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THE COUNTERFEITER CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS OF 1772-3
IN MASSACHUSETTS AND NEW YORK


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Enhanced extract from John Mitchell map 1755

After the Dutch colony of Nieuw Nederland was surrendered to the British in 1774, the province of New York was created in the Hudson River valley, with the Connecticut River as its eastern boundary. This conflicted with the charters granted to the earlier British colonies of New England, which permitted them to expand westward to what is now called the Pacific Ocean. Connecticut in particular, could not possibly accept this boundary, as Hartford would thus be lost to the new province, so a new boundary between New York and Connecticut was negotiated. Further north, where colonies were still expanding slowly from the east coast, no urgency was felt, and when John Mitchell mapped British America in 1755, the boundaries of Massachusetts and New Hampshire with New York were marked as “not setled”. By that time, however, serious issues were starting to arise.

In this specific case, a group of imaginative and resourceful men had noticed that Massachusetts Bay province, unlike almost any other nation with law derived from that of England, did not treat counterfeiting of currency as a crime punishable by death. Recent settlement in the valley of the Housatonic River had made it possible to live comfortably in the south-west corner of Massachusetts, having easy access to both Connecticut and New York ...

The story which emerges from the following documents has been told by Kenneth Scott in a chapter titled "The Albany County Gang" in his book "Counterfeiting in Colonial New York" (American Numismatic Society, Numismatic Notes and Monographs, no. 127, 1953). He quotes some of the material reproduced here; I have also occasionally used his summaries of unpublished original documents- annotated as [Scott].

New-York Gazette, and the Weekly Mercury, 5 Oct 1772, p3:
COUNTERFEITS.
The Publick are hereby notified, That within these few Days, Counterfeit Three Pound Bills have made their Appearance amongst us, so well executed that it requires the greatest Care to discover them from the true Bills, and are supposed to be done by a Copper plate, constructed on a new Method, that is, by raising, instead of, sinking the Letter, which makes the Bills appear as if done with a printing Type. The Bills are dated, New-York, February 16, 1771. The false Bills may be discovered from the true, by the following Observations: The Mark III L at the Bottom of the Print of the true Bills, near the Arms stand regular, in the false they are irregular, the first I standing higher than the other two, and the L is sunk much below the Line of the other two II's. The upper Part of the Letter K, in the Word NEW-YORK, in the false Bills, is blotted, and the Comma at the End of the K is split; in the true, the K and Comma stand fair;-- in general the Counterfeits may be discovered by the Face of the Bill, the Paper being smooth as if worked in a rolling Press, and the Arms and Escutcheons are better executed than in the true Ones. These Remarks must suffice for the present.
New-York Gazette, and the Weekly Mercury, 9 Nov 1772, p3:
We hear, that a few Days ago no less than 9 Men were committed to Goal [i.e. Jail] in Albany, on Suspicion of being concerned in counterfeiting our last Emission of Paper Money, as a Quantity of the same, and many bad Dollars, with Instruments for operating on both, were found in their Possession.
20 Nov 1772:
Report of the Committee of Correspondence to the Boston town meeting, setting out the fundamental rights of Americans, and complaints against erosion of those rights. 600 copies were printed and distributed throughout the region as the “Boston Pamphlet”.
Connecticut Courant [Hartford], 1 Dec 1772, p2:
Extract of a Letter from Albany County.
The Justices of King's District [the area around Canaan, NY], Matthew Aldgate, William B. Whiting, James Savage and Nathaniel Culver, Esquires, have distinguished themselves by an exemplary Vigilance, in the Discovery and Commitment of no less than Twelve Persons, for the dangerous Offence of counterfeiting our Paper Currency, and passing counterfeited Bills. Upon a close Examination of the first person apprehended for this Offence, the Justices found out that several of the Offenders were in different Places, who appear to have been confederated together, for carrying on this pernicious Practice; and having issued several Warrants, and dispatched a Number of Officers at once, they so concerted Measures, that most of the Delinquents were apprehended nearly about the same Time, and before the Alarm of the Fate of their Associates could reach any of them. The most noted of these Offenders is one Joseph Bill, who was at the White Plains-- Whither [probably not, unless there was another White Plains in Massachusetts] Col. Elijah Williams, a Gentleman of Character, in Boston Government [Sheriff of Berkshire County], accompanied by an Officer, who had a Warrant from the above mentioned Justices, went in Pursuit of him, and by an uncommon Dispatch, apprehended the Offender, before he had the least Intimation of his being discovered. There were found in the Possession of the different Offenders, several Plates for striking Three Pounds and Five Shillings New-York Bills, and Jersey Bills of different Denominations, also two Presses, and a Quantity of Types; a Stamp for Dollars, and other Implements, with a Quantity of Bills, some finished and some unfinished. The Conduct not only of the Magistrates in King's District, but of the Constables and inferior Officers also, is highly commendable, and the Public is indebted to them as well as to Colonel Williams, for detecting, apprehending and bringing to condign Punishment, such a Number of Persons, united in one of the most pernicious Confederacies that have been known in the Province for a long time.
The Names of the above Offenders are Joseph Bill, John Williamson, John Wall Lovely, William Hurlbut, Festus Drake, Silas Robison, Gill Belcher, Wane Case, John Johnson, John Stannard, Simon Claviland, and Humphry Dening.
[NB: the letter extract appears without the list of names in the New-York Journal; or, The General Advertiser, 26 Nov 1772]
Connecticut Courant [Hartford], 8 Dec 1772, p2:
HARTFORD, Dec. 8.
We hear from Albany, that on Saturday se'nnight died in the Prison in that Place, of the Small Pox, Simon Claviland, one of the persons mentioned in our last to have been Committed to that Goal for counterfeiting New-York and New Jersey Paper Currency.

