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Tag Archives: Counterfeiting

Now Available: Early American Criminals

My new book, Early American Criminals: An American Newgate Calendar, Chronicling the Lives of the Most Notorious Criminal Offenders from Colonial America and the New Republic, has been published and is now available for purchase! Amazon.com (Paperback and Kindle e-book) Barnes and Noble (Paperback and Nook e-book) Smashwords (All e-book formats) Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom) Amazon.ca […]

Special Announcement: Forthcoming Book, Early American Criminals

It has been a long time since I have posted on this website, but that is because I have been hard at work writing my next book. Now, I am thrilled to announce the forthcoming publication of Early American Criminals: An American Newgate Calendar, Chronicling the Lives of the Most Notorious Criminal Offenders from Colonial […]

Crime Poems: “Cot-er’s Speech from the Pillory”

In 1768, James Cotter was convicted of making and passing several counterfeit coins. On Friday, April 22, 1768 in front of a crowd in Boston, he “stood one Hour in the Pillory, and was whip’d 20 Stripes at the public Whipping post” as part of his punishment. The following “Speech” was published by an anonymous […]

Crime Poems: The Three Counterfeiters

In September 1766, Richard Hodges and John Newingham Clark were convicted by the Superior Court in Boston of breaking into a shop and stealing fifty pounds worth of goods. As punishment, they were each fined twenty pounds, ordered to pay triple damages, imprisoned for six months, and bound for good behavior for twelve months. After […]

Early American Criminals: Owen Syllavan’s Bunker

After one week, hunger finally drove Owen Syllavan out of his hiding place in the Connecticut woods and forced him to seek refuge with an acquaintance. Syllavan cut open a plank in the floor of his friend’s house, dug a large cavity that went under the hearth of the fireplace, and rigged a vent so […]

Early American Criminals: Henry Tufts in the Castle

Note: This post follows “Henry Tufts’s Partners in Crime.” While living in Massachusetts in 1793, Henry Tufts purchased a silver tablespoon and five teaspoons from John Stewart, who said he found them while clearing out a cellar. Tufts used the spoons until a neighbor recognized them as stolen and reported Tufts to the authorities. […]

Early American Criminals: The Canadian Burglars

On Friday, December 4, 1789, William Mooney Fitzgerald and John Clark were scheduled to appear before the court in St. John, New Brunswick. They were to learn their sentence after being tried and found guilty of burglary the day before. That morning, Rev. Charles William Milton entered their prison cell and later wrote that […]

The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: backer

backer – the person who supplies the genuine dollar bills that are shown to a prospective victim in a greengoods con-game. The greengoods con-game entails the sale of a large quantity of counterfeit money at a steep discount from its face value. In a show of demonstrating the high quality of the counterfeit bills to […]

The American Malefactor’s Dictionary: assay

assay – to commence; to try it. Possibly derived from the phrase “to take the assay or essay,” i.e., to taste wine to prove that it is not poisoned. It may have been brought into use by counterfeit coiners. Image by Greg_e via Flickr Sources Barrère, Albert and Charles G. Leland. A Dictionary of Slang, […]

Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part II

Note: This post continues Early American Crimes: Burglary, Part I. In the earliest days of colonial America, burglary was not considered much of a problem. Most people in the community knew each other, and strangers could be quickly identified. But as more people settled in America and cities grew bigger, burglary became a much more […]