Archive for Coining

14 October 1767 – William Guest

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on October 14 by Old Sparky

William Guest, known as “Flinky” to his friends was found guilty of treason for trying to debase coins in the 18th century.

As a bank employee he’d take guineas and file them down, then melt the shavings and make ingots out of them, which he’d sell on to brokers. His offence, known as coining, was for ‘filing, impairing, lightening, and diminishing a guinea and a half guinea, the current coin of this kingdom, against the form of the statute’.

Considered treason as it was a crime against the crown, the penalty for his misdemeanour was death.

Guest was hanged at Tyburn on this day in 1767.

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29 August 1800 – Thomas Wilmott

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on August 29 by Old Sparky

Coining or forgery was considered high treason back in the 19th century. And treason still carried the death penalty up until as recently as 1998. So is it any wonder Thomas Wilmott hanged for his crimes?

He was sent to the gallows at Warwick for trying to make counterfeit money.

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18 August 1809 – Susan Grant

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on August 18 by Old Sparky

Susan Grant was prevented from coining it in after she was done for treason. She was hanged on this day for crime for the illegal making of money.

Known as coining, this was where people would either scrape metals off existing coins or melt them down to make more coins. And so Grant was caught doing exactly that. It was seen as treason because it was a crime against the Crown’s treasury, so 64-year-old Grant paid the price when she was hanged at Warwick on this day in 1809.

Also on this day

18 August 1810 – Richard Peare and James Sweeney
18 August 1814 – Henry Youens and John Ottaway
18 August 1817 – William Bottomore

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21 June 1786 – Phoebe Harris

Posted in Burned at the stake, Death penalty with tags , , , on June 21 by Old Sparky

You’re probably used to us by now – giving you lurid accounts about people being hanged for coining (eg forgery). But did you know women were burned at the stake for it before 1790?

We’re not sure why they got such preferential treatment, but the crime was classed as treason and, as a result, it was punishable by death. Cue Phoebe Harris, AKA Mrs Brown (very ‘Reservoir Dogs’).

According to Richard Clarke, she took up residence in Drury Lane, under the guise of being a captain’s widow with her own income…

A close shave

She had her own income alright. Just none of it was legal. On the quiet, she’d file off shavings from kosher coins and clip bits off, melt it all down and make new coins. It was a very nice little earner, until she got busted.

Based on a tip-off, the law forced its way into her lodgings where her counterfeiting conspiracy was blown wide open.

Harris, alongside two accomplices, was taken in, but her defence was little short of desperate. She blamed the crime on the fictitious ‘John Brown’ – obviously coming up with creative names wasn’t her strong point.

Feeble defence

Harris maintained that she had just stashed the equipment away on ‘his’ orders. She then pleaded ignorance as to the nature of the kit.

Convincing? No, the jury didn’t think so either and Harris ended up bearing the brunt of the blame. The other two got off scott-free, while she was sentenced to be burned.

To add to her infamy, she became the first person to be burned at Newgate – most of the others had taken place in Tyburn or Smithfield up to that point.

But this new venue didn’t go down to well – the neighbours didn’t take kindly to the putrid smell of frying flesh, after all, it was considered a respectable area in those days. Luckily for inhabitants the law was changed four years later, but that didn’t help Harris’ plight. She sizzled for over two hours in front of a gawping crowd of around 20,000 today in 1786.

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26 March 1796 – Thomas Brown, John Horton and James Nightingale

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , , on March 26 by Old Sparky

It was a busy day in Stafford Prison when three men were sent to the gallows for their crimes.

The first was a 25-year-old labourer was strung up for the crime known as coining.

Coining was the old term for what’s now known as counterfeiting and the perpetrator was Thomas Brown.

He was hanged for forgery, alongside robbers John Horton, 29, and 28-year-old James Nightingale.

Also on this day

26 March 1907 – Joseph Jones

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