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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

R v Fitch alias Knatchbull [1832] NSWSupC 9


Supreme Court of New South Wales

Stephen J., 22 February 1832

Source: Sydney Herald, 27 February 1832[1 ]


John Fitch alias Knatchbull was indicted for falsely making, forging, and counterfeiting an order for the payment of money, to the following effect:-


``No. 87, 1831,

``To the Cashier of the Bank of Australia,

``Pay Matthew Long, or bearer, six pounds, ten shillings sterling, for account of repairs."



with intent in so doing to defraud Charles Bailey, at Sydney, on the 24th December last.

The second count charged him with uttering, well knowing the said order to have been forged, with intent to defraud the said Charles Bailey.

The third count charged him with forging the order with intent to defraud Thomas McVitie, Esq. the Managing Director of Bank of Australia, and other his partners.

The last count charged him with forging the order, with intent to defraud the parties aforesaid.  Guilty, remanded.



Dowling J., 25 February 1832

Source: Sydney Herald, 27 February 1832


John Fitch, alias Knatchbull, convicted of forgery.  Mr. S. Stephens took several objections to the form of the information in arrest of judgment.  The Court overruled the objections, and sentence of death was recorded against the prisoner.



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 23 February 1832.  See also Sydney Gazette, 12 June 1830 (Fitch or Knatchbull acquitted of forgery). 

For another forgery case in 1832, see R. v. Swainstone, Dowling, Select Cases, Archives Office of N.S.W., 2/3466, p. 128, summarised by Dowling J. at pp 128-129 as follows: ``A forged order for the delivery of goods in these terms "Sydney 5th November 1831." let the Bearer have wearing apparel on account of the Ship Vibilia to the amount of 5£ Five pound sterling   Dawes Gore & Co Agents Mr Davis Sydney", is not an order within the meaning of the Statute, it not appearing that the person drawn upon had any authority to supply the goods, or the supposed drawer any authority to draw for such goods, both being strangers to each other."

On the Swainstone case, see also Sydney Gazette, 9 February 1832; Australian, 10 February 1832; Sydney Herald, 13 February 1832, under the name Swainson.  The Gazette reported that Dowling J. said that it had been held that orders for the payment of money or delivery of goods did not come within the statute unless it appeared on the face of the instrument that the person in whose name it was forged had some interest in the money or goods to be obtained on it.  The judge said that he would refer the matter to the full court if the prisoner were found guilty.

Swainstone was tried on 18 February 1832 for obtaining by false pretences.  He was found guilty and sentenced to transportation for seven years: Sydney Gazette, 21 February 1832; Sydney Herald, 20 February 1832.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University