East India Company.

Proceedings of the court of directors and of a secret select committee appointed by the court ... 2d May 1827, to investigate transactions connected with an abuse of patronage; together with a report of the trial in the Court of king's bench online

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Online LibraryEast India CompanyProceedings of the court of directors and of a secret select committee appointed by the court ... 2d May 1827, to investigate transactions connected with an abuse of patronage; together with a report of the trial in the Court of king's bench → online text (page 12 of 17)
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Colonel Toone, and I took it to Captain Prescott for his approval.

Did he approve of it or make any observation ? — Captain Prescott desired
me not to write it in his name, but to write it in Mr. Abington's name.

Is Mr. Abington the principal clerk ?
Lord Tenterden. — That is proved.

Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet. — Was Mr. Abington present on that day ? — No,
he was not.

Was he absent from illness ? — He was there the Monday following.
Lord Tenterden. — He was not there that day ? — No.

Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet. — Did you accordingly prepare a note in Mr. Abing-
ton's name ? — Yes.

And enclosed those two papers ? — Yes, for Colonel Toone's signature.

To whom did you deliver the packet? — To the commodore of the house,
named John Salter.

Lord Tenterden. — Is that the commodore of the messengers ? — Yes

That means the principal one ? — There are two of them.

Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet. — Did Captain Prescott give you any directions you
were to give the messenger ? — Captain Prescott desired me to give it to the
commodore, to take it to Colonel Toone's house ; and the messenger was to
wait at Colonel Toone's for his answer, and then to take it on to Captain Pres-
cott's residence.

Was there any intimation given in the packet sent to Colonel Toone, that
the papers came from Captain Prescott, or were to be carried to Captain Pres-
cott's house ? — The only thing where Captain Prescott's name was mentioned
in the note was, that by the desire of Captain Prescott they were transmitted
to him, but in the name of Mr. Abington.

Was there any intimation where they were to go afterwards ? — None.

Just look at those two other papers, which bear date, I believe, February
1827, and see if Captain Prescott's writing is to either of those papers (^zf;o
papers were handed to the witness).

Mr. Brougham.— It is his hand-writing, no doubt.

Lord Tenterden. — My note must state it is proved.

T Mr.




of King's

Mr. Sharp.

Mr. Brougham. — We admit it.

Lord Tenterden. — He has proved the recommendation was signed by Cap-
tain Prescott.

Mr. Serjeant Bonsanquet. — The Solicitor General opened that there was a pre-
ceding appointment, upon the recommendation of Sutton, given by Captain
Prescott in the February preceding, which might afford a reason why Sutton's
name was kept out of view.

Lord Tenterden. — Have those papers got Captain Prescott's signature ? — I
have every reason to believe it is Captain Prescott's signature.

Lord Tenterden. — Have you seen him write ? — Yes.

Mr. Brougham. — We admit the appointment was made the February pre-

Lord Tenterden. — But unless something is read or said, I do not know it.

Mr. Brougham. — We wish to save the papers being read. We admit the
appointment was made in the February preceding, upon Captain Prescott's

Lord Tenterden. —I was quite sure you would not admit it in the way they
wish it. Read the papers,

Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet— Is that an exchanged appointment ? — Yes.

And Captain Prescott signs it ? — Yes, the nomination.

And the recommendation is signed by whom ? — Sutton,

Lord Tenterden. — What is the date of it? — The l6th February 1827.

Cross-examined by Mr. Brougham.

Have you looked at the filHng up of the former appointment : the February
appointment ? — Yes.

In whose hand is the filling up ?— -Mr. Abington's.

Now attend to me. I understand Mr. Abington is the chief of your depart-
ment ? — Yes.

You are next in the oflSce to him ?— No, Mr. Haldane.

You are in office under him ? — Yes.

He was then ill ? — Yes.

When Captain Prescott said, he did not like to give Colonel Toone any
further trouble in the matter, was not that in answer to an observation of
yours, that you had better write to Colonel Toone to know in what way the
appointment should be made out?— -I did.

Lord Tenterden. — That is no answer to the question, it is nothmg like it.

Mr. Brougham. — Was not Captain Prescott's observation, that he did not



like to give Colonel Toone any more trouble in the matter, made by him in Court
answer to a proposal made by you, to write to Colonel Toone to know of hini of King's
in what way the appointment should be filled up ? — It was. Bench.

To save him the trouble ofwriiing the letter?— Yes. Mr. Sharp.

