General Court Martial of Job Williams
At a General Court Martial held at New York in the Province of New York on Thursday May the 15th, and continued by Adjournments to May the 22nd 1777, by Virtue of a Warrant bearing date the 14th Instant, from His Excellency Sir William HOWE, Knight of the most Honorable Order of the Bath, General and Commander in Chief, of all His Majesty’s Forces, within the Colonies laying on the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to West Florida inclusive &ca &ca &ca.
The President, Members and Judge Advocate being duly sworn.
Captain Job WILLIAMS of His Majesty’s Provincial Regiment of Foot called the Queen’s American Rangers, was brought Prisoner before the Court, and accused of the Murder of Lieut. Peter Augustus TAYLOR of the same Regiment.
And the following Witnesses were produced in support of the accusation vizt.
Captain John BRANDON, late of the Queen’s American Rangers, being duly sworn, deposed that on the 24th of March last (according to the best of his recollection) the Prisoner Captain WILLIAMS came to spend the Evening at his house and whilst he was there, Lieut. TAYLOR accidently came in and the Witness asked him to sit down, but he declined it, saying that he was engaged to a Card Table at the Tavern, and added that he was very drunk;
the Witness then told him that on that account he had better stay and spend the Evening with them, and Lieutenant TAYLOR replyd that if he could get off from his appointment, he would retrun in a quarter of an hour and then went out; and after being away about that time, he accordingly returned;
that they then went to Supper, Lieutenant TAYLOR declining to drink any thing, previous thereto, but after supper, upon the Witness asking him to drink a glass of wine, he answered that he had then got pretty sober and would drink a glass;
that some time afterwards a dispute arose between Captain WILLIAMS and Lieutenant TAYLOR, respecting the plundering of one SKINK, Captain WILLIAMS accused Lieutenant TAYLOR and Captain ARMSTRONG of Plundering SKINK of a piece of Diaper, a piece of linnen, and some other effects; but Lieutenant TAYLOR denied his having taken any property from SKINK;
that Captain WILLIAMS said, it was not clear to him, but that the Diaper they used as Table Cloths at the Mess belonged to SKINK, and TAYLOR answered that they were made of some his Mother had sent him from England;
Captain WILLIAMS asked him if those Table cloths were marked, and Lieutenant TAYLOR answered, no;
that Captain WILLIAMS then said, that it was improbable that his Mother should send him Table cloths from England that were not marked, and Lieutenant TAYLOR then rising from his seat, said that any person who said that he had plundered goods since he had been in America, told a damn’d falsehood;
upon which Captain WILLIAMS got up, and taking up a Chair struck Mr. TAYLOR with it;
that he (the Witness) then went between them, and the affray Subsided;
but upon some scurrilous language, passing reciprocally between them, (but which the Witness does not particularly recollect) Captain WILLIAMS took up another Chair, and knocked Lieutenant TAYLOR down;
that Lieutenant TAYLOR upon getting up again, stood by the Witness and told Captain WILLIAMS that if he had not been a lame man, he would beat him as black as the ace of Spades;
that Captain WILLIAMS (according to the best of the Witness’s recollection) then struck Lieut. TAYLOR with a stick; he is certain that he struck him with a stick in the course of the fray, and he thinks that it was at this time;
that he the Witness took the Stick from Captain WILLIAMS, and laid it bye, when Lieutenant TAYLOR, taking it up, broke it across his knee;
that Captain WILLIAMS then took up another chair, and struck Lieutent. TAYLOR with it and the Witness’s Wife coming in at this time took Captain WILLIAMS into the next room, and Lieutenant TAYLOR desired the Witness to be very circumspect with regard to what had happened;
that he observed a wound on Lieutenant TAYLOR’s head to bleed considerably, and ordered water to be brought, to wash it, and some sugar to be applied to stop the bleeding, but Lieutenant TAYLOR said that he would call on a Surgeon and then went away.
Q. (by the Court)— Did not Captain WILLIAMS tell Lieutenant TAYLOR that he looked upon him as a dirty rascal, and that he believed what he accused him of to be true?
Q. When did he say so?
Q. Was Captain WILLIAMS sober at the time?
Q. What length of time intervened between the first blow the prisoner gave Lieutenant TAYLOR and the last?
Q. Did they sit down after the affray begun?
Q. Did Lieutenant TAYLOR offer to retaliate the blows that Captain WILLIAMS gave him?
Q. Does he (the Witness) imagine that Captain WILLIAMS was induced to strike Lieutenant TAYLOR, the second third and fourth time by the scurrilous language he gave him in the intermediate spaces of time, or from the original provocation that led him to it the first time?
Q. Were the candles put out during the scuffle?
Q. At what time was the blow given that wounded Lieutenant TAYLOR on the head?
Q. Upon Lieutenant TAYLOR’s coming into the room, did he observe any animosity on the part of Captain WILLIAMS towards Lieutenant TAYLOR, or does he conceive the quarrel that ensued, to have been a matter of accident?
Q. Had either Captain WILLIAMS or Lieutenant TAYLOR swords or other side arms on?
Q. What conversation had he with Lieutenant TAYLOR the next morning?
Q. Did Captain WILLIAMS appear to be warm during the affray?
Q. Did Captain WILLIAMS strike Lieutenant TAYLOR with the same Chair the second time that he did the first?
Q. How far did he go from the place he was standing at, to get the chair he struck with the second time?
Q. Was the chair within his reach?
Q. What is the size of the room that the affray happened in?
Q. Did any body besides the Witness himself, the Prisoner and Lieutenant TAYLOR sup in that room that night?
Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)— Did not he (the Witness) mention in the course of the conversation that a complaint had been made to General HOWE, by SKINK against Captain ARMSTRONG and his Company, for having plundered his Vessel at Maninack [sic–Mamaroneck] or New Rochelle?
Q. Did he not invite Captain WILLIAMS to supper on account of his having something to say to him in private?
Q. Did not Captain WILLIAMS tell Mr. TAYLOR that Mr. SKINK had lodged a Complaint with General HOWE against Captain ARMSTRONG and his Company for having plundered him of a quantity of Diaper.
Q. When it was mentioned that the Diaper that was made use of in the Mess belonged to SKINK, did not Lieutenant TAYLOR rise up in a violent passion, and say that if any body said he had plundered, he would kick him to Damnation?
Alexander GRANT Esqr. Surgeon to the General Hospital, being duly sworn, deposed that he was present at the time the operation of trepanning was performed on Mr. TAYLOR’s head;
upon examination he found every symptom of the head having been injured by a pressure, such as a collection of matter &ca., he therefore did not hesitate in giving his advice, that the operation should be performed, which was accordingly done on both sides of the part of the scull, which was affected.
Q. Whether the neglecting to dress the wound might have occasioned this collection of matter, or whether it arose from the concussion or blow that the skull had received?
Q. Was there any appearance of the skull being fractured?
The Court Adjourned till next morning at 11 o’Clock.
Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 83, Pages 309–331.
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