last coming to the House where Syllavan was, he beset it with his Company, search'd it, and examined the People, they strongly deny'd any Knowledge of the Man sought for, but one of the Company finding some Dirt newly removed, they made a more diligent Search, and removing a Woman, Bed and all, who lay on the Floor, (it being about One o'Clock on Saturday Morning 13th) under the Bed they discovered a Plank cut in two, and not nailed down, and taking it up, they saw a Passage cut in the Earth, for there was no Cellar to the House, then calling to Syllavan, he came forth and surrendered himself. The Cavity where he was concealed, was dug under the Hearth, and had a Fire-place, the Smoak of which issued by a Vent into the Chimney above: It's said he offered a large Sum to Mr. Beecher, to let him escape, and that by his own Account, he has made Money, to the Amount of several Hundred Thousand Pounds: He says he can counterfeit any of the Money he has seen, but if he might be spared, would contrive a Plate that it should be impossible to counterfeit. 26

It would seem from the wealth of detail in the above narrative that it was told to the printer of the Gazette by an eyewitness of the taking of Sullivan and also one thoroughly familiar with his past career of crime. It seems not at all unlikely that the source of the account in the Connecticut Gazette was Eliphalet Beecher himself, a resident of New Haven, where the newspaper was published.

As early as June 8, 1753, a grand jury in New York Province indicted Sullivan and two of his associates, Benjamin Chase and Jacob Mace, for stamping Rhode Island money. Mace, a blacksmith, at the Superior Court held in Windham in September, 1753, was convicted of uttering a counterfeit £4 Rhode Island bill and was sentenced in accordance with law, but it appears that he either escaped from jail or was released, for Eliphalet Beecher, encouraged by the Connecticut Assembly, about the end of December, 1755, or early in January, 1756,. arrested two of Sullivan's accomplices, of whom one was Samuel Griswold and the other Jacob Mace. He brought both prisoners before Justice Haviland of Dutchess County, who, together with Justice Humphry, examined them. The justices made Beecher provide a bond to prosecute but refused to commit Griswold and Mace, so that Beecher complained to the Connecticut Assembly, which body requested the Governor of Connecticut to ask Governor Hardy of New York to assist Beecher. 27

During the fall of 1753, as has been seen, Sullivan lived at the house of David Sandford in Salem, New York, where together they stamped a large number of counterfeit bills. 28 The article in the Connecticut Gazette, already cited in full, gave much of Sullivan's background from the time that he was a goldsmith in Boston. It appears that he came about 1748 to that town from Louisburg, where he had been convicted of uttering counterfeit dollars, and had been first arrested in Boston toward the end of August, 1749, and there convicted and punished with two hours in the pillory and twenty stripes. 29 His punishment for counterfeiting in Rhode Island was about the end of September or early in October, 1752. 30

After Sullivan's capture by Beecher and a large posse, Sullivan was removed to New Haven and thence to New York City, where he was tried and convicted at the Supreme Court and on April 29 was sentenced to be hanged on May 7. His sentence was not fulfilled then for want of a hangman and he was respited to Saturday, May 8. The night before, however, the gallows were cut down, presumably by some friends, and he was not executed until Monday. The New-York Gazette: or, the Weekly Post-Boy of May 17 thus describes his last moments:

Owen Syllavan, before he was turn'd off on Monday last, declared, That some Years ago he struck off Twelve Thousand Pounds of Rhode-Island Money, and passed above Sixteen Hundred of it in one Day: – – – That of the New Hampshire Currency he made Ten or Twelve Thousand Pounds: – – – Of Connecticut Cash he struck about Three Thousand Pounds: – – – And of the New-York Currency he printed large Sums of four different Emissions; the last of which was the Bills signed Oliver De Lancey, John Livingston , and Isaac De Peyster , and dated so late as March 25, 1755; to do which he had four Sets of Accomplices, who, he said, printed and passed other large Sums at Times unknown to him: And that he left the several Plates and Stamps with his Confederates, all of whom he allow'd deserv'd the Gallows as well as himself; but would not betray one of them, or be guilty (as he term'd it) of shedding their Blood; – – – Soon after which he took a large Cud of Tobacco, and turning round to the People said, I cannot help smiling, as știs the Nature of the Beast. And being ask'd, for the Benefit of the Publick, of what Denomination the Bills were which he printed of the New-York Money, answered, You must find that out by your Learning; and so died obstinate.

End Notes

23
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1756; S.C. Records 12, March 23, 1756.
24
S.C. Files, New London, March, 1756.
25
Col. Rec. Conn. X, pp. 519–521, 535, 551–552; C. & M. V, 19–35.
26
Kenneth Scott, Counterfeiting in Colonial New York , pp. 81–82.
27
C. & M. IV, 261, 263–266.
28
See above p. 117.
29
Boston Weekly News-Letter, Sept. 13, 1750, p. 2.
30
Boston Evening-Post, Oct. 9, 1752.

Sullivan's Associates

The Connecticut Assembly in May, 1756, voted that £10 be paid to Eliphalet Beecher out of money collected on bonds forfeited by sundry persons whom he had bound over to the Superior Court at Fairfield. 31 One of these persons was Elijah Keeler of Ridgefield, who was complained of by Beecher to Samuel Smith, J.P., who bound Keeler over to the Superior Court to be held at Fairfield in February, 1756, and then released him on bail of £40, furnished by Silas and Martin Keeler. Elijah did not appear in court, and his bond was declared forfeited. 32

Other associates of Sullivan, besides Griswold, Mace and Keeler, were Elisha Morehouse, two men by the name of Cogsdale, a Hunt (the brother of Ambrose Hunt) and Lieutenant Hoit. 33 One of these, Morehouse, a tavernkeeper in the Oblong in Dutchess County, was arrested. Eliphalet Beecher on February 2, 1756, took him before Thomas Benedict, J.P., in Danbury and charged him with passing counterfeit money. The magistrate bound over the prisoner to the Superior Court to be held in Fairfield in February, setting bail at £500. When Morehouse could not secure a bond in this amount, he was committed to jail. On February 21 Robert Walker, the King's Attorney, complained of him that on or about November 15, 1755, at Sheffield in Fairfield County he had uttered to Cornelius Vanhorn of Kinderhook a false 10s. Connecticut bill. Morehouse pleaded guilty and was sentenced in accordance with law. 34

Other members of Sullivan's confederacy were, in all probability, John Clark of Stratford, William Hambleton (or Hamilton) of Dutchess County, New York, and Daniel Cornall (or Cornwall) of Croton River, Westchester County, New York. Clark had been convicted in February, 1754, at the Superior Court in Fairfield of passing counterfeit Rhode Island money obtained from the "Money Club" in Dover. 35 He was complained of in February, 1756, to Justice Samuel Adams, who bound him over to the next term of the Superior Court, setting bail at £80. On February 17 he was indicted for having on or about August 15, 1756, at Stratford uttered to Dr. Jonathan Labaree of that town a false £5 old tenor bill of Rhode Island and also on or about December at Stratford uttered a similar counterfeit to Jonathan Beardslee of Stratford. He pleaded not guilty but was tried, convicted and sentenced in accordance with law. 36

William Hambleton (or Hamilton) of Danbury was committed to the jail of Fairfield County, on suspicion of counterfeiting, by David Rowland, J.P., to be brought before the Superior Court at Fairfield on February 17, 1756, but Hambleton by violence broke jail and made his escape. 37 He was apparently soon recaptured and on March 9 was brought before Justices Paul Welch, Bushnel Bostwick and Roger Sherman in New Milford by Eliphalet Beecher, who accused his prisoner of passing false 10s. Connecticut bills of the emission of 1755 and also false Rhode Island bills. Hambleton confessed his guilt, implicating Jacob Patingall (or Patengill). He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in August, with bail set at £100, but was soon released on bail of £50 to appear to give evidence against Patingall or Boyce. 38

On February 5, 1756, Eliphalet Beecher brought Cornall before Samuel Smith, J.P., and the magistrate bound him over to the February term of the Superior Court in Fairfield, with bail set at £200. Since Cornall could not find bondsmen, he was committed to jail. He was indicted for having passed, about December 25, at Cortland Manor to Timothy Delaven of that place a false 10s. Connecticut bill and also, about January 7, at the same place another such note to Michael Abbot of Ridgefield and, about January 1, a third such bill to William Hale. Cornall pleaded not guilty, was tried, acquitted and dismissed on payment of costs of £21/18/6. 39

Beecher, whose skill and persistence had led to the capture of Sullivan and the breaking up of the gang in Dover, had a number of suspected counterfeiters jailed in Litchfield. Ambrose Hunt, against whom Beecher was scheduled to bear witness, lived west of Sheffield in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. On December 9, 1755, Nathaniel Spery of New Haven complained to Justice John Beebe that Hunt in November had passed some counterfeit 10s. Connecticut bills. Hunt was arrested and bound over to the August term of the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield in bail of £100, which was furnished by Joshua Whitney of Canaan. Hunt did not risk a conviction, for he failed to appear when called, and his bond was declared forfeited. 40

Early in March, 1756, Beecher arrested five persons and took them before justices of the peace in New Milford, charging them with counterfeiting and passing bills of Connecticut and other provinces. His prisoners were Joseph Boyce, Sr., Joseph Boyce, Jr., Joseph Steel, Benjamin Pierce and Amos Fuller, all of Dutchess County. They were committed to the jail in Litchfield, and on June 13 the two Boyces, Fuller, Pierce andJacob Patingall (who will be discussed presently) broke jail and made good their escape, leaving only Steel behind. 41

Joseph Steel ofBeekman's Precinct in Dutchess County was indicted at the Superior Court held in Litchfield on August 17, 1756, for having in May, 1754, at New Milford uttered to Tryall Gaylord (who had died by August 17, 1756), wife of Benjamin Gaylord, a false Rhode Island 40s. bill of the emission of 1741. According to a certificate, apparently found on Steel, which was dated at Ringwood, March 30, 1747, and was signed by John Ogden,Steel had for two years before that date been in service as a refiner of pig metal. The prisoner pleaded not guilty, was tried, acquitted (perhaps because Mrs. Gaylord was dead and the other counterfeiters had fled, leaving none to turn King's Evidence) but was not released because he could not pay the costs of prosecution. In October, 1756, the Assembly passed a resolution that he be sold "to any of his Majesty's English subjects" for such time as might suffice to pay for the costs or for such a sum as the sheriff might be able to sell him for if he could not sell him for the whole. 42

William Hambleton (or Hamilton) in his confession had implicated Jacob Patingall (or Pattengill), and because of Hambleton's arrest by Beecher there can be little doubt that Patingall was connected with the "Money Club" in Dutchess County. On April 14, 1756, Joshua Whitney of Norfolk and Elnathan Ashmun of Canaan complained to Justice David Whiting against Patingall. A warrant was issued, and the informers arrested Patingall, on whom they found about forty counterfeit 10s. Connecticut bills. He was bound over to the Superior Court to be held in Litchfield in August but since he could not find bondsmen for the bail of £100 he was committed on April 15 to the jail in Litchfield, from which he broke out and escaped in company with the two Boyces, Pierce and Fuller. His accusers were granted a reward of £10 by the Assembly. 43

Daniel Galusha of Dover, New York, was probably a member of the "Money Club." On April 1, 1756, a warrant for his arrest was issued in New London County, and on April 3 he was examined by Justice Simeon Miner in Norwich on suspicion of having been involved in counterfeiting and uttering bills of Connecticut and of the neighboring colonies. He was committed to the Norwich jail and kept there for five months before he was released, probably for want of sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. 44

It is not unlikely that Ebenezer Lothrop, the son of William Lothrop of Norwich, was associated with Galusha. Young Lothrop in February was taken before authority in his town to be examined on the charge of counterfeiting Connecticut bills. Before any decision had been made by the justice of the peace, Ebenezer broke away from the grasp of the officer and fled to distant parts, whence he wrote to his father. On May 10, 1757, William Lothrop petitioned the Assembly, requesting that his son be allowed to return home exempt from all prosecution, since all charges and costs had been paid in full by his father and friends and all the counterfeit bills passed by Ebenezer had similarly been made good. In case there should prove to be more of them, they too would be redeemed. The Assembly approved the request on condition that within ten days after Ebenezer's return he provide sureties in the amount of £100 for his good behavior. He came home on July 19, 1757, and the required bond was furnished by his father and a blacksmith named John Birchard. 45 In May, 1761, Ebenezer asked the Assembly to release him and his bondsmen from the bond and presented a testimonial to his good conduct which was signed by Richard Hide, Isaac Huntington, Ebenezer Lothrop, Simon Tracy, Jr., and Ebenezer Backus. The Assembly, unimpressed, denied his prayer. 46

End Notes

31
C. & M. V, 16–18. The Assembly at the same time voted him other sums owed him for apprehending Owen Sullivan and others (Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 539).
32
S.C.Records 11, Feb. 17, 1756.
33
Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 455; C. & M. IV, 261, 263–266.
34
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, M; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 17, 1756.
35
See above p. 111.
36
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Bra-C; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 17, 1756.
37
S.C. Records 11, Feb. 17, 1756.
38
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, P–R.
39
S.C. Files, Fairfield, 1750–1759, Bra-C; S.C. Records 11, Feb. 17, 1756.
40
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, D–N; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 573.
41
S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R.
42
S.C. Records 12, Aug. 17, 1756; S.C. Files, Litchfield, 1752–1759, O–R; C. & M. V, 46; Col. Rec. Conn. X, p. 572.
43
C. & M., Counterfeiting (unbound) III, 71–74; Col. Rec. Conn. XI, pp. 271–272.
44
C. & M. V, 57–60; Col. Rec. Conn. XI, p. 46.

Asa Phelps and his Associates

The Assembly was informed in February, 1756, by Isaac Warner of Windham that Emerson Cogswell, David Keeney and Micah Palmer were strongly suspected of having in their custody a large quantity of counterfeit bills which they intended to pass. The legislators instructed Warner to search for the false bills, arrest all suspects, and bring them to trial. It was voted that all costs of the search be paid by the colony. 47

Another of the gang was Asa Phelps of Simsbury, for whose arrest a warrant was issued in Hartford on February 24, 1756, by Jonathan Trumble, assistant. By it Deputy Sheriff Elisha Wales of Union was directed to apprehend Phelps and take him before Justice Ebenezer Wales. The deputy was prevented "by some crafty deception," as he put it, from taking Phelps. 48