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

R v Dow or Lascelles [1835] NSWSupC 39

indictments, error in - Lascelles, Viscount - forgery - nobility, claim to be member of

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Forbes C.J., 4 May 1835

Source: Sydney Herald, 7 May 1835[ 1]

John Dow, alias Luttrel, was then arraigned, and on being called upon to plead to the indictment, refused to do so, on the ground that he was improperly described; he disclaimed the names of John Dow or Luttrel.  The Court enquired of the prisoner what his name was, when he stated it to be Edward, Viscount Lascelles. - The Court then informed the prisoner, that the law required he should put in an affidavit to that effect, when he left the bar for that purpose. ...[2 ]

John Dow, alias Luttrel, was again put to the bar.  His Honor enquired if he had put in the affidavit required; the prisoner replied, that he had not had time to do so.  His Honor referred to the Act 7 Geo. IV. c. 64, § 19, which provided that the prisoner arraigned may be called on to plead, unless he can shew by affidavit that he is improperly described in the information.  His Honor asked the prisoner if he thought he could be prepared by the ensuing day, when he answered in the affirmative.  His Honor then observed that it was certainly competent for the Court to amend the information, from the prisoner's own description of himself, and proceed upon it immediately; but he thought that the most proper and direct course would be, that pointed out by the Act referred to.

His Honor cautioned the prisoner, in an emphatic manner, as to the consequences of making an affidavit to that which was not true; for, as it was material to the question, it rendered him liable to a prosecution for perjury.

The prisoner said that he cheerfully went forth to make that oath.  Notwithstanding the combination of malignancy that had been arrayed against him, and the persecutions of the Press, he would do so with the tranquillity of an innocent conscience.


Burton J., 5 May 1835

Source: Sydney Gazette, 7 May 1835[3 ]


John Dow, alias John Luttrell, stood indicted for forgery, but refused to plead, not being indicted by his own proper name; having put in an affidavit that his name was Edward, Viscount Lascelles.

The Attorney General joined issue to this plea; when the prisoner, being called upon to choose whether he would be tried by a Civil or Military Jury, enquired whether he was to be tried by his proper name?

His Honor the Chief Justice informed the prisoner that he was to be tried only upon the issue of his name; upon which his lordship, after a Jury had been selected of Civil Inhabitants, chose a Jury of Military Officers, and was again remanded for the fourth time.

(Before Mr. Justice Burton, and a Military


John Dow alias Lutterell, was placed at the bar, on the issue of his name.

The Solicitor General stated that the name of the individual at the bar, was John Dow otherwise Luttrell, and not Edward, Lord Viscount Lascelles.

Mr. Justice Burton then told the prisoner, it was his duty in the first instance to bring forward proof to contradict the statement made by the Solicitor General.

The prisoner said he had no parole evidence to adduce, but he would produce some documentary and circumstantial evidence, and proceeded to lay the case before the jury, as follows.

Gentlemen of the Jury - I stand before you now in a most awful situation, and therefore trust you will view my case and the extreme hardship of it.  Gentlemen, I was not convicted in England; I was sent to these colonies unknown to my father, the Earl of Harewood; I arrived in this colony in the year 1826; a period of nearly nine years since, and during which time, the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood, Edward Viscount Lascelles, has never been heard of in the United Kingdoms; I arrived in V. D. Land without the knowledge of my friends, destitute, pennyless, and without a friend - a convict, in a strange country and under the name of John Dow; but I distinctly assert I never went under the name of Dow, but for the stigma it would have cast upon my family, had it been known that a son of the Earl of Harewood was sent a convicted felon to V. D. Land.  Gentlemen, it is perhaps within the knowledge of you all, if you have visited or resided in England within the last 9 years, that the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood was missing, and had been missing since the year 1826; now gentlemen, is it not reasonable to suppose had that son been dead or returned to his native land, the public prints would have noticed it.  On my arrival in V. D. Land; I informed the authorities there of who and what I was, and it was officially inserted in the Van Diemen's Land newspapers, that the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood, Edward, Viscount Lascelles had arrived a prisoner in Van Diemen's Land, under sentence of transportation for 7 years.  These papers no doubt went to England, and such a paragraph must have met the eye of my father, the Earl of Harewood, as an extract from a V. D. Land paper, inserted in one of the English newspapers; and is it possible, gentlemen, to suppose if the Earl of Harewood had been aware the statement was incorrect, as an English Nobleman, and for the honor of his House, he would not have contradicted it by the most summary means in his power?  Have we heard that he did so?  Can any person among this large community come forward and say, he ever saw a statement to that effect?  No, gentleman, there is no man in the universe can come forward, and conscienciously [sic] say, I am not the eldest and legitimate son of the Earl of Harewood; I now, gentlemen, produce a Sydney Gazette, stating my arrival in the colony, under the name of Lord Viscount Lascelles [here the Solicitor General interrupted the prisoner and told him to put the paper in his pocket, as it could not be admitted as evidence] the prisoner then produced a number of the Sydney Monitor, which the Solicitor General objected to, when His Honor stated that it would take more time to object to, than it would to read, and desired the prisoner to go on.  The paragraph stated, that the Earl of Harewood's son, Lord Viscount Lascelles, had lately paid a visit to N. S. Wales. The prisoner then signified he had done.

His Honor then stated that the Solicitor General must go into evidence to contradict the statement made by the prisoner, and shew that he was not Lord Lascelles.

