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

R. v. Spring and Marlow [1834] NSWSupC 1

forgery - Bank of Australia - Sydney Herald, proprietors - ticket of leave - bank procedure

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Burton J., 8 January 1834

Source: Sydney Herald, 13 January 1834[1 ]

Wednesday. - Before Judge Burton, and a Military Commission.

James Spring, and Thomas Marlow, were arraigned at the Bar under information of the Attorney General, charged with having committed a forgery on the Bank of Australia, and uttering the instrument knowing the same to be forged.

Mr. Therry opened the prosecution, and stated that on the 21st day of October last, the prisoner Thomas Marlow, presented a cheque for £138, at the Bank of Australia, purporting to be drawn by Stephens and Stokes, proprietors of the Sydney Herald Newspaper, in favour of James Newton.  The Teller at the Bank having doubt as to the signature, submitted it to the Accountant, who, having doubt also, said it could not be paid without being countersigned by Stephens and Stokes.  The prisoner Marlow then took away the cheque with him, and within half an hour after returned with it, written on the back, ``this is correct, Stephens and Stokes."  There was still some hesitation in payment at the Bank, but Marlow said ``it is all right, and he wrote on the back of the cheque ``James Newton," as being his own name, and then the money was paid to him.  The prisoners were shortly afterward taken into custody by the Chief Constable, and obtained the money.

William Henry Mackenzie, deposed to his being Cashier of the Bank of Australia, and that George Bunn, and several others, had signed the deed of settlement as co-partners in the same.  (One of the counts charged the prisoners with having defrauded George Bunn, and others, as proprietors of the Bank of Australia.

John Sullivan, Teller at the Bank of Australia, by his evidence confirmed the statement of the Counsel for the information, and added that he had paid the cheque to Marlow, who signed his name at the back ``James Newton," by notes of the Bank as follows - five of £10; ten of £5; six of £2; and twenty-six of £1 each; that Stephens and Stokes printed their own bank cheques, and that they were different to any in the Colony; the rotation number which Stephens and Stokes adopted in the corner of the cheque, was on the forged cheque paid 56, and the preceding genuine cheque, paid to their order, was numbered 55; the forged cheque after the precautions taken, did impose upon him.

Ward Stephens stated that he was a partner in the firm of Stephens and Stokes; (cheque handed to him) recollects that this cheque was shewn to him on the 21st day of October last, and that it was not in his hand writing, nor is it, he believes, in the hand writing of his partner Mr. Stokes; he believed it was in the hand writing of Spring; had often seen him scribbling on bits of paper at the Office the names of Stephens and Stokes, and leave them about on the printing cases without any concealment; Mr. Stokes was out of town at the time of the forgery; the cheque-book was kept in Mr. Stokes' private room, up two flight of stairs; witness thought that the writing in the body and on the back of the cheque were the same hand writing.

Frederick Michael Stokes deposed to his being the partner of Ward Stephens, and that he generally signed the cheques in their business, but did not sign the cheque now placed in his hand; he could not say whose signature it was; they printed cheques for their own exclusive use, and this cheque in a blank state must have been extracted from a book which he kept in his own possession; he had examined (and now exhibited) a cheque-book, out of which one or two cheques had been torn; he had been out of town from the Friday evening prior to the 21st of  October, and returned on the Tuesday evening following; he had kept the cheque-book in a box on the table in his private room, the door of which he had locked when he left town; no counterpart was left of the cheques torn away, contrary to usual custom, but the whole page abstracted; the forged signatures somewhat resemble Mr. Stephens' hand writing when he writes in a hurried manner; the prisoner Spring had been some time previous, body servant to witness, by whom he was treated with more than usual confidence, and had, therefore, opportunity of access to his books and papers.

Peter Gardner, Accountant at the Bank of Australia, confirmed the statement in the opening pleadings, as to his doubt of the signature to the cheque when first presented, but when counter-signed, had concurred with the Teller in its payment.

John Rowell of Windmill-street, who had recently obtained a ticket-of-leave, was examined at great length.  The prisoners were taken at dinner in his house on the day of the forgery, and he, with them, carried off to the Watch-house.  It appeared that he had been some time acquainted with the prisoner Marlow, who had shewn him that morning, a handful of Bank notes; but in the interval of their apprehension, the notes had been planted in the quarry near to Jack the Miller's Point.

His Honor said that the witness Rowell was so implicated in this transaction, that he would deprive him of his ticket-of-leave, and send him into Government.  He had harboured Marlow, knowing him to be a prisoner of the Crown at large.  By his own evidence, his connection with the case before the Court was most suspicious and reprehensible. His Honor desired the Jury to dismiss the evidence of this witness for these reasons.

The Chief Constable deposed to his apprehending the prisoners at the house of John Rowell, and finding on their persons only 17s. 6. in money.  Marlow had escaped from the Watch-house No. 2, but was captured again in about three weeks; Spring had also escaped, but was captured in half an hour afterward.

The Chief Police Magistrate from information received, had sent a constable to capture Marlow on the second occasion, who, in the pursuit, threw down a bag of silver and other money, and when he was taken, some more money was found upon him.  The whole amount recovered was about £98, which the Judge subsequently ordered to be handed over to the Bank of Australia.

His Honor summed up with marked attention to the details of evidence, and stated the recent law as affecting forgeries.  He requested the Jury to give their verdict according to their belief in the evidence.

The Jury after retiring a short time, returned and pronounced James Spring  Not Guilty - Thomas Marlow Guilty of uttering.

His Honor, in the most feeling manner addressed the prisoners, and pronounced judgment of transportation for life on Thomas Marlow, and ordered James Spring into Government.



[1 ] The judge's trial notes are in Burton, Notes of Criminal Cases, State Records of New South Wales, 2/2411, vol. 8, p. 72.

For the legislation governing the Savings Bank of New South Wales ((1832) 2 Wm 4 No. 13), see Sydney Gazette, 5 April 1832.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University