Letter from Samuel Spencer to Richard Caswell
Spencer, Samuel, 1734-1793
Volume 11, Pages 481-482
JUDGE SAML. SPENCER TO GOV. CASWELL.
[From the Executive Letter Book.]
Halifax, 1st of June, 1777.
Inclosed herewith are sundry depositions of Edward Cornwallis Debruhl, now detained in Halifax gaol on suspicion of having been concerned in counterfeiting the current Bills of Credit of this State, taken before me on oath with the greatest secrecy that the nature of the matter would admit of. His offence was committed in the District of Edenton, and therefore not cognisable in the District of Halifax. It was likewise committed between the day of April and the ninth of May last, and the Resolve of Congress against counterfeiting the Bills which he is accused of being concerned in counterfeiting, was continued by last Congress to last session of Assembly, and no louger, and the act for continuing the same Resolve was ratified the 9th of May following. This, according to the rule formerly pursued of making the business of the whole session refer to the first day thereof, might, by a fiction of the Law against the real fact, have prevented any chasm: but according to our present constitution of admitting no retrospective Law to operate, might have been the subject of some doubt. But to waive this point, I understood that Debruhl would make some very ample discoveries of several companies concerned in counterfeiting the Bills of this State, and passing the same counterfeit money. I therefore had him brought to my room, and after passing my word to him, that if he would make a true and faithful discovery of his accomplices and others he might know to have been concerned in counterfeiting the said Bills and passing the same, I would use my interest and endeavor to obtain him indemnity for what he had
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been guilty of in that respect, he deposed an oath as in the inclosed depositions. From several circumstances of his behaviour I am induced to think his information genuine. Mr. Avery and Col. Kennan seem to have the same opinion of him: and if so, his detecting such companies of confederated villains will be of infinitely more service to the State, than his single punishment would be, were the matter of his offence clear, as to time and other circumstances. I have therefore directed him to be bailed by any magistrate of this County, on his producing such securities for his good behavior, and appearance as a witness to prosecute those offenders in Wilmington District, at the next Wilmington District Court, as it is probable he may get to enter into recognisance with him: as that of Wilmington will be the first Court in course, where his testimony in that behalf will be necessary. And if he procures security, I make no doubt but he will attend at that Court as a witness, I therefore have thought it my duty to transmit these depositions to your Excellency, so as they be considered of by your Excellency and the ensuing Council of State, and such measures thereupon pursued, as may secure the bringing to justice those dangerous and pernicious pests of society. We have, notwithstanding the difficulty of procuring an attorney and clerk to act on behalf of the State, been so fortunate as to hold a Court of the Sessions of the Peace, Oyer & Terminer and General Gaol Delivery this term for the District of Halifax, and have done some business; but had but one capital trial, which was that of one William Reddock for murder. He was cleared by verdict of the jury. What by the enlargement of prisoners by the Commissioner appointed by Resolve of Assembly, and some removed to the Western Districts, this gaol will be left almost totally clear of prisoners very shortly. I hope your Excellency will excuse the want of correcting and transcribbing this letter, as I have to send it off early to-morrow morning, and it is now very late at night.
I have the honor to be, Sir, with great respect,
Your Excellency's most obed. humble servant,