The Solicitor General rose and said as His Honor thought proper, so he would go into evidence to prove that the prisoner was in no way related to the family of the Earl of Harewood, but that his name was John Dow otherwise Luttrell.  Mr. David Chambers would prove that some time in the 1833, he received a note from a person who stated himself to be Lord Lascelles, requesting to see him the next day.  He accordingly went to where the letter directed him, viz., to a lodging-house kept by a Mr. Thompson, in Prince-street, where he saw the prisoner, who stated himself to be the writer of the note.  The prisoner then instructed MR. C. to prepare a power of attorney in favor of some individual in England, to receive from thirty to forty thousand pounds, from the Earl of Harewood; he also instructed Mr. C. to write a letter to Spottwood and Robinson, a most respectable house in London, enclosing the power of attorney, and giving them instructions in what way to proceed.  Witness sent the letter, with the power of attorney enclosed, by the first ship; since which time he has received a letter from the above firm, stating, that from the first moment they saw the power of attorney, they had no faith in it, and thereupon wrote to the Earl of Harewood, informing him of the circumstance, and received from the Earl of Harewood a letter in reply, to the effect - ``that the person who had sent the power of attorney was an impostor - no one having borne the name of Henry Lascelles but himself; that his eldest son, Edward Viscount Lascelles, was at present at Munich." - Messrs. Spottwood and Robinson further stated, that they believed the person's name, who had sent the power of attorney, to be John Dow, who was convicted of swindling at Dumfries, and sentenced to be transported for seven years; and seeing Mr. C.'s name endorsed on the power of attorney, they had taken the opportunity of warning him against further imposition.

The Solicitor-General then called the following witnesses.

Philip Fell sworn - Deposed he came out with prisoner in the ship Woodman, as a passenger; the prisoner was a convict on board known by the name of John Dow, or Luttrell.

Cross examined by prisoner - I did not stow away; I had no occasion to do so; I have spoken to you pretty often on board.

Philip Gunn sworn - I am Superintendent of the Prisoner's Barracks at Hobart Town; I know the prisoner; I have seen him in Van Diemen's Land as a convict; I saw him there 8 or 9 years ago, under the name of John Dow; I have heard him called Lord Lascelles; he was entered in the barrack books as John Dow.

Cross examined by prisoner. - I don't recollect receiving you in barracks at Hobart Town; I recollect the Woodman arriving there in May 1826; it is usual when prisoners arrive there to put them into barracks; I never recollect your name being in the paper as the eldest or any other son of the Earl of Harewood; I remember a person named Dow being sent to Launceston; something, which I cannot at this moment recollect, occurred, which induced me, some three or four years after prisoner's arrival, to trace the prisoner from the moment of his arrival in V. D. Land, but I could not discover any more than that the name of the prisoner was John Dow, and he came out a convict to V. D. Land; you were free when I saw you in Hobart Town, a year or two since; I do not know that you assumed the name of Lord Lascelles on your becoming free; many a man takes an assumed name on being transported.

William Bentley sworn - I knew the prisoner at Launceston as a convict; he was clerk to me, but only for a short time, on account of bad penmanship, and bad authography; his name was John Dow.

Cross examined by prisoner - I knew you at Launceston; I believe after you left me you was gate keeper at the lumber yard.

Prisoner - If you saw the Solicitor General standing outside the gate of the lumber yard at Launceston, should you say he was a gate keeper?

Mr. B. - No.

Prisoner - How did you come to leave the engineer's stores?

Mr. B. - Because the government had no further occasion for any person to be employed there.

Prisoner - Was there not some plundered property found in your possession?

Mr. B. - Never.

Prisoner - I don't wish to hurt your feelings, Mr. Bentley, but what induced you to leave the Derwent?

Mr. B. - Family circumstances.  I have heard you called Lord Lascelles, but never gave any credit to it.

David Chambers sworn - In the beginning of 1833 I received a letter signed Lord Lascelles, stating that he wished to see me; I called to where the letter directed me and saw the prisoner, who stated himself to be the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood, and he wanted a power of attorney drawn to receive thirty or forty thousand pounds; I was convinced when I first saw him he was an impostor, but did not tell him so, but drew the power of attorney, which he signed ``Lascelles" only: the power was attested by Mr. Norton; I wrote a letter enclosing the power of attorney, which he signed as before, directed it to the Earl of Harewood, and sent it; some time after this he came to me, and told me that it was stated about that he was not Lord Viscount Lascelles; I told him I was convinced he was not, and had some conversation with him about his family, of which he gave me a very unsatisfactory account; I told him the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood was Edward, and not Henry, as he stated himself to be; he said there must be some mistake in the book of English peerage, which I produced to him to prove the fact; I am not paid for my trouble yet.

Cross examined by the prisoner - I am Crown Solicitor; I know the virtue of an oath.

Prisoner interrupted Mr. Chambers by saying, ``Look at me - don't be ashamed."

Mr. C. again deposed - I can swear you said your name was Henry, and not Edward; you had a draft of the power of attorney, in which the name of Henry was not inserted; your took the draft from my office some time after the power was sent home.

The Judge then stated that he must interrupt the proceedings, and leave the case to the Jury from the evidence adduced, as to whether the prisoner's name was John Dow, or Edward Viscount Lascelles.

The Jury, without any deliberation, decided that the name of the prisoner was John Dow.[ 4]


Burton J., 5 May 1835

Source: Sydney Herald, 14 May 1835[ 5]


Tuesday, May 5, 1835 - Before His Honor Mr. Justice Burton, and a Military Jury.

John Dow alias Luttrel, who stood indicted for forgery, but who had refused to plead, on the ground of not having been properly described in the information, and who put in an affidavit of his true name being Edward Lord Viscount Lascelles, was arraigned this morning, for the purpose of trying that issue.  The Jury, after hearing the evidence, which will appear detailed below, on his trial for forgery, returned a verdict that the name of the prisoner at the bar was John Dow alias Luttrel be entered in the records of the Court accordingly.  A civil Jury was then empannelled, and the prisoner stood indicted by the name of John Dow alias Luttrel, for that he, on the 23d January, 1834, did forge and utter a certain instrument, purporting to be a promissory note, at fifteen days after date, for the payment of £50, signed E. Lascelles, and payable at the Bank of New South Wales, for the purpose of defrauding one James Roberts, of Richmond; and two other promissory notes for a like amount, one at fifteen days after date, and the other at three months, purporting to be payable at the Bank of New South Wales; and for the purpose of defrauding the aforesaid James Roberts.

Clerk of the Arraigns - John Dow alias Luttrel, who stand charged in this indictment, are you guilty or not guilty.

Prisoner. - I cannot plead to that name, my legitimate name is Edward Lord Vicount [sic] Lascelles.

His Honor Mr. Justice Burton - As the prisoner still refuses to plead, let a plea of not guilty be entered on the records of the Court, and proceed with the case.

