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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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" would act who felt conscious that the man at whose disposal he placed it
" intended to make a profit of it to himself? This question I have long and
" anxiously considered, and am unable to bring my mind to the conclusion,
" that the conduct of Mr. Prescott is consistent with the former view of the
" subject. In this review of the facts, I have not adverted to the examinations
" of the parties themselves before the Committee. These examinations disclose
" the disposition of a third cadetship, upon the application of Sutton, to a Mrs.
" Pogson J and some of the answers are most extraordinary. Certainly they do
" not create any favourable impression on my mind ; but as it is very probable
" that it would not be found advisable to produce them in evidence in case of
" a prosecution, I have not relied upon them. My opinion is, that the facts
"to which I have adverted afford grounds for preferring an indictment
" against Mr. Prescott, for wilfully and knowingly aiding, abetting, and
" assisting a negociation carried on by other persons, for obtaining an appoint-
" ment, in the expectation of profit and reward ; and I think that a Grand
•* Jury would find the bill. Whether such an interpretation could be put upon
" Mr. Prescott's conduct, as to obtain an acquittal at the trial, I cannot pre-
" tend to say ; but I think it is clear, that the misconduct which leads to the
" inference of the guilty connivance, whether conclusively sufficient to esta-
" blish that charge or not, amounts to a breach of duty as a Director, in a matter
" of the deepest importance, both to the character of the Court of Directors
" and to the best interests of the Company ; and it is, therefore, my humble
" opinion, that the case is a proper subject for investigation in a criminalcourt.

" Lincoln's-Inn, (Signed) " J. B. Bosanquet."

" May 10, 1827."

Your Committee further report, that notwithstanding the respect which your
Committee would be at all times disposed to pay to the high authority of the
w'-x ■' learned



ABUSEOFPATRONAGE. 15

No. IX.



learned Serjeant, and notwithstanding the entire concurrence of your Com- Report of
mittee in the conclusion submitted in the opinion so given, your Committee committee,
felt that, in a matter of so great delicacy and importance, so deeply affecting l6Mayi827.
the character and the interests of a Member of the Direction, and so impor-
tantly and necessarily interesting to the whole Court, it was no less due to the
Director in question and to the Court, than to the learned Counsel himself,
whose official situation had imposed upon him the painful responsibility of thus
advising your Committee, to desire that, before your Committee determined
upon the course which they should pursue, the opinion of the Law Officers of
the Crown should be obtained upon that part of the case in question, which
involved the course of proceeding with reference to the Director whose name
has thus been mentioned : and, with that view, your Committee directed the
Company's Solicitor to obtain the opinion of his Majesty's Attorney and
Solicitor General, jointly with that of Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet, " Whether the
" facts adverted to afford grounds for preferring an indictment against Mr.
" Prescott, for wilfiiUi/ and knomngly aiding, abetting, and assisting a negocia-
" tion carried on by other persons, for obtaining an appointment, in the expecta-
" tion of profit and reward."

The joint opinion of those three eminent Counsel, dated yesterday, has been
this day laid before your Committee, and is in the following terms.

" We are of opinion, upon the facts stated to us, that there are grounds
" for preferring an indictment against Mr. Prescott upon the charge stated in
" the query. There seems to be very strong evidence against the other
" parties implicated, and the irregular conduct of Mr. Prescott exposes him to
" such a degree of suspicion, that it appears to us to be the duty of the
" Directors to put him also upon his defence in a court of justice.
" Westminster, (Signed) " J. Scarlett,

" May 15, 1827. " N. C. Tindal,

" J. B. Bosanquet."
Agreeing, as your Committee unanimously do, in the conclusion to which
the learned Counsel have thus come, your Committee have felt it to be their
imperative duty, in the exercise of the powers confided to them by the Court's
Resolution of the 2d instant, to order the Company's Law Officers to take the
necessary measures for preferring an indictment against the several parties
implicated, and of including therein Charles Elton Prescott, Esq.

Your



16 PAPERS RELATING TO

No. IX.

