TUCKER, THE MOCK PARSON
Convicted at the Middlesex Sessions, 2nd of November, 1811, for swindling a Victualler of his Wine, and transported for Seven Years
AN unusual crowd of very respectable persons assembled at an early hour at the Middlesex Sessions in November, 1811, to see this clerical impostor, and to hear his trial. He was put to the bar charged with obtaining goods and money under false pretences -- viz. by pretending to a person of the name of William Edbrook that he was a clergyman in Holy Orders, and Rector of Frome, in Somersetshire; and, by means of these false pretences, obtaining from the said W. Edbrook three bottles of wine and one bank dollar of the value of five shillings and sixpence.
Mr Edbrook deposed that he kept the Quebec Arms, in Oxford Street. On the 1st of July, 1811, the prisoner came to his house and entered into conversation with him. It was rather late in the evening. He asked him his name; and on hearing it was Edbrook observed that he was sure he was a West Countryman, as he knew many of that name in the West of England; adding, at the same time, he was a West Countryman himself, and that his uncle was Recorder of Exeter, his name Tucker, and he himself was Rector of Frome, in Somersetshire, and that he was also curate of Park Street Chapel; also that he was intimately acquainted with Sir T. D. Ackland, Bart., and many personages of the first distinction; and that he lodged at No. 42 Green Street, Park Lane. He then inquired if his wine was such as he could recommend, and upon being answered in the affirmative ordered some wine to be sent the next day to him, as his father, sister and some friends were to dine with him. This being promised, he departed that night, and paid his reckoning.
The next day Mr Edbrook sent to know whether the prisoner did actually reside at 42 Green Street, and whether he performed service in Park Street Chapel; and his servant brought back intelligence that it was all true. He then sent two bottles of sherry. The next day prisoner called on him, and drank a bottle of port, but went away without paying for it, saying, however, that he would call the following day. The following day he did call; and, talking high as before, asked if he could have a bed there that night. Mr Edbrook had no accommodation for him, as his house was all engaged, but he procured a bed for him in a neighbouring coffeehouse, and he called in the morning after, and breakfasted at Mr Edbrook's. When breakfast was over he signified that he had no money about him less than a two-pound note, upon which he put on his hat and departed, and witness saw no more of him till his apprehension at Bow Street.
Benjamin Tedder said he was clerk to Park Lane Chapel. On the 22nd June last the defendant came to him and said he was appointed by the Rev. Mr Clark to assist him in the clerical functions at the chapel, and he accordingly attended the next day. He came in a gown, and was accommodated with a surplice by the witness. He went through the communion service and, after the sermon, administered the Sacrament to a considerable congregation. He also performed the evening service of that day.
The witness understood that the Rev. Mr Clark had actually engaged the defendant, being imposed upon by him. In conversation with him the defendant said he had a great number of invitations for each Sunday, and consulted with him which he should prefer, when the witness very honestly advised him to go where he should get the best wine and the best company.
The prisoner was found guilty on the second indictment, and the Court, having considered the various circumstances of his life, sentenced him to be transported for seven years.