Byrnes’s text: #58 Hugh L. Courtenay

Link to REVISED entry on #58 Hugh L. Courtenay

From Byrnes’s 1886 edition:

DESCRIPTION. Thirty-four years old in 1886. Born in England. Claimed to be married when arrested, which is not a fact. Slim build. Height, 6 feet 2 inches. Weight, 175 pounds. Dark hair, heavy eyes, bronzed complexion. Has a small, light-colored mustache. Tall, gentlemanly-looking man. Looks and assumes the air of an Englishman. Has a poor education, and is a poor writer. A bogus lord, with ” R.N.” on his baggage. This party’s right name is supposed to be Clinton, and he is the clever son of a former lodge-keeper of the Earl of Devon, in Devonshire, England.

RECORD. Lord Courtenay, the bogus British nobleman, is well known in New York City since 1874, and, in fact, all over the United States and Canada. There are several people today in England, Utah Territory, Montreal (Canada), Richmond (Va.), Baltimore, Newport (R. I.), and, in fact, in all the principal cities in the United States, that would like to have the pleasure of meeting him again, and handing him over to the police authorities.

He was arrested in New York City on December 3, 1880, and delivered over to the Salt Lake (Utah) police authorities, for forgery on the London Bank of Utah. He was tried there, and acquitted; again arrested in Salt Lake, by the New York police authorities, and brought to New York, charged with forging an acceptance of a bill of exchange for the sum of seventy-two pounds sterling by Herbert S. Sanguinetti, of No. 13 Pall Mall, London, England. He was delivered to the captain of the steamship Spain, of the National Line, that sailed from New York for England on May 14, 1881, and was delivered by him to the police authorities of Liverpool, England, and taken to London, where he was credited with a five-years sentence.

The fact is, he was sentenced to three months at hard labor in Clerkenwell prison, London, England, on October 17, 1881, under the name of Marcus Beresford, alias Walter Constable Maxwell. He was afterwards shipped to one of the West India Islands, but turned up again in Boston, Mass., the same fall.

Charles Pelham Clinton, another of his aliases, is wanted in Montreal, Canada, for a little confidence game he played on a merchant there. He represented himself as C. C. Bertie, adjuster for some estate in England. So well acquainted was he with English law, and so well did he describe the accession of the estate and the history of the family, that he completely deluded his victim, got into his confidence, and then cleared out. There was a reward of $1,000 offered for him in Montreal.

In 1876 he made his debut as a society swindler in Baltimore, Md., under the name of “Sir Hugh Leslie Courtenay,” of the “British Royal Navy.” Here he managed, by letters from confederates, to establish his identity in the eyes of the public. He was at once received in the best society, and by his distinguished appearance and manners completely captivated the female portion of the community. He spent money on cheap trash which he generously presented to his friends. A young Baltimore belle describes him as a most fascinating personage, and says that he was the first who ever “fired her soul with love.” The elegant uniform of the British Royal Navy, which he always wore at the fashionable balls, delighted and infatuated the young ladies, who cut the buttons off for souvenirs. The lady alluded to above still has in her possession one of the gold (?) buttons, with the monogram of the Royal Navy, cut from Sir Hugh’s uniform. He was wined and lionized, and ran on his credit there for months, wondering “what could be the matter with his stupid banker in England.” His male friends grew suspicious, and made excuses for not being able to accommodate him with loans. Then he changed his tactics, and by different devices managed to extract from his female friends small amounts from their allowance for pocket-money.

It is said that the daughter of a prominent citizen of Norfolk, Va., gave Courtenay $500. Notwithstanding these loans, his extravagant tastes involved him heavily in debt, and he was obliged to decamp, and did so just in time, as the evening before he took his leave he was recognized as a fugitive by one of his former victims.

Before his departure from England he undoubtedly studied up thoroughly the pedigrees of many English families of noble title for the sole purpose of swindling unsuspecting Americans or marrying some silly American heiress. His picture is a good one, although a copy.

From Byrnes’s 1895 Edition entry for #344 Sid. Lasalle:

“Lord Beresford,” whose right name is Lasalle, is a notorious English swindler. He is well known throughout the United States, having operated in almost all of the principal cities.

He made his appearance in Rome, Ga., in the spring of 1891, when he forged a bogus check on a London bank for $1,000. It was honored by Hamilton & Co., owners of a mining property which Beresford pretended he wanted to purchase for an English syndicate. He disappeared, and after marrying a wealthy young New York lady, was arrested in New Jersey, sent back to Rome, where he was convicted of forgery. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, and “His Lordship” was released on a$5,000 bond. He then opened a brokerage business in Rome, which he operated until a week before the Supreme Court convened, which decided against him. In the meantime he had made many friends by his smooth tongue, and even had the president of a national bank as a business reference.

When he ran away, it was discovered that the people he had done business with had been fleeced out of about $10,000. He was arrested in New York City on July 4, 1891, by request of the Georgia authorities, and was finally turned over to them on September 21, 1892, being held a prisoner in the Tombs Prison, New York City, during that time, on complaint of Richard K. Fox, whom he induced to cash one of his bogus drafts for $500. He was sentenced to six years in the Georgia Penitentiary, by Judge Henry, at Rome, Ga., on September 30, 1892. He made his escape from the convict camp at Kramer, Ga., in January, 1894, recaptured a few days later, and returned there. In July, 1895, an effort was made to have him pardoned. Governor Atkinson refused to grant the application on September 3, 1895.