Re-examined by Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet.

Did I understand your proposal was not to write to Colonel Toone to ask him
how the appointment was to be made out, but to state that it ought to be made
out in a different way? — I proposed to write to Colonel Toone, informing him
that Captain Prescott ought to sign the nomination, as it was an exchange or
a loan.

Lord Tenterden. — What did you mean by saying just now, that Captain
Prescott's observation was in answer to your proposal to write to Colonel Toone,
to know how it should be done ? Did you write to know that, or did you write
stating how it was done ? — May I have the question put again ?

Lord Tenterden. — It has been put three times. — I proposed to Mr. Prescott
to write to Mr. Toone, to say that if Captain Prescott was to sign the nomina-
tion, the proper exchange would be made upon the face of it.

Lord Tenterden.— It is better to strike it out. Here are three different

Mr. Brougham. — This gentleman is not very clear, but they may not be so
inconsistent as they appear. Did you not also say, when you said " I will write
" to Colonel Toone and say how it should be done," did you not add, " and
" ask him, if you had signed the right way ?"— I might have added that, but I am
not certain about it.

. And his answer was, "it will be giving Colonel Toone more trouble ?"—-

Lord Tenterden. — The better way is to consider it not as evidence.

Mr. Brougham. — Your Lordship sees that it is.

Lord Tenterden.— yVhan a witness gives me three different accounts, I cannot
say I see any thing.

Mr. Brougham.— They all agree in one point, your Lordship sees.

Lord Tenterden.— I see nothing. The witness does not adhere to any one
answer. I shall strike it out.

Mr. Brougham. — He is not our witness. It must go to the credit of the



' Court JOHN SALTER sworn.

of King's
Bench. ^ Examined hy Mr. Gurney.

J.Salter. Are you one of the commodores of the messengers at the India- House? —

Do you keep a book in which you enter letters you receive to take to any per-
son ? — Yes.

Turn to Saturday, the 28th April in the last year. Did you receive from
Mr. Abington's office any letter to send to Colonel Toone ? — Yes.
Did you receive such a letter ?— Yes.
To whom did you deliver it to carry ? — John Sullivan.

What directions did you give Sullivan ? — To take it to Colonel Toone, in
Mortimer Street.

What then : did you tell him what to do with the answer ? — Yes, to wait an
answer, and to take it on to Captain Prescott.

J. Sullivan. JOHN SULLIVAN sworn.

Examined by Mr. Gurney.

Did you, on Saturday the 28th of April, receive a packet to take to Colonel
Toone ? — Yes.

Did you wait for an answer at Colonel Toone's ? — Yes.

Where did you take the packet you received ? — To Captain Prescott's house.

Did you leave it there ? — Yes.

Was it a sealed packet ? — I saw the maid-servant.

Was it a sealed packet ? — Yes.

Who wasit addressed to? — William Abingion, Esq.

In pursuance of the directions you received, vou took it to Captain Prescott ?

..^:; WILLIAM ABINGTON, Esq. sworn.

Abtngton. ^

Examined by Mr. Gurney.

You are the chief clerk in the cadet office ?— Yes.

On Saturday, the 28th of April, you were absent from indisposition ? — I was.

Were you at the office on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday after that ? —
I was.




Did you, on either of those days, see Capttiin Prescott? — I did.

Do you remember the day ?•— I cannot take upon myself to swear which
day; whether it was Monday ; but lam certain it was Tuesday, the day pre-
vious to the court day.

You beheve it was Tuesday ? — Yes.

Did Captain Prescott say any thing to you respecting those cadet papers ? —

"What did he say to you ? — He came into the office, and said he understood
he had signed a wrong paper.

What more did he say, or did he say any thing more ? — Am I to state what
I said ?

State all that he said and aU you said. — My reply was, " I am aware of that.
" You had no occasion to sign the recommendatory letter ; that Colonel
" Toone had nothing to do with it, having transfered it to him." He desired
me to stop the papers as soon as they came to the office, and not to pass the
young man, or suffer him to be passed, until Colonel Toone had seen him.

Did any thing more pass ? — On the following day ?

Have you given me all that passed between Captain Prescott and you ? —
Yes, that day.

The next day ?— The next day, the Wednesday, I saw Captain Prescott
again. He asked me if the young man had attended at the office to be passed.
My answer was, " no, he had not." His answer was, " mind you let me
" have the papers. Stop the papers as soon as they arrive : do not suffer the
" young man to be passed till Colonel Toone has seen him."

