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Godfrey & Saunders - Fraud

‘Mary-le-bone’, Bell’s Weekly Messenger, 20 December 1824, p. 6.


Wm. Godfrey alias Cooke underwent examination, on Tuesday, on a charge of having obtained goods under false pretences, and was again brought up for further examination.

            The prisoner had been arrested some time ago on Westminster-bridge, was taken to Union-hall, and from that to Bow-street, where, after some examination, he was remanded for the night, and next day discharged by Sir Richard Birnie, on the grounds that the charges did not amount to fraud, and the parties could prosecute only for debt.

            Mr Harmer appeared on behalf of the prisoner.

            Mr Green was then called.  He is a green-grocer, and has the shop No. 279, Oxford-street. The prisoner had frequently called at his shop and given orders for fruit.  The first time he saw him was on the 6thJuly.  He came in a gig, and had with him a servant.  He asked [the] witness if he had any objection to serve him; he lived at 5, Craven-hill, and would give him an order; his name was Cook.  The order was obeyed, and different articles sent in the same way till the 21stJuly, when the prisoner called in the evening, and gave him an order, but said he would not trouble him to send down the articles if he would lend him a basket as he had a conveyance – he would send his servant in 10 or 12 minutes. The goods were delivered to the servant, and the prisoner, who stood at the door, beckoned to him to make haste. The articles furnished were a pottle of strawberries, another of raspberries, a quart of currants, and some other things, which amounted to 5s. or 6s.  The bill, altogether, was considerably above 2l., and the prisoner requested him to send it down on Monday, as he did not like long accounts.  He never saw him afterwards.  When he delivered the goods he understood them to be for Craven-hill, but had since ascertained that the family had left that place the day before.

On being cross-examined he said he gave credit for one month, and would have given the articles to the servant, though the prisoner had laid nothing about paving the bill on Monday. 

        Mr. Hammer contended that there was fraud in this, and no special pleader could make out indictment such charge. 

        Mr. Rawlinson said, it appeared to him a fraudulent transaction, and fit case to be sent a Jury. 

       Jas. Wansell, pianoforte-maker, 20, Howland-street, was the next. The prisoner called in September on the part of a Mrs. Saunders. He said she was respectable lady, and wanted a harp, but could not pay for it till January, she had money in the funds, and did not get her dividend till that time. She offered a bill for four months, and referred witness to respectable builder at Chelsea. This person said she had rented a house of him, and always paid him regularly. The prisoner wanted 2/. commission, for the trouble he had taken in the business. 

       John Coventry, umbrella maker, 174, Oxford-street, said the prisoner ordered a chaise umbrella, and another one of silk about 10days ago. He was to send them to Beaumont-street. He did so, and his servant called frequently for payment. At one time the prisoner said he would call the shop and pay, as he wished always to pay at the place where he got the goods. He never came, and when his servant went to Beaumont-street the other day, he was informed that Mr. Godfrey had been out all night, and they did not know where he was. His bill amounted to £3/19 and had not been paid. 

        Mr. Rawlinson here asked if he understood the prisoner had then absconded. 

        He could not say that. He only knew that he was out for one night. 

        Mr. Rawlinson said he had put the question, as if the prisoner had purposely concealed himself, might have been charged with constructive felony.     

        Wm. Pickett, shop-boy to Mr. Green, called at Craven-hill on Saturday, the 31st July, and found the house shut up. 

A house agent from Bond-street, produced a bond signed by Mrs. Saunders and Mr. Godfrey, for the purpose of proving that they had acted in conjunction. They rented a house of witness in Beaumont-street, for which they were to pay £180.    

        Jas. Payne, music-seller, 92, High-street, said the prisoner came his shop about three months ago for the purpose of purchasing a violin. He showed him a fine old violin for which he was to have five guineas. The prisoner then said “I should like to have a good case, and then very nice bow.” These articles were all furnished, and he was to pay eight guineas for them. He appeared nice young gentleman of most fascinating manners. Witness was quite delighted with his manner in every thing but when he spoke of payment. He could not pay till Christmas, and referred him Mrs. Saunders, 9, Beaumont-street. Witness called, and was introduced to the lady in a splendid drawing-room. Every thing had the appearance of the inmates being in respectable circumstances. He told his errand, when the lady said, “O dear. Sir, you need be under no apprehensions—you are perfectly safe—no great amount, I hope—you are perfectly safe.” Well, said the witness, I gave the violin, &c. The young gentleman called next day, in a gig. Said he had a great mind to take some lessons on the violin, and hoped I would attend him. I did next day. A servant in black opened the door, and every thing was in the first style. I gave him three lessons. On the fourth day, when I called, the answer was, not home.” For several days had the same answer. So I left word that Mr. Godfrey should send word when he wanted me. No word came. I went to the house about a week after, and found Mr. Godfrey was at home, but the servant in black said he had got his hand cut, and could not play. This was about three months ago, and I have not seen him since, till the other night, when a person called and said a young man wanted to see me. “Who wants to see me ?” said I.—“ Mr. Godfrey,” was the answer. “Let him come to me.” “Why he can’t—he is the Police-office.” I went to see what Mr. Godfrey wanted. I found him at the Police-office, and in custody. As I entered, he held out his hand, and said, Oh my friend, Mr. Payne, I so glad to see you— I just want your assistance a little. A green-grocer has had me arrested, on pretence of fraud, and I want you and another friend, Mr. Parkinson, to bail me.” “I never bailed any one,” said I, and I shan’t begin with you” - so left him. 

        Mr. Rawlinson.—This was evidently conspiracy between him and Mrs. Saunders to cheat you out of your property, and you may indict them for it. 

        Charles Steer, boot-maker, 42, Tottenham-court-road, said, the prisoner called at his shop in a gig, on Saturday evening, some time in the month of May, and got two pair of boots. said he lived at Spring Cottage, Devonshire-hill. He took the boots with him, and returned on the Monday, and ordered another pair. He said then, he was residing at No. 13, Greek-street. Witness took the order, but paid no attention to it, as he suspected something wrong. He called at Greek-street, but no person of the name of Godfrey lived there. The prisoner came to his shop on Tuesday, with another person dressed like a servant. His boy, about twelve years of age, was the only person in the shop. The prisoner took down pair of boots, and made the other person try them on. He then said, “O, they’ll do very well,” took up the boots, and put them into the gig, saying his name was Godfrey, and drove away. Witness’s sister was downstairs, but she had not time to come up before the boots were carried off, and the boy had not the sense to stop the prisoner. His sister and the boy were ready to come forward to prove this. 

        Mr. Rawlinson.—This is a charge of a quite different kind from any that has yet been brought forward—it has all the appearance of felony. The prisoner must be remanded till these witnesses can appear. 

        Wednesday was then fixed for the investigation of this charge. A variety of persons then presented themselves to the Magistrate to prefer complaints. Mr. Erat, 23, Berners-street, had furnished harp value 105 guineas, received bill for three months. The bill had been returned dishonoured. He understood the harp is now exposed for sale in an auction room. 

        Mr. Rawlinson requested him to ascertain that, then apply for a summons against the person who had it. 

        Mr. Delveau, 20, Conduit-street, had furnished another harp, value 100 guineas; Mr. Dodd, Berners-street, another; Mr. Erard, Great Marlborough-street, a fourth. 

       A gentleman from the City said, the prisoner had hired a counting, house from him in Swithin’s-lane and never paid him for it. 

In reply to a question from Mr. Rawlinson, 

       One said the prisoner represented himself as a broker, another as a watchmaker, third as a flour factor. 

What did you take him to be? said the Magistrate, addressing himself to the first gentleman.—A thief, was the answer. 

       Mr. Rawlinson then advised the complainants to unite in prosecuting the prisoner. If they were to subscribe a small sum each, it would be sufficient bring the case before a Jury, and he thought that by so doing they would perform a service to the public. They expressed their willingness to this, and then left the office. - The prisoner did not say a word in his defence.

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