Supplement to the Massachusets-Gazette [Boston], 24 Dec 1772, p1, reprints the above, and adds:
He had a Wife and six Children. Four more of them had caught the Contagion, and the Remainder were under Apprehensions of getting the Distemper.
Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y.: English manuscripts, 1664-1776 (1866)
pp812- [documents in vol. XCIX]: 1772

Dec. 13. Albany. Letter. William Bradford Whiting and Matthew Adgate, justices of the peace for the county of Albany, to the Court of Oyer and Terminer of said county, certifying that John Wall Lovely and William Hulbert had given important information which led to the arrest of Jo. Bill and other counterfeiters. [document 36]

Dec. 21. Confession of William Hulbert, implicating doctor Smith, Th. Smith, doctor Bill, James Sutton, Jack Williams and Abner Burrows, of Connecticut, Lewis Lett, Phineas Granger, col. Hogaboom and Stephen Hogaboom, in the business of counterfeiting [39]

Dec. 28. Petition. William Hulbert, confined in jail at Albany for counterfeiting, for a pardon [40]
New-York Journal; or, The General Advertiser, 24 Dec 1772:
By a Gentleman from Albany we learn, that the Court was opened there on Friday the 11th Inst. for the Trial of the Money Makers confined in Gaol at that Place; and that on the Night of Wednesday the 9th, the said Prisoners intended to have had a general Gaol Delivery, having nearly effected an Escape by breaking out of the Prison near the Chimney, but being heard by the Guard that has been kept over the Gaol ever since their being committed, they were prevented, and more closely confined.
Connecticut Courant, 29 Dec 1772, p3:
We hear from Albany, that five of the Criminals confined in the goal in that place, for counterfeiting New-York and New-Jersey Currency, have had their trial, been found guilty, and receiv'd sentence of death.
Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y.: English manuscripts, 1664-1776 (1866)
pp812- [documents in vol. XCIX]: 1773

Jan. 5. Petition. John Smith, a prisoner in Albany, for pardon, he having been convicted of passing counterfeit money [49]
Jan. 5. Petition. Gil. Belcher, a prisoner in jail at Albany, under sentence of death for counterfeiting, for a pardon [50]

Jan. 7. Petition. Inhabitants of Enfield and Suffield, in favor of the above William Hulbard [54]

Jan. 9. Petition. William Hulbard, a prisoner in Albany jail, for mercy [55]

Jan 12. Petition. John Wall Lovely, confined in the jail at Albany for passing counterfeit money, for pardon [57 b] [Scott reports that Wall "admitted that he had passed two £3 bills, but, as he could neither read or write a word, he had no idea that they were counterfeit. In fact, he claimed that he had sold a good horse for them …"]
Jan 12. Petition. John Smith, confined in the jail at Albany for passing counterfeit money, for pardon [58]
Jan 12. Petition. Joseph Bill, confined in the jail at Albany for passing counterfeit money, for pardon [59]

Jan. 21. Petition. Obadiah Hulbard, of Enfield, in the county of Hartford, Connecticut, for the pardon of William Hulbard, his son, under sentence of death at Albany, for counterfeiting [53]
Jan 8. [sic]. Pardon. William Hulbard, convicted of counterfeiting bills of credit [56]
Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts. ... v.49 1772-1773.
p162 [16 Jan 1773]:

The Secretary laid on the Table Mr. Woodbridges Letter, with a Vote of Council thereon, viz. In Council, January 16, 1773.
His Excellency the Governor having communicated to both Houses a letter from Timothy Woodbridge of Stockbridge, Esq; dated the second Instant, relative to the distressed State of the Inhabitants of the County of Berkshire, occcasioned by the Civil Officers in the Province of New-York excercising Jurisdiction within said County of Berkshire.
Ordered, That William Brattle, James Bowdoin, James Otis, and Samuel Dexter, Esq'rs; with such as the honorable House shall join, be a Committee to take the Subject Matter into Consideration, and report what they think proper to be done.
Sent down for Concurrence.
Read and concur'd, and Major Hawley, Mr. Ingersol, Mr. Bacon, Mr. Day, and Capt. Doolittle are joined.
Boston Evening-Post, 18 Jan 1773, p2:
BOSTON, January 18, 1773
WE learn from the County of Berkshire, That about five weeks since one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Albany, issued his Warrant against several Persons of the Towns of Sheffield and Stockbridge, upon a suspicion that they had been concerned in counterfeiting the Bills of Credit of the province of New York. The Complainants accompanied with Mr. Williams, Sheriff of the County of Berkshire, applied to the Hon. Timothy Woodbridge, Esq.; of Stockbridge, for a Warrant to apprehend said Persons, and transmit them to the authority of Albany County, to be examined touching the supposed Offence. Mr. Woodbridge utterly refused to grant a Warrant of such an extraordinary tenor; but consented to grant a Warrant to apprehend and convene said Persons before him or some other Magistrate of the County of Berkshire, to be examined touching that Matter: but the Sheriff and others with him declined Mr. Woodbridge's Offer, expressly declaring that such a Proceedure would not answer what they proposed to effect. And thereupon immediately and very abruptly left Mr. Woodbridge and proceeded thro' the Town of Great-Barrington (wherein resided three Justices for Berkshire County, two of whom, viz. David Ingersoll, Jun. and Mark Hopkins, Esqrs. were learned in the Law) to the Town of Sheffield, to John Ashley, Esq; who granted a Warrant according to their Wishes; by Virtue of which the said Sheriff apprehended those Persons and hastily dragged them out of Berkshire County into the County of Albany, where they were very rigourously and partially treated, and directly hurried away to Albany Goal, then greatly infected with the Small Pox. Some of them have since been seized with that contagious Distemper and died, and there has been a special Court appointed to try those who survive. The Court has met and tried four of them, who are all convicted, and one is now under Sentence of Death. The Court is adjourned till next June, and Justice Livingstone gave in Charge to the Grand Jury to enquire into all Offences that should be committed anywhere West of the West Banks of the Connecticut River, which they acordingly did, and in the Indictments expresly alledged that the Crime was committed in the said Sheffield, &c. in the County of Albany, &c.
On what foundation they ground so extravagant a Claim we would gladly be informed.
Justice Woodbridge has forwarded a Letter to his Excellency Governor Hutchinson, relative to this extraordinary Proceeding, which was immediately laid before the Great and General Court now sitting here, and a Committee of both Houses appointed to take it into Consideration.
Connecticut Courant [Hartford], 19 Jan 1773, p2:
ALBANY, January 4.
...
The following Prisoners (Part of those whose Names were inserted in No. 32 of this paper) have been tried and found guilty of the Crimes with which they were charged, viz.
William Holbert, John Smith, Joseph Bills Parker, John Wall Lovely, Gill Belcher.
John Smith received Sentence of Death. We hear he is to be executed the 6th day of February next.
Letter from Justice Robert Livingston to Governor Tryon of New York province, 25 Jan 1773 [quoted in Scott, p159]:
At the last Court of Oyer and Terminer and Goal Delivery held at Albany, there were five persons convicted, to wit, William Hulbert, Joseph Bill, John Wall Lovely, Gilbert Beletier [sic in transcript] and John Smith. On the last only of whom he had passed Sentence of Death. That one Reason for deferring Judgment on the rest was that their Crimes of Counterfeiting or passing Counterfeit Money, were committed in Sheffield, where for many years last past the Government of Massachusetts-Bay has exercised an uncontroll’d Jurisdiction. But that a late act having included the place within the County of Albany, he was under the Necessity of trying them there, and that unless his Excellency shall think it proper to interpose a pardon, the same Act will oblige him to proceed to Judgment. And that if Mercy should be extended to any one of them only, he would recommend William Hulbert, who tho evidently guilty had made an ample Confession, and has been instrumental in discovering the principal Offender one Bill, as appears by a Certificate of the Justices Adgate and Whiting and his own Confession.
[Scott summarises the deliberations of the Council of the Province of New York at its meeting on 27 January, based on the above letter and the various petitions relating to the offenders:
... the council advised the governor to pardon only William Hulbert because his early confession appeared to have been a consequence of the justices’ promise to recommend mercy. The council observed that, although the same justices had likewise recommended John Wall Lovely, he had already been punished in one of the eastern colonies for the like offence, and they were therefore of the opinion that the law should be allowed to take its course.]
Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y.: English manuscripts, 1664-1776 (1866)
pp812- [documents in vol. XCIX]: 1773