Did any thing more pass ? — Not with Captain Prescott ; excepting that a
message was sent into my office while Captain Prescott was in the Committee,
to know if the papers had arrived.

Was that an inquiry from Mr. Auber ? — No, I understood from Captain Pres-

Lord Tenterden. — You were not in your office when the young man arrived?
— Yes, I was there.

Mr Gurney. — Did you see him ? — No, I did not see him.

You did not know of his coming ? — No, I did not myself.


of King's






Cov't. The Right Honourable CHARLES WATKIN WILLIAMS WYNN sworn

of Kings '^

Bench. Examined by Mr. SoUcHor General.

lit. Hon. I believe you were President of the Board of Control in the month of April
Sf-^- 1827 ?-I was.


The only question I have to ask of you is, whether you know any thing of
the parties or the subject in discussion to-day? — Certainly, nothingwhatever.
I was never in the company of Captain Prescott or the other defendants. I
had no acquaintance with them.

Mr. Brougham. — I have no questions to ask.

Mr. Astdl. WILLIAM ASTELL, Esq., M.P., sworn.

Examined by Mr. Solicitor General.

You are one of the Directors of the East- India Company? — .1 am.

Are you acquainted with any of the parties to this indictment except Captain
Prescott ? — I believe I never heard the name, and never saw the name, of any
one of the parties ; my honourable friend, the Director, always excepted.

Do you know anything of the subject? — Nothing more than I have heard
here, and what I have heard in the Court of Directors, of which I was a

Previous to the 4th of May, did you know any thing of the parties ? —
Nothing whatever.

Cross-examined by Mr. Brougham.
You have known Captain Prescott ? — Yes.
How long have you known him ? — Twenty years or more, for what I know.

After having been in the Company's sea service, he has been a Director
eight years ? — He has.

What is the character and reputation of your colleague. Captain Prescott ? —
I can only speak from my own opinion.

I ask you according to your knowledge, what character he has borne ? —

Lord Tenterden. — In what way is he spoken of? — I have always considered

him a respectable man.

Lord Tenterden. — Have you not sense enough to distinguish between your

opinion and the reputation of the person ? — Certainly.

Then attend to the question.

Mr. Brougham. — I want to know the character and reputation the gentleman




has borne. — I would appeal to my Lord. I can only speak to my own

Lord Tenterden. — You may know in what way you have heard him spoken
of. — As far as I have any knowledge, he has always been spoken of as a very
respectable and honourable man.

Mr. Brougham, — You were not Chairman or Deputy Chairman at the time
the prosecution was ordered ? — No.

Was Mr. Pattison in one or the other of the Chairs? — 1 believe he was
Deputy Chairman.
He is now ? — Yes.

And he was elected last April ? — Yes, as Deputy Chairman. I do not under-
stand the question.

We are told, the Directors being on friendly terms with each other, confiding
in each others power and wish to repay, borrow patronage and appointments
from each other ? — Yes.

Do you not know that Mr. Pattison, in November last, borrowed an appoint-
ment from Captain Prescott, or applied to him ?
Mr. Gurney. — Is that last November ?
Mr. Brougham. — Yes.

Lord Tenterden. — It is a fact, but it cannot be evidence.— I do not know the

Mr. Brougham — Is Mr. Pattison in town ? — He was in town yesterday.
Is he here ? — I do not know that he is.

Mr. Gurney. — We will now read the paper A, the recommendatory letter.

The same was read as follows :
" Gentlemen : — I do hereby declare, upon my honour, that I received a
" nomination for the Madras Cavalry from Sweny Toone, Esq. gratui-
" tously, and that I have given it gratuitously to Mr. Edward Drake Back,
" with whose family and connexions I am well acquainted. — I am, Gen-
*' tlemen, your most obedient servant, C. Elton Prescott." — Addressed
" To the Honourable Court of Directors of the United East-India Com-
" pany."
Mr. Gurney. — Now Question 4.

The same was read as follows :

" Who recommended you to Sweny Toone, Esq., the nominatiug D-
*' rector, for this appointment? — Answer, Charles Elton Prescott, Esq.
Lord Tenterden. — Is that your case ?

