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apparently adopted by the Court. It is cited in 1 Leach, 216 ,note (a); 3 Chitty, Cr. L. 1036, and, as far as we are aware, was never doubted before this case. Indeed in Reg. v. Tylney, 1 Den. C. C. 319, it seems to have been assumed on all hands to be the law. There the prisoners forged a will, but there was no evidence to show that any one existed who could have been defrauded by it, and the judges were equally divided whether a count for forgery with intent to defraud some person unknown could, under such circumstances, be supported. It is obvious that this assumed that if there had been evidence that there was any one who might have been defrauded, though there was no evidence that the prisoners even knew of the existence of any such person, the offence would have been forgery. Indeed it would be very startling to suppose that a man who forged a will, intending to defraud the next of kin, whoever they might happen to be, was not guilty of forgery, because he had only that general intent. The point is too obvious to have escaped that able criminal lawyer, Mr. Prendergast, and as he did not take it, he clearly thought it wholly untenable, and so also must the judges who heard the case. See also the observations of Cresswell, J., in Reg. v. Marcus, 2 C. & K. 356. In Reg. v. Nash, 2 Den. C. C. 493, Maule, J., expressed a very strong opinion that it was not necessary in order to prove an intent to defraud that there should be any person who could be defrauded, and this opinion was not dissented from by any of the other judges.
It has long been settled that making any instrument which is the subject of forgery in the name of a non-existing person, is forgery, and in Wilks's case, 2 East, P. C. 957, all the judges were of opinion that a bill of exchange drawn 'in fictitious names was a forged bill. Now every one knows that at the time when such documents are forged, the forger has no intent to defraud any particular person, but only an intent to defraud any person whom he
may afterwards meet with, and induce to cash the bill, and no suggestion has ever been made in any
of these cases that that offence was not forgery.
The ground of the present judgment seems to have been, that formerly the particular person who was intended to be defrauded must have been named in the indictment: no doubt it is a general rule of criminal pleading that the names of persons should be stated, but this rule is subject to the exception that wherever the stating the name of any person in an indictment is highly inconvenient or impracticable, the name need not be stated, for Lex neminem cogit ad vana seu impossibilia. Therefore the names of inhabitants of counties, hundreds, and parishes need never be stated. So, too, where there is a conspiracy to defraud tradesmen in general, the names need not be stated; so where there is a conspiracy to raise the funds, it is not necessary to state the names of the persons who shall afterwards become purchasers of stock; “ for the defendants could not, except by a spirit of prophecy, divine who would be the purchasers on a subsequent day,” per Lord Ellenborough, C. J., Rex v. De Berenger, 3 M. & S. 67; which reason is equally applicable to the case, where at the time of forging an instrument, there is no intent to defraud any particular person. Indeed it is now clearly settled that where a conspiracy is to defraud indefinite individuals, it is unnecessary to name any individuals, Rex v. Peck, 9 A. & E. 686; Reg. v. King, 7 Q. B. 782. This may be taken to be a general rule of criminal pleading: and it has long been applied to forgery. In 1771, in Rex v. Birch, 1 Leach, 79, the prisoners were convicted of forging a will, and one count alleged the intent to be “to defraud the person or persons who would by law be entitled to the messuages” whereof the testator died seised: 3 Chitt. C. L. 1066 a. And it has been the regular course in indictments for forging wills, at least ever since that case, to insert counts
with intent to defraud “the heir at law" and “the next of kin," generally, Jerv. Arch. Sth Ed. 370; 3 Ch. Cr. L. 1069. It is true that in general there have also been counts specifying the heir at law or next of kin by name. But in Reg. v. Tylney, there was no such count. No objection seems ever to have been taken to any such general count. So also in any forgery with intent to defraud the inhabitants of a county, hundred, or parish, the inhabitants may be generally described. These instances clearly show that it is not necessary in forgery any more than in other cases to name individuals where there is either great inconvenience or impracticability in doing so. A conviction for conspiracy to negotiate a bill of exchange, the drawers of which were a fictitious firm, and thereby fraudulently to obtain goods from the King's subjects, although it did not appear that any particular person to be defrauded was contemplated at the time of the conspiracy, has been held good, Rex v. Hevey, 2 East, P. C. 858, note (a), and this case bears considerably on the present question.. If a person forged a bill of exchange with intent to defraud any one, whom he might afterwards induce to cash it, and he uttered it to A. B., it cannot be doubted that he would be guilty of uttering with intent to defraud A. B.; and it would indeed be strange to hold that he was guilty of uttering, but not of forging, the bill. No doubt the offence of forgery consists in the intent to deceive or defraud ; but a general intent to defraud, is just as criminal as to defraud any particular individual. In each case there is a wrongful act done with a criminal intent, which according to Rex v. Higgins, 2 East, R. 5, is sufficient to constitute an indictable offence.
In the course of the argument, Erle, J., said, “Would it not have been enough to allege an intent to deceive divers persons to the jurors unknown, to wit, all the patients of his late master ?” This approaches very nearly to the correct view, viz., that it would have been enough
before the 14 & 15 Vict. c. 100, s. 8, to have
very important that the law on the subjects discussed in this note should not be left in uncertainty, and it is much to be regretted that Reg. v. Hodgson was ever decided as it was, as it may encourage ignorant pretenders to fabricate diplomas, and thereby not only to defraud the poor of their money, but to injure their health.
45. Where the having any matter in the custody tion as to or possession of any person is in this Act expressed criminal
to be an offence, if any person shall have any such possession. matter in his personal custody or possession, or shall
knowingly and wilfully have any such matter in the actual custody or possession of any other person, or shall knowingly and wilfully have any such matter in any dwelling house or other building, lodging, apartment, field, or other place, open or inclosed, whether belonging to or occupied by himself or not, and whether such matter shall be so had for his own use or for the use or benefit of another, every such person shall be deemed and taken to have such
matter in his custody or possession within the meaning of this Act.
Note.—This clause is taken from the 1 Will. 4, c. 66, s. 28, and extended to Ireland.
As to the clause in italics, see the note, post,
46. If it shall be made to appear, by information Search for on oath or affirmation before a justice of the peace, paper or that there is reasonable cause to believe that
employed person has in his custody or possession, without lawful in any authority or excuse, any note or bill of the governor forgery,
and for and company of the Bank of England or Ireland, or
forged inof any body corporate, company, or person carrying struments. on the business of bankers, or any frame, mould, or implement for making paper in imitation of the paper used for such notes or bills, or any such paper, or any plate, wood, stone, or other material having thereon any words, forms, devices, or characters capable of producing or intended to produce the impression of any such note or bill, or any part thereof, or any tool, implement, or material used or employed or intended to be used or employed in or about any of the operations aforesaid, or any forged security, document, or instrument whatsoever, or any machinery, frame, mould, plate, die, seal, paper, or other matter or thing used or employed or intended to be used or employed in the forgery of any security, document, or instrument whatsoever, such justice may, if he think fit, grant a warrant to search for the same; and if the same shall be found upon such search, it shall be lawful to seize and carry the same before some justice of the county or place, to be by him disposed of according to law; and all such matters and things so seized as aforesaid shall by order of the Court where any such offender shall be tried, or in case there shall be no such trial then by order of some justice of the peace, be defaced and destroyed or otherwise disposed of as such Court or justice shall direct.