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 16 of 17)
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Then we come to the 2d of May. He says, on that day Mr. Andrews and
Mr. Sutton carne to him. Mr, Sutton is not introduced into the business till
the very close : the 1st of May is the first day ; Mr. Andrews very late, and
Mr. Sutton not till afterwards. " I saw Mr. Andrews and Mr. Sutton, who
" called and said, that as every thing was now complete, I ought to deliver
" them the other two halves of the notes." He says, " he refused to do it till^
" the young man had actually passed. They continued to press for the otheru,
" half of the notes on our walk to the India-House, and as we were about to.
" go into the coffee-house, the Ship," where they did gq in. He said he
would come to them presently, wishing to consider of it. He went back and
put the two halves of both the notes upon the table. Then there was a new
difficulty started by Mr. Andrews or Mr. Sutton, that the corresponding halves
were not there. They desired him to walk to the other end of the roona ; but




before he did that he took up the half of the five hundred pound note. He Court
says, " I declared positively I would not give it up till the young man had been °Benclf *

" sworn in. My son was walking about waiting. We all went to the India-

" House together. I think Captain Anstice took up the other half: one of Tenterden.
" them took it ; and having done that, the papers were put into his hands by
" one or other of them." That he went and found his son : he was waiting
under the door of the India-House.

The important part that affects Mr. Prescott is, that the papers traced into
his hands on the Saturday and Monday evening, are found in the hands of
these men, Sutton and Andrews, and by them delivered over to Dr. Back.

He then went and found his son and went to the Cadet Office, and Mr.
Gibbons came to him there : that is not material. When they went to the
office, he gave the appointment to a clerk in the Cadet Office, who immediately
disappeared with it. He went out of the room, and waited for him to come
back till six o'clock, but the clerk who had taken away the papers never re-
turned. Then he relates what passed between Mr. Gibbons and him while the
clerk was away. He said "you have got this appointment for £800 instead of
" 900 guineas, and he wanted to receive the difference between £800 and 900
•' guineas, being £145; and that he was to receive £45 and that Mr. Wright
" was to have £100." He left the India-House two or three times and went
to the Ship, where he found Mr. Andrews or Mr. Sutton, or both of them.
" They said, when I went, that I was detained so long at the Cadet Office,
" that they thought there must be something wrong : they could not tell what
" to make of it ; there was something irregular they were afraid. Before we
" parted Sutton walked with me into the street behind the India-House. I
" forget the name of the street. He said, he hoped there was nothing wrong ;
" for if the matter was found out he should be a ruined man." He appointed
to meet him the next day, to tell him what turn things had taken, but he did
not go. He came afterwards to him at Little Hampton : nothing particular
passed. He begged particularly to know what was said when he was before
the Directors, or what was going forward ; but the witness told him he should
have nothing to say to him upon the subject. Captain Prescott he never saw
in his life. He thinks his son was baptized on the day of his birth, in October
1805, so that in the early part of 18^7 he would not be twenty-two.

A a 2 Then




of King's



Then he is cross-examined on behalf of Captain Despard. He says he
never went but upon this occasion in the name of Edwards, or by any other
name : there is no proof that he did. That was when he went to negociate for
the office. He says he was usually dressed in black : he might have on a
black silk handkerchief; he had been in the habit of wearing black silk
handkerchiefs. He has worn an undress military coat and yellow waistcoat
upon the Continent, as persons often do, and that he has worn a blue camlet
cloak, but never in their presence. That the cards were Colonel Edwards's,
who was the first husband of his present wife : they were preserved ; they
were found in some drawer or some such thing. He never went by the name
of Drake on the Continent, he always went by his own name. He was on
the Continent some years. He was chaplain to a foreign garrison, and he was
private tutor to one of the sons of the Duke of Richmond.

