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General Court Martial of Edward McGouran
Part 1 of 2

[Extract of the General Court Martial whereof Major Thomas Dilkes was President, held at Boston between 7 November and 13 November 1775.]

Saturday November 11th 1775.

The Court being met pursuant to an order from his Excellency The Commander in Chief.

Lieutenant Edward McGOURAN of His Majesty's Royal Fensible American Regiment was brought Prisoner before the Court, and the following charges were exhibited against him by Captain Benjamin Charnock PAYNE of the 18th or Royal Irish Regt. of Foot, Vizt.

                1st Going on Shore without leave and mauroding.
                2. Challenging his Commanding Officer in the execution of his duty.

And the following Charges were also exhibited against him by Capt. John COLLETT of the Royal Fensible American Regiment Vizt.

                1st Being drunk on duty and behaving unlike a Gentleman to an Officer on duty.
                2. Disobedience of Orders, & quitting his Post and taking his party to a Tavern, when the Enemy were within four or five miles.

Captain Benjamin Charnock PAYNE being duly sworn, deposed that on the second or third day after the fleet they went out in arrived off Fox Islands in Penobscot Bay, it was agreed upon by Captain BISHOP, who Commanded the fleet and himself, he being Commandant of the troops, that he (the Deponent) should go on shore in order to settle with the people of the Islands, about supplying the fleet with wood, and one of the Articles of Agreement that he accordingly made with them was that their property should not be molested on any account whatsoever;

that not many hours after he return'd on board, he heard several shot fired on Shore, and he saw some of the Rangers there that he thereupon went on shore and found Mr. McGOURAN with some of his party, to whom he gave a reprimand and told him that he would report him to the Commander in Chief for quitting his Ship and going on shore without leave, and then ordered him to go on board;

that one CARR, an inhabitant of one of the Islands reported to him that one of Mr. McGOURAN's party had killed a large hog belonging to him, on which he sent for Mr. McGOURAN and enquired into the matter and was assured by him that there was not the least foundation for the report;

that CARR then pointed out to him the very man that had shot the hog, and who was a Sejeant of McGOURAN's party;

and upon his accusing the Sejeant and threatening to have him tried by a Court Martial, he declared in presence of Mr. McGOURAN, that it was he, who ordered him to shoot the Hog, upon which Mr. McGOURAN confessed that he had ordered the Sejeant to fire, but that he took the Hog for a minx;

the Deponent then ordered Mr. McGOURAN to pay for the hog, which was valued at ten Dollars, but CARR frequently complained to him, that Mr. McGOURAN would not satisfy him for it, but inlisted his Nephew into the Service, and then offered to discharge him, upon his remitting the price of the Hog, and that Mr. McGOURAN, as CARR informed him, came away without paying for the Hog, and detained the Nephew 'till it reached the ears of Captain BISHOP who released him.

        Q: Does he (the Witness) keep a public house?

        A: No.

        Q: Had he given any Orders that no Officer should go on shore?

        A: He had no opportunity of giving such Orders, previous to Mr. McGOURAN's going on Shore, as they were in different Ships, and he went ashore himself as soon as he possibly could; besides, he did not imagine that any Officer would have landed on an Enemie's Coast without leave or orders, and he had neither from him.

Captain PAYNE further deposed that there were several sorts of Stores taken out of one of the prize Vessels, which had been taken, particularly a quantity of leather, which Captain BISHOP complain'd of to him,

and upon enquiring of Mr. McGOURAN who had been sent on board that prize, with respect to the leather he denied knowing any thing of it, but upon the Deponent's finding that a Negro Man had taken it away, and threatening to put him in Irons, Mr. McGOURAN confessed that it was by his order that he had taken it and the leather was afterwards returned by Mr. McGOURAN or by his Order.

        Q:(From the Prisoner)--  Had he any orders from him, from their leaving Boston, 'till he met him on the Island; or had he (Mr. McGOURAN) any other men with him then, besides the Serjeant and one other?

        A: He did not give him any orders; as to his party, it consisted, he thinks, of two or three.

        Q: Did he not tell him that he would send a pair of hand cuffs in order to be put on the negro man, and did not Mr. McGOURAN say that if he sent them, he would put them on?

        A: He believes that he did say that he would send a pair of hand cuffs, but does not recollect hearing Mr. McGOURAN say that he would put them on.

Captain PAYNE then proceeded to the second Charge, vizt. that of his challenging his Commanding Officer, in the execution of his Office;

and deposed in support thereof that some days after Mr. McGOURAN was put in arrest by Capt. COLLETT, upon an opportunity offering he judged it necessary to send him back to Boston, from the report of his bad behaviour by drinking with the private men of his party,

and he accordingly ordered him to prepare for his departure, and to make out his provision account, and in the evening he came on board the Ship where the Deponent was, with the Account, and was extremely drunk,

and upon his telling him that it was an improper one, and desiring him to return and make another, he threw it on the deck, saying damn the Account, I'll make out no other, and added that it was an honor to them to have a Gentleman among them, and if he or Captain COLLETT were men of courage, let them come on shore and fight him, and was otherwