A swindling ‘fellow with mustachios’



Henry Seplater, described as a ‘tall young fellow, with mustachios, ..having all the appearance of a foreign swindler’, was brought before the magistrate at Lambeth.The charge was obtaining watches (8 in total) from a manufacturer in Holborn.

Lucien Marchard was a watchmaker who had a business at 1-2 Red Lion Street in central London. On the 12 October 1852 Seplater had entered his shop and declared that he was acting for a Mr Cooke who wished to buy some watches.

The watchmaker then allowed him take away 8 time pieces, one of gold and the others silver. He said he would return on the next with the money for those his client wished to keep and return those he had no use for.

The following day he was back – not with money, but with three of the silver watches which he exchanged for ‘three of a better description’. Then he vanished and Marchard heard nothing from him for several days. After some time the watchmaker received a note from the young man saying that he was being prosecuted at the Court of Exchequer for selling watches without a license. The only way he could ensure that Marchard got his money was if he was prepared to wait for two months.

Marchard was not convinced and obtained a summons against Seplater. On arrest several duplicates (pawn tickets) were found on him relating to the watches and other items. He was presented at Lambeth for the justice to consider the case. The magistrate, Mr Elliott chose not to accept the defence’s argument that this was simply a matter of ‘credit and account’, to him it seemed to have more to do with larceny and fraud.

Seplater was remanded in custody for further examination and the reporter suggested that other ‘cases of swindling’ were expected ‘to be brought against him’.

[from The Morning Post,  Saturday, November 13, 1852]

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