The Solicitor General opened the case and called the following witnesses.

James Roberts - I am a settler at Blacktown, on the Richmond Road; I know the prisoner at the bar; he called at my house in January, 1834; there was a man along with him, of the name of Jerry Callaghan, who acted as his servant; he was represented to me as Lord Viscount Lascelles, and that he came to look at some horses; his servant selected two mares and one horse, with a saddle and bridle - the value of the whole was £50; he remained at my father's house, which was at the distance of one hundred rods, about three hours; he asked me if I had any objection to take a cheque on the Bank for the amount; I said I had not; he drew out this instrument, what I then suppose to be a cheque; I saw him write it; he came to my house on horseback; I never saw a nobleman before - (a laugh) - I thought the prisoner appeared something above the common sort - (repeated laughter) - cheque produced is the same as I saw written by the prisoner; I saw him sign E. Lascelles; he gave me his address 32, Prince-street, Sydney; I gave him one horse with saddle and bridle on that occasion, the other to be delivered at his lodgings, when I was to be paid; the last one was delivered to Mr. Prendergast upon his written order; I presented the cheque the next day at the Bank of New South Wales, in order to ascertain if all were correct; the gentleman whom I saw, I believe, was the cashier; I presented the cheque, and asked him if it were right; he said, the drawer was a gentleman of fair repute, for aught he knew to the contrary, and if I came when it was due I should have no doubt be paid; when the note became due I came to Sydney and again presented the note at the Bank, but the gentleman then altered his story, he said there were no funds in that name; I waited on the prisoner at his house, and told him I came for my money; he said he was £10 short, but would pay me next day at twelve o'clock, and I attended next day accordingly, at the hour appointed, and asked for his lordship; a female came to me and said, that he had not been able to make up the money, and, not liking to see me, had taken the coach to Liverpool; I never saw him afterwards, until I saw him at Penrith Court-house, in custody, a few weeks ago; I think I told the prisoner the answer I got at the Bank; he upbraided me with having been at the Secretary's Office making some slanderous statements about him; I told him I had not been there; he made no excuse whatever about the money not being deposited in the Bank to meet the bill.  His servant constantly, in addressing him, called him ``my lord," and ``your lordship," to which he answered.  I don't think I would have taken his cheque, if I had not thought he was a Lord - (a laugh) - I really thought he was a Lord, by the tremendous sway of gold chain he had about his neck. - (repeated laughter) - I thought the title and his appearance sufficient guarantee for the payment of the money.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner - I don't remember the particular day on which you came to my house; you then told me you were Lord Vicount [sic] Lascelles; I don't know whether you are so or not; I have my doubts about it now, although I believed it then; I can read, but not very well, and write a little, perhaps rather badly; I cannot say that I read the whole of the note at the time, I read some of it; I believed it to be a cheque on the Bank at that time; my reason for so doing was, because I had frequently seen cheques before with similar scribbling and flourishes about them; I now believe it to be a promissory note; I have no objection to read it to the Court as you desire it.  Witness here read the promissory note.

Prisoner - Oh!  I see you can read tolerably well.

Witness - The reason of my early visit to Sydney, after I had received the note, was in consequence of my having been told by a person who called at my house a short time after you went away, who, on being informed of the nature of our transactions, remarked upon it as a singular thing, that a gentleman should be laughing and joking with his servant along the road, after leaving my house; I thought myself that it was not the way in which Lords usually conduct themselves towards their menial servants, and began to think that all was not right; when I found your lordship had run away, I gave the case into the hands of Mr. Robert Nichols, and instructed him to take what proceedings he thought proper.

Prisoner - For the debt, you meant of course.

Witness - Yes, for the debt I supposed.

Prisoner - Very well, Sir.

Witness - I had two horses in my own possession when I went to Sydney; you sent the horse back which I had delivered to Mr. Prendergast before the note became due; Mr. Thompson has one of the horses now in his possession.  I have heard Mr. T. say that you bestowed it on him.

Francis Prendergast - I am a settler, and reside a few miles from Windsor; the prisoner was first introduced to my wife by Mrs. Thompson, when she was on a visit at Sydney.  He arrived at my house late one night about nine o'clock; he came alone; he said that he had arrived by the coach, and had come to that part of the country for the benefit of his health for a few days; he made my house his home; in a day or two after he arrived, he borrowed one of my horses for himself and one for his servant and went out to take a ride; on his return home, he said he had been at Mr. Roberts', and had bought some horses; he remained at my house fifteen days, during which time he destroyed twelve of my best turkeys, innumerable geese, ducks, fowls, &c.; he always dined by himself in the parlour, and after he had taken what he thought proper, he sent the remainder out to me and my wife and servants into the kitchen.  For the first three or four days after he arrived, he did not say anything about his title; but one afternoon in overhauling a box (peradventure the identical ``Tin Box"), he produced from it a newspaper the ``Sydney Gazette" (a laugh), saying ``here is my character;" he read a paragraph from it respecting some nobleman who had honored New South Wales with a visit, and said it alluded to himself; he then for the first time, represented himself to me as Lord Viscount Lascelles.  Jerry Callaghan, who became his servant, had been living with Major Druit, but being then out of a situation he was stopping at my house, and ``his Lordship" liking the lad's appearance hired him.  When his Lordship run away, he escorted him as far as Cooper's Distillery, but would not go any further with him.  The prisoner told me he was a Peer of England and a Member of Parliament, and was shortly going to his estate in Yorkshire, and he would take Callaghan with him.  I always called him ``my Lord," and Callaghan did the same; I did not know when he went out that he was going to Mr. Roberts' to buy horses until he told me on his return.  I received directions from the prisoner after he left my house to send to Roberts' for one of the horses; the note produced is my hand writing - note read.

``Sir, - I am directed by his Lordship to request that you will send one of the horses, which he bought from you a few days ago.  You are to proceed to Sydney, where you will receive payment for the same."