Feb 15. Petition. Stephen Hogeboom, relative to the charge made against him of passing counterfeit money [83]
Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts. ... v.49 1772-1773.
p206 [3 Feb 1773]:

Upon a Motion, Ordered and Resolved, That the Commissaries who are empowered by an Act of this Government to treat with Commissaries who may be appointed by the Government of New-York, respecting the Boundary Line between this Province and New-York, Eastward of Hudson's River, be empowered and directed at the Expence of this Province, to make all such Surveys and Admeasurements as they shall judge necessary to obtain that exact and precise Knowledge of Facts necessary to be precisely known, in Order to a safe and most beneficial Execution of the Trust committed to the Commissaries by said Act. Sent up for Concurrence.
[Although these commissioners did meet with representatives of both New York and Connecticut at Hartford in May, and did come to an agreement in principle, certain other matters intervened before the precise details of the boundary could be surveyed, and work did not resume until 1784]

p221- [11 Feb 1773]:
The Committee appointed further to consider the Letter from Timothy Woodbridge, Esq; to his Excellency the Governor, reported as follows, viz.
That the Justices of the County of Albany, in the Province of New-York, some time in the Month of October last, issued their Warrant against several Persons upon Suspicion of their being concerned in counterfeiting the Bills of Credit of the Government of New-York, which Persons were Inhabitants of and Resident in the County of Berkshire; but it is highly probable that there was not any Place alledg'd in said Warrant, where the Crime was perpetrated. Which Warrant was by the Sheriff of the County of Berkshire, presented to the honorable Timothy Woodbridge, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Berkshire, for a Reinforcement, or Renewal thereof, in such Way and Manner as that the Officers of the said County of Berkshire might be legally empowered to apprehend and carry said suspected Persons to the Confines of said Province of New-York, and them to deliver to some Officer or Authority of the said Province, to be examined touching the said Crimes, but Mr. Woodbridge utterly refused to comply with said Request; but at the same Time offered to grant a Warrant for the Purpose of apprehending and convening said Persons before himself, or any other Justice of the Peace for the said County of Berkshire, to be examined concerning said supposed Crimes, provided the said Sheriff would make Complaint thereof against them; but said Sheriff refus'd to do it; and that the said Justice acquainted said Sheriff that he would not grant a Warrant conformable to his Wishes, being repugnant to Law and Justice. Whereupon the said Sheriff, and others with him, proceeded toGreat-Barrington, in said County of Berkshire, where said Sheriff and others applied to Mark Hopkins, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices for said County, for a reinforcement or Renewal of said Warrant as aforesaid; but Mr. Hopkins refused to grant the same upon any other Conditions, than that the said Persons when apprehended should be bro't before some Justice of the Peace for said County of Berkshire, to be examined as aforesaid, agreeable to a Law of this Province; but the said Sheriff and others refused to accept such Warrant; and that one of the Persons in Company with said Sheriff, and with said Sheriff's consent, immediately went to Sheffield, and there obtained a Reinforcement or Renewal of the Warrant aforesaid, from John Ashley, Esq; one of his Majesty's Justices for said County of Berkshire; and that by Virtue thereof, the said Sheriff took, or caused to be taken, the Bodies of six persons, several of whom were taken by Order of the Sheriff by his Deputy, without their having any Warrant with them, tho' their Names the Sheriff says were mentioned in the Warrant inforc'd by Justice Ashley. The Persons who were in such Manner taken, were committed to Albany Goal, and one of them died with the Small-Pox, said Goal being at the Time of said Commitment infected therewith; and another acquitted after having had the said Disorder; and another convicted upon an Indictment of the Grand Jury for the County of Albany.
It further appears, that Sheriff Williams gave a Deputation to Ezra Fellows, to take one Lovely, whom said Fellows seized and carried into the Government of New-York, it is supposed, by a Warrant from two Justices in the County of Albany; which Warrant, if he had any, was never reinforced by any Justice within this Province. The Committee further report, That it appears from the Testimony of Ichabod Miller, of Stockbridge, That about the 20th of December last, about Two o'Clock in the Morning, a Person calling himself a Deputy-Sheriff of the County of Albany, with five Men accompanying him, vi & Armis, broke open the House of said Ichabod Miller, pulled him the said Miller out of Bed, bound him, carried and hurried him to Albany, where the said Miller was examined and acquitted. The said Miller further declares that the Person called the King's Attorney, said that the Authority dare not gainsay us nor oppose us, and that the Sheriff said in his Hearing that he had a Right to execute his Authority any where West of Connecticut River; and that while he was detained there he was visited with the Small-Pox whereby his Life was greatly endangered. Upon which your Committee beg Leave to submit it to the Consideration of the House, whether it will not be expedient to desire his Excellency to write to Governor Tryon relative to this Matter, that a Stop may be put to such illegal proceedings, and thereby prevent many fatal Consequences which otherways it is probable may ensue. Read and Ordered, That Mr. Justice Ashley and Sheriff Williams attend this House.
They attended the House accordingly; and Mr. Williams requesting a Copy of the Report of the Committee; Ordered, That the Clerk furnish him with a Copy accordingly. And the Consideration thereof was referr'd till the next Day at Ten o'Clock.

p225 [12 Feb 1773]:
Upon a Motion, Ordered, That the Consideration of the Report on Mr. Woodbridge's Letter, be further referr'd till To-Morrow Ten o'Clock.

p226 [13 Feb 1773]:
THE House according to Order, took into further Consideration the Report of the Committee on the Letter of Timothy Woodbridge, Esq; to his Excellency the Governor. Ordered, That Sheriff Williams attend this House.
Mr. Williams attended accordingly, and offered an Answer in Writing to the Facts alledged against him; which being read it was moved and Ordered, That a Message go up to the honorable Board to desire that Mr. Woodbridge a Member thereof, may have Leave to attend this House.
Mr. Woodbridge attended the House, and being asked several Questions, withdrew.
Mr. Sheriff Williams being heard on the Floor of the House, had Leave to withdraw.
Then the House proceeded to consider the Report of the Committee as it related to the Conduct of Mr. Justice Ashley. And the Question being put, Whether the Excuse he had offered for his Conduct as a Justice of the Peace, therein referr'd to, was satisfactory to the House? It pass'd in the Negative.
Upon a Motion, Ordered, That the further Consideration of this Matter be referr'd till Monday next, Three o'Clock Afternoon, and the Members are enjoin'd then to attend.

p227- [15 Feb 1773]:
The House again enter'd into a Consideration of the Report of the Committee on the Letter of Timothy Woodbridge, esq; And after Debate, It was moved and Ordered, That Mr. Justice Ashley attend this House.
Mr. Ashley attended accordingly; and the Speaker agreeable to their Direction, declared to him the Sense of the House as follows, viz.
Mr. Justice Ashley,
This House have taken into Consideration your late Conduct in the Office of a Justice of the Peace, in issuing a Warrant for apprehending divers Persons suspected of counterfeiting the Bills of Credit of the Government of New-York, and sending them to the Confines of this Province, without first convening them before some Justice of the Peace for the County of Berkshire for Examination, and the Excuse you have offered; and also taking into Consideration your Expressions of Grief and Concern for your Misconduct therein; and your Promise of future Amendment: I am directed by the House, and accordingly do now acquaint you, that the House consider your Ignorance of the Law, especially when you acted in a Matter of so great importance to the Liberty of the Subject, as very unjustifiable; yet, in Hopes that your Profession is sincere, they will proceed no further in this Matter; expecting that you pay the necessary Expence that has arisen on this Enquiry.
And then Mr. Ashley was discharged.
The House took into further Consideration the said report, as it related to the Conduct of Mr. Sheriff Williams. And after Debate, the Question was put, Whether the Reasons he had offered in Vindication of his Conduct therein referr'd to, were satisfactory to the House? It pass'd in the Negative.
Whereupon the Speaker, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Pickering, Major Foster and Mr. Adams, were appointed a Committee to consider what may be proper further to be done, and report.
Upon a Motion, Ordered, that Mr. Lathrop be of the Committee on the Petition of Josiah Quincy, Esq; and others, in the Room of Mr. Phillips, who desires to be excused.

p242 [16 Feb 1773]:
Mr. Speaker from the Committee appointed further to consider the Report of the Committee on Mr. Woodbridge's Letter, and Mr. Sheriff Williams's Defence of his Conduct, reported.
Read, and Ordered, That Mr. Sheriff Williams attend this House.
Mr. Williams accordingly attended, and the Speaker by Direction of this House declared to him their Resolution as follows, viz.
Mr. Sheriff WILLIAMS,
WHEREAS it appears to this House, that you had the greatest Reason to think from what had been said to you by Justice Woodbridge and Justice Hopkins, that the enforcing the Warrant issued by the Justices of the county of Albany, in the Province of New-York, would not have been agreeable to Law, unless the Justice who enforc'd it had first convened the Persons accused before him, in order for Examination concerning the Crimes they were accused of: And whereas you had sufficient Grounds to apprehend that Justice Ashly, previous to enforcing said Warrant, had not taken the Steps required by Law in such Cases; and consequently you had Reason to conclude it was not a legal Warrant. Therefore, in executing the same, you have not discovered that Attention and Regard to the Law and to the Liberty of the Subject, which you ought to have done. But inasmuch as you have declared that in executing said Warrant, you conceived you were doing great Service to the Community, by detecting and bringing to Justice a Number of Villains; this House relying upon the Sincerity of your Declaration, has resolved to proceed no further than to caution you strictly to observe the Law, and duly to regard the Liberty of the Subject, in the Discharge of the Duties of your Office for the future.
The House expect that you pay the necessary Charge which has arisen upon this Enquiry into your Conduct.
Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y.: English manuscripts, 1664-1776 (1866)
pp812- [documents in vol. XCIX]: 1773