^ Report of Your Committee having discharged this painful duty, they feel it to be due
Committee, ^^ M""' Prescott to State to the Court, that that gentleman has addressed a
i6Mayl827. letter to the Chairman, under date the 10th instant, expressing his anxious
wish " that the most unreserved scrutiny be made, in any way the Committee
" may deem best, regarding the mode in which he has disposed of the whole
" of the patronage that has been allotted to him since he was chosen a
" Director."*

Your Committee cannot conclude this Report, without expressing their
entire and unanimous concurrence in the opinion expressed by the Company's
Standing Counsel, that no suspicion whatever appears to attach to the nomi-
nating Director, Colonel Toone, whose conduct appears to your Committee to
be wholly free from the slightest imputation of blame.

(Signed) H. Lindsay,
J. Pattison,
Geo. Smith,
J. G. Ravenshaw,
J. Baillie.



No.X.



at a
COURT OF DIRECTORS,

No. X. Held on Wednesday, the 2Sd May 1827.

Court of Charles Elton Prescott, Esq., a Member of this Court, delivered in a letter,

^Directors

asMaylSsV. dated this day, submitting a statement of the circumstances under which he
gave to Mr. Samuel Sutton the appointment of a Cavalry Cadetship, for the
sale of which the Law Advisers of the Company have recommended that he
(Mr. Prescott) should be included in an indictment to be preferred against
certain parties ; declaring that his conscience most fully acquits him of any
and every thing improper in the transaction, except the omission to exercise
sufficient caution and discretion ; and stating that, should the Court resolve to

sanction
* For this letter, vide page 17.



ABUSE OF PATRONAGE. 17

No. X.



sanction an indictment against him, and the Grand Jury should unfortunately Court of
think the case sufficiently strong for trial, he shall cease to attend the meetings 23MaylS27.
of the Court until the trial, which he shall await with perfect confidence, that
it will issue in his honourable acquittal of the remotest imputation of crimi-
nality ; and shall also request, that any patronage which may be intermediately
allotted to him may remain in suspense, until the result of the trial shall be
known.

And the said letter having been read,

Mr. Prescott withdrew.

It was,
Ordered, That the letter from Mr. Prescott, now read, be referred to the
consideration of the Secret Select Committee appointed on the 2d instant.



No. XI.



East-India House, May 23, 1827.
Gentlemen : No. XL

The Law Advisers of the Company having recommended that I should be Letter from
included in an indictment to be preferred against certain parties supposed to be ^^"^^1007'
implicated in a negociation for the sale of a Cavalry Cadetship, I feel myself
called upon to submit to you a brief statement of the circumstances under
which I gave the appointment to Mr. Samuel Sutton, the individual who has
so unhappily abused my friendship.

Mr. Sutton had been the most active and persevering of my friends, in the
arduous canvas which obtained for me the honour of a seat in the Direction.
When to this I add, that Mr. Sutton was so fortunate as to save the life of my
son, I am persuaded that you will all admit that he had established the strongest
claims on my gratitude and esteem.

I am, at the same time, fully aware, that however strong the claims of Mr.
Sutton may have been, they would not have justified me in presenting to him

1) any



18 PAPERS RELATING TO

No, XI.



Letter from any portion of my patronage, if I had the least reason to think that he would
23 May 182?'. ^^^ honourably use it. But whilst I appreciate, as fully as any of my colleagues,
the important responsibility under which a Director is placed, not merely to
be himself free from participation incorrupt practices, but also to take due
care that his appointments are not placed in the hands of persons likely to
misappropriate them, I must appeal to the candour of you, Gentlemen, whether
it be possible, in all cases, to be secure against the abuse of confidence. The
^ last case of a legal indictment for an abuse of patronage conclusively shews,

that the confidence of a Director, eminently distinguished for the honour of
his transactions and for the caution of his proceedings, was in that instance
abused ; and, in the present unfortunate case, if it be asked whether there was
any thing connected with the character of Mr. Sutton that ought to have pre-
cluded me from trusting him with an appointment, I must beg leave to observe,
that not only was that individual on terms of intitnacy with me, but he was also
most respectably connected, and associated in friendly intercourse with gentle-
men and families of undoubted respectability, of whom several must be known
to many of the Members of the Court.

I have said thus much, in the hope of removing all prejudice as to my know-
ledge of Mr. Sutton when the transaction now in question commenced. That
Mr. Sutton has proved himself unworthy of any act of favour from me, I must
fully allow and deeply lament ; but the abuse of friendship is no reason against
the manifestation of friendship, before I knew the individual to be even capable
of abusing it.