The prisoner told me when going away, that he had let Mr. Thompson have it.  I never saw the colour of his money in payment for his fifteen days; entertainment.  After he left my house, he came up again in three or four days, stopped all night, and in the morning requested to see the colt which was brought up to him from the paddock; the grass being wet he would not walk out to see it, he examined it, and finding two white spots on its side, he said that would do.  After his departure on this occasion, I did not see him again until he was in custody at Penrith.  I saw Thompson afterwards, who said the prisoner owed him £150 for nine month's board; he, the prisoner, had given him the horse then in my possession, but he would not have it as a gift; he would give him credit for it in his account.

Cross-examined by the prisoner - You told me to send for the horse to Mr. Roberts; you gave me a verbal order only; Mr. Thomson sent me a note subsequently to your departure, and desired me not to give the horse to any person; Mr. Thompson took him away himself; I never received any money from you during your stay at my house, except on one occasion, when you sent to Sydney for five gallons of wine; my wife told me about the turkeys; she said that upwards of a dozen of her finest turkeys had been destroyed; I am sure I saw you eat three or four myself; [the witness dwelt with peculiar feeling on the subject of the turkeys and other fowls which had fallen victims to his Lordship's appetite;] I am now sober; I drank a glass of spirits about seven o'clock this morning, and have not tasted either beer, ale, or porter since; I had a gill of wine a little before I came into Court; I am sure I am perfectly sober; I never received a letter from you directing me not to deliver the horse to Thompson; I received a letter from you to deliver it to a man you afterwards sent up for it; you made no agreement with me for your entertainment, nor did I make any demand - I trusted to your honour, which is all I have ever received; I heard afterwards that you ran away.

Philip Lander Fell. - I came to this Colony in 1826, a passenger by the Woodman, convict-ship; the prisoners who left England in her were landed at Van Diemen's Land, and I came on to Sydney; I knew the prisoner on board that ship; he was a convict, and known by the name of John Dow, or Colquhoun; I frequently saw him mustered on board under the name of John Dow, to which name he answered; on one or two occasions he refused to answer when called upon by the name of John Dow, stating that that was not his name; he was put in handcuffs I recollect for his obstinacy, and narrowly escaped corporal punishment.

Cross-examined by the prisoner. - I never heard you called Lascelles by any one on board; I heard that you had stated your name to be Lascelles, and you seemed anxious to propagate a belief that you were Lord Lascelles, the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood, but no one on board believed it; I never saw you write, nor did I ever see any letter or other document said to be written by you, with your signature attached thereto; I filled no situation on board - I came out as a cabin passenger; I appeared of course on deck; I was not clandestinely stowed away in any part of the ship; I swear I did not come out a convict; I have been in the Prisoners' Barracks at Hobart Town, but certainly not as a prisoner.

Prisoner - Is it not a very usual thing with persons who fall into misfortune and commit crime, in order to shield their family and connections from disgrace, so adopt an assumed name? is it not very common with prisoners in this Colony?

Witness - It is possible, but I cannot say that an instance ever fell under my particular observation.  I saw a number of letters in the possession of the surgeon of the ship, said to belong to the prisoners on board, but I do not remember seeing any large package of letters said to belong to you, nor am I aware that any such packet was delivered to you.

John Black examined. - I am Cashier of the Bank of New South Wales; I know all the persons who keep accounts there, by a reference to the books; but without such reference, I cannot always tell at the moment that a cheque is presented, whether the party has funds in the establishment or not: no person of the name of Lascelles has had any account there since I have filled the office of Cashier, now a period of upwards of six years; many notes have been presented bearing the signature of a person of that name, but they were never paid, as there were no funds; I cannot at this time recollect the particulars of the notes so presented; I do not recollect the note now produced as having been presented at the Bank - it may have been, but it is impossible to recollect it; there are many notes of a similar description presented in the ordinary course of business.

Timothy Bentley. - I know the prisoner at the bar - I knew him at Launceston as a convict; he was employed under my orders as a clerk in the dry store of the Engineer department, of which I was storekeeper; he was sent to my office as John Dow, and I never knew him by any other name; he was employed under me a few weeks only, as he wrote very badly, and his words were frequently mis-spelt; he got some other subordinate appointment, but I cannot say particularly what the nature of it was.

Cross-examined by the prisoner - I do not know that you were appointed superintendent of the Lumber-yard; I understood you were a kind of watchman at the gate; the person who has charge of the gate I believe has also charge of the working tools of the convicts, which he delivers to and receives from the daily.

Prisoner - Now, Sir, let us have your reason for stating that I was a watchman on the gate, and not the superintendent of the yard.

Witness - I used frequently to see you standing near the gate, and acting as a watchman or gate-keeper would do; I cannot say you let individuals in and out exactly.

Prisoner - Well, that is very good - you saw me near the gate! According to your idea of the duties of a gatekeeper, I suppose that if you had happened to see the worthy Solicitor-General himself standing near the gate of the Lumberyard at Launceston, you would, of course, have set him down as a gatekeeper also!  (a laugh).  Well now, Sir, since you answer my questions so well, I will take leave to ask you another question, if it is a fair one; pray, how came you to leave the Engineer stores?

Witness - I will readily answer that question.  The stores were broken into and some property taken away, and not wishing to be subject to such responsibility I left the Government service and took a public house; it is now two years since I left Launceston; I have heard that you had stated yourself to be Lord Lascelles, but I never attached the slightest weight to that statement; I did not believe it; I only knew you as John Dow; I believe you wrote a letter, purporting to be a communication to Governor Arthur, when you signed Lascelles; I cannot speak as to the common practice among convicts with regard to the use of fictitious names; I cannot say that I knew anything bad of you at Launceston.

Mr. William Gunn - I am Superintendent of the Prisoners' Barracks at Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land; I know the prisoner at the bar; I knew him in Van Diemen's Land as a convict; I saw him there eight or nine years ago; I have seen him subsequently to that period; I knew him as John Dow or Doe; he was transported from England in that name; I have heard that he represented himself as Lord Viscount Lascelles; I was led some years ago, from circumstances which I cannot now recollect clearly, to trace the books for the history of the prisoner; I traced him as John Doe.