Feb. 2. King's District. Letter. Matt. Adgate to Richard Morris, informing him that __ Rood and two others of his neighbours had been arrested by the people on the other side of the line, for aiding the sheriff in arresting Ichabod Miller [76]

Feb. 6. Albany. Letter. Sheriff Ten Eyck to Jacob H. Ten Eyck, relative to the arrest of Israel Spencer, __ Spencer, Joshua Ruth and Joshua Whitney, under a warrant issued by judge Woodbridge, of Stockbridge, for aiding his deputy in serving a warrant on Jehoboth Miller [79]

Feb. 10. Kinderhook. Letter. H. van Schaak to gov. Tryon, relative to certain charges made against colonel Williams, sheriff of Berkshire, and justice Ashley, by counselor Woodbridge, of Stockbridge, to governor Hutchinson, of Massachusetts, as to their conduct towards counterfeiters [80] [Scott, p162, states that the Council of New York, in response to this letter, "advised Governor Tryon to signify to Governor Hutchinson the 'grateful Acknowledgements' of New York 'for the laudable Zeal manifested by those Gentlemen on this Public Occasion, and to recommend them in the warmest manner to his Countenance and Protection.' "]

Feb. 15. New York. Letter. Gov. Tryon to gov. Hutchinson, of Massachuestts, relative to the arrest of Israel Spencer, Joshua Ruth and Joshua Whitney, assistants of deputy sheriff Daniel Davids, of Albany county, in arresting Ichabod Miller, charged with counterfeiting [82]

Feb. 20. Resolution. Council and General Assembly of Massachusetts, relative to the arrest and detention in jail at Albany of Gill Belcher and others, inhabitants of Berkshire county, for crimes alleged to have been committed west of the line [85] [Scott, p163, notes that the Council of New York, in response to this resolution, formed a committee which reported on 3 March, noting among other issues that, "if the mere Circumstance of Counterfeiting the Coin of any Country, beyond the precise Line of its Territory, will render the agent dispunishable, the power of providing for the publick safety, a power essential to every Legislative Body, cannot be enjoyed in its proper Extent ..."; also that "The Offence of counterfeiting the publick Coin by the Laws of England and of many other States is punished as a Species of Treason, and it seems strange to the Committee that so henious an Act should nevertheless by the Laws of the Massachusetts Bay be considered merely as a Trespass ..."]
Boston Evening-Post, 15 February 1773:
SATURDAY, February 13.
BOSTON
At a Meeting of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Sheffield, legally warned and assembled, at the Meeting House, on the 5th day of January, 1773.
Colonel JOHN ASHLEY chosen Moderator.
Voted, To chuse a committee to consist of Eleven persons, to take into Consideration the Grievances which Americans in general, and the Inhabitants of this Province in particular, labour under; and to make a Draught of such Proceedings as they think are necessary for this Town, in these critical Circumstances, to enter into.-- The following Persons were for that Purpose nominated and chosen, viz. Mr. Theodore Sedgwick, Deacon Silas Kellog, Col. Ashley, Doctor Lemuel Bernard, Mr. Aaron Root, Major John Fellows, Mr. Philip Callender, Capt. William Day, Deacon Ebenezer Smith, Capt. Nathaniel Austin, and Capt. Stephen Dewey; then Voted, That this Meeting be adjourned to the 12th day of January current.

AT a Meeting of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the Town of Sheffield, by Adjournment, at the Meeting House on the 12th Day of January 1773. Ordered, That the Committee appointed by this Meeting on the 5th Day of January Current, make Report of the Doings of said Committee; whereupon the Chairman of said Committee made report as follows, viz."
[The report begins with an explanation of its main context, that the people of Sheffield] "should esteem ourselves greatly wanting in the Duty we owe ourselves, our Country and Posterity, called upon as we are by our Brethren, the respectable Town of Boston, should we neglect with the utmost Firmness and Freedom, to express the Sense we have of our present dangerous Situation ..."
[A series of Resolutions follow, copies of which are available nowadays on many websites under the title of the Sheffield Declaration, based largely on the Boston Pamphlet, but sometimes simplifying the wording in ways which extend the context. For example, Boston's complaint about the use of Admiralty courts to take Americans away from their home provinces and try them before judges acting without juries, becomes in Sheffield] "... the Deprivation of our inestimable and constitutional Privilege, a Trial by Jury, the Determination of our Property by a single Judge paid by one Party, by Money illegally taken from the other for that Purpose ...
...
... it is the Right of every Subject of Great-Britain, to be tried by the Power of the Vicinity, when charged with any Crime, that any Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, for destroying this Priviledge and tearing away Subjects from their Connections, Friends, Business and the Possibility of evincing their Innocense, and carrying them on bear [sic] Suspicion, to the Distance of thousands of Miles, for a Trial, is an intolerable Grievance."
[Like the Boston Pamphlet, the list of Resolutions ends with a complaint about provincial boundaries. Again, the Pamphlet had given this a specific context, the recent British decision that the area north of Massachusetts to the west of the Connecticut River should belong to the province of New York, not to New Hampshire.] "... any Determination or Adjudication of the King in Council, with Regard to the Limits of Provinces in America, whereby private Property is or may be affected, is a great Grievance already very severely felt by great Numbers, who after purchasing Lands of the only Persons, whom they could suppose had any Right to convey, have on a sudden, by such an Adjudication, been deprived of their whole Property, and from a state of Affluence, reduced to a state of Beggary."
[The resolutions are to be forwarded to David Ingersoll jun., Esq., the local representative in the Great and General Court at Boston, with an additional request:] "... whereas the Province of New-York, by the most unjustifiable Proceedings, have by a late Act of their General Assembly, extended the limits of the County of Albany, East as far as the Connecticut River, and under pretence of having by that Act, the legal Jurisdiction within that part of this Province, by said Act included within the County of Albany, have exercised actual Jurisdiction, and the Officers of the County of Albany, without the least Pretence of any Precept from the Authority on this side the Line, by colour of a Warrant, executed in that County, upon suspicion that a Man had been guilty of a Crime in this County, taken him and conveyed him to Albany for examination- In Indictments Crimes have been said to have been committed at Sheffield in the County of Albany. Mr Ingersoll is hereby requested to use his utmost Influence, that the alarming Consequences, from such Proceedings dreaded, may be prevented, and that the Fears of the People may be quieted by a speedy Determination of that unhappy Controversy."
[also in the Massachusetts Spy Or, Thomas's Boston Journal, 18 Feb 1773]
[The John Ashley and Theodore Sedgwick named in this document were the same individuals who would, in 1781, find themselves on opposite sides in court when Ashley's slaves Bett and Brom, represented by Sedgwick, used the "born free and equal" clause in the 1780 Masssachusetts constitution to gain their freedom, following which Bett took the name Elizabeth Freeman.]
Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y.: English manuscripts, 1664-1776 (1866)
pp812- [documents in vol. XCIX]: 1773

