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 (died 12 August 1812) was an English farmer and forger.[1] He is the subject of the song "Twice Tried, Twice Hung, Twice Buried" by John Raven.[2]

Booth was born at Hall End Farm near Beaudesert, Warwickshire in 1776,[3] 1778[4] or 1779.[4] He was one of eight children of a farmer and church warden, John Booth, and his wife Mary.[3] He lived at Great Barr, then in Staffordshire and now in the city of Birmingham.

On 28 February 1799, Booth signed a 25-year lease for what became known (by 1821 if not earlier[4]) as 'Booth's Farm'[a], including a farmhouse and 200 acres of land,[4] part of the Perry Hall[b]estate.[4]

He was accused of murdering his brother John while revisiting Hall End on 19 February 1808, but was acquitted for lack of evidence.[3]

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

Booth's execution on 12 August 1812 was bungled, and he fell through the scaffold's trap door to the floor.[3] Within two hours, he was hanged again and died.[2] He was one of the last people (if not the last) to be sentenced to death in England for forgery.[5]

He is buried in the churchyard of St Mary's, Handsworth[c].[1] 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.[2]

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,[4] 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[d] and Booths Farm Road[e]. Until the late 1920s, it was occupied by the Foden Family,[4] commemorated in Foden Road[f].



  1. ^ a b c d "Booth's Farm". Digital Handsworth. Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Twice Tried, Twice Hung, Twice Buried". Retrieved 8 November 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Booth, John N. Booths in History. p. 39. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Newsletter 10" (PDF). Barr and Aston Local History Society. Spring 2005. 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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