352 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 78 PART 3 MAY 2020
accounts of the relevant events that clashed with Greer’s.26 So when the evidence
was all in, it was not difficult for Begbie to conclude that Greer’s
“whole story … although deliberately repeated and sworn to, is a pure
invention”. He said he believed all three signatures on the impugned document—
that is, McTiernan’s and the X’s alleged to have been made by
Charley and Jim—were forgeries.
Begbie explained what he believed the sequence of events to have been.
Greer had made a number of attempts to have a document showing a conveyance
of title to Spinks witnessed and signed, but his efforts kept being
frustrated. McTiernan signed one, but when he realized it conveyed title as
well as the improvements, he “detained it in his own possession”. He then
drew up one conveying the improvements only, “which was executed, witnessed
by Ella White, and delivered to Greer”.27 Greer, however, denied ever
seeing it, notwithstanding that “it was produced to Begbie by Spinks, who
swore he had received it from Greer”. Ella White also testified that she signed
such a document as a witness, in the office in McTiernan’s house, “Greer
looking on; and McTiernan swore Greer took it away with him”.
Begbie concluded that none of the documents Greer managed to get
signed or witnessed met his needs, so he had used one conveying full title
to the land that he had a law student draft a few days before the meeting
with McTiernan. He then forged the necessary marks and signature. These
were clearly forgeries, and the evidence, Begbie said, showed “that Greer’s
whole statement must be false, and probably knowingly and wilfully false”.
He concluded that he did “not see how Greer could have been ignorant that
the marks and signatures were forged, seeing that the document was, during
the whole interval, in his sole custody”.
Begbie’s answer to the question posed by the inquiry was succinct:
I have … to report that, in my opinion, it is fully established that the
impeached deed is not genuine in any sense of the word; that the names
and marks of the two signatories, and also of P. McTiernan, are forgeries;
and that the body of the document does not express truly the agreement
actually sanctioned or intended by either the Indians or the Indian
All which is respectfully submitted.
In the course of this inquiry there were a number of notable exchanges, but
I will confine myself to two.
The first occurred early on, when Spinks was called and sworn. Begbie’s
questioning had revealed that Spinks appeared to know little about
the pre-emption laws or the size of the lot he claimed to have acquired.