March 1. New York. Letter. Goldsborow Banyar to Henry Ten Eyck, sheriff of Albany county, relative to the arrest of the assistants of his deputy by the authorities of Massachusetts, in apprehending Ichabod Miller [87]

March _. Presentment. Grand jury of Berkshire county, Josiah Jones, foreman, against Daniel Davis, of Albany, Israel Spencer, of Albany county, Joshua Whitney, of Albany County, Joshua Root, Ichabod Squire, jr., Abijah Rood, all of a place called the gore, and west of Stockbridge in the county of Berkshire, for an assault on Ichabod Miller [94]
March 9. Judgment of the inferior Court of Common Pleas held at Pittsfield, in the county of Berkshire, in the case of Ichabod Miller, of Stockbridge, vs. Joshua Root, Ichabod Squire, jr. and Abijah Roods, all living in the gore; Mark Hopkins, attorney for plaintiff; Joseph Hawley and Theodore Sedgwick, for defendants [93] ["the gore" was a slim triangle of land between the roughly north-south boundaries of Sheffield, Great Barrington and Stockbridge, and the (disputed) border between Massachusetts and New York provinces, which was, and still is, oriented more to the north-north-east]
[Scott, page 171, reveals the outcome of this case: "As a result of the judgment against the two Roods in the civil action they were sentenced to pay £45 and in addition costs of £8/3/10. They further were compelled to attend from court to court in both the civil and criminal actions, so that they incurred expences of £20/3/4. Naturally they asked the governor [i.e. Tryon] for relief and at the meeting of his council on April 13, 1774, the board advised the lieutenant governor to refer the matter to the General Assembly at its next meeting and in the meantime to direct the treasurer of the colony to pay Joshua and Abijah Rood their expenses incurred on attending the courts in Massachusetts.]
Calendar of Historical Manuscripts in the Office of the Secretary of State, Albany, N.Y.: English manuscripts, 1664-1776 (1866)
pp812- [documents in vol. XCIX]: 1773

