WILLIAM WYNNE RYLAND
Engraver to his Majesty. Executed at Tyburn, in August, 1783, for forging a Bill of Exchange
WILLIAM WYNNE RYLAND was an engraver of great ability, and received a pension from both the King and Queen, who held him in high estimation as an artist. Fortune had smiled upon Mr Ryland, even from his birth, until his evil genius prompted him, for gold, to debase his talents in engraving for the purpose of committing forgery.
He was a native of Wales. His father had been patronised by the late Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, who jocosely said that if ever Mr Ryland should marry he would be the godfather of his first son. This soon after happened, and the unfortunate subject of this history, being the first-born of such marriage, was named William Wynne, by desire of the worthy baronet.
Ryland gave early proof of his genius, for while in the former part of his apprenticeship he engraved a head of his godfather, Sir Watkin Williams Wynne, which was esteemed a production of singular merit for so young an artist.
Having faithfully served his time, he visited the French and Italian schools, and obtained the honorary medal in Paris. On his return to England he introduced the admired art of engraving copper-plates to yield an impression resembling drawing in chalk; and soon after his Majesty ascended the throne he appointed Mr Ryland his engraver, with a salary of two hundred pounds a year, and the Queen added one hundred pounds a year more, out of her privy purse, as a testimony of her approbation of his extraordinary talents.
Mr Ryland entered into partnership with a Mr Bryer, and they jointly opened a shop in Cornhill, where they carried on a very extensive trade in prints, the former stil1 continuing to exercise his abilities in the art of engraving. Though their business was productive of great profit, several capital losses occurred almost at the same time, and their pecuniary affairs became so deranged that a bankruptcy ensued.
Some years after this failure Mr Ryland, on his own separate account, opened a print-shop in the Strand, where he had every prospect of success; but being fond of a private life, where he might have leisure to "pursue coy Science in her last retreat," he declined public business and retired to Pimlico, thence to Knightsbridge, where, by one fatal act, he entirely ruined his reputation as a man: but his name as an artist will ever stand in the highest estimation.
At this time Mr Ryland had recovered his losses in trade, and had been bequeathed shares in the Liverpool Waterworks which were then deemed to be worth ten thousand pounds. His business was worth two thousand pounds a year, and his stock was valued at ten thousand pounds more. Such was his own statement of his property in his defence on his trial; and it was supposed that, in order to engross the remaining shares in his Liverpool concern, he committed the forgery for which he suffered.
He had already obtained several sums on forgeries, Mr Nightingale, the banker, having advanced him, on the 19th of September, 1782, three thousand pounds; and such was his opinion of Mr Ryland that he declared he would have lent him that sum without any deposit whatever.
The forged instruments so exactly resembled the real bills that it was scarcely possible to know one from the other. But at length it was discovered that two bills of the same tenor and date were out, consequently one of them must be a forgery.
Suspicion now fell so strongly on Ryland that he was induced to secret himself; and a reward was offered for his apprehension. He went in disguise to Stepney, and there took an obscure lodging at the hovel of one Richard Freeman, a cobbler, accompanied by Mrs Ryland, the wretched partner of his misfortune, passing as Mr and Mrs Jackson.
There he some time evaded the search after him, till one fatal step of the unfortunate woman, who was watching over his safety, caused his apprehension. She brought, unconscious of danger, one of her husband's shoes to the cobbler to be mended, with the name of "Ryland" on the inside of it. This was fatal: the cobbler, in order to obtain the reward, delivered up his lodger.
When the officers of justice went to apprehend Ryland they found him in a corner of the room on his knees, and heard a noise like a guggling in his throat, which was occasioned by his having cut it. He had a razor in his hand, and a basin stood before him; but the wound did not prove mortal. On the 26th of July, 1783, he was arraigned at the bar of the Old Bailey, on an indictment charging him with "forging, and uttering, knowing it to be forged, a certain bill of exchange for two hundred and ten pounds sterling, purporting it to be a bill drawn by the gentlemen of the factory, at Fort Saint George, in Madras, on the Honourable East India Company, with intent to defraud the said Company, and divers other persons, to whom he had passed the said bill."
He was found guilty, and, his crime admitting of no mercy, was executed at Tyburn in August, 1783.