1826. Plough Monday.
The first Monday after Twelfth day.*
On the 9th of January, 1752, William Stroud was tried before the bench of justices at Westminster-hall, for personating various characters and names, and defrauding numbers of people, in order to support his extravagance. It appeared by the evidence, that he had cheated a taylor of a suit of velvet clothes, trimmed with gold; a jeweller of upwards of 100l in rings and watches, which he pawned[;] a coachmaker of a chaise; a carver and cabinet-maker of household goods; a hosier, hatter, and shoemaker; and, in short, some of almost every other business, to the amount of a large sum. He sometimes appeared like gentleman attended with livery servants; sometimes as a nobleman's steward; and, in the summer time, he travelled the west of England, in the character of Doctor Rock; and, at the same time, wrote to London for goods, in the names of the Rev. Laroche, and the Rev. Thomas Strickland. The evidence was full against him; notwithstanding which, he made a long speech in his own defence. He was sentenced to six months' hard labour in Bridewell, and, within that time, to be six times publicly whipped.
Such offences are familiar to tradesmen of the present times, through many perpetrators of the like stamp; but all of them are not of the same audacity as Stroud, who in the month following his conviction, wrote and published his life, wherein he gives a very extraordinary account of his adventures, but passes slightly over, or palliates his blackest crimes. He was bred a haberdasher of small wares in Fleet-street, married his mistress's sister before his apprenticeship determined, set up in the Poultry, became a bankrupt, in three months got his certificate signed, and again set up in Holborn, where he lived but a little while before he was thrown into the King's Bench for debt, and there got acquainted with one Playstowe, who gradually led him into scenes of fraud, which he afterwards imitated. Playstowe being a handsome man, usually passed for a gentleman, and Stroud for his steward; at last the former, after many adventures, married a girl with 4000l., flew to France, and left Stroud in the lurch, who then retired to Yorkshire, and lived some time with his aunt, pretending his wife was dead, and he was just on the brink of marrying advantageously, when his real character was traced. He then went to Ireland, passed for a man of fashion, hired an equipage, made the most of that country, and escaped to London. His next grand expedition was to the west of England, where he still personated the man of fortune, got acquainted with a young lady, and pursued her to London, where justice overtook him; and, instead of wedlock, bound him in the fetters of Bridewell.
On the 24th of June, 1752, Stroud received "his last and severest whipping, from the White Bear to St. James's church Piccadilly."*
Mean Temperature . . . 36 . 12.
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. See vol. i. p. 71. [return]
2. Gentleman's Magazine. [return]