65. A Bill Punishing Persons Guilty of Certain Forgeries
1Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that he or she shall be adjudged a felon, and not have the benefit of clergy, who shall falsely make, forge, or counterfeit, or aid or assist in falsely making, forging, or counterfeiting a writing signed and directed or certified to the public Treasurer, purporting to be a warrant of the Governor or other person exercising that function, or a certificate of the Auditors for Public Accounts, to authorise the payment of money; or cause or procure such writing to be falsely made, forged or counterfeited; or present such writing, or cause or procure it to be presented, at the public treasury, knowing it to have been falsely made, forged or counterfeited, in order to receive the money, or any part of the money therein mentioned; or shall make, forge or counterfeit, or aid or assist in falsely making, forging or counterfeiting, a writing, to be offered to the Auditors for Public Accounts, as a voucher, in order to obtain their allowance of a demand, and certificate of such allowance; or cause or procure such writing to be falsely made, forged or counterfeited; or offer such writing, or cause or procure it to be offered to the said Auditors, knowing it to have been falsely made, forged or counterfeited, in order to obtain their allowance and certificate aforesaid. And he or she shall be adjuged a felon, and not have the benefit of clergy, who shall forge or counterfeit, alter or erase any bill of credit, or treasury note or loan office certificate, of the United States of America, or any, or either of them; or shall cause or procure, such bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate, to be forged or counterfeited, altered or erased; or shall aid or assist, in forging or counterfeiting, altering or erasing, such bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate; or shall pass or tender, or shall cause or procure to be passed or tendered, any such bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate in payment or exchange, knowing the same to have been forged, or counterfeited, altered or erased; or shall have in his or her custody or possession, any press, types, stamp, plate, or other instrument necessary to be used in the fabrication of such bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate, and not actually used in some public printing-office; or any paper with or without signature, on which the characters, words and numerical figures contained in a genuine bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate, are or shall be impressed, or inscribed in like order as they are in such bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate, or any such bill of credit, treasury note, or loan office certificate, which hath been altered or erased, knowing the same to have been altered or erased, and shall not discover such press, types, stamp, plate, instrument, paper, or altered or erased bill of credit, or treasury note, or loan office certificate to two Justices of the Peace, before the last day of June, in this present year one thousand seven hundred and seventy nine, or within five days after they shall have come to his possession. When the Justices of a county, in which any such felony as is before described shall be supposed to have been done, shall have determined, upon examination, that the person charged therewith ought to be tried before the General Court, the High Sheriff, or, if he be not able to attend, the Coroner shall deliver to them a list of the names of thirty six good and lawful men, out of which twenty four shall be stricken, one after another, the Justices and the prisoner striking alternately, or if the prisoner refuse to strike the Justices striking only; and the remaining twelve men shall be summoned by the writ of venire facias for trial of the prisoner: When a Justice of Peace, before whom a person charged upon oath with any such felony as aforesaid, shall inform the Governor that he hath cause to suspect that the offender, if he should be committed to the jail of the county in which the felony was done, would be rescued (which information the Justice is required to give in writing, with secrecy and dispatch) or when a person shall be charged upon oath made before the Governor, with such felony, in either case, the Governor, with advice of the Council of State, may by his warrant, empower and order so many men as shall be judged sufficient to apprehend the person accused, and convey and commit him to any other jail, in which he shall be detained, and shall by another warrant, direct the sheriff of that county in which the last mentioned jail is, to summon the Justices thereof to meet at the court-house before the end of twenty days afterwards: And thereupon the said Justices shall proceed in the same manner as they might have proceeded if the fact alledged against the prisoner had been done in their own county. And if he be remanded, the clerk of the peace attending the said Justices, shall within twenty days afterwards certify the same to the sheriff of the county, in which the fact was done, or failing to do so, shall forfeit one hundred pounds; and the same sheriff shall summon the Justices of his county to meet at the courthouse thereof within ten days after the receipt of such certificate, and then deliver to them such list as aforesaid, out of which twenty four shall be stricken, in manner before directed, any agent authorised by the prisoner striking for him, or, if no such appear, the Justices striking only; and the remaining twelve shall be summoned as jurors for trial of the prisoner, by writ of venire facias, to be issued by the clerk of the last mentioned county. Every juror summoned by virtue of any such writ of venire facias, who shall fail at the return thereof, and from that time until he be discharged, to attend the General Court, shall forfeit one hundred pounds, unless the defaulter shew good cause to the contrary having been summoned for that purpose. Any Justice of the Peace may, by his warrant, cause to be apprehended and brought before him every such person travelling in the county of the said Justice, as he shall suspect to carry forged bills of credit, or treasury notes, or loan office certificates, and search to be made in the wearing apparel and baggage of the said traveller by force, if he expose them not voluntarily. The Governor, with advice of the Council of State, may offer rewards for apprehending those who having been charged, upon oath, with any of the felonies before described, shall have fled from justice, and may draw warrants for such rewards, not exceeding one thousand pounds for any one fugitive, which shall be paid out of the public treasury.2
Report description begins Report of the Committee of Revisors Appointed by the General Assembly of Virginia in MDCCLXXVI, Richmond, 1784 description ends , p. 47–8. Text of Act as adopted is in Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 93–7.
This Bill was enacted as a separate law in 1779, which was substantially a restatement of the Act of Oct. 1778, but omitted its preamble. That preamble asserted that many counterfeiters of paper currency had escaped punishment and “this alarming evil daily increases and is become so enormous that the most fatal consequences are justly to be apprehended.” The Act of Oct. 1778 also, like Bill No. 65, sought to provide remedies for the situation whereby “the unalienable privilege of trial by a jury of the vicinage, has, from the manner of summoning such juries, been abused” (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends ix, 541). On 23 May 1779 a Bill was ordered drawn up to guard against counterfeiting and a committee was appointed for that purpose; the next day TJ was added to the committee. The Bill was introduced on 26 May, amended by both House and Senate; House accepted Senate’s amendments 18 June (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , May 1779, 1827 edn., p. 18, 22, 23, 44, 46, 53, 55, 62). This Bill, as originally contemplated, was probably intended only for the limited purpose indicated and summarized in the notes below. The addition of TJ to the committee suggests that he enlarged this purpose by inserting the Committee of Revisors’ Bill No. 65 in the middle of the one being prepared, for this is the position that it occupies in the Act as adopted, being preceded by the part summarized in note 1 and followed by that summarized in note 2. In any case, Bill No. 65 was thus adopted without alteration.
Bill No. 65 was presented by Madison 31 Oct. 1785, postponed 14 Dec. to next session, and brought up again 1 Nov. 1786; but, since the Act of 1779 was still in force, no further action was taken upon it (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia (cited by session and date of publication) description ends , Oct. 1785, 1828 edn., p. 12–15, 92; Oct. 1786, 1828 edn., p. 16–17).
1. Preceding this point the Act as adopted has a section making it a felony without benefit of clergy to steal any bill of credit, treasury note, loan office certificate of the United States or of any other state, warrant of the governor, auditors’ certificate; or to present such loan certificates at any United States loan office when such certificates were known to have been stolen (Hening, description begins William W. Hening, The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia description ends x, 93).
2. Following this point the Act as adopted has a section authorizing the auditors to grant certificates to all witnesses, veniremen, and sheriffs for their attendance on criminal cases (allowing two shillings per mile for travel and £4 per day for attendance); and repealing the Act of Oct. 1778 “for more effectually guarding against counterfeiting of the bills of credit, treasury notes, and loan office certificates” (same, ix, 541–5).