By the prisoner - I do not recollect receiving you; you were not in the Prisoner Barracks; I received the prisoners by the Woodman, in May, 1826; it is usual for prisoner on their landing to go to the Prisoners' Barracks; those who were not assigned were sent to the Government Farm at New Town; you may have gone into the office on your arrival, but I cannot recollect that you did nor for what purpose; I do not recollect your arrival being alluded to in the Hobart Town Papers, as the son of the Earl of Harewood; I was not present at the examination of the prisoners on board the vessel in the River; I believe you proceeded to Launceston.

Prisoner - Now, Sir, you appear to have been particularly interested in me, for which you are entitled to my acknowledgements; you took a great deal of trouble in examining the books and tracing through a series of years, until at length you made the wonderful discovery that I was John Doe; did not your anxiety or your curiosity carry you still further, - to some more important particular?

Witness - I proceeded as far as the records would admit of; I believe I satisfied myself as to the object of enquiry.

Prisoner. - Ah, you went on I perceive until you could get no further; you failed there, eh?  Allow me to ask you, Sir, you who profess to know so much of my history as to have discovered my name to be John Doe, did you ever meet with any individual who knew me not to be Edward, Lord Viscount Lascelles, as represented by me? or may you not have met with some person in the course of your experience, who knew that I was not that John Doe which appeared so clearly to your mind?

Witness - As far as my experience goes, you were known as John Doe, the name in which you arrived; I again saw you after you became free, and returned to Hobart Town; I cannot say where you resided; I understood that you then took the name of Lord Viscount Lascelles; I remember frequently meeting you after your return.

By a Juror - You say that you traced the prisoner's name to the indents; what statement appeared therein, as to the history and character of the prisoner, in the mother country?

Witness - there is nothing of that nature stated in the indents which arrive with the prisoner - nothing but names, descriptions, offences, and sentences.

David Chambers, Esq. - In the beginning of the year, 1833, I recollect receiving a memorandum from a person calling himself Lord Lascelles, to wait on him in his lodgings, in Sussex-street, and I attended accordingly; on obtaining an interview, he said he had sent for me, for the purpose of drawing up a Power of Attorney, authorising his agent, in England, to receive from the Earl of Harewood, whom he represented as his father, a large sum of money, I believe upwards of £30,000; from the first moment I saw him, I took him to be an impostor; I did not then tell him so to his face; I drew the document in the usual way, and read it to him; it commenced, ``Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry, commonly called Lord Viscount Lascelles," at which he stopped me, and protested against the words ``commonly called," which he desired might be expunged, as he held his title in his own right, being the eldest son of Earl Harewood; I remonstrated with him on erroneous view he had taken of the nature of his title, and attempted to explain to him that he could only bear the title of Lord Viscount Lascelles, by courtesy; but he persisted in contending that he was a Peer in his own right; he, however, suffered it to remain as it was engrossed, and signed the warrant ``Lascelles;" I wrote a letter for him to Messrs. Spottiswode and Robinson, Solicitors, London, directing them to obtain the sum mentioned from the Earl of Harewood, and also as to the appropriation of the amount when received; the warrant was attested as a genuine document, by Mr. Norton, as Notary Public; in the letter written by the prisoner, he had directed the greater portion of the amount, mentioned in the document, to be remitted to me; I remarked that it was a very large sum to entrust to a stranger as I was, whom he knew nothing about; he said, he had certainly suffered through life by his credulity, but did not apprehend any infidelity on my pat; I asked him some questions relative to his family, the names of his brothers and sisters, &c.; his answers were very unsatisfactory, and he seemed to me to know very little about the family; he stated his name to be Henry, and that he was the eldest son; I had ``Burke's Peerage" in my possession, to which I took occasion to refer, and found that Henry was the second son, and had married Louisa, the second daughter of the Marquis of Bath; he smiled and said, it must surely be a mistake of the Press; he was unable to give the least information as to any member of the family, except William Saunders Sebright, M. P., in which he happened to be correct; as to the numbers and ages of his brothers and sister, he made a statement which did not at all correspond with the fact as set forth in the work to which I have alluded, and which is looked upon as the most satisfactory authority on the subject; since that time I have received a letter from Spottiswode and Robinson, informing me that the person who employed me must be an impostor.  Those gentlemen wrote me stating, that having no faith in the Power of Attorney, they communicated immediately with the Earl of Harewood, who informed them that it was an imposture, as Lord Lascelles, whose name was Edward, was then at Munich; the only person connected with the family, of the name of Henry, was the present Earl himself.  His lordship informed them that some years previously, he believed a person had been transported from Dumfries, in Scotland, for swindling, under the assumed title of Lord Viscount Lascelles.  Some months after I had drawn the Warrant of Attorney, the prisoner came to my office and said, that some people had dared to insinuate that he was not Lord Lascelles; I then told him that I also thought he was not; I again questioned him particularly as to his name, which he said was Henry, and that he was the eldest son and a batchelor [sic]; Henry was the second son, was married, and had issue; the prisoner appeared to me to be a much older man than Edward, the eldest son of the Earl, who I found was born in 1796, which also served to strengthen my suspicions that he was an impostor; he took some pains to remove the impression which eh saw I entertained, as to his not being Lord Lascelles, and shewed me a document, which purported to be a letter from the Marquis of Douro; it was badly written - the orthography was extremely defective, and the whole composition abounded with vulgarisms; if anything had been wanting to confirm my suspicions as to his true character, that letter would have rendered it complete; from what I have seen of the handwriting of the prisoner, I can have no doubt that the said letter was written by him; he persevered to the last that his name was Henry; and it is only since that interview with me, and the production of ``Burke's Peerage," that, he has deemed it prudent to adopt the name of Edward.

Prisoner - You, I believe, are the Crown Solicitor: now, Sir, by the virtue of your oath, do you mean to say - look this way, Sir, don't be ashamed of yourself - do you mean to say, that ever I signed my name ``Henry" to any document in your presence?  Will you undertake to swear that I am not Edward Lord Viscount Lascelles?

Witness - I cannot swear that I saw you sign ``Henry;" I will not swear that you are not Edward Lord Viscount Lascelles, but it would require very strong proofs indeed to satisfy me of that fact; I never received any money from you except £2 to pay notarial fees; the amount claimed was I think upwards of £30,000.