The remainder of the evidence is introduced to affect the defendant Mr.
Prescott. The first witness who speaks with regard to him is Colonel Toone,
who is a Director of the East-India Company, and has been so thirty years.
He says Mr. Prescott has been for some years past a Director, and he served
with him seven years in the direction, which made him acquainted with him.
He says, the Directors fill up the patronage in their turn, and sometimes they
lend them to each other. If a particular Director wishes an appointment for
a friend, he gets it from a brother Director, and gives him another. In the
latter end of April last year, Mr. Prescott applied to him for an appointment
by a note, and that note is to ask him if he can let him have a turn in the
Madras cavalry. He met him in the street, and told him he should be happy
to accommodate him, having a great respect for him, and that there was no
man in England, Scotland, or Ireland whom he would be more wilhng to
oblige : he evidently thinks very highly of him. The next day he met him
and spoke to him about the nomination. It is not material to inquire what
that was ; but he thinks on the following morning, or on the next day but
one, he spoke to the defendant. Captain Prescott, and he told him something
had happened that made him very anxious about the promise he had made.
" I said, • do you know the young man perfectly well ?' he said ' yes, he is one of
" ' the finest youths in England.' I said, ' do you know his family:' He answered,
" ' yes, I know his father, he is a respectable clergyman in Devonshire.' He

" said



" said it was necessary to quicken the matter, as the young man was within
" two months of being of age (that means twenty-two, and after twenty-two
" he could not be appointed.) He said, ' I suppose you ask these questions
" ' in consequence of some appointment three or four months ago ; 'and I said,
" ' I did, it was in consequence of that.' He said he knew this young gentle-
" man very well, and his father was a clergyman in Devonshire."

Now, whatever character this gentleman, Mr. Prescott, may have borne,
if Colonel Toone speaks the truth, it is clear he was representing that which
was false and untrue. He takes upon himself to say he knows the young
man, and he was as fine a youth as any in England ; that he only wanted two
months of twenty-two, and that he knew his father, who was a clergyman in
Devonshire ; he never in his life having seen either the father or the son, and
having no knowledge of them.

He says, " after that conversation I sent a note to Mr. Abington, who is
" the chief clerk of the cadet office," through which this appointment must
pass : it is in these words. " William Abington, Esq. be so good as to pass
" Captain Prescott's youth without delay, as he is near twenty-two, and I will
" sign the papers on Wednesday morning next ; but let the youth pass as soon
" as possible." Then he puts a postscript : " If the papers are sent to me
" this day I will sign them." He says, " on the same day I received a packet
" pui-porting to come from the head of the Cadet Office, enclosing those two
" papers, A and B." The papers were shewn to the witness : he says, " I
" signed them and enclosed them, and sealed them up, and directed them to
" Mr. Abington at the India-House, the same day, by one of the messengers
" of the India-House, who waited for an answer." He says, " I was called for
" from dinner and signed the papers ;" and suddenly something occurred to
him afterwards, that he had signed what he would not willingly have done.
He says it was contrary to his practice to sign till he had seen the individual :
that he wrote a note to Mr. Abington and sent it by the two-penny post.
Now the note to Mr. Abington is, " I signed the papers you sent me this
" evening ; but before the matter is finally concluded, I request you will con-
" trive to let me see the youth, and with that view I will call at the India-House
" on Monday next, and I will attend there before twelve o'clock, and request
" the youth to attend at twelve on Monday next." Then he says, he sent

a note


of King's


Tenter den.


Court a note by his servant to Mr. Prescott the same evening. Then Joseph Wil-
°B^h * liams says, he is. servant to Colonel Toone ; that his master sent him with a

