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Letter from David Woodward to New-Hampshire Committee of Safety


To the Committee of Safety of New-Hampshire.

Colony of NEW-HAMPSHIRE, GRAFTON County, ss.

At a meeting of the Committee of Safety for the Town of Hanover, in said County, at the house of John Paine, Innholder in said Hanover, March 23, 1776 —

Present: Lieutenant David Woodward, Chairman; Captain Aaron Storrs, Bezaleel Woodward, Esq˙, Clerk.

Bezaleel Phelps, of Norwich, in the Colony of New-York, Yeoman, was brought before this Committee by virtue of a warrant issued by Bezaleel Woodward and Aaron Storrs, (two of the Committee,) predicated on his having in his custody, and detaining, a certain Note of this Colony, bearing the face of a six-shilling Bill, which is supposed to have been fraudulently altered and increased as to the value or sum therein expressed by said Phelps, as by said warrant more fully may appear.

Respondent pleads Not guilty.

After a full hearing of evidences in said case, said Phelps confessed that he had burnt said bill, being conscious that it was altered; and that, in case he may be excused from penalty for detaining said bill when he knew it was counterfeit, he will disclose to this Committee the author of that and sundry other bills, and discover where some of said bills are.

Whereupon, said proposal is agreed to, only that he pay costs hitherto made in the affair till they can be regularly recovered of some other person. Costs taxed at forty shillings.

Said Phelps then desired Lemuel Paine, of said Hanover, to produce a certain forty-shilling Bill which he received on the evening of the 15th instant of Andrew Wheatly, of Lebanon; which said Paine, on request, accordingly did; which Bill is adjudged by this Committee to have been altered from a three-shilling Bill, and which said Lemuel, on his oath, declares he received of said Wheatly, as aforesaid.

Committee adjourned to to-morrow morning, at nine o' clock.

March 24. — Met according to adjournment.

Present: Lieutenant David Woodward, Chairman; Captain Aaron Storrs, Bezaleel Woodward, Esq˙, Clerk, Committee of Hanover. John Wheatley, Esq˙, Major John Slapp, Major John Griswold, Mr˙ Azariah Bliss, Committee of Lebanon.

First. Charles Hill, of Lebanon, Innholder, is brought before these Committees, for putting off and passing counterfeit money; at which time, Solomon Cushman, of Norwich, produced a forty-shilling Bill of the Colony of New-Hampshire, No˙ 3260, emitted July 25, 1775, and payable December 20, 1779; which is adjudged by these Committees to have been altered; which Bill said Cushman, on his oath, declared he received of said Charles Hill, in payment for a silk handkerchief; and said Hill is not able to inform us of whom he received it.

Whereupon, it is considered,

And Ordered, That said Hill pay to said Cushman the value of said Bill, viz: forty shillings, and costs. Judgment satisfied.


Second. John Stockbridge, of Hanover, produced to this Committee a ten-shilling and six-pence Bill of the Colony of Connecticut, dated January 2, 1775; payable January 2, 1777; which is adjudged by this Committee to have been altered from a two-shilling and six-pence Bill by some evil-minded person; and the said John, on his oath, declares he received said Bill of Ebenezer Mattoon, of Captain Green' s Company, in Colonel Bedels Regiment, in payment of a debt, some time in the beginning of last week.

It is, therefore, considered,

And Ordered, That the said Mattoon ought, and is hereby ordered, to pay the said John Stockbridge the apparent value of said Bill, viz: ten shillings and six pence, and costs.

N˙ B˙ March 29. It appears that said Bill passed through sundry hands, from one Joseph Skinner to said Mattoon.

The Committee then resumed the examination relative to the Bill laid before this Committee yesterday by Lemuel Paine, relative to which Charles Hill, being sworn, testifies: That, being at this house on the evening of the 15th instant, he saw Joseph Skinner, of Captain Green' s Company, in Colonel Bedel' s Regiment, put a bill into the hand of Andrew Wheatley, of Lebanon, that he might get it changed.

