Date Of Execution: 1 Aug 1700
Execution Place: unknown
Who courted his Master's Daughter and then robbed him. Hanged at Tyburn on 1st of August, 1700 .
THIS young man received the education of a gentleman, was articled as clerk to an attorney of high repute, and enjoyed the utmost latitude of confidence in his master: but which a course of dissipation destroyed, and finally brought him to an untimely fate. His misfortunes may prove a lesson to young gentlemen intended for the learned professions, while the danger into which a young lady, his master's daughter, had through him nearly fallen into, will, we trust, be a caution to females against engaging their affections without the sanction of their parents.
He was born at Thetford, in the county of Norfolk, and was the son of an eminent apothecary of that town. On the expiration of the term of his clerkship he was retained by his master, on a handsome salary, to manage his business, and he discharged his duty for a considerable time with great regularity; but unhappily, becoming acquainted with some young lawyers who possessed more money than discretion, he soon spent the little fortune which his father had bequeathed to him, and also became indebted to several of his master's employers.
During a great part of Griffiths's servitude the only daughter of his employer had been at a boarding-school at Windsor for the advantage of education; and now returning home, her father, who was uncommonly tender of her, requested that she would take his domestic affairs under her own management.
This old gentleman being frequently from home, the business of the office was committed to the care of Mr Griffiths; and an intimacy soon ensued between him and the young lady, in whose company he spent all those evenings in which he had not particular engagements with his old associates. The consequence was that their acquaintance ripened into esteem; their esteem into love. The reciprocal declaration soon took place, and the young lady considered Mr Griffiths as the man who was to be her future husband. Some short time after this attachment Griffiths was under the necessity of attending his master on the Norfolk Circuit, and while he was in the country he held a constant correspondence with the young lady; but the father was totally unacquainted with all that had passed, and had not formed the least idea that his daughter had any kind of connection with his clerk. But at length the circumstance of the affair transpired in the following manner.
The daughter having gone to Windsor for a few days, on a visit to her former acquaintance, continued to correspond with Mr Griffiths. On a particular day, when Griffiths was not at home, it happened that a letter was brought to the office, directed to this unfortunate man; when one of the clerks, imagining that it might be of consequence, carried it to the master, at an adjacent coffee-house. It is impossible that any language could express the surprise of the old gentleman when he saw the name of his daughter subscribed to a letter in which she acknowledged herself as the future wife of the clerk.
The father knew that Griffiths had no fortune, but he soon found that he had been master of sufficient art to prevail on the daughter to believe that he was possessed of considerable property. Hereupon he represented to his daughter the great impropriety of her conduct; in answer to which she said that Mr Griffiths was a man of fortune, though he had hitherto carefully concealed this circumstance from her father. However, it was not long before a discovery was made which presented Mr Griffiths's situation in a light equally new and contemptible.
His master, for a considerable time past, had acted as the solicitor in a capital cause depending in Chancery; but the determination respecting it had been put off on account of Lord Somers being removed from the office of Chancellor and the Great Seal given in commission to Sir Nathan Wright. The solicitor had received immense sums while the cause was depending, which he had committed to the care of his clerk; but the latter, pressed for cash to supply his extravagance, purloined some of this money. At length the cause was determined, and Griffiths was called upon to account to his master for the money in his hands.
Alarmed at this sudden demand, he knew not what course to take. He came to the resolution of breaking open his master's bureau, which he did while the family were asleep, and stole a considerable sum of money. At this time the old gentleman and his daughter went to Tunbridge; and during their residence at that place of amusement Griffiths procured a key that would unlock his master's bureau, from whence again he took money to a considerable amount. On the master's return he missed this sum, but still he did not suspect Griffiths, as the drawer was found locked; but hereupon he deposited his jewels in the bureau, and locked up his money in another place.
The amour betwixt Griffiths and the young lady still continued, and they would soon have been married at the Fleet, but that a fatal circumstance now arose, which (happily for her) brought their connection to a period. Griffiths being (as already observed) possessed of a key that would open his master's bureau, and disposed to go out and spend a cheerful evening with his old associates, now, during their absence, opened the drawer, but was greatly disappointed in not meeting with the money that was usually left there: finding, however, jewels in its stead, he stole a diamond ring, which he carried to a jeweller and sold for twelve pounds, and then went to spend his evening as he had intended. The old lawyer came home about ten o'clock at night, and casually looking into his drawer found the ring was gone; and, being enraged at this renewed robbery, he had every person in the house carefully searched, but no discovery was made.
Griffiths did not return until a late hour, and on the following day his employer told him what had happened, and requested that he would go to the several jeweller's shops, and make enquiry for the lost ring. Griffiths pretended obedience, and when he returned, acquainted his master that all his enquiries respecting it had been ineffectual.
However, a discovery of the party who had been guilty of the robbery was made in the following singular manner. The jeweller who had bought the ring frequented the same coffee-house with the gentleman who had lost it, and was intimately acquainted with him, though he knew nothing of Griffiths. Now the jeweller, having carefully examined the ring after he had bought it, concluded that it had been obtained in an illegal manner, and, being a man who was much above the idea of having his integrity suspected, he related the particulars of his purchase at the coffee-house, which the person who had lost the ring hearing, desired to have a sight of it; and on the first inspection knew it to be that which he had lost.
The person of Griffiths was now so exactly described by the jeweller that there could be little doubt but that he was the thief; wherefore he was desired to go to the chambers with a constable, and take him into custody. He was carried before a Justice of the Peace and accused of the crime, which he immediately confessed, and likewise that he had robbed his master of money.
Griffiths was committed to Newgate, and being arraigned at the next sessions at the Old Bailey he pleaded guilty to the indictment, and sentence of death was passed on him accordingly.
As in his situation it was natural to suppose that he would attempt to correspond with the young lady to whom he had aspired as a wife, a proper person was employed by her father to intercept her letters, a service that was performed with such care, that not one reached her hands, though a considerable number were written.
When Mr Griffiths found that he had nothing to hope from the intervention of the royal mercy, and consequently that all the views with which he had flattered himself in wedlock were vanished, he began seriously to prepare himself for that state in which persons "neither marry, nor are given in marriage," he very justly attributed his misfortunes to the associating with persons who were his superiors in point of circumstances, and the making of an appearance which he was unable to support, in order to secure the object of his wishes. He died a penitent, at Tyburn, the 1st of August, 1700.