As he showed from the outset of his investigations by reporting Bambridge for attempting to suppress testimony, Oglethorpe again demonstrated that he would brook no tampering with the witnesses summoned by the committee. With the backing of his committee, on March 6, 1730, he recommended to the House of Commons that George Gray, an attorney, be imprisoned for attempting to bribe a witness. Gray’s incarceration seems to have been ignored in the newspapers.
I reprint from Journals of the House of Commons, 21:476, 480.
Mr. Oglethorpe, from the Committee, appointed to enquire into the State of the Gaols of this Kingdom, acquainted the House, that the said Committee, having entered upon their Enquiry, into the State of the King’s Bench Prison, did find, that several indirect Practices had been used, to prevent, and elude, such Enquiry: And he made a Report thereof to the House; which he read in his Place, and afterwards delivered in at the Clerk’s Table; where the same was read, and is as follows; viz.
That it appeared to the Committee, that George Gray, an Attorney at Law, wrote several Letters to Richard Mullins, Esquire, Marshal of the King’s Bench, dated the 2d, 21st, and 22d, of February last, demanding a Debt of 1 l. 8 s. on behalf of one Richard Powell; and suggesting, that if he would not pay the said Money, Powell could give Informations against him; and intimating, that he, Gray, could be of Service to Mr. Mullins, as he had been last Year to Mr. Bambridge, to whom he had given a full Account of the Measures to be taken against him, by means of his being then employed under one of the Solicitors, concerned against Bambridge and Huggins.
That Gray afterwards came, by Appointment, to Mr. Mullins’s House, and acquainted him, that Powell talked of informing the Committee of a Murder, committed by him the said Mullins; but that, if Mullins would give him Three Guineas, he would prevent Powell’s giving any Information against him to the Committee: That Mr. Mackay was employed in drawing up Informations,1 to be laid before the Committee; and that, if he, Mullins, would place Five Guineas in proper Hands, it might be an Advantage to him, the said Mullins, in respect to Mackay.
That on the 23d of February, Gray, by a Letter, written by himself, but signed by him in the Name of John Mackay, acquainted the Committee, that Richard Powell, Robert Elliott, and other Persons, named in the Letter, could give an account of the Charities, and Usage, of the Prison, and also an Account of the Death and Murder of Thomas Denham, Mr. Allen, and others, through the Cruelty of the Marshals.
And Gray the same Day wrote a letter to Mr. Mullins, giving him an Account of the Contents of what he had laid before the Committee, and that he had taken Powell away, and prevented his giving Evidence before the Committee; and advised Mr. Mullins to send Two Guineas, the Remainder of which, after letting Powell have 25 Shillings, he says, he, Gray, should soon expend in Mullins’s Service; and that he, Gray, designed that Evening to drink with Elliott, meaning the aforesaid Robert Elliott.
And by the general Tenure [Tenor] of all the Letters he undertakes to prevent Evidence being given to the Committee; and he did actually convey away the said Richard Powell, and suppressed his Evidence; and this, in order to get Money from the Marshal, and render the Enquiry of this Committee ineffectual.
The Marshal of the King’s Bench having laid the aforementioned Letters before the Committee, they ordered Gray to attend. He complied not with the Two first Orders; but wrote, the 26th of February, to the Marshal, that he had received them; and that the Party on the Morrow would lay the Matter before the Chairman of the Committee, if the Matter proposed was not complied with.
It appeared to the Committee, that the said George Gray had tampered with some Witnesses, in respect of their Evidence to be given to this Committee, and had hindered others from appearing, or giving Evidence; and the Committee ordered the said Transactions to be reported to the House.
Resolved, nemine contradicente, That George Gray, Attorney at Law, having tampered with some Witnesses, in respect of their Evidence to be given to the Committee, appointed by this House to enquire into the State of the Gaols of this Kingdom, and having hindered others from appearing, and giving Evidence to the said Committee, is guilty of a high Crime and Misdemeanor, in Breach of the Privilege of this House, and in Contempt of the Authority thereof.
Ordered, That the said George Gray be, for his said Offence, committed Prisoner to his Majesty’s Prison of the Gatehouse; and that Mr. Speaker do issue his Warrants accordingly.