letter to Captain Prescott's about April in the last year. He took it to the

Tenterden. defendant's house and delivered it to a female servant there : that he never
took more than one letter from his master to Captain Prescott ; therefore that
letter, taken in connexion with the evidence of Colonel Toone, must be the
letter. Then, that not being produced. Colonel Toone goes on to say, that
the note to Mr. Prescott also stated that he had received the papers which had
been sent to him by Mr. Abington, and that he had signed the papers ; " but
" it occurred to me I had not seen the young man, contrary to my practice,
*' and that I had written to him my order that Mr. Prescott's cadet should not
«' pass until I had seen him." The letter to Mr. Abington is produced to you
and it has the post-mark of Monday ; the letter to Mr. Prescott is not pro-
duced : and on Monday he sent another letter. He is very anxious about it ;
and fearing the letter might be lost, he sent his servant again, the next morn-
ing, with the following. " The young gentleman nominated to my Madras
" Cavalry nomination, for which I returned the papers yesterday, is not to
" be presented and passed until Mr. Toone has seen him ; and, with that
" view, Mr. Toone will attend at Mr. Abington's office as soon as possible on
" Monday morning." Signed " S. Toone." He says : " On that same Mon-
•• day I went to Mr. Abington's office at the India-House. I never saw the cadet,
" and never have seen him. I remained at the office two hours, and he did
" not arrive. I received no answer from Mr. Prescott to the letter I sent' on
" Saturday evening. I do not recollect any other conversation I had with
" him. I did not enter into it, for I had the greatest regard for him. Mr.
" Prescott did not give me any answer, either by letter or calling on me. I
" was not apprized that any order had been given at the time by the Chairman
" or Deputy Chairman :" they kept it very properly to themselves. Then he
is cross-examined by the Counsel for Mr. Prescott ; and he says, there was an
inquiry among the Directors afterwards : that the Directors dine together on
court days. That is all immaterial.

Tihen the next witness called is Edward Di'ake Back, the young iimu who
was to have the appointment. He says, he recollects being ifi town with his
father, the latter end of April, or the begiuriiiig of- May, 18*27. H6 recollects




going', oil the morning of the Sd of May, to No. 8^ Waterloo Place, Mr.
Andrews' office : that he saw him there, and he believes he saw Mr. Sutton
there. Mr. Sutlon is in court, and says he believes he was one of the persons.
There he saw the papers produced, A. and B. : and then he says that he wrote
the answer to the fourth question, that is: "Who recommended you to
" Sweiiy Toone, Esq. the nominating Director, for this appointment ? Answer.
Charles Elton Prescott, Esq. ;" which name was in pencil, for him to write in
ink. " 1 never before that heard the name of Captain Prescott or knew him."
He looks at the other paper, B., and says that is his signature, '* Edward
" Drake Back." This, I tliink, was done on Wednesday morning. He also
signs the other paper, which is the signature to the petition of Edward Drake
Back, to the Directors, expressing his desire to go. That he left the two
papers with those two persons. That one of them told him to go to the
Monument Cofliee-house, and they would be there almost as soon as he was.
He returned to the Monument Coffee-house, and he afterwards waited about
the India-House for his father, and he then afterwards went into the Cadet
Office with his father. Some person desired him to go in, and said he was to
be introduced to Mr. Prescott. He went into the room and saw a gentleman,
but he caiHiot identify Mr. Prescott. Whoever that gentleman was, he
merely asked him whether he liked to go, and whether he had ever been in the
army. He says he knew very little about the arrangement : he only knew
that the business was going on merely to detect these people. He says he
wrote answers to the different queries.

Then the next person called is Frederick Haldane, a clerk in the Cadet-
Office, who says, " in the month of April 1827, Mr. Prescott sent for me, and
" when I came he asked me if 1 understood that letter. I said I did. I took
" up the letter to the office, and deposited it in the case where it is usual to
" deposit such letters. He desired me to write it off: that is, I mark off the
" appointment in the book." He did so, and that denoted that Colonel
Toone's nomination was transferred to the defendant. He saw Colonel Toone ;
in the office on the Monday following : he thinks he also saw him on the ,
Saturday. He said, he lamented the circumstance of having lent Mr. Prescott
the nomination, but directed that the gentleman was not to pass till he
had seen him. " On the " 2d of May a paper was brought to my office,

" which


of King's


Tenter den.




of King's



" which I immediately took and gave it into the hands of the Deputy Secre-
" tary." Then the papers A. and B. are produced. I will direct your attention
to them presently.

