Category Archives: Crime and punishment

Item of the Day: A Copy of the Deposition of Francis Branson (1680)

A copy of the Deposition of Francis Branson.

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 119-120]

 

Francis Branson, commander of the ship Anne and Hester, aged 30 years or thereabouts, in the behalf of his Majestie testifieth, that William Kelso, Chirurgeon, and John Bowland, mate of the said ship, being aboard, in the great cabbin at sea, the 16th day of April last, 1680, amongst other discourses that then passed between them, the said William Kelso in hearing of this Deponent, did declare in the great cabbin, that he was the Chirurgeon Generall, in the late rebellion in Scottland, and that after the Duke of Monmouth had been there and qualified them, Kelso cutt of his hair and wore a Perriwigg, and made his escape into the north of Ireland, and from thence transported himself to Dublin, and was there some small time, and from thence he made his excape to Bristol, and there he stayed a while, and after went up to London. He then at the same time did declare, that he knew those persons that murdered the Arch Bishop of St. Andrews, and that they had made their escape disguised, and could not be found; that there were sixe of them that sett upon him, when he was in his coach, going over a plain 3 miles from a village, that they hauled him out of his coach and told him that he had betrayed them, and therefore nothing should satisfie them but his blood. His Daughter being in the coach with him, opened her bosome, and desired them to spare her father and kill her, but they fell upon him with pistols, first pistolling him, and then hewed him in pieces with their swores ; all which words were spoken by the said Kelso, when we wee coming from England, being then bound for the Isle of May.

Sworn to in Court, the 4th January, 1680, in Boston, New England. That this is a true coppie taken and compared with the original, 4th January 1680.

Attest,

EDWARD RAWSON, Secr’y.

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Filed under 1680's, Crime and punishment, England, Great Britain, Ireland, Legal, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trials

Item of the Day: Laws for Pequot Indians (1675) [i.e. 1676]

Laws for Pequot Indians.

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 93-96]

 

[The following has been transcribed as it appears in the above text. No changes or corrections have been made to the spelling of the words in the document.] 

 

Laws of the said Indians to observe.

  1. That whosoever shall oppose or speake against the onely liveing and true God, the creator and ruler of all things, shall be brought to some English Court to be punished as the nature of the offence may require.
  2. That whosoever shall powaw or use witch-craft or any worship to the Devill, or any falls God, shall be so convicted and punished.
  3. That whosoever shall profane the holy Sabbath day by servill work or play, such as chopping or fetching home of wood, fishing, fowling, hunting, &c, shall pay as a fine tenn shillings, halfe to the cheife officers, and the other halfe to the constable and informer, or be sharply whipt for ever such offence.
  4. Whosoever shall committ murder or manslaughter, shall be brought to Hartford goale, and be tryed by the Government according to the English Law, which punisheth by death.
  5. Whosoever shall committ adultery by lying with another mans wife, or to have or keep her from her husband, shall be imprisoned and tryed and punished with a fyne of fortyy shillings for every offence, and so in the case of the adultresse; the sayd fine to be distributed as before.
  6. Whoseover shall steale, shall restore double to his neighbours for what he hath taken, when convict before their officer and councill, and pay the constable two shillins sixpence for his paynes about executing the law.
  7. Whosoever shall appeare, and prove to be drunk amongst them, shall pay tenn shillings or be whipt as the officers shall see meete, and the fine divided as before in the law about Sabbath breaking; in like manner shall it be done to such Indians as doe bring the liquors or strong drinke amongst them.
  8. It is ordered that a ready and comely attendance be given to heare the word of God preached by Mr. Fitch, or any other minister sent amongst them. The cheife officers and constables are to gather the people as they may, and if they be refractory and refuse, or doe misbehave themselves undecently, such shall be punished with a fine of five shillings, or be corporally punished as the officers shall see most meet.
  9. If the officers shall neglect in any of the premises to doe their duty, they shall receive double punishment, when convict thereof in any of our English Courts.
  10. But whosoever shall either affront the principall officer, or refue to assist the constable in the due execution of his office, shall pay for each affront so given, ten shillings, and for such refusall to assist the constable, five shillings.

Mr. Thomas Stanton Sen’r, and Lieutenant James Avery, were appoynted and desired to give them advice and help in all cases of difficulty, for the well management of their trust and affayres, to whome they are in all such cases to repayre.

WM. LEET, Dept Governor,

SAMUEL WILLYS, Assist.

JOHN TALCOTT, Assist.

JOHN ALLYN, Assist.

JAMES RICHARDS, Assist.

Dated in Hartford, May 31, 1675.

To Hermon Garrata to cause to be published to the people of his plantation, and the rest under his Government.

The tenn articles were faythfully published to Robin Harmaysun, Monohor, the Naragansett Sunk Squaw and her councill being present, at a great concourse amongst the Pequitts, the forepart which respects Robins own interest was served and desired Robin not to be published as yet.

pr. JOHN STANTON.

Capt. Avery, and Lieutenant Minor being present as witnesseth their hands.

JAMES AVERY

THO. MINOR.

