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General Court Martial of William Cornell, Benjamin Sands Senr., Benjamin Sands Junr., Edwin Sands, Samuel Cornell & Hewlett Cornell
Part 2 of 2

Proceedings of a General Court Martial, held by Order of His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton K: B: General and Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America, on Thursday the 24th day of December 1778, at Jamaica in Long Island, Province of New York.

Ensign Joseph THORNE Queens County Militia, being Sworn informed the Court, that a little after 11 O’Clock on the night of the 16th Instant one Underdunk came to him, & informed him, that his Cousin THORNE & his Sloop were taken away by the Rebels, that with several other people he went to endeavour to find if any Boats had landed, that near the Prisoners Houses he discovered the tracks of several people & of three Whale Boats that had been hauled up on the Beach, that he immediately secured the Prisoners on Suspicion of knowing of the Rebels coming over, & that the Prisoner Benjamin SANDS Senr. confessed, that he saw one Boat come over, & he discoursed with the people that came in it.

        Question By the Deputy Judge Advocate to Ensn. THORNE— Whether he ever Suspected any of the Prisoners holding Correspondence with the Rebels?

        Answer— That his Cousin THORNE told him, that when the rebels came over about two months ago, they went to the House of Benjamin SANDS Senr. & that the Prisoner Benjn. SANDS Senr. did not give any alarm of their coming over, which was the occasion of his suspicions.

Richard SANDS one of the people called Quakers, his Affirmation being taken declares, that on the night the Sloops were taken away, he spoke to his Son as also to Richardson SANDS & Lewis CORNELL who had come over from the main, & that he desired his son either to come in, or never to come over again, as his coming might bring him into trouble.

It being three O’Clock in the Afternoon, The Court Adjourned to 10 O’Clock to morrow morning, being Wednesday the 30th Instant.

The Court having met pursuant to Adjournment.

William BAKER being Sworn, informed the Court, that on the Evening of the 16th Instant, he met the Son of Richd. SANDS & a Stranger who had a Gun in his Hand. That they called out to him to Stand, which he did, that the Stranger stayed at the Deponent’s House, & that SANDS desired he would go along with him to his Father’s House, that his Father told him he never desired to see him again in that way, that while he was on the outside of Richard SANDS’ House, the Prisoner Edwin SANDS came to him, that he (the Deponent) Sands’ Son & the Prisoner Edwin SANDS, went back to the Deponents House where he found the Stranger, that they all four Walked down to the Beech together, where he saw several people Standing by a Whale Boat, & among them were the Prisoners Benjn. SANDS Senr., Samuel CORNELL & Benjn. SANDS Junr., that he Staid there about a quarter of an hour, when the Boat pushed off.

The Evidence for the Crown being closed, the Court proceeded on the Defence of the Prisoners.

The Prisoner William CORNELL being put on his Defence, says, that he never carried on any kind of Correspondence with the Rebels, nor does he know of any.

The Prisoner Hewlett CORNELL being put upon his Defence Says that he is related & had been brought up in the same House with some of the people that came over, that he underwent a very severe Tryal, between Friendship & Duty, but acknowledges himself blamable, in not giving information of their coming over, & calls upon Major KASSAM for a Character, who informed the Court, that he always heard the Prisoner was a friend to Government, & had the Character of a very peacable man.

The Prisoner Benjm. SANDS Senior being put upon his Defence, Says, that the reason of his not giving Information of their coming over, was his near Connection with them, as one was his Nephew & three his Cousins, & his precarious Situation in living near the Water side, will he hopes be a sufficient excuse for him, & further says, he acknowledges being wrong, in not giving the proper Information.

The Prisoner Samuel CORNELL being put upon his Defence, says, that his living near the Water Side, & his near Connection with those that came over, one of them being his Brother & three his Cousins, he thought it very hard to inform against them.

The Prisoner Edwin SANDS being put upon his Defence, says that his near Connections with those that came over, two of them being his Cousins, and his living near the Water side, he was afraid to inform against them, & call upon Lieut. Thorne for a Character, who informed the Court, that as far as he knows the Prisoner, he always did his Duty as a good Soldier in the Militia, & behaved as a good Subject.

The Prisoner Benjn. SANDS Junior being put upon his Defence, Says, that his near relationship to those that came over, one being his Brother, another his Cousin, & three of them Neighbours Children, he thought it very ——— to inform against them.

The Court are unanimously of Opinion, that the Prisoner William CORNELL is not Guilty of the Crimes laid to his charge, and do therefore acquit him.

The Court are of Opinion that the Prisoner Hewlett CORNELL, is Guilty of the Crime laid to his Charge, and do therefore Sentence him, to be fined in the Sum of Twenty Pounds New York Currency, but in consideration of the good Character given of the Prisoner, the Court beg leave to recommend him to His Excellency, the Commander in Chief for Mercy.

The Court are of Opinion that the Prisoners Benjamin SANDS Senr., Samuel CORNELL, Edwin SANDS & Benjamin SANDS Junr., are Guilty, of the Crimes laid to their Charge, & do therefore Sentence them to be fined in the Sum of Twenty Pounds, New York Currency each, to be applied to whatever use, His Excellency the Commander in Chief shall think proper, & it appearing to the Court, they are dangerous persons if allowed to remain on the Island do therefore Sentence them to be Banished out side of the Lines.

                                       J. YORKE
                                        Lt. Colonel 22d Regt.

J. Wilbar COOK
  Deputy Judge Advocate

                                H CLINTON

Click here for ---> Cornell/Sands Court Martial, Part 1

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 88, Pages 96–103.

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