March 6. Deposition. William Hubburd, as to his having assisted Ethan Lewis, of Sheffield, and Gilbert Belcher, in striking off counterfeit money [92]
Essex Gazette [Salem], 6 Apr 1773:
ALBANY, March 8.
... on Tuesday, the Court of oyer and terminer was opened; on Wednesday John Johnson, accused of counterfeiting the Currency of this Province was tried and acquitted; and on Friday Joseph Bills Packer, John Wall Lovely, and Gill Belcher, convicted at the last Assizes held here, of the above mentioned Crime, received Sentence of Death, and are to be executed the 2d Day of April next.
William Holbert, one of those found guilty of counterfeiting the Currency of this Province, &c. has received a Pardon from his Excellency the Governor.
Massachusetts Gazette: and the Boston Weekly News-Letter, 22 Apr 1773, p3:
The 2d of April were executed at Albany, pursuant to their Sentence, for counterfeiting the Currency of New-York, Gilbert Belcher, Joseph Bill Packer, and John Wall Lovey.- Gilbert Belcher in his last Speech, among other Things says, he descended from a Family in New England that reflected Honor upon him, and was the first Branch of it that has been disgraced.-- He married in 1761 at Hebron to a worthy Woman, whom he now leaves a Widow with nine Children, the oldest of whom is not 12 Years old. Seven Years ago he moved to Great Barrington, where he has practised Coining, &c. with a Company of Men as perversely inclined as himself, &c. The acount of John Walley Lovely is in the Supplement.
Supplement to the Massachusets-Gazette, 22 Apr 1773, p2:
Extract of a Letter from Albany dated April 3, 1773.
John Wall and two others were executed here yesterday, for being concerned in counterfeiting the Paper currency of this province: Wall was a hardened villain, and I believe a great rogue, after he hung on the gallows, I had the curiosity to take up his cap, and saw, as I before heard, that he was cropt.-- Such work as he and his fellows made the day before they were executed was never known here before; they got off their bolts in the night, and made their escape out of goal, but were soon apprehended, and their irons renewed; the next morning (when they were to have been executed) they had them off again, barr'd the room they were confined in, bid defiance to the Sheriff and his party, and were determined to kill any person that should attempt to take them out; the militia of the whole city was obliged to be got under arms. Wall and his two fellows kept them off, and none dare go in, as they were to die at any rate. Wall sat fire to the goal, and expected to die so; but the inhabitants soon brought the engines and extinguished it-- His next contrivance was thus; he got about two pounds of powder from some malicious fellows, put it in a bottle, and a match to put to it when the Sheriff or any other person dare venture in: They thus kept the city in an uproar for some time; at last a party suddenly broke in upon them, and according to his scheme, fix'd his match to the bottle, which he held in his hand, but thro' the mercy of providence, the powder did not take fire.-- After which they were carried to the gallows, and executed according to their desert. Wall seem'd to die a penitent, and sung psalms at the place of execution.
Massachusetts Gazette; and the Boston Post-Boy and Advertiser, 26 Apr 1773,p2:
The Execution of Gilbert Belcher, John Wall Lovely, and Joseph packer, for counterfeiting New-York Currency, has been already mentioned in the Papers. The following is Packer's Speech and Confession just before he was turned off.
I Never considered that it was criminal for a mechanic to finish any piece of work that he is employed to execute, whatever mischievous purposes the instrument he makes is applied to, after the artist delivers it out of his hands: For example, a gun-smith makes a musket, an assassin purchases it, and with it shoots twenty men, whose lives were very valuable to Society, is the innocent mechanic to be made answerable for the damage done by the villain?
My case is exactly similar; I engraved plates in North-Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Jersies, for people who made a practice of counterfeiting the currency of those provinces; but I never passed any bills of credit fabricated by them.
In the months of March and February last I was applied to, by William Hulbert and Daniel Lewis, to engrave two copper plates, the one to resemble a three pounds, and the other a five shillings bill, dated February 16, 1771, of the late emission of New-York bills of credit; I compleated the work and received a reward of eighteen pounds when I delivered the plate to Hulbert and Lewis.
Afterwards I saw Hulbert strike, or impress, about forty bills on the same copper-plate that I had engraved.
Daniel Lewis signed the bills, and his sister (Miss Polly, an active, accomplished young lady) distributed the ink upon the plates when the impression was struck. James Budd was in the room when the work was performed, and Deacon Kelleck came to Lewis's house with a watch, in order to exchange it for bills of their manufacture. And, in my opinion, the father of Daniel lewis was not ignorant of the illegal transactions of his son and associates.
A cursory narrative of my life and travels is already published, but since the justifiable part of my conduct has met with so cold a reception, I will not gratify the depraved taste of the generality of mankind, with a recital of actions that are unworthy imitation, and ought to be buried in everlasting oblivion.
I have a daughter, by a woman that I married in New-England, before I set out on my expedition to Virginia; but I never saw her until I was confined in this city; however if she be as virtuous as some young gentlemen in Albany think her person amiable, she is very happy. An union of hearts ought always to precede uniting of hands; but this was not the case with her mother and me; for that reason I left her, when she was pregnant with the girl. I have also a son by the woman that I married in Virginia: If he is as honest as he is intelligent, he may make a brilliant figure in life.
I am now going to make my exit; and if my consciousness remains perfect, shall know more in a few hours than Socrates, Plato, or the greatest philosophers that ever lived; even St. Paul, while he lived on earth, had but a faint idea of what I shall know, when divested of this corporal body, when the world of spirits opens to my view: But my knowledge then cannot alter my state, nor be advantageous to those I leave on earth; therefore I shall endeavour to make the best use of it during my short stay here.
Fellow mortals, give ear to the words of a dying man! You who have children, or that are appointed to instruct them, be careful to instil into their tender minds the principles of virtue and honour, vigilantly watch over them, from the fourth to the twelfth year of their age, because the notions they imbibe at that period of life are generally eradicable.-- Children who dispise their parents are already anathematized by the Almighty. Young men who have exhausted their strength upon harlots have defaced the image of their Maker, and have no portion with his children.-- Those who habituate themselves to drunkenness are fond of temporary madness. A swearer is the wilful murderer of his own soul, and a covetous person having desires never to to be satisfied can never be happy.
Finally I fervently implore the Almighty to extend his mercy to y soul, pardon the errors of my life, and grant that my portion may be with theirs who have meaned well, and acted up to that meaning. I die in the Presbyterian persuasion, and in peace with all mankind.
JOSEPH PACKER
[The above was reprinted in other papers in early May; the Essex Gazette, 4 May 1773, omitted the section naming Joseph's accomplices]
Essex Gazette [Salem], 27 Apr 1773:
The 2d of April were executed at Albany, pursuant to their Sentence, for counterfeiting the Currency of New York, Gilbert Belcher, Joseph Bill Packer, and John Wall Lovely-- The following is the Confession and Dying Speech of Gilbert Belcher.
A PARDON I expected, but a pardon I have not obtained. My friends have either less influence than I imagined, or they are reluctant to interceed in my behalf.- My merit will not preponderate in my favour. The consequence is, I must die!- Public Justice has laid her talons upon me, and I cannot complain of maltreatment. The most poignant grief I feel, is that by making assiduous exertions to prolong my temporal existence, I have been too dilatory in searching after the things which concern eternal life.- My sun is now setting- My days are elapsed- The night appeareth, to me, in which no man can work!- O that the beams of divine grace may irradiate my darkened soul!- That the merits of the once crucified, but everlastingly glorified Jesus may plead efficaciously for me at the bar of the Supreme Judge of Heaven and Earth, before whom in all human probability, I must soon appear.