The 24th January, 1675. [i.e. 1676]

 

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Filed under 1670'S, American Indians, Colonial America, Connecticut, Crime and punishment, Legal, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion

Item of the Day: Trevett against Weeden (1787)

Full Title:

The Case, Trevett against Weeden: On Information and Complaint, for refusing Paper Bills in Payment for Butcher’s Meat, in Market, at Par with Specie.  Tried Before the Honourable Superior Court, in the County of Newport, September Term, 1786.  Also, The Case of the Judges of Said Court, Before the Honourable General Assembly, at Providence, October Session, 1786, on Citation, for diminishing said Complaint.  Wherein the Rights of the People to Trial by Jury, &c. are stated and maintained, and the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive Powers of Government examined and defined.  By James M. Varnum, Esq; Major-General of the State of Rhode Island, &c. Counsellor at Law, and Member of Congress for said State.  Providence:  Printed by John Carter, 1787. 

Upon the last Monday of September, in the eleventh year of the Idependence of the United States, in the city of Newport, and State of Rhode Island, &c. was heard, before the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and General Gaol-Delivery, a certain information, John Trevett against John Weeden, for refusing to receive the paper bills of this State, in payment for meat sold in market, equivalent to silver and gold: And upon the day following the Court delivered the unanimous opinion of the Judges, that the information was not cognizable before them.

That this important decision may be fully comprehended, it will be necessary to recur to the acts of the General Assembly, which superinduced the trial.–At the last May session, an act was made for emitting the sum of one hundred thousand pounds, lawful money, in bills, upon land security, which should pass in all kinds of business, and payments of former contracts, upon par with silver and gold, estimating an ounce of coined silver at six shillings and eightpence.  Another act was passed in the June following, subjecting every person who should refuse the bills in payment for articles offered for sale, or should make a distinction in value between them and silver and gold, or should in any manner attempt to depreciate them, to a penalty of one hundred pounds, lawful money; one moiety to the State, and the other moiety to the informer; to be recovered before either of the Courts of General Sessions of the Peace, or the Superior Court of Judicature, &c.

Experience soon evinced the inadequacy of this measure to the objects of the Administration: And at a session of the General Assembly, specially convened by his Excellency the Governor, upon the third Monday of the following August, another act was passed, in addition to and amendment of that last mentioned, wherein it is provided, that the fine of one hundred pounds be varied; and that for the future the fine should not be less than six, nor exceed thirty pounds, for the first offence: The mode of prosecution and trial was also changed, agreeably to the following clauses, “that the complainant shall apply to either of the Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, &c. within this State, or to either of the Judges of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas within the county where such offence shall be committed, and lodge his certain information, which shall be issued by the Judge in the following form,” &c.  It is then provided, that the person complained of come before a Court to be specially convened by the Judge, in three days; “that the said Court, when so convened, shall proceed to the trial of said offender, and they are hereby authorized so to do, without any jury, by a majority of the Judges present, according to the laws of the land, and to make adjudication and determination, and that three members be sufficient to constitute a Court, and that the judgment of the Court, if against the offender so complained of, be forthwith complied with, or that he stand committed to the county gaol, where the said Court may be sitting, till sentence be performed, and that the said judgment of said Court shall be final and conclusive, and from which there shall be no appeal; and in said process no essoin, protection, privilege or injunction, shall be in anywise prayed, granted or allowed.”   

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Filed under 1780's, Constitutional Debate, Crime and punishment, Early Republic, Eighteenth century, Government, Legal, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Police of the Metropolis (1797)

See previous post from this volume here.

Full title:

A Treatise on the Police of the Metropolis; Containing a Detail of the Various Crimes and Misdemeanors By Which Public and Private Property and Security are, at present, injured and endangered: and Suggesting Remedies for their Prevention.  The Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged.  By a Magistrat, Acting for the Counties of Middlesex, Surry, Kent, and Essex.–For the City and Liberty of Westminster–and for the Liberty of the Tower of London.  London:  Printed for H. Fry, Finsbury-Place, For C. Dilly, Poultry. MDCCXCVII.

[Beginning from page 98]:

Night-Coaches also promote, in an eminent degree, the perpetuation of burglaries and other felonies: Bribed by a high reward, many hackney-coachmen eagerly enter into the pay of nocturnal depredators, and wait in the neighbourhood until the robbery be completed, and then draw up, at the moment the watchmen are going their rounds, or off their stands, for the purpose of conveying the plunder to the house of the Receiver, who is generally waiting the issue of the enterprise.

It being certain that a vast deal of mischief is done which could not be effected, were it not for the assistance which night-coaches afford to Thieves of every description, it would seem, upon the whole, advantageous to the Public, that they should not be permitted to take fares after twelve o’clock at night; or, if this is impracticable, that the coach-hire for night service should be advanced, on condition that all coachmen going upon the stands after twelve o’clock, should be licensed by the Magistrates of the division.  By this means the night coachmen, by being more select, would not be so open to improper influence; and they might even become useful to Public Justice in giving informations, and also in detecting Burglars and other Thieves.

Watchmen and Patroles, instead of being, as now, comparatively of little use, from their age, infirmity, inability, inattention, or corrupt practices, might, almost at the present expense, by a proper selection, and a more correct mode of discipline, by means of superintendents appointed by the Magistrates of each ditrict to regulate their conduct, and keep them to their duty, be rendered of great utility in preventing Crimes, and in detecting Offenders. 

At present the System of the nightly watch is without energy, disjointed, and governed by almost as many Acts of Parliament, as there are Parishes, Hamlets, Liberties, and Precincts within the Bills of Mortality; and where the payment is as various, running from 8-1/2 d. up to 2 s. a night.

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Filed under 1790's, Crime and punishment, England, Posted by Matthew Williams, Reform