William Booth (forger)

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William Booth
clean-shaven white male
Pencil sketch of Booth, artist unknown
Born 1776, 1778 or 1779
Hall End Farm near Beaudesert, Warwickshire, England
Died 12 August 1812(1812-08-12)
Nationality English
Occupation Farmer
Criminal penalty
Death by hanging
Conviction(s) Forgery

William Booth (born Hall End Farm near Beaudesert, Warwickshire, England in 1776,[1] 1778[2] or 1779,[2](sources vary); hanged 12 August 1812), one of eight children of a farmer and church warden, John Booth, and his wife Mary,[1] was a farmer and forger,[3] who lived at Great Barr, then in Staffordshire and now in the city of Birmingham. He is the subject of the song "Twice Tried, Twice Hung, Twice Buried" by John Raven.[4]

On 28 February 1799, Booth signed a 25-year lease for what became known (by 1821 if not earlier[2]) as ‘Booth’s Farm’, including a farmhouse and 200 acres of land,[2] part of the Perry Hall estate.[2]

He was accused of murdering his brother John while revisiting Hall End on 19 February 1808, but was acquitted for lack of evidence.[1]

He converted the top floor of the farmhouse into a workshop where he produced forgeries of coins and banknotes.[3] He was caught, tried at Stafford Assizes[5] and sentenced to hang.[3] His accomplices were sentenced to transportation to Australia.[1]

Booth's execution was bungled, and he fell through the scaffold's trap door, to the floor.[1] Within two hours, he was hanged again and died.[4] He was one of, if not the, last people to be sentenced to death in England for forgery.[5]

He is buried in the churchyard of St Mary's, Handsworth.[3] The inscription on his gravestone reads:

Sacred to the memory of William Booth who departed this life August 12th 1812 aged 33 years. Also Charlotte daughter of William and Mary Booth who died August 13th 5 months.[6]

Following a change of county boundary, his body was disinterred and reburied.[4]

Booth also minted genuine tokens, as a cover for his forging activities.[7] Several of his tokens, forgeries and printing plates are in the collection of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

The farmhouse was demolished in 1974,[2] and the farm became a sand and gravel quarry (later landfill and a nature reserve), having given its name to the still-extant Booths Lane and Booths Farm Road. Until the late 1920s, it was occupied by the Foden Family,[2] commemorated in Foden Road.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Booth, John N. Booths in History. p. 39. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Newsletter 10". Barr and Aston Local History Society. Spring 2005. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Booth's Farm". Digital Handsworth. Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c "Twice Tried, Twice Hung, Twice Buried". Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "William Booth by an unknown artist". Digital Handsworth. Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "William Booth's Grave at St. Mary's Church". Digital Handsworth. Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  7. ^ "Penny token by William Booth (obverse)". Digital Handsworth. Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 

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