ELEVEN YEARS OF FRAUD.
THE L. AND N.W. RAILWAY COM. RANY VICTIMISED. A CURIOUS CASE,
(From Our Special Correspondent.]
London, April 12.
City people (more particularly solicitors and stockbrokers) are deeply interested just now in the unravelling of a clever fraud which has, it is said, victimised tho London and North-Western Railway to the extent of nearly L 15.000. Tho solicitors to this great company are ’cute, clever men, but they have met their match in a gentleman of the name of Barton, who (despite being an absconding forger) baa managed to keep English detectives at bay in New York for nearly two years. This worthy is at last on his way Home under an extradition warrant, and in a few days he will be tho central figure in a great criminal trial. The circumstances which have led Mr Barton to this lamentable pass are detailed by the New Y’ork ‘ Herald’s ’ London correspondent hs follows:—“A Mr Samuel Barton held L 13.000 of stock in the London and North-Western Railway Company. This amount represented many years of industry and frugal living, and in investing his savings Mr Barton displayed the foresight and prudence that had characterised his life’s labors. Besides this money he had L 6,000 invested in North Stafford Railway stock, and about L 90.000 in Scinde, Punjaub, and Delhi stock. Altogether he was worth about L 40.000, and when he died in 1870 he left this money to his widow and stepson as executors upon certain trusts. The stepson had a great idea of the value of money ; indeed, so great was his idea that it led him to covet tho whole sum left to him and his stepmother jointly, and once this ambition fairly took possession of him he commenced to devise ways and means to secure it to himself. It was this unconquerable rapacity that led to all the trouble here and in America, and that has placed Mr Barton, jun., in such an invidious position. “ Mr Barton commenced to put his plan of aggrandisement into operation in 1874. In that year the London and North-Western Company began to receive transfers, and at intervals for eleven years they received them. They came in in the usual way; they were perfectly regular, and there was nothing about them to suggest suspicion for a moment. In 188G the widow wrote asking how much stock there then stood in tho joint names of herself and stepson, and when she received the reply that only LSOO remained of tho L 13.000 she was justly indignant, and went immediately to consult her lawyer. As the result of that conference, or almost immediately after it, the fast transfer of all went to the company, and a few days later tho widow went to the ollice at Euston and made tho startling statement that all the transfers were forgeries. Examination proved that they were properly signed in the names of the widow, the stepson, and Mr William Broadburst as attesting witness. When tho documents were produced the relict of Samuel Barton vehemently protested that her name had been uniformly forged in every instance. She was veiy properly attended in this interview by her solicitor, and it may be presumed that gentleman had delivered to her every necessary caution that a long professional experience suggested. “ The transfer of the last LSOO had been executed in his ollice, but the circumstance for the moment seemed to have escaped her treacherous memory, for, when shown this document in the solicitor’s office at Euston she unhesitatingly and emphatically declared, as she had done right through the transfers of the eleven years, that it was a forgery. ‘ But,’ promptly corrected her legal adviser, ‘ you signed that document in my ollice last week, in my presence. That cannot be a forgeiy.’ Close scrutiny revealed the fact that the signatures to this document in every important respect corresponded with the signatures to the other transfers. The solicitors to the London and North- Western Company had become alive to the fact that they had been imposed upon by somebody, and they redoubled their exertions to probe tho matter to the bottom. Further inquiries elicited tho fact that the whole of the stock in the North Stafford Company had been transferred. But this did not help them much. It only tended to further complicate matters. “ Then diligent search was made for the stepson. But, he naturally anticipatmg that some unusual anxiety would be felt as to his whereabouts, and detesting publicity, had taken the precautionary step to cross the Atlantic, and to locate himself in America. There he lay perdu. The services of two English detectives from Scotland Yard were engaged, and they proceeded to tho United States, armed with authority, primed with particulars, flush with ready cash, and an unlimited scope of action before them. They had not a ghost of an idea where Barton was likely to be in America; all that they did know was that when he left England be had net a penny in his pocket, that he had lived a gay and voluptuous life for some years, and spent the money he had obtained by means of the transfers, and that his movements would bo considerably hampered by the attenuated state of his pocket. “With these facts the detectives sot out, and their perseverance and intelligence were rewarded after several mouths by a lucky coup which placed Barton within their grasp and once there the detectives did not relax their grasp. But it was one thing to find Barton, and another to get him transported to this country'. There were many difficulties raised by tho new extradition arrangements to be overcome before that could bo done, Meanwhile the widow had brought a Chancery action against the North Stafford Railway Company, and Mr Justjce Kay decided in favor of the lady and against tho defendant company. Thus encouraged, Mrs Barton brought an action against the London and North-Western Company, but tho result of the other trial put tho company’s solicitors upon tho qvi vice, and they made application to have the case removed to the common law side, to be tried by a jury, and in this step they were successful. “The difficulties experienced in getting extradition proceedings carried through were in connection with the diplomatic services in the two countries. The American people hold one view, and the English people as tenaciously clung to tho other. This state of things provided Barton with a chance to raise further difficulties, and possibly afforded him a loophole of escape altogether. He was a man who had his wits about him, and he possessed a great deal of intuitive and pugnacious ability. When he was eventually committed for extradition by the United States Commissioner, he appealed to a Court above, and from there to a tribunal equal to a Divisional Court in England. Tho glorious uncertainties of the law were admirably illustrated in the decisions of these several Courts, each Court reversing the judgment of the tribunal below. The Divisional Court confirmed the order, and Barton, determined to lose no possible chance, appealed to the Supreme Court at Washington; but his hopes were not realised here. From the time the English detectives made Barton’s acquaintance an unlucky fate had pursued him with remorseless energy. He lost his last opportunity. The Judges of the highest Court in the United States decided against him, and the warrant for his extradition was made out. “ The action of Mrs Barton against the London and North-Western Company was set down for hearing one day last week in the High Courts. The same morning, and just as the case was being called, the solicitors to tho London and North-Western Company received the information they had been anxiously looking for for months : “ Extradition warrant granted ; we leave for England in a few days.” Tho npws created the greater impression because it had been so long delayed that it had almost ceased to be expected, and because of the happy_ juncture of time and circumstance at which it arrived. Of course an adjournment was applied for, and of course it was instantly granted. “The case assumes quite a new complexion now. The civil proceedings will be stayed, and when the criminal proceedings for forgery ate comojgnctd several novel and
interesting points will be raised. The primary question will be: Did Barton forge the widow's name? and if so—and this is the point that will affect the railway company—can one executor sell personal estate, and give a valid receipt for the purchasemoney ?
“ Brokers in the city are watching the proceedings with intense interest. If the point of law goes against the company, who among them will be able to transect his business with confidence? The immediate question to be disposed of at Bow street is: Did Mr Barton forge the name of his mother and the attesting witness, William Broadhurst? If he did not, what are the circumstances under which Mrs Barton wrote her name, and what has conduced to the extraordinary lapse of memory ? ”
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ELEVEN YEARS OF FRAUD., Evening Star, Issue 7928, 8 June 1889, Supplement
ELEVEN YEARS OF FRAUD. Evening Star, Issue 7928, 8 June 1889, Supplement
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