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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 4

Trial notes
Berkshire: Sup. Jud. Ct. Octr. 1781 1

Cmnth. vs. Moses Graves junr. uttering to Lee

Jona. Lee Augt. last I wanted States money. he loaned me 12:8 D.B. NE. I gave my note, I pd. 6 bills. wn. return’d to Lee he sd. do you think the bills are bad I have 70 or 80 Doll., which I shall loose. I have no dispute they were the same bills I dd. them up. Josa. Wright I had 6.8.D.B. of Dr. Lee, they were bad. The S&B., I returned them to him: Rufus Allen, I was at Root 18th Augt. with Graves I asked him who he had the bad bills of, he sd. of Esqr. Little: the day the Ct. sat. he sd. he had ’em of one Keys he bt. em & gave him hard money. Woodbridge Little Esqr: I told Graves wt. Allen sd. he sd. it he did not say so.: he sd. he had 16 or 17 bills of Majr. Cady.: the 3 bill returned him were bad & came from him: Wm. Williams Esqr. in Augt. he pd. me an 8.D., he sd. he borrowed it that minute of Keys, I sd. you have 1000 of ’em. he sd. he had but 18.—he said he had some of Keys & some of Tufton—he sd. he supposed Tufton & Keys came from NYork they kept at his house. he sd. Tufton pretended to 164 come from Philada. Graves sd. Keys name was Bush I was satisfied he did not know the bill to be bad. William Walker Esqr. the same Bill wch. Esqr. Williams dd. me in Court. Nicholas Cotterel I was Graves. saw a saddle Graves sd. the saddle came out of NYork three weeks ago: Graves perswaded me to go to bring Cattle for Keys. he sd. Keys came from Army. Tufton came in. he perswaded me to swap horses Keys gave me 88 bad 8 D. total: Keys gave me 24 00 D. in 8 D.B. to buy beef. I could not buy the beef at the price. I told Graves the whole story. he said he had a No. of bills & he would shove ’em off before the People knew the marks, he sd. he had loaned Eli Dickerson. Israel Peck, before Ct. I was talking with Graves abt. Keys behaviour &c. he sd. he 15 or 16 bills of the Devillish Stuff & meant to push them. Duglass King, Mr. Reves,2 for Deft. James Easton Keyes is brother of Amasa Keys he urged to lay out a large Sum to halves Root he sd. he had the 3 bad bills of Esqr. Little Sedgwick3 we are not to convict on less evidence in this case than any other his political principles ought not to weigh he is like many good men very inattentive to the consequences resulting from his actions Peck & Cotterel were found in co. & yet not villains might not the quarrells be serious not the best evidence the nature of the thing admitts the marks but trifling 165 Butter’s rise prices 289, the best Evid. Respecting Graves is a man of Learning, & wd. not have put off the bill to Williams, unnumbered, knowing it to be bad. mm. the other mark. Bill taxed 6/ 3.15:12/ 20/: Do. on the other Indictment

Cmnwlth. vs. Moses Graves junr. uttering to W. Williams

Wm. Williams Esqr. Tuesday or Wednesday I went to Lanesborô with Ludlow the week on wch. Keys & Tufton came, they were there as early as Sunday: Graves told me since he did not suspect the bills bad till Dennison return’d Jona. Lee. I return’d the bills Saturday preceeding the sitting of Court, wn. I first applied he sd. he hd. none of his own, but procure it easily, he sd. he expect to get, it of Cotterel Cotterel the came on Saturday: Sunday they came there.

MS .


Following the adoption of the state constitution, which came into effect on Oct. 25, 1780, the Superiour Court of Judicature became the Supreme Judicial Court.

At the Oct. 1781 session of the Supreme Judicial Court for Berkshire County, held at Great Barrington, Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant presided, with David Sewall and James Sullivan also on the bench. Moses Graves, Jr., of Pittsfield, gentleman, was presented on two indictments. On the first he was convicted of uttering to Jonathan Lee twelve “false & counterfeit Bills of the denomination of eight Dollars and of the tenor and fabricated in imitation of the good lawful & current Bills of Credit.” He was sentenced to pay Lee £24.12 as treble damages, and a fine of £60 in “silver money” to the Commonwealth, plus costs.

On the second indictment, Graves was convicted of uttering one “false & counterfeit Bill” of $8 to William Williams. For this he was sentenced to pay Williams 36 shillings as treble damages and a fine of £50 in “Gold or Silver” to the Commonwealth, plus costs (Supreme Judicial Court Minute Books, Berkshire County, Oct. 1781. Massachusetts Judicial Archives, Boston, Mass.).


Tapping Reeve (1744–1823), lawyer of Litchfield, Conn., where he started the first American law school. Among his students was his brother-in-law Aaron Burr (American National Biography).


Theodore Sedgwick (1746–1813) was a lawyer at Sheffield and later Stockbridge, Mass. He was active politically, serving in the state House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the Continental Congress and U.S. Senate and House of Representatives (of which he was Speaker, 1799–1800). Legally, he was best known for defending the former slave Elizabeth (Mumbet) Freeman and for his work during Shays’s Rebellion (American National Biography).