RICHARD VALENTINE THOMAS
Executed at the New Prison, in Horsemonger Lane, 3rd of September, 1810, for Forgery
RICHARD VALENTINE THOMAS was indicted for forging and uttering, knowing it to be forged, a cheque for the sum of four hundred pounds, eight shillings on Messrs Smith, Paine & Smyth, of George Street, Mansion House, purporting to be drawn by Messrs Diffell & Son.
Mr Bolland having stated the indictment, Mr Gurney opened the case, by which it appeared that the prisoner, in the month of July, 1810, who was in the habit of frequenting the Surrey Theatre, in Blackfriars Road, and the Equestrian Coffee-House contiguous to it, applied to a man of the name of Exton, who was waiter at the coffee-house, to go to Messrs Smith & Co. and get the bank-book of Messrs Diffell. This enabled him to ascertain the balance of money which Messrs D. had in the hands of their banker. He then sent the book back by the same person, with a request to have a cheque-book. He received one, and filled up a cheque for four hundred pounds, eight shillings, and delivered it to Mr Johnson, the box and house keeper of the Surrey Theatre, with whom he appeared to be upon intimate terms. He told him he had some custom and excise duties to pay, and requested him to get payment for the cheque in notes of ten and twenty pounds. The cheque was drawn, accordingly, "Pay duties or bearer," etc. Johnson went to Messrs Smith, but as they could not pay him as he wished, he received from them two notes of two hundred pounds each, which he immediately took to the bank and exchanged for the notes the prisoner had desired him to get. The forgery was soon detected, and the prisoner was taken into custody, in company with a woman with whom he cohabited. Upon searching her, a twenty-pound note was found, which was identified by a clerk of the bank as having been given to Johnson in exchange for the two notes of two hundred pounds. The prisoner and his companion were locked up in separate rooms. When the woman was asked where she had got the note of twenty pounds, she replied the prisoner gave it her; but he, being within hearing, immediately called out: "No, you got it from a gentleman.". Before they were removed from these rooms the officers searched a privy communicating with the room in which the woman was confined, and found fragments of notes of ten and twenty pounds to the amount of three hundred and sixty pounds, and upon several of the pieces were the dates corresponding with the entry of the clerk of the bank. In addition to this, Mrs Johnson, the mistress of the Equestrian Coffee-House, produced a twenty-pound note which she had received from the prisoner on the same day the cheque was presented, and this made up the whole four hundred pounds.
The fact of the forgery being established by Mr Diffell, who had for that purpose been released by Messrs Smith & Co., the jury without hesitation returned the verdict of guilty, and sentence of death was passed. The prisoner was a young man of very genteel appearance. He died a penitent.