Mr. Solicitor-General. — Yes my Lord.



of King's


Mr. Astell.




of King's





May it please your Lordship : Gentlemen of the Jury. — Really, Gentlemen,
I am sure, in addressing you on bejialf of this most respectable gentleman.
Captain Prescott, for whom alone I am of counsel here to-day, it would be a
most absurd, not to say ridiculous, at all events an unseemly affectation in
me, to pretend that I feel any of that anxiety and depression, or even those
feelings of weight so as to be oppressed by them, which are very often the
lot of Counsel when they are addressing a Jury, on behalf of a defendant
stricken well in years and of a most eminent station in society ; arrived, after a
long course of exertion and of perils, to the very height of his profession and
of his ambition too ; who has borne an uniformly fair and spotless reputation,
in the discharge of many duties where much was left to his own discretion,
during the earlier part of his life, and of duties still more delicate, and
besetting his path with still more hazard and temptations, during the last
eight years of his life. I mean, while he had the disposal of his ample share
of the magnificent patronage which tho^e twenty-four fellow-subjects of ours,
the Directors of the East-India Company, enjoy. A person in circumstances,
for the first time, suspected, or affected to be suspected, and put upon his
trial for the purpose of clearing his character, never before questioned,
ordinarily lays his Counsel under the pressure of very considerable anxiety
for the event of Guch a case confided to his hands. But 1 say here, to-day,
I cannot affect for a moment to feel, for the purpose, as it were, of adorning
the exordium of the very short address that I am called upon to make to you,
I cannot affect to feel the least concern for this gentleman's character or for
his fate. That character, and that fate, are committed, almost nominally
and for form's sake, to my defence at this moment ; but committed to your
care substantially, if indeed there is any evidence brought to impeach it. I
ought rather to say, the evidence which I have to thank the East-India Com-
pany, the prosecutors of the indictment, for an opportunity of having heard,
and for the power of meeting ; as I have also, on the part of Captain
Prescott, heartily to return my thanks, for the power and opportunity of
meeting this charge in a public court of justice.

Gentlemen, I quite agree with the Solicitor-General, that the Directors of



this great trading Company, opulent, and still more powerful than wealthy ; Court
whose dominions are large and revenues ample, but, whose power and «' i^"\"*'

patronage are still more precious than those of wealth or dominion : I quite

agree with my honourable and learned friend, that a Company intrusted with Bron^hnm.
that power, and above all, entrusted with that so dangerous to human virtue,
that immense patronage, though individuals and not ministers of state, that
they could do no otherwise than they have done : first iiKpiire, and by their
inquiry sift the case ; and then, whatever was the result of that investigation,
because it was a private inquisition, bring that case before a jury of their
country, that it might a second time utidergo a more satisfactory, because a
more public scrutiny and trial, before an English judge and an English jury.
That they would, to the end of time, have laboured under a suspicion ; that
they would, for ever thenceforward, have been taunted to have made a com-
promise ; that there would always have lurked among discontented, or
malicious, or captious folk, a notion behind, that there had been something-
concealed which would not bear the light, though the individuals had pleaded
guilty who were the real criminals in this instance; and though of that there
could be no doubt, yet if they had let off without a trial, whatever might be
their opinion, however satisfactory the private investigation had proved to
them before, vvhatever had been their opinion on the result of it, some sus-
picion would have lurked and seemed to linger about their conduct, if, because
the other defendant. Captain Prescott, who stood upon his defence, was one
of their own colleagues, they had not brought his part of the charge to a
full, strict, and satisfactory, because public scrutiny. I agree with my
learned friend, the Solicitor-General, in this observation ; aiid therefore it is,
instead of complaining, I on the contrary rejoice, on the part of the defen-
dant, that the matter was allowed to take this course : it is the only satis-
factory course for me. On the other hand, I agree that the East-India
Company, for their own sakes, as well as for their honourable colleague.
Captain Prescott, could take no other co u'se ; because thi.s is a public
acquittal, and the former was only a private acquittal.