Prisoner. - I desire that you will be particular in your statements; do you mean to say that it was not £5,000? Come, Sir, I wish to have your conviction from your own mouth.

Witness - On mature consideration, I rather think it was for only a part of the claim of 30 or £40,000; I heard you mention a person of the name of Wilson, of Montagu square, as your agent in London, and a Mr. Young was to receive £1,500 for his trouble in seeking to obtain the money.

Prisoner - Now, Sir, as you have made so many mistakes in your evidence, may you not forget that it was for certain obligations and services rendered to me by that gentleman, previous to my leaving Van Diemen's Land? do you think it possible that any man possessed of his reason would give away so large a sum without an adequate consideration?

Witness - I think it a very easy matter to promise such a gift.

Mr. John Maclehose - I know the prisoner at the bar, I saw him at Van Diemen's Land; he used to ring the bell at the Penitentiary Yard; he was employed to give the spades and pickaxes to the prisoners; I heard he was transported from Dumfries for swindling; he was not the Superintendent of the Yard; a person named Johnson filled that situation.  I have heard it reported in Launceston that the prisoner had endeavoured to induce a belief that he was connected with the family of the Earl of Harewood, and had stated his name to be Henry Lascelles; I saw him sign Lascelles to a letter which I received from him.  Understanding that I was going to London, he gave me a letter which he shewed to me before he closed it; he requested me to deliver it to his father's agent in London, Thomas Hornby, Esq., 15, Portman-square; on my arrival I examined Pickett's London Directory for 1830, but could not find any person of that name inserted in the work, which is considered one of extraordinary accuracy; there were John and Henry Hornby, but no Thomas; I went to 15, Portman-square, but there was no person that name living there, nor I any other part of the square, which I examined closely up and down; nor could I learn that any person of that name had ever resided there.  I made no further enquiries relative to any other commission with which he had entrusted me, as I felt convinced that I had been deceived.  I destroyed the letters I think during my voyage to the Colony.

Cross-examined by the Prisoner - I kept the Cornwall Wine Vaults, which I took from a Mr. Mackay; I was not the tapster; I never was in the Lumber Yard; I have passed by it at some distance and could see into it, as it had a wide gateway; I knew the Superintendent of the Yard, his name was Johnson; I knew George Wilson, and I am sorry for it on account of your rascality; I never heard him say he knew you; I heard him say you had told him your name was Edward, Lord Viscount Lascelles; I never saw you sign your name John Dow; I have something particular to come out; you had better hold your tongue.  (This witness gave his testimony under a considerable degree of excitement, particularly on his cross-examination by the prisoner, and was recommended by His Honor to keep his temper within moderate bounds.)  You have represented yourself to be Henry, Lord Viscount Lascelles; the signature which you shewed to me was Lascelles; I had several letters to deliver for you in London, there was one directed to the Marquis of Douro, and one to the Marquis of Grantham; I never received any money from the Marquis of Douro on your account; I never delivered any letter to him; I recollect Mr. Solicitor Poole's calling on me and stating that a person bearing the title of Lord Viscount Lascelles, had received a letter from the Marquis of Douro instructing him that I had obtained a sum of money on that person's account.  I asked Mr. Poole if he had seen the letter with the London Post mark, he said that he had seen the letter, but had mot taken notice of the Post-mark; I recommended him to satisfy himself on that particular, and if he found it, he might come back and say Mr. Maclehose had got the money; I do recollect taking a letter for the Marquis of Graham; I recollect receiving one for the Marquis of Bute and one for the Duke of Northumberland; I do not recollect that it was arranged that I was to receive £400 for delivering those letters; I had no interest in it whatever; I destroyed the letters because I found the first one to be deceptive, and had therefore lost my faith in the genuiness [sic] of the rest; I am not aware that you did receive a letter from the Marquis of Douro; I believe that you did not.

Prisoner - Now Sir, do you mean to swear that you have not received money to a considerable amount from the Marquis of Douro, to deliver to me?  Come Sir, recollect that I have a letter in my possession which will satisfactorily prove that fact.

Witness - If you have, produce it; I should like to see such a document.

Prisoner - I will do so to-morrow, you may depend upon it; I was not aware of meeting you here to day, or I should have taken care to bring it with me.

Mr. Chambers recalled - I believe the prisoner state the amount of his claim upon the Earl of Harewood, as his father, to be upwards of £40,000, being the arrears or an annuity of £7000 a-year, for a period of seven years; I am rather inclined to think now, that the warrant of attorney was drawn up for a part of that sum only, £5,000; the prisoner was introduced to me by a respectable young gentleman, named Thompson, whom I knew in Ireland, and on whose account principally I executed the warrant of attorney, and to whom I looked for payment, as I never believed the prisoner to be what he represented himself, I saw a Mr. Young, previously to his leaving the Colony, on some business for the prisoner; he told me he was to receive £1500 for his trouble; I stated my suspicions of the prisoner's character, and told him he was very unwise to think of leaving the Colony on so foolish an errand; but the prisoner's representations had such an influence on his credulity, that he could not consider him an impostor, and actually went to London.

The prisoner further asked Mr. Chambers a few unimportant questions, and the case for the prosecution closed.

The prisoner submitted to the Court that there was no case to go to the Jury, inasmuch as it had been adduced in evidence that he had been known to sign his name Lascelles, whereas no evidence had been offered to show that he had ever signed his name as John Dow; on these grounds he submitted that proof of a case of forgery had failed.