Then the next witness is Edward Sliarp, who is a clerk in the Cadet-Office.
In consequence of a message he attended upon Mr. Prescott on the 28th of
April in his room. He produced a note from Colonel Toone, intimating- a
compliance with his wish to give him an appointment, and for the papers to be
sent up to Colonel Toone for his signature : " he also produced the paper
" marked A. and asked me if it was complete." He says, " I told him it was
" not complete ; that the letter of recommendation was not filled up, and the
'^ fourth question was not answered : the other parts were complete. He then
" asked me how the letter of recommendation should be filled in. I said,
" if Colonel Toone signs the nomination. Captain Prescott ought to sign the
" first letter of recommendation." It seems they are not both to be signed by
the same person. " He said, ' is not that irregular :' I said that it was ; but that
" since Colonel Toone was to sign the nomination, it was necessary for him,
" Mr. Prescott, to sign the letter, as I presumed Colonel Toone knew nothing
" of the other parties. I also filled in the fourth question by the desire of Captain
" Prescott, and he then signed the letter." He says, " he had asked me to
" fill in the letter. I did so, and he signed it." And then that recommenda-
tion is this : " Gentlemen, I do hereby declare, upon my honour, that I
" received the nomination of a Cadet for the Madras Cavalry from Sweny
" Toone, Esq. gratuitously, and that I have given it gratuitously to Mr.
" Edward Drake Back, with whose family and coimexions I am well
" acquainted." That is signed by himself, " C. Elton Prescott."

Then the witness said something about a conversation between them, as to
the writing of the letters ; but the witness was so indistinct in his answers,
and represented he had received the same answer in two or three different
forms, that it seems to me you could not rely upon that part of the conversa-
tion, and our safer course is to take that part that the witness speaks to with-
out hesitation. " He directed me to fill up the nomination and send it to
" Colonel Toone for signature : that, in consequence of a note he had
" received from Colonel Toone, he would not give him any further trouble."
He says, if Captain Prescott had signed the nomination, and the recommenda-



tion had been signed by the person to whom it was given, it would not have
given Colonel Toone any additional trouble. The Director's nomination is
in these words; "I, Sweny Toone, Esq. being one of the Directors of
" the East-India Company, beg leave to present the petitioner as a cadet for
" the Madras cavalry, on Mr. Morris's nomination of the season 1826, pro-
" vided he shall appear to you eligible for that station ; and I do declare that
" 1 have inquired into the character, connexions, and qualifications of Mr.
"^ Edward Drake Back, and that, in my opinion, he is a fit person to petition
" the East-India Company for the appointment he now herein solicits. —
" S. Toone." He filled that in by Mr. Prescott's desire : he speaks without
hesitation to that. " After I had filled in the nomination, Mr. Prescott de-
" sired me to write a note transmitting them to Colonel Toone. I wrote a note
" in Mr. Prescott's name, and took it to Mr. Prescott for his approval; but
" he did not approve of it, and desired me not to write it in his name, but to
" write it in the name of Mr. Abington, the chief clerk. He was not that day
" at the ofiice. I prepared a note accordingly in Mr. Abington's name, and
" enclosed the two papers and directed them to Colonel Toone, and gave
" them to the Commodore of the messengers, John Salter. Mr. Prescott
" desired me to tell the messenger to take the packet to Colonel Toone, to
" wait for an answer, and bring it to his, Mr. Prescott's residence." Then
he says the note was in Mr. Abington's name, and mentioned only that the
papers were transmitted to him by Captain Prescott's desire. Then he proves
Mr. Prescott's signature. Then the papers were read. He says the filling
up in February is in Mr. Abington's hand.

Then Salter is called, the commodore of the messengers, who produces a
book in which he enters the direction of the letter and to whom he delivered
it : and he says that he delivered it to Sullivan, with such directions as were
delivered to him. Sullivan says, he received it and took it to Colonel Toone's
house, and waited there, as directed, and took it back, not to Mr. Abing-
ton, but to Mr. Prescott's house.

Then Mr. Abington is called, who says he was absent from the office from
indisposition on the 28th of April. That he was at the office either on the
Monday or Tuesday following ; and on one of those days Captain Prescott
came into the office, and said he understood he had signed a wrong paper.