In the month of April last, Mr. Sutton applied to me for a Cavalry Cadetship
for the son of a Clergyman in the West of England, in whom he professed to
feel the deepest interest, and with whose family and connexions Mr. Sutton
stated himself to be well acquainted. At that time I had only one cavalry
appointment unfilled, and that I had given away to Mr. Colin Campbell ; I was,
therefore, obliged to decline Mr. Sutton's application, telling him, at the same
time, that he should have the next Cavalry appointment which fell to my
patronage.

Mr. Sutton shortly afterwards stated, that as the young gentleman was upon
the verge of twenty-two, any nomination which I might thereafter get would
not be available for his benefit j and, under these circumstances, I was induced

to



ABUSE OF PATRONAGE. I9



No. XI.



to ask Colonel Toone to exchatiffe an appointment which he then had for my Letter from

Mr.Prescott

next, With which application Colonel Toone most kindly complied. 23Mayl8-27!

The usual mode of effecting this exchange would have been to transfer the
appointment from the patronage of Colonel Toone to my patronage, and for me
to have given the nomination in the customary form to Mr. Sutton, he signing the
declaration of personal acquaintance with the family of the Cadet. Owing to the
absence of Mr. Abington from indisposition, a mistake occurred, and instead of
adopting the usual course. Colonel Toone was considered as the nominating
Director, and I as the intermediate party between the Director and the Cadet. The
papers were so signed accordingly. Here, Gentlemen, I have no hesitation in
admitting that I did not exercise sufficient caution. I ought fully to have
examined the papers before I signed them ; and discovering the error, it should
have been corrected at the time.

Gentlemen, need I say how apt most of us are to consider papers of this
kind as matters of form, and to sign them in haste and without much delibera-
tion. Where a Director feels and believes that all is right, how natural is it to
sign the papers, which the officer states to be correct. You will not, T am
persuaded, as men of honour yourselves, hold me responsible for the statement
in a printed form, my signature to which is admitted by the Company's respon-
sible officer to have been obtained in course, which that officer, at my request
(a request which could never have been made, if I had had any indirect object
to serve), undertook to correct, and which he was about to do when the papers
were obtained, for the purpose of the inquiry.

Gentlemen : I have heard it intimated, that Colonel Toone has stated, that
when the nomination was in progress, I expressed to him my personal
knowledge of the individual for whom it was intended. All who know Colonel
Toone must be satisfied of his honour, and that he is incapable of making an
intentional mistatement ; but I must be permitted to say, that however
that gallant officer may have misunderstood a casual observation, I never
could have intended to convey to his mind any thing further, than that I
believed the family and connexions of the young man to be respectable. The
papers indeed, from the mistake which I have explained, were calculated to lead
Colonel Toone to suppose that there was a personal acquaintance between me
and the Cadet, and this may have induced the Colonel to put a construction

D 2 on



No. XI.



20 PAPERS RELATING TO



Letter from on my observations which I never contemplated, and which, I am sure, he

Mr.Prescott

a3Mayl827'. could never have entertained if the papers had been sent corrected. So soon
as I had signed the papers, I gave them to Mr. Abington's assistant, desiring
him to send them to Colonel Toone, and to instruct the messenger to bring
them back, not to Mr. Abington but to me. This I did to save time, Mr.
Sutton being anxious to have the appointment perfected. The papers were
accordingly brought to me in a sealed packet directed to Mr. Abington,
which, knowing its contents, I opened, and gave the papers to Mr. Sutton.

I have thus candidly explained to you, Gentlemen, all the circumstances
within my knowledge connected with this transaction. I feel most sensibly
that these circumstances have combined to place me in a most painful predica-
ment, deeply affecting all the considerations which are most dear to me.
It must be unnecessary for me to declare to you, that my conscience most fully
acquits me of any and every thing improper, except the omission to exercise
sufficient caution and discretion. Were it otherwise, Gentlemen, instead of con-
tinuing to associate myself officially with you, I should at once seek the retire-
ment which conscious shame would suggest. But feeling, as I do, that I have
committed no act inconsistent with ray character as a man of honour and a
Director of this Company, I shall continue in the discharge of my duty until
the indictment shall be submitted to the Grand Jury: and if, unfortunately,
that tribunal should think the case sufficiently strong for trial as against me, I
shall, in deference to the feelings of my brother Directors, cease to attend the
meetings of the Court until the trial, which I shall await with perfect confi-
dence that it will issue in my honourable acquittal of the remotest imputation of
criminality ; and I shall also request, that any patronage which may be inter-
mediately allotted to me, shall remain in suspense, until the result of the trial
shall be known.