His Honor thought differently; he was of opinion that there was a strong case to go to the Jury, and intimated to the prisoner that the time had now arrived when it became necessary for him to make his defence; he was desired to produce his witnesses, but he replied that he had none; he then addressed the Jury as follows:-

Gentlemen of the Jury - I am now called upon to defend myself against a charge of forgery, for attaching my true and legitimate signature to a document which has been produced as evidence against me this day; I admit, it is true, that I arrived a prisoner in Van Diemen's Land, under the ficticious [sic] name of John Dow, in order that the spotless honor of my family might not be sullied by my disgrace; I wrote to my father, informing him of my misfortunes, and entreating him to use his influence in my behalf, but my communications were disregarded; I was convicted and sent to the hulks at Woolwich, thence to Bermuda, where I remained twelve months; but in consequence of repeated communications to my parent, I was taken back to England, and sent out forthwith to Van Diemen's Land; it is not necessary for me to advert to the circumstances which led to my conviction - circumstances which induced me to abandon my legitimate name; but you have heard, Gentlemen, this day, that so repugnant to my feelings was the name of Dow, that I would not answer to it; that I risked the chances of punishment rather than identify myself with a name foreign to my birth and family connexions [sic].  On my arrival in Van Diemen's Land, I represented to the authorities there, that I was the legitimate son of the Earl of Harewood; but I was looked upon with suspicion, reviled, insulted; happily, however, I was known personally to Colonel Balfour and the honorable Mr. W--, who sent for me, and advised me to keep my rank as much a secret as possible, for the sake of my family; I could not suppress the fact, it was already known - it had preceded my entrance to a country, on whose shores, through the malignity of my parent, the being of all others, to whom I naturally looked for clemency, I was thrown, a stranger and destitute of the ordinary comforts of life; my arrival was publicly announced in the papers of that Colony.  I struggled through the period of my exile, and surmounted its privations with a fortitude becoming my condition; and I feel some gratification in stating, that during the whole of that period of degradation and suffering, I conducted myself without reproach.  You have had evidence of the fact, Gentlemen, that during my exile, I corresponded with Governor Arthur - that I addressed him in my own true and lawful character, as Edward, Viscount Lascelles; does it not strike you, Gentlemen, as an extraordinary circumstance, that if I had presumed to practice so flagrant an imposture, as the assumption of the character of heir apparent to the noble house of Harewood, without lawful authority, would I not, as a prisoner of the Crown, have been instantly visited with punishment?  Would not the noble Earl, my father, for the honor of his house, have exerted himself in some way to blot out the disgraceful stain, by the production of proofs that I was not his son, the Lord Viscount Lascelles.  All of you, Gentlemen, have no doubt, had an opportunity of knowing that a Lord Viscount Lascelles exists? allow me to ask you, Gentlemen, where has that nobleman been since the year 1825, the period of his departure from England?  Look at the Hobart Town Journals of that year, and the question will readily resolve itself to you; you will there, Gentlemen, be instructed as to his arrival at Van Diemen's Land.  Yes, Gentlemen, it was I, the legitimate son of the noble Earl of Harewood, who was there announced, though, through a series of misfortunes, I appeared in the character of a Convict, bearing the humble name of John Dow.  Let me ask you, let me carry it to your feelings, was it a crime, after the expiration of the sentence of the law, for me to resume in those most public manner, my name - my legitimate name.  What proof have you had offered to you, Gentlemen, that that is not my name?  You have been told, Gentlemen, that I am an impostor - that communications have been received from England, confirming that fact; but Gentlemen, his Honor will tell you that you are not to suffer your minds to be influenced by any consideration which my have pressed itself upon you out of this Court - that you will conscientiously discharge from your minds all undue influences against me, now a prisoner before you.  I have been persecuted by the Press since I first set my foot on these shores; it has traced my footsteps with the keenest vigilance; it has followed me with unrelaxing vindictiveness; its influence has been disseminated far and wide to my prejudice, and I fear you cannot but have imbibed the loathsome virus of its malignity; I do not doubt, Gentlemen, your integrity of principle, God forbid; but I am so well acquainted with the infirmity of human nature, that when an opinion has once been formed - when an impression has been made on the mind, through the agency of the senses, that impression is not readily to be effaced.  Gentlemen, the son of the Earl of Harewood is well known to have disappeared from England in 1825; I have been in Van Dieman's Land since that period.  What proof have you had today that he has been seen, or indeed heard of, in any country since that period, save Van Diemen's Land?  Does it not forcibly carry conviction to your minds, that if that nobleman had existed in any country under the canopy of heaven, except Van Diemen's Land, he would have been frequently announced in the London and other Journals?  Will it be believed, Gentlemen, that a Peer, and the son of a Peer, would remain in a state of absolute obscurity, through a series of ten years?  Could his exact residence - in fact, his every movement, have remained a secret to the enquiring eye, the unceasing industry of public report?  Gentlemen, it is absurd.

His Honor - Prisoner, in my anxiety to give you the widest reasonable latitude, in the conduct of your defence, I have perhaps permitted some irregularities, but I must now stop you.  I cannot suffer you to argue on points wide of the evidence before the Court.  You must confine yourself to arguments upon facts - not on what you assume to be facts.  You may run away with the Jury altogether by these means.

Prisoner, in continuation - Gentlemen, I have been called upon this day to produce positive evidence in my behalf, against the mass of doubtful testimony arrayed against me on the other side.  How can it be supposed that, at the distance of 16000 miles from the only testimony that would be satisfactory to this enquiry, I should be able to come to a Court with the proofs required?  I have done all in my power - I have sworn before my God - the highest testimony that human nature can adduce - that I am Edward, Lord Viscount Lascelles, the eldest son of the Earl of Harewood, and heir apparent to that illustrious name.  What evidence, Gentlemen, has been brought before you to contradict that fact?  None, Gentlemen.  The evidence, to the most fastidious observer, will be found to nave gone in support of it.  Relative to the forgery, Gentlemen, I would ask you, can you, upon the evidence which has been adduced this day, put your hands to your hearts and pronounce a verdict of guilty against me?  Let us look at that evidence.  There is no man who swears my name is not Lascelles - no man swears my name is Dow.  All that has been adduced relative to that name I myself have offered to you.  I have admitted that I adopted the name of Dow to shield my family from disgrace.  On my trial in Dumfries, my personal friend, the Marquis of Queensborough, being in town, I sent for him; his evidence would have acquitted me; but fate had ordered it otherwise - he would not attend - I was convicted.  Does not the evidence shew that the name of Dow was adopted to suit the object suggested by my misfortunes?  Does it not shew that I took early opportunities, after my departure from England, to disclaim that name and resume my own?  An individual proves that I would not even answer the name of Dow.  Who has been produced before you who ever saw Lord Viscount Lascelles - who can prove that I am not that man?  Mr. Maclehose, evidently a prejudiced witness against me, himself admits that he never saw me sign the name of John Dow; but that, on the contrary, he knew me to sign Lascelles.  Indeed the whole of the evidence for the prosecution supports that fact. - Gentlemen, you have heard much of me since my arrival amongst you.  You have formed your own pinions of my character; these opinions have been fostered and acted upon by the opinions of others - by the cruel and wanton misrepresentations of the Press.  Let me once more beg of you to submit the facts now presented to you, to your most mature consideration; weigh well the evidence against me; examine it closely; let no circumstance escape the test of your scrutiny.  Look at my defence; lay it to your consciences - to your hearts.  Gentlemen, it is not my wish to work upon your feelings; I would avoid all attempts at interesting you in my misfortunes; were I so inclined, I could draw tears of sympathy from your eyes.  If I have violated the laws of my country, which have been wisely framed for the comfort and protection of society, let me be visited by the hand of justice; none but cowards shrink from justice.  Gentlemen, I am no coward; let me have rigorous justice - justice is all I require.  God forbid I should endeavour to lead you astray.  If the evidence leads you to my conviction, it is your duty to pronounce a verdict of guilty against me.  You have sworn on the Gospel to do so; but I would once more entreat you to give it your most earnest consideration.  Your verdict of guilty, consigns me to perpetual banishment, degradation, and misery.  Gentlemen, I have done.

