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General Court Martial of Rebecca Cary and Hermonus King

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Lieutenant Colonel McPHERSON was President, held at New York between 4 September and 4 October 1780.]

Rebecca CARY & Hermonus KING of the Bucks County Volunts. were brought Prisoners before the Court, Accused of the Murder of Thomas CARY, of the Bucks County Volunts.; & the following Witnesses were Examined, in support of the Accusation, vizt.

Capt. Wm. THOMAS of the Bucks County Volunts., being duly Sworn deposed, that some time in the last Spring the Prisoner KING, had a quarrell with the deceased, and he saw KING strike the deceased with his fist; that near a fortnight after that, the deceased (Thos. CARY) died.

        Q: Does he suppose that the Stroke he saw the Prisoner KING give Thos. CARY cou'd have been the Cause of his Death?

        A: By no means.

        Q: Was the deceased a quarrelsome Man?

        A: He was very much addicted to Liquor.

        Q: Were the Prisoners in his Company?

        A: Yes.

        Q:(by the Prisoner) --What have been their Characters during the time that he (the Witness) has known them?

        A: He never knew KING to be addicted to Liquor, or ever to quarrell before that time; & that Rebecca CARY, always bore a very good Character; and he never knew her to quarrel with her Husband; & they seemed to live very happy together.

Wm. BOCCOCK (Refugee) living at New Utrecht, being duly Sworn deposed, that some time in April, on a Tuesday Thos. CARY (the deceased) came down to where he was fishing with his face and hands bloody; upon which he (the Witness) Asked him what was the Matter, and he answered that he was badly hurt and repeated it; That Lieut. ROBERTS who was in a Tent, asked the deceased What was the Matter, & he Answered that KING had been at him, again.

        Q: Did he (the Witness) understand When the Deceased Mentioned that KING had been at him, that it was the Prisoner that he meant?

        A: Yes.

        Q: What reason had he for supposing it was the Prisoner?

        A: Because the deceased had been at his (the Witness) House the day before, and complained that he had been ill used by the Prisoner.

        Q: Did the deceased Mention the reason why he had been ill used by King?

        A: As they had been both Quartered in the same House, the deceased taxed him with being too free with his Wife, & said it was the reason of his being ill used.

        Q: How long was it after the deceased Went with his Hands & face bloody to where he (the Witness) was fishing, to the time of his Death?

        A: Seven Days; and the Witness further says, that the same Evening he saw him with his Hands & face bloody, he was taken Speechless at 12 o'Clock, and was never after that in his Senses.

        Q: Did the deceased Mention in what Manner he had been beat?

        A: No.

        Q: Was Rebecca CARY with her Husband, whilst her Husband was ill?

        A: She went up to New York the next Morning after the deceased said he had been ill used, and never returned.

Daniel STRETCH, Farmer, living at New Utrecht, being duly Sworn deposed, that last Spring as he went down to the fishing hut, he asked who was in it Sick; and the people answered CARY; upon which he (the Witness) went in, & saw the deceased in fits; that he (the Witness) went several times after that, to the Hut, and always saw him in the same situation; and never heard him speak a Word that could be understood; that Six or Seven days after he first Saw the deceased, he died. The Witness further says, that he helped to lay him out, and found that his Side was very much bruised.

        Q: Had he any other Marks of Violence?

        A: No.

        Q: What did he suppose the bruises were Occasioned by?

        A: He can't say.

Ensign Saml. STRETCH of Colo. Vandyke's Corps, being duly Sworn, deposed that in April or May (he is not certain which) as he was in a Hut, at the fishing Place, Thomas CARY came in, & said he was hurt, and upon some body asking who had hurt him, he answered that KING had struck him.

        Q: Who did he understand that the deceased meant by KING?

        A: He understood it was the Prisoner, as they were Companions.

        Q: Was the deceased bloody?

        A: He does not recollect.

        Q: Was he in Liquor?

        A: He does not recollect.

        Q: Did he see any Marks of Violence on the deceased?

        A: No.

Isabella BRAY, being duly Sworn deposed, that she was with the Prisoner, when the deceased came in, and upon his having some Words with the Prisoner King, he made a blow at the deceased, & only struck him with his fingers, and the Witness further says that she is sure that the blow could not hurt him, and that she has often received one much harder.

        Q: Does she know when Thomas CARY died?

        A: No.

The Prisoners being put upon their defence, say that they are innocent of the Crime laid to the Charge, and submit their fate to the determination of the Court.

The Court having Consider'd the Evidence for & against the Prisoners Heramonus KING and Rebecca CARY, together with what they had to offer in their Defence; Is of opinion that they are Not Guilty of the Crime laid to their Charge, & doth therefore Acquit them.

                                       Dun. McPHERSON 42d
                                        Regt. Lt. Col. President

Mattw. WOODD
   D. Judge Advocate

                     H. CLINTON

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 92, pages 339-342.

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