I have, for the moment, assumed that you have resolved to sanction an
indictment against me, and that the statement with which 1 have troubled you
was called for by the advice you have received ; but I should be wanting to
you, my respectable Colleagues, and to myself, if I did not respectfully re-
mind you, that after all the evidence had been closed, it was declared in
Court that no one of your own body was implicated in the illegality of the
transaction, and therefore any change in the determination of the Court would

be



ABUSE OF PATRONAGE. gl

No. XI.

be referable only to legal opinions. But, permit me to say, that upon the Letter from
matters of fact you are as competent to judge as any lawyers, however emi- 23Mayl827'.
nent; and upon what may belong to the honour of the Court your judgment
would be superior, because you measure not according to the prejudices by
which professional persons may be able to surround their facts, but according
to their intrinsic force ; and I have already stated the true character of the
transaction, so far as 1 am concerned, in the conclusion to which you came
before the legal men were consulted. I must, therefore, hope that the sup-
posed necessity of adopting a course of severity inconsistent with your original
opinion, will not be pursued at the expense of my reputation. You will for-
give me for reminding you of the disadvantage under which I labour. That
feeling and delicate sentiment, in which I should find a powerful advocate if
any individual of your Court would become my judge, loses much of its force
when shared by a collective body. To the whole Court it may appear a ques-
tion of mere policy ; but let me entreat you not to forget that to me it is
imputation, stigma, heart-rending suspense ; and whatever may be the result,
if a prosecution is once instituted, I must feel that I have been charged with a
base crime, inconsistent with my oath as a Director and my principles as a
man of honour ; and the libeller, who may not dare to renew the accusation
against myself, may still point the finger of scorn against those who are dear
to me, when I shall be no more.

In full reliance upon your justice and liberality,

I have the honour remain,
Gentlemen,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
(Signed) C. Elton Prescott.
To the Honourable the Court of Directors
of the East-India Company.



No. XII.



22 PAPERS RELATING TO



No. XII.

AT A

COURT OF DIRECTORS,

No. XII. Held on Wednesday, the 30th May 1827.

Court of A Report from the Secret Select Committee appointed on the 2d instant,
30Mayl827. dated this day, was read ; stating that, having entered into a consideration of
the letter from Charles E. Prescott, Esq., they do not see any reason to alter
the course of proceeding which, under the authority vested in the Committee
by the Court, they had previously resolved to pursue ; representing that the
Committee do not think it necessary to advert to the observation contained in
Mr. Prescott's letter, " that after all the evidence was closed, it was declared in
" court that no one of your own body was implicated in the illegality of the
" transaction," further than by remarking, that the opinions of the Committee,
so far as they have been stated to the Court, are contained in their Reports
laid before the Court on the 4th and l6th instant, which do not appear to
the Committee to furnish any ground for such an inference ; and adding,
that in the consideration of the letter above-mentioned, the Committee have, as
on all former occasions, consulted the Company's Law Officers, who are en-
tirely of the opinion now submitted by the Committee.



No. XIII.



ABUSE OF PATRONAGE. 23

No. XIII.

AT A

SECRET SELECT COMMITTEE,

APPOINTED BY THE COURT

For the purpose of investigating the Transactions alluded to in a Minute of a Secret
Committee of Correspondence of the 9,dMay 1827,

Held on Wednesday, the 30th May 1827. No. XIII.

Your Committee having entered into a consideration of the letter addressed Report of
to the Court by C. E. Prescott, Esq. and referred to your Committee on the 23d Committee,
instant, report that they do not see any reason to alter the course of proceed- ^^May 1827.
ing which, under the authority vested in your Committee by the Court, they
had previously resolved to pursue, and of which they have already apprized the
Court.

Your Committee do not think it necessary to advert to the observation con-
tained in Mr. Prescott's letter, " that after all the evidence was closed, it was
" declared in Court that no one of your own body was implicated in the ille-
" gality of the transaction," further than by remarking, that the opinions of
your Committee, so far as they have been stated to the Court, are contained in
their Reports laid before the Court on the 4th and l6th instant, which do
not appear to your Committee to furnish any ground for such an inference.