Now, Gentlemen, what is the evidence brought before you, upon which
you are to judge of the gentleman's conduct ? That a cadetcy was applied
for in consequence of an advertisement. That a clergyman, who sometimes

u passed



Court of



passed by the name of Colonel Edwards, but sometimes by that of the Reve-
rend Dr, Back; that Dr. Back applied, in consequence of tliat advertisement
in the name of M. N., and treated, and then broke off the negociation, in a
way not to me, I own, very intelligible; because he said, he was astonished
to find that M. N. meant to take a premium for the appointment. He says,
" I thought he had only advertised from a mere benevolent motive of
" letting somebody have a good appointment for the bare cost of the outfit,
" and I was thunderstruck when I was told that M. N. was to receive money
*' beyond the sum required for tl>e outfit ;'' that, after that, he thought better
of it, and renewed the negociation, and again flew off, and went to the
East-India House, and under the protection of the Chairman and Deputy
Chairman, very properly was employed to sift to the bottom the whole of
this which appeared suspicious at first, and turned out afterwards criminal.
That he carried on the negociation in collusion (I speak it without offence},
a necessary collusion, with the Company, with the money of the Company.
That the Company, in order to inquire more into it, supplied the funds with
which the Colonel, the Doctor, was to bribe Mr. Sutton or Mr. Andrews, in
order that the crime might be completed, though they did not stand by and
see the parties traffic and deal and commit the guilt of office-brokerage ; but
they assisted the party to accomplish that, which the individual having" the
will, had not the resources to accomplish himself. That this was done by the
Chairman or Deputy Chairman, but with the purest and best object in view,
whether with a very good judgment, or a very accurate view of their duty in
the course bf the administration of the criminal justice of the country, or with
a view to the proper disposal of their funds to bribe one of their Directors, as it
was supposed, though it turned out to be unfounded. 1 do not quarrel with
that ; I do not cavil at the zeal they shewed that the parties should be pu-
nished. But this turns out oidy to involve the Doctor and Mr. Andrews, and
Mr. Sutton, and all those agents in this conspiracy. I ask you, is tliere a
little of proof, is there a shadow of evidence, to implicate in the slightest
degree the honourable and worthy gentleman who sits before me, their col-
league. Captain Prescott? 1 ask of you, upon their evidence, upon their
own shewing, I call upon you to look at their case, and 1 say that the Right
Honourable Gentleman who sits by my Lord, who has denied, which he need



not liave done, upon his oath ; and also my honourable friend Mr. Astell, for Court
a lonij; while a Director and for some time Chairman of the Company, as ho- "^King's

nourable a man as any one I have the honour of knowing, who has also truly

denied all knovvledj^e of this transaction ; you may as well suppose that their Brougham
character was concerned, and more so, because Mr. Wynn's name, the Pre-
sident of the Board of Control, wa mentioned, and Mr. Astell's too. It
was said that Mr. Anstice gets all Mr. Astell's patronage. Though he is
committing" thisoft'ence, he cites Mr. Astell as the person whose patronage he
enjoys. But who believes it ? Over whose mind has a shadow of suspicion
passed, as to the conduct of the President of the Board of Control, or of Mr.
Astell, the late Chairman and now Director of the Company? No more has
been given against Captain Prescott, in other respects ; but less in this
respect, as Captain Prescott's name was never mentioned.

My learned friend, the Solicitor General, opened the case to you, that
Mr. Sutton was the friend of Captain Prescott; that he had been engaged in
electioneering contests for him in the India-House. That is not proved ; but
I will admit it to be so. A man has his friends in great canvasses, as we see,
and which we see more and more of, and the great reason is the ample
patronage which is placed in these sovereigns, (if I may so call them,)
the twenty-four Directors. Our ears are fatigued with the constant canvass,
the never-ending solicitations that are going on without end, sometimes with-
out immbers, in the election of the office of Director, time after time, and a
number of times, canvassing the proprietors and holders of India stock, can-
vassing all their relations and friends, and that during those canvasses there
are committees ;— that a committee will have its chairman, and that the
chairman will be active : — he is generally an active and useful friend of the
candidate ; and that Sutton, as was opened by my learned friend for the
prosecution, being such a canvassing friend, I do not deny. It may be so ;
it is what all of them do. That being a friend, he rendered essential service
to Captain Prescott; and for that he was so grateful, that he gave him in one
year two cadetcies. That is where the case begins and ends : and my
learned friend says, I know no great difference whether a man sells for the
lucre of gain his patronage, or gives it to an electioneering agent in the dis-
charge of an obligation to him ; it comes to the same thing, with the suspicion,

u 2 my


Court my learned friend says', that he meant to sell it. With great submission to
"bench * him^ it comes to a very different thing. A man might well do the one thing
-^-^ without having a lurking suspicion^ which I deny that there is any evidence

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Online LibraryEast India CompanyProceedings of the court of directors and of a secret select committee appointed by the court ... 2d May 1827, to investigate transactions connected with an abuse of patronage; together with a report of the trial in the Court of king's bench → online text (page 12 of 17)