I descended from a family that reflected honour upon me; to the best of my knowledge, I am the first branch of it that has been disgraced.
I was born in New-England, got a common education, that is to say, I learned to read and write; and when of competent age, served an apprenticeship to the silver smiths business. I was always of an unsocial, refractory disposition, extremely inquisitive about the affairs of my neighbours, but careful that nothing should transpire relating to my own.
In the year 1761, I married, at a town called Hebron, in New-England, to a very worthy woman, who must soon be a widow; and our nine children, the oldest of whom is not twelve years of age, fatherless. If I had been industrious, and contented with the profits of my business, this calamity might have been averted.
About seven years ago I went to reside in Great-Barrington; there I met with people as perversely inclined as myself; we soon became associates, and concerted schemes which had no tendency to promote the interest of our neighbours.
No gain afforded me so much pleasure as that which I acquired by illicit means. Coining and counterfeiting engrossed my attention, and those who first advised me to transgress, persuaded me to continue my iniquitous practices.
I am now to suffer an ignominious death, while those who are more guilty than me, by the mediation of friends or the powerful efficacy of a sum of money, properly applied, have escaped the danger.
The thoughts of leaving my affectionate wife and innocent children exposed to the reproaches and insults of the unpitying world distreses me greatly; but God is all-sufficient for them, to his protection I recommend them, and earnestly hope that he will bestow his blessing upon them, cajole them to do that which is right in this world and qualify them for the mansions of glory in his eternal kingdom.
I would very willingly were it in my power, make retribution to all those whom I have injured, but as I have not the means, I hope they will forgive me.
I never was guilty of murder nor rape, neither was I ever tempted to put forth my hand and steal. Lord pardon my sins, for I have many to answer for.
Religion has not, hitherto, much engaged my attention, but the comfort that I have reaped since my confinement, by contemplating upon the promises in the gospel, is inexpressible.
O blessed and eternal God! great father of men and angels, who despiseth not the meanest creature that thou hast made, thy mercy is over all thy works: The prayers and sighs of the penitent sinner are wafted to thy throne; and if presented by the Saviour of the world, Jesus Christ, thy beloved son, are never rejected by thee. In mercy O Lord look upon me who, for my offence, am going to suffer a cruel and ignominious death. When my soul departeth from my Body, do thou O blessed Jesus receive it. Amen.
GILBERT BELCHER
Supplement to the Massachusets-Gazette, 6 May 1773, p1:
The Last Speech, Confession and Dying Words, of John Wall Lovey, Who was executed at Albany, on Friday the 2d of April, 1773, for counterfeiting the Currency of the Province of New York.
I WAS born in the County of Hampshire in (Old-England) my father was a farmer; and my mother, who was very indulgent to me, died when I was eleven years of age.- Soon after my father made his addresses to a young woman, and obtained her consent that they should be immediately married. My father's love to this girl was not more sincere than my hatred. I resolved to leave both, and accordingly took my departure without consulting either of them. Regardless of consequences, I strolled down to the British Channel, came to Portsmouth, and got a passage to the Isle of Wight; there I continued until the 18th year of my age, then I returned to my father's house; the old man did not recollect that he had seen me before, and his wife was equally ignorant.
I left my father and went to see my oldest sister at Winchester, she was very kind and persuaded me not to go to sea; but I resolved to go having as I thought, followed Plough long enough in the Isle of Wight. I went to Christ's Church, and agreed with one Capt. Bellman, to go with him to Newfoundland; this was in the month of February 1753. We remained there until April, and then went to Pool; there we embarked.
We had a long passage, and when we came to Newfoundland, I deserted from the ship, in company with two of the Sailors; we got into forests, where, I believe, the foot of man never trod, and not knowing how or where to get out, underwent hardships that have always astonished and moved the pity of those to whom I have told them.
I afterwards made a Voyage to Lisbon in Portugal, where I rescued a countryman of mine that was condemned to be Shot. With him I came to Boston where we parted. At Horseneck I got married to a rich man's daughter, by her I have had four children. As she married me contrary to the inclination of all her relations, they never ceased doing me all the mischief in their power; and as I never failed to take bodily vengance upon them, they swore the peace against me in two provinces. This obliged me to abscond, and in my absence, they persuaded my wife that I had married another woman. By their advice my wife applied for and got a bill of divorce against me; this unsettled my mind, and I went about the country working from place to place at farming work.
In the year 1772, I sold a watch for between seven and eight Pounds; the man who bought her gave me an order for the money upon John Smith, after receiving the money I passed a thirty shilling bill at Reading; it was found to be counterfeited, and I was committed to Fairfield goal. I was urged to discover my associates, but I had none; nor had I any acquaintance of Smith before that time.-- An intimate acquaintance has since taken advantage of my ignorance and occasioned my overthrow. I sold a horse to him for six pounds, he paid me in New York money which he said was good. Soon after I met with one Asa Holmes, at Pittsfield. I bought a watch from him and gave him the two Bills that I received for the horse. The next week he followed me to Sheffield, but not finding me there, he came to Great-Barrington, where he apprehended me at the house of one Haycock, I settled with him upon his own exorbitant terms, gave him back his watch, and also to make him quiet, I gave him a horse that was estimated at fifty dollars, besides a saddle and bridle. When he got from me what he could, him and his vile gang brought me over to New York government. I was examined before 'Squires Whiting and Adgate. I told them, that I had the bills of Lewis Benedict Bennet, and that I could prove it by evidences that were present when I received them; the justices said that I was connected with the Money-makers, and that if I would discover them I should be admitted an evidence and not sent to goal; I told them, that by misfortune I had passed a bad thirty shillings Bill before and was punished for it at Fairfield: 'Squire Whiting said that was nothing, desired me to tell all I knew, & if I was not cleared he should be hanged.
I then told them that the day before I was taken, being at a house of Daniel Lewis, in Sheffield, I observed one Hulbert strike a number of Bills, that Lewis came where we were, at night, and Hulbert asked him how long it would take him to sign these bills; he said they should be done next day by ten o’clock; and the said Lewis concealed the Press. This was all I knew of the matter; however they sent me to Albany, where I have been tried and condemned.
I forgive Daniel Lewis who swore falsely against me, excepting what I did in the woods, also my prosecutors, and die in peace with all men, praying God to pardon my sins and be merciful to my soul. Amen.
his
JOHN + WALL
mark.
[Scott concludes, page 172, by noting that the province of New York responded to the counterfeiting problem in early 1773 by proposing to have new designs "most difficult to be immitated and counterfeited" printed and stuck to the genuine bills, but the scheme never came to fruition]

Postscript:
"The Pulpit Tested: A Sermon Delivered at the Centennial Anniversary of the Congregational Church in Great Barrington, Dec. 23, 1843", by John Todd (1844), Appendix, p83:

About a mile east of the village is a place of considerable dimensions among the rocks, called Belcher's Cave, from the name of a man who made counterfeit money there for a time, as it is supposed, and whose den of iniquity, I am told, was discovered by the smoke curling up from the rude chimney through the rocks.

[The place now pointed out as Belcher's Cave is barely half a mile east of the village street, in the rocky bluff overlooking Belcher's Square where Route 23 joins US 7]