Your Committee think it right to add, that in the consideration of the letter
above referred to, they have, as on all former occasions, consulted the Com-
pany's Law Officers, who are entirely of the opinion now submitted by your
Committee.

(Signed) H. Lindsay,

J. Pattison,
Geo. Smith,
J. G. Ravenshaw,
J. Baillie.

No. XIV.



No. XIV.



^ PAPERSRELATINGTO

No. XIV.

AT A

SECRET COURT of DIRECTORS,

Held on Wednesday, the 6th June 1827.



Secret Court A Report from the Secret Select Committee appointed by the Court for the
6^June^l827' pu^pose of investigating the transactions alluded to in a Minute of a Secret
Committee of Correspondence of the 2d ultimo, dated this day, was read ;
stating that, in accordance with the Committee's Resolution reported to the
Court on the l6th ultimo, an indictment for a misdemeanor was preferred, on
the 1st instant, against the several parties therein alluded to, before the London
Grand Jury, who returned a true bill against all the defendants, and that the
Committee have ordered the Company's Law Officers to pursue the necessary
measures for bringing it to trial ; representing that the parties against whom the
bill has been found are :

Samuel Sutton,

William Andrews,

James Patten Anstice,

John Edward Despard,

Joseph Tyndale,

George Henry Gibbons,

Thomas Wright, and
'■' Charles Elton Prescott, Esq.

and adding, that the Committee have been engaged in investigating the case of
another Cadetship in which some of the same parties are concerned, and
attending which there is matter of such strong suspicion, that the Committee
feel it to be their duty to pursue the investigation to a close.



No. XV.



ABUSE OF PATRONAGE. 25



No. XV.

AT A

SECRET SELECT COMMITTEE,

APPOINTED BY THE COURT

For the purpose of investigating the Transactions allitded to in a Minute of a
Secret Committee of Correspondence of the Q.d May 1827,

Held on Wednesday, the 6th June 1827- ^^ xv

Your Committee report, that in accordance with their Resolution reported Report of
to the Court on the l6th ultimo, an indictment for a misdemeanor was preferred Commiuee*
on the 1st instant against the several parties therein alluded to, before the 6 June 1827.
London Grand Jury, who returned a true bill against all the defendants ; and
your Committee have ordered the Company's Law Officers to pursue the
necessary measures for bringing it to trial.

The parties against whom the bill has been found are :

Samuel Sutton,

"William Andrews,

James Patten Anstice,

John Edward Despard,

Joseph Tyndale,

George Henry Gibbons,

Thomas Wright, and

Charles Elton Prescott, Esq.

Your Committee think it right to add, that the case of another Cadetship,
in which some of the same parties are concerned (and to which the opinion of
Mr. Serjeant Bosanquet, alluded to in the Report of your Committee of the
l6th ultimo, adverts), has engaged much of the attention of your Committee,
who are still investigating the circumstances of that appointment. They are
not prepared to make any Report to the Court upon this case ; but they feel

£ that



26 PAPERS RELATING TO

No. XV.

Report of that they ought to state, that there is matter of such strong suspicion attending
1:ornmkfee,'^ it, that the Committee feel it incumbent upon them to pursue that investigation

6 June 1827. ^q ^ close.

(Signed) H. Lindsay,
J. Pattison,
J. G. Ravenshaw,
J. Baillie.



No. XVI.



at a

COURT OF DIRECTORS,

Held on Friday, the 7th March 18£8.
No. XVI.

Courtof A Letter from the Company's Solicitor, dated this day, stating that the

Directors, indictment for a misdemeanor, referred to in the Report of the Secret Select

' Committee to the Court, dated the 6th June last, and which was subsequently

removed into the Court of King's Bench by writ of certiorari, at the instance

of Mr. William Andrews, one of the defendants, came on yesterday for trial

at Guildhall, London, before Lord Tenterden and a Special Jury, and

detailing the proceedings which took place on that occasion, was read.



No. XVIL



ABUSE OF PATRONAGE. ff

No. XVII.

Drapers' Hall, 7th March 1828.
Sir: ^°_^"-

I have the " honour to acquaint you, for the information of the Letter from
Honourable Court of Directors, that the indictment for a misdemeanor, referred s^icu"o^^
to in the Report of the Secret Select Committee to the Honourable Court of ''' Mar. 1828.
the 6th of June last, and which was subsequently removed into the Court of


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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 2 of 17)