B b "I


of King's






of King's


Lord ,


" I replied, ' I was aware of that ;' and said to \\\m, ' you had no occasion
" to sign tlie recommendatory letter. Colonel Toone had nothing at all to do
" with it, having transferred it to you.' 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. On Wednesday
" I saw him again : he asked me if the young man had attended at the office
" to be passed. I told him he had not. He said ' mind you let me have the
" papers. Stop the papers as soon as they arrive, and do not suffer the
" young man to be passed till Colonel Toone has seen him.' " On the
Wednesday, when the young man was expected to present himself. Captain
Prescott sent out a message from the court-room to know if the papers had

Then Mr. Wynn and Mr, Astell were called, who gave their evidence of
their utter ignorance of all these matters, as you might have expected.

Then they further produce two other papers, marked C. and D., which are
very important, I thittk, for your attention. These are copies of another
appointment in the month of February. In that month of February Dr.
Back was given to understand an appointment might have been had. The
petition is signed by a person of the name of Bale, and then the Director's
nomination is signed by Mr. Prescott. " I, Charles Elton Prescott, &c.
" {reading the nomination) recommended to me by S. Sutton, Esq." Mr.
Sutton signs the recommendatory letter : " Gentlemen, I hereby declare, upon
" my honour, &c." (reading the reconiTnendatory letter). That is signed by
Samuel Sutton ; and then Mr. Pre«>cott signs, what has been signed in the
^tter case, a declaration that he believes the answers to the questions to be

Now that would have been the regular form to have been observed on each :
the nominating Director signs, and the person who recommended the party to
the nominating Director should sign the nomination. That course has not been
pursued upon the present occasion. Colonel Toone signs the nomination,
and signs finally his belief that the answers are true, and Mr. Prescott signs
the recommendatory letter. Why that was done does not very distinctly ap-
pear ; ceitainly it is contrary ' to> the usual practice in doing the thing.
Whether he did not choose that Mr. Sutton's name should appear again as the




party recommentlin<r to himself, he haviiiff so recently givienhitn a nomina- <-owet

1 111 r t i ' •} f of King's

tion, does not appear, but he departs from that. "' '"' '- Bench.

' NoWj in the address made to you by the learned Counsel on behalf of Mr. - -
Prescott, great reliance was placed upon that which Mr. Prescott did on the Tentenien.
Tuesday and Wednesday, namely, going to Mr. Abington and desiring that
the young man might not pass till Colonel Toone had seen him : and
it is exceedingly difficult to account for that, unless he had received the letter
that Colonel Toone says he had written and sent by his servant, stating that
he had himself written to Mr. Abington to say that the young man should not
pass. If Mr. Prescott had received that letter, it would have been natural;
if he had not received it, I do not see why he should interfere. -^

1 have already intimated to you, that in order to convict the parties of the
latter charge, it is not necessary you should be satisfied, speaking of the case
of Mr. Prescott, that he himself was to share; but you cannot convict him
on the earlier part of the charge, unless you are satisfied he knew, and had
reason to know, the appointment was to be made : and if all this evidence
satisfies you he must have known of the appointment that this person obtained
from him in a very irregular way by means of Mr. Sutton and Mr. Andrews'
for the papers passed through their hands, if all this satisfies you he must have
had a guilty knowledge that a profit was to be made, then he ought to be found
guilty. If you are not satisfied of that, then he ought not to be convicted of
the earlier and more important part of the charge. But then comes the other
part, which is a fit subject for your consideration, and to that I am obliged to
call your attention ; and that is that part which charges that all these defen-
dants conspired to procure false representations to be made to the Court of
Directors, that Edward Drake Back was a person with whose family and con-
nexions Mr. Prescott, at the time that false representation was made, was well
acquainted, for the purpose of obtaining thiscadelship for him, whereas, the
defendants knew all the lime that the family and connexions of Mr. Back were
entirely unknown. Th^t is quite a substantive distinct charge : and whatever
your opinion may be, as to the conspiracy or combination to obtain th. i pre-
sentation, to himself dr any of them, if you think they conr»;;rred in procuring
this representation to be falsely made by Mr. Prescott to the Company, as to his



Court knowledge of the young man and his family and connexions, if you think
Benchf ' ^^^^ ^^^^ ^'^ intended to do it falsely and corruptly, and not from a mere

blunder or mistake (that is not the question), if they had all the same guilty

Tenterden. P^^'pose, whatever your verdict may be upon the other part of the case, Mr.

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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 16 of 17)