His Honor, in putting the case to the Jury, briefly dwelt on the law as regarded the offence of forgery.  It was no essential to the nature of that offence, that the persons whose name was used should be the prosecutor; the question for their consideration was whether the prisoner had assumed a name which di not belong to him for the purpose of fraud.  Could that fraud have been committed without the agency of that assumed name?  If they were of opinion that he had assumed that name for the purpose of fraud, that was what the law held to constitute the crime of forgery; they could attach no weight to the prisoners defence.  The several points which he pad addressed to their consideration stood wholly unsupported by proof, and could not recommend themselves to their consideration; that defence had been ingeniously and cleverly addressed to them, but he would warn them to not suffer themselves to be influenced by it, further than the evidence would warrant.  He would take occasion to remark on one circumstance, which tended in a material degree to establish the fact of the impostures which the prisoner had practiced; it had been clear to him, and it might have been observed by them, that the language of the prisoner was strongly tinctured with the accent of Scotland, and not of Yorkshire as he had represented - which added to the style of the prisoners address - abounding as it did with such expressions as were common with vulgar and illiterate persons - served to strengthen the assurance that the prisoner had assumed a character and name which did not belong to him.  What the object of that assumption was, was matter for their consideration.

The Jury retired about a quarter of an hour, and returned a verdict of Guilty against the prisoner.

Being asked by the clerk of the arraigns, what he had to say, why Judgment should not be pronounced upon him, the prisoner observed, that he protested against Judgment; on the ground that that there had been nothing on the evidence to warrant the verdict.

His Honor however informed him, that he had been found guilty on the clearest evidence; and sentenced the prisoner to be transported out of the Colony for the term of his natural life.  He appeared to have arrived in Van Diemen's Land as a Convict, but as he came free to New South Wales, he would have the benefit of it, and would not be sent to a Penal Settlement.[6 ]

[The prisoner is a man about five feet six inches in height, slender make, and appears to be about thirty-two years of age, though extremely bald headed, which to a casual observer may make him appear to be much older; his head is remarkably well formed, and although he now appears squalid from imprisonment, there is a remarkable shrewdness developed in the contourof his features which bespeaks him the possessor of strong natural powers of mind.  He appears to have had little or no education, as betrayed in the vulgarisms and mis-pronunciations with which his address to the Jury abounded; yet, on the whole, the tact with which he cross-examined the witnesses for the prosecution, and the ingenuity of his address, together with the manner of its delivery, exceeded the anticipations of the auditory, (he having a slight impediment in his speech,) and became a subject of general admiration.  The prisoner is evidently a native of Scotland, and pronounces the word ``Edward" ``Eedwaud," and the word ``adduce" (which he takes frequent occasion to make use of) he invariably pronounced ``induced".



[1 ] See also Sydney Gazette, 5 May 1835.  On Lascelles, see also Australian, 23 January 1835; and see Ex parte Lacelles, 1833.  The Australian, 1 May 1835, reported that he also went under the aliases of John Dove, Colqhoun, and Luttrell, and that the rumour was that Lascelles intended to seek trial before his (supposedly noble) peers.

On this extraordinary man, see Kirsten Mackenzie, A Swindler's Progress: Nobles and Convicts in the Age of Liberty, UNSW Press, 2009; and see Baron Charles Hugel, New Holland Journal November 1833-October 1834, transl. and ed. By Dymphna Clark, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1994, pp 298-299.

[2 ] The Herald then proceeded to report other material before returning to this case.

[ 3] The Sydney Gazette reported the trial concerning the name separately as follows.

For the trial notes of this hearing, see Burton, Notes of Criminal Cases, State Records of New South Wales, 2/2418, vol. 17, p. 162.

[ 4] The Sydney Gazette then reported the forgery trial.

[ 5] See also Australian, 8 May 1835; Sydney Gazette, 7 May 1835.

[6 ] The Sydney Gazette, 7 May 1835, reported the sentencing as follows: ``His Honor, in passing sentence, observed, that as the prisoner came free to this Colony, he would be treated as though he came from England a free man, and strenuously imposed upon the prisoner the justice of the verdict against a man who would endeavour to traduce the honor of a noble house, by personating the name and character of the heir apparent, and sentenced him to be transported for the term of his natural life." It also noted that the prisoner asked Burton J. before the trial whether he intended to do him justice, and being answered in the affirmative, he requested to be tried by Forbes C.J.  Justice Burton responded that prisoners could not choose their own judges.  The trial commenced at 11.30 and continued until nearly 8 p.m.  The court was very crowded."

A year later, the Sydney Gazette, 14 June 1836, published a heavily satirical article by ``Correspondent" about his fate in Van Diemen's Land.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University