Irish News September 26th 1898
A FAMILY TREE: AMAZING STORY OF ALLEGED FRAUD.
One of the most remarkable stories of alleged fraud ever told in a London Police Court was told on Friday at Bow Street by Mr Bodkin (instructed by the Treasury). The prisoner was Herbert Davies, aged twenty-five, a surgeon, and he was charged with obtaining large sums of money by fraudulent means from Lieutenant-Colonel Shipway, at Chiswick. There were also charges of forging entries in parish registers, forging and uttering three wills, and forging and uttering a statutory declaration. From counsel’s statement it appeared that Colonel Shipway’s family formerly lived in the Western counties of England, and a few years ago the gallant officer was desirous of tracing his right to bear arms and to investigate the pedigree of his family. He was introduced to Davies, who represented himself to be a B.A., but the representation had been found to be false. Davies was, however, engaged to make the investigation necessary for Colonel Shipway’s purpose, his remuneration being six shillings a day and expenses. By cooking his accounts, however, he succeeded in defrauding Colonel Shipway of considerable sums. He was engaged in November, 1895, and altogether £683 was paid to him, of which all but £266 represented “expenses”. Quite early in his employment Davies came across a book called “A History of Dursley”, in which mention was made of the Shipway family, and it would seem that the idea struck him that it would be considerably more remunerative if he deceived Col. Shipway as to the real history of his family. Accordingly he went to the West of England, visited various parishes, and obtained access to registers, &c. According to the prosecution, he mutilated and made false entries in parish registers, writing in the Shipway name, invented and engraved or carved an alleged Shipway crest on ancient monuments, church bells, and the like, obtained the Home Secretary’s permission to open graves, from which he removed leaden coffins, upon which he placed name-plates relating to the Shipway family, and stole ancient wills and substituted others alleged to have been those of long dead Shipways. In Mangotsfield Church he had the figure of a man in armour dug up from beneath the organ, and, though it really belonged to the Blount family, he altered it so as to make it out to be of Colonel Shipway’s ancestors. One of the bogus wills recited how certain arms had been granted to a certain Shipway in 1191 by Richard The First, but in that year Richard the Lion-hearted was in Palestine engaged in the Crusades. All these discoveries were communicated to the College of Arms, which, however, remained unconvinced. Suspicion was ultimately aroused, and the Public Prosecutor communicated with. Prisoner was remanded on bail.