Bezaleel Phelps, before-named, being sworn, testifies: That he saw Andrew Wheatley give a forty-shilling Bill to Lemuel Paine to be changed; and afterwards, as the said Phelps was going to Dr˙ Eager' s with said Skinner, said Skinner told this deponent that it was his Bill with which Wheatley paid the reckoning at said Paine' s; and added, "and I made it myself, and I have altered a good many Bills from three shillings to forty shillings, and I have known many more altered, both here and at Cambridge; and a person may make his fortune by it in a little time." He also said that all the money he spent at Cambridge he altered; and further said to said Phelps, that, if he told any body of it, he would kill him. Said Phelps further testifies: That he saw said Skinner cut certain pieces from a certain book or pamphlet, to use in altering Bills; and said Skinner told him he had cut pieces from it before to use for that purpose, and that he would not take a thousand pounds for the book. Phelps described the book, and informed particularly where he had left it, (which, being produced, exhibit strong grounds to apprehend, from its appearance, that it has been abundantly used for that purpose.) Said Phelps further testifies: When said Skinner had some paste to use in altering money, Mrs˙ Winton, coming into the room, asked what it was for Dr˙ Eager replied, to paste books; when he was sundry times in the room whilst Skinner was altering Bills with the paste, both before and after Mrs˙ Winton asked the question. Said Phelps further testifies: That he saw said Skinner alter a Bill to a forty-shilling, last Sunday; and this deponent observed Dr˙ Eager to be present part of the time. Asked Skinner whether the Doctor knew of his altering Bills? To which Skinner replied, "Damn him, yes." Said Phelps further testifies: That Dr˙ Eager, at another time, examined him whether his father could make plates to stamp money; "for, (said he,) if we had plates, we could make money very conveniently at my house, and nobody would mistrust us." Said Eager, at the same, time, added, that the reason of his going to Canada last fall was, because he was informed he could there get large quantities of counterfeit paper money; but they lied to him, and he would not be caught again in going to Canada for nothing.

Whereupon, it is considered and adjudged by these Committees that said Joseph Skinner ought to pay to said Lemuel Paine the apparent value of said Bill uttered and put off to said Paine, viz: forty shillings, as appears by the foregoing evidences, and the cost of this examination, taxed as follows, viz:

Time and expenses of three Committee-men
from Hanover two days, (and one all night
on the service,) at 20s˙ each,
£3 0 0
Four Committee-men from Lebanon one and
a half day, at 10s.
2 0 0
Three copies of the case at large, with the
0 10 0
Entry of the case on record at large, 0 10 0
Attendance of two evidences one day each,
at 12s˙; one evidence two,days, at 8s.
1 0 0
Costs brought on said Phelps in the affair, 2 0 0
  £9 0 0


And whereas the said Joseph Skinner is supposed to be guilty of altering said Bill and sundry others; and as he now belongs to Colonel Timothy Bedel' s Regiment, in the Northern Department of the Continental Army:

It is Ordered by this Committee, That copies of this examination, signed by the Chairman and Clerk, be delivered to the said Colonel Bedel, (who is now present,) for the purpose, that he may cause the said Joseph Skinner to be apprehended, and that he may be made to pay the above-mentioned damage and costs; and that he may be further examined touching his altering said Bills, and dealt relative thereto, as to law and justice appertains.

And it is further Ordered, That copies of the foregoing procedure, signed by the Chairman and Clerk, be transmitted to the Committee of Safety for this Province, and also to General Washington; and that they write a respectful letter to his Excellency, setting forth the grounds this Committee have to suspect alterations of money in like manner in the Army at Cambridge.

Per order of the Committee:


A true copy from the Minutes. Attest:


N˙ B˙ March 29, 1776. — Notwithstanding the foregoing respecting Dr˙ Eager, this Committee are fully convinced of his innocence in the matter.

Per order: