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The On-Line Institute for Advanced Loyalist Studies

General Court Martial of John Lawrence
Part 3 of 3

John WILSON, Tavern keeper at Richmond on Staten Island, being duly sworn deposed that about Six Weeks ago, Ensn. MOFFET of the Queens Rangers, and the Prisoner (Ensn. LAURENCE) were drinking at his (the Witness’s) house,

and they had some words upon which the Prisoner desired Ensn. MOFFET not to impose upon him, as he did not want to have any words, and Ensn. MOFFET said to him (the Prisoner) “What are you”—and he answered that he was a Gentleman, and said that he would always take his own part as such;

and Ensn. MOFFET rubbed the Prisoner on the face, & asked him if he knew what it meant? and the Prisoner answered “dont rub too hard or I shall rub too,”

after which his (the Witness) business called him out, and he went out of the room, in the mean time he heard some high words, and he went into the room again and saw Ensn. MOFFET pulling off his Coat, upon which he (the Witness) took hold of him, and told him that he hoped that they were not going to Box,

and Ensn. MOFFET shov’d him (the Witness) back and told him to go out of the Room, and immediately made a Stroke at the Prisoner and they both fell on the Table and the Candle was put out;

In the mean time that he (the Witness) called for a Candle; he laid hold of one of them in dark, and he desired him to let him go, who the Witness took to be the Prisoner (Ensn. LAURENCE) by his voice; and Ensn. MOFFET asked him (the Witness) whether he would see him imposed upon;

and upon a light being brought into the room, Mr. SEAMAN and the Witness parted them, and the Prisoner went into another room and left Ensn. MOFFET where the dispute first began.

After which Ensn. MOFFET followed the Prisoner into the Room and still persisted to fight with him; upon which Lt. McNABB went into the room, and put them both in Arrest.

        Q:(by the Prisoner)— Did not Ensn. MOFFET tell the Prisoner when the dispute first began that he could and would punish him in two minutes, and what was the Prisoners answer?

        A: He said that he could punish any on[e] in two minutes, but dont remember that he said so of the Prisoner—and the Prisoner (Ensn. LAURENCE) asked Ensn. MOFFET if he meant him, and he answered that he would any man, and asked him in a disdinful manner “pray who are you.”

        Q: Did he (the witness) see the Prisoner give Ensn. MOFFET any provocation, or offer to Strike him, only what he was obliged to do in his own Defence?

        A: No.

        Q: Did he (the Witness) see Ensn. MOFFET next morning and whether he said any thing concerning what passed the preceeding Evening?

        A: Ensn. MOFFET went into his (the Witness’s) Room the next morning and asked him if he had been to blame; and he answered that he was very much to blame, and Ensn. MOFFET made answer that he would never see his (the Witness’s) face again excepting he killed Ensign LAURENCE.

        Q:(by the Court)— Had Ensn. MOFFET, or the Prisoner side arms on, at the time that the dispute began?

        A: Ensn. MOFFETs Sword was laying on the Table, and the Prisoner had a Bayonet on.

        Q: Was Ensn. MOFFET or the Prisoner drunk at the time of the dispute?

        A: He thought them both so.

        Q: Was the Candle put out on accidently or on purpose?

        A: Accidentally.

        Q: Did Ensn. MOFFET live at his (the Witness’s) house?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did Ensn. MOFFET or the Prisoner endeavour to make use of their side arms?

        A: No.

        Q: Did the Prisoner frequent his (the Witness) house before the dispute?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Does he know whether Ensn. MOFFET and the Prisoner were acquainted with each other before the dispute?

        A: He has seen them several times together.

        Q: Does he know whether they ever had any dispute previous to the one they had at his house?

        A: No.

Henry SEAMAN (of New York) being duly sworn deposed that about Six Weeks ago he was upon Staten Island, and Ensn. MOFFET asked him and the Prisoner (Ensn. LAURENCE) to go with him to his room at WILSONs Tavern to drink a Glass of Wine;

that after drinking two Bottles of Wine Ensign MOFFET began to boast of his Strength, and said that he would finish any man in two minutes, and spoke very disrespectfully of the Battalion that the Prisoner belonged to;

upon which the Prisoner asked him if he meant him, and Ensn. MOFFET said, “him or any other Person that resented it;”

The Prisoner answered that he would resent it in a Genteel manner and not like a Black Guard;

After which he the Witness went out of the room, and Mr. WILSON went in , and was absent three or four minutes, and when he returned he saw Ensn. MOFFET Stripping, and Swearing that he would punish the Prisoner.

That Mr. WILSON was endeavouring to put on Ensn. MOFFETs Coat and he (Ensn. MOFFET) pushed away Mr. WILSON with one hand, and Struck the Prisoner with the other, after which many blows were exchanged, and Ensn. MOFFET was on the ground, and desired Mr. WILSON to take off the Prisoner (Ensn. LAURENCE) and hoped that he would not see him Wronged;

that afterwards Ensn. LAURENCE went into another room, and Ensn. MOFFET followed him and called him a Rascal and Scoundrel, upon which more blows ensued—and Lt. McNABB hearing the Noise went into the Room and put them both in arrest.

        Q:(by the Court)— Was Ensn. MOFFET, or the Prisoner intoxicated at the time?

        A: A good deal so.

        Q: Had they any side arms on, and did they offer to make use of them?

        A: Ensn. MOFFET had a Hanger on, which Mr. WILSON took from him, upon which he attempted to draw Lt. McNABB’s Sword, just before they were put in arrest; and the Prisoner had a Bayonet on, but did not attempt to make use of it.

        Q: Was Ensn. MOFFET, or the prisoner intoxicated at the time that he the Witness was invited?

        A: They were both intoxicated.

Major Thomas MILLIGE of the 1st Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers being duly sworn was examined.

        Q:(by the Prisoner)— How long has he known the Prisoner?

        A: About two Years and a half.

        Q: Did he ever know the prisoner’s being addicted to drinking or Quarreling?

        A: Not at all.

        Q: What has been his general conduct in the Regiment since he (the Witness) has known him?

        A: He has always behaved himself very well.

Lieut. Col. Joseph BARTON, Commanding the 1st Battalion of New Jersey Volunteers being duly Sworn was examined.

        Q:(by the Prisoner)— How long has he known him the Prisoner?

        A: About a Year & ten months.

        Q: Did he ever know of the prisoner’s being addicted to drinking or Quarreling?

        A: He never did, before the unhappy affair with Ensn. MOFFET.

        Q: What has been his (the Prisoners) general conduct and Character, since he has been in the Regiment?

        A: He has been a quiet Officer, and ever willing to do his Duty.

The Court having considered the Evidence for, and against the priosner Ensn. John LAWRENCE together with what he had to offer in his Defence is of Opinion that he is Not Guilty of the Crime laid to his Charge and doth therefore Acquit him.

                                       John SMALL Majr. Comdt.
                                       2nd Battn. 84th (or Sir Henry
                                       CLINTON’s) Regt. of Highldrs.
                                       President Gl. C. Martial

Mattw. WOODD
   D. Judge Advocate

                               Wm. TRYON M: G:      H CLINTON

Click here for ---> Lawrence Court Martial, Part 1

                               Lawrence Court Martial, Part 2

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 91, Pages 201–213.

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