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General Court Martial of Job Williams
Part 2 of 3

[Continuation of 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]


Friday May the 16th 1777.

The Court being met pursuant to Adjournment.


Lieutenant Thomas MORRISON of Colonel MORRIS’s Regiment of Provincials, late Quarter Master to the Queen’s American Rangers, being duly sworn deposed that between 11 and 12 o’Clock in the evening that the affray happened between Captain WILLIAMS and Lieutenant TAYLOR, the latter came into Mrs. HARRISON’s house where the Witness and he then lodged, and taking off his Cap, desired the Witness to look at his head, saying that he had been very ill used, and that he had received a violent blow, with the corner of a chair;

the witness then asked him what had occasioned this ill treatment, and he answered that he had been supping at one Captain BRANDON’s, and that some disputes had arisen, which had been the cause of it, and upon his asking him from whom he received the blow, he answered from Captain WILLIAMS;

the witness replied that he was surprized at that, as he understood that they had always been on terms of friendship;

Lieutenant TAYLOR answered that he could not suppose it to be the effect of any ill will, but rather of passion, but that he was determined to have satisfaction in the morning; that some other discourse passed but this is all he can pretend positively to swear to.

        Q. Did Lieutenant TAYLOR appear to be in liquor at the time this conversation passed?

        A. He seemed to be a good deal confused and affected at the treatment he had received, but the witness cannot say whether he was in liquor.


        Q. Did he look at Lieutenant TAYLOR’s head, at the time he desired him?

        A. Yes, and found a gash thereon.


        Q. Of what disposition was Lieutenant TAYLOR, irascible or mild tempered, or given to use scurrilous language?

        A. He lived for some time in the same mess with him, and always found him a good tempered man.


        Q. (by desire of the prisoner)— How long was he acquainted with Lieutenant TAYLOR?

        A. Between two and three months, during which he was sometimes separated from him by duty.


Mr. William LEE Surgeon to the Queen’s American Rangers, being duly sworn, deposed that some weeks ago, upon Lieutenant TAYLOR’s return from New York to Kingsbridge he observed some blood on the lining of his cap, and mentioned it to Lieutenant TAYLOR, who said that he had received a blow, but that it was of no consequence, and upon the Witness examing the wound, he thought it but a triffling one, not perceiving any swelling at that time;

that three or four days afterwards, Lieutenant TAYLOR invited some Hessian Officers to dine at the mess, where every person at table drank freely, and the next morning Lieutenant TAYLOR complained of being sick and giddy, which the witness attributed to his having drank hard the night before, that he (the Witness) came to town the next morning, and in the evening received a message from Mr. TAYLOR, acquainting him that he was not well;

the witness saw him the next morning and found him very ill, with such symptoms as left the witness no reason to doubt that his illness proceeded from the injury which he said he had received in New York;

as his head then appeared to be swelled, a portion of the scalp was removed, but no injury appeared to have been done to the bone, and he seemed afterwards much better;

that he saw him again the same night, but not for four or five days afterwards, Mr. ARDEN attending him during that time; but upon his seeing him again he appear’d to be pretty well, and being obliged to go to Kingsbridge, he saw him but once more before his death;

he was however present at the opening of his scull, after he died, and there were such appearances on the brain, as generally are found after receiving a violent blow, without a fracture.

        Q. Had Mr. TAYLOR paid the strictest attention to himself, immediately after receiving the blow, is he of Opinion that his life might have been saved?

        A. If he had paid proper attention to himself, he might probably have recovered.


        Q. Supposing he had paid this attention, from the Symptoms he perceived on opening his head, was not the probability of his dying full as great?

        A. He cannot think that it was.


        Q. Is he not of Opinion that the wound Lieutenant TAYLOR received on the head was the cause of his death?

        A. Yes, as the event proved.


        Q. May not the brain be injured by a blow on the head without the Skull being fractured?

        A. Yes, as it proved in Lieutenant TAYLORs case.


Mr. Christopher ARDEN, Surgeon to the Provincial Independent Companies of New York, being duly sworn, deposed that about a week after Lieutenant TAYLOR (as he understood from Mr. LEE the last Witness) had received an injury on the head, he was desired by Mr. LEE to go with him to visit Mr. TAYLOR;

that Mr. TAYLOR then complained of having a fixed pain in his head, and of being sick at his Stomach, and that he had several shivering fits succeeded by heat, all which appeared to the witness to proceed from the injury he had received on the head;

and upon examining the scalp, on the superior part of the head, where he had received the blow, they judged it necessary to remove it, and it was accordingly taken off by Mr. LEE, but they found nothing particular, and he was dressed and treated in the usual manner by bleeding &ca, and when the witness saw Mr. TAYLOR the next day, he seemed much better, the Witness therefore treated it as a common wound, all his bad Symptoms having left him;

the Witness dressed his wound the day after, for the first time since the scalp had been taken off and found nothing particular on the external part of the scull, but advised him notwithstanding to live very regularly, and he continued to dress his wound from day to day for about a week, at the latter end of which, it did not look so well as it had done before, and the witness recommended it to him to call in Mr. GRANT, who accordingly attended, and was of Opinion with the witness that there was matter under the skull;

that Mr. WATERS, another Surgeon, also attended, and the next day was fixed on to trepan him, and the operation was accordingly performed in two places;

on removing the bone the membrane next to the skull appeared to be desceased, and on taking out another portion of the bone, matter was found under it, sufficient to cause all those bad Symptoms;

that Lieutenant TAYLOR was relieved by the operation, but the symptoms again recurred, and he was again trepanned, which did not give him so much relief as before, and he grew worse and worse, till the witness left him under the care of Mr. WATERS.

        Q. Is he of opinion that the injury Lieutenant TAYLOR received on his head was the cause of his death?

        A. Upon leaving him he was of opinion that he would die in consequence of it.


        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)— During his attendance on Mr. TAYLOR, had he any reason to think that he did not observe the directions he gave him, with regard to the regularity of his diet?

        A. He has reasons to think that he did not; he one day went into his room, and saw a dish of gravy soop standing before him, but he had none upon his plate, and upon his saying to him that he hoped that he did not intend to eat any of that, he answered that he did not; but the woman of the house told the Witness that Mr. TAYLOR did not observe the directions he gave him with respect to his diet, and he concealed the symptoms he felt from him.


        Q. Was any body dining with Lieutenant TAYLOR at the time he saw this gravy soup?

        A. None of the family of the house had then sat down to table, but he supposes that they were just going to do it, as he boarded with them, and from the quantity of Soup it seemed designed for the family in general.


        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)— Has he any reason to think that Lieutenant TAYLOR’s mode of living, contributed to shorten his life?

        A. He has some reason to think so; for when those symptoms have ocurred, immediately after the blow was received; by proper methods and regimen many have recovered without undergoing any operation.


        Q. (by the Court)— Have not these symptoms proved fatal to many, notwithstanding their having lived regularly?

        A. Yes.


The Prosecution on the part of the Crown being closed, and the Prisoner put upon his defence, he called upon the following witnesses Vizt.


Doctor Thomas HARRISON, of the City of New York, being duly sworn deposed that on the morning after the affray happened between Captain Williams and Mr. Taylor, he dressed the wound that Mr. TAYLOR had received, which did not appear to him to be of any material consequence.

        Q. On what part of the head was the wound?

        A. Between the temple bone, and the Osfrontis.


        Q. Did he observe any other wound on Lieutenant TAYLOR’s head?

        A. He did not.


Captain James DUNLAP of the Queen’s American Rangers, being duly sworn, deposed that he has known Captain WILLIAMS and Lieutenant TAYLOR since his having been in the Rangers, and never heard of any disagreement between them before;

that on Lieutenant TAYLOR coming to Kingsbridge the day after the affray had happened, Lieutenant TAYLOR shewed the witness his head, telling him that he had got a cut on it, and asked the witness if he knew how he had got it;

he answered it was hard for him to know, and Lieutenant TAYLOR then told him that Captain WILLIAMS and he had been drinking the night before with Captain BRANDON, and that Captain WILLIAMS got damn’d drunk, and had struck him over the head and knocked him down, and by the stroke had given him the cut which he shew’d him;

that upon his asking Lieutenant TAYLOR, if he did not resent it, he answered that Captain WILLIAMS was drunk, and had a sore leg; and on that account he did not strike him again;

that Captain WILLIAMS after striking him (Lieutenant TAYLOR) had struck Captain BRANDON and his wife, who were interfering to prevent Captain WILLIAMS from striking him, and that Captain WILLIAMS had asked his pardon the next morning, as also that of Captain BRANDON and his Wife;

and that the affair was all over the Witness afterwards saw Captain WILLIAMS and Lieutenant TAYLOR on a particularly friendly footing, living together in the same mess, as if nothing of this sort had happened between them.


Elizabeth HARRISON, Wife of Doctor HARRISON the former witness, being duly sworn, deposed that the morning after the affray happened between Captain WILLIAMS and Lieutenant TAYLOR, they came to her house together, and drank a bottle of wine apparently in friendship, and she heard Lieutenant TAYLOR propose to Captain WILLIAMS that they should [eat] together in a mess.

        Q. How long after this did she see Lieutenant again?

        A. About twelve days afterwards, he came to her house, and drank some wine, apparently in as good health as ever she saw him.


Lydia HARRISON Widow being duly sworn was examined.

        Q. At the time that Lieutenant TAYLOR lodged at her house, did he ever live irregularly, contrary to the Surgeon’s directions?

        A. He did in some trifles, such as eating a little weak veal broth, whereas the Doctor forbid him eating any meat broths; he used sometimes to have shaking fits, which alarmed him very much, and he beg’d of her not to mention it to the Doctors; but at times he would tell them of it himself.


        Q. Does she remember Lieutenant TAYLOR’s going out of the house, after he was taken ill?

        A. Yes; the scalp of his head was taken off on a Tuesday; on the Friday following he went to the Street door, and on Monday or Tuesday he went to a store, and to Captain ARMSTRONG’s lodging, which were just by; the Surgeon did not forbid him going out, that the Witness heard of.


        Q. Upon Lieutenant TAYLOR’s getting better, did he not live as the rest of the family?

        A. He did, not; he drank some spirits mixt with Water which did not exceed half a pint a week.


        Q. Did not Captain WILLIAMS come to her house whilst Lieutenant TAYLOR was ill?

        A. Yes, and ask’d to see Lieutenant TAYLOR, but was told that he was so ill, that he could not be seen, she did not then know him to be Captain WILLIAMS.


Major Christopher FRENCH of His Majesty’s 22nd Regt. of Foot late Commandant of the Queen’s American Rangers, being duly sworn was examined.

        Q. (by desire of the Prisoner)— Did he not see Lieutenant TAYLOR in the Street after his getting better?

        A. Yes, he walked some little distance with him.


The Court Adjourned ‘till next morning at ˝ past 10 o’Clock.



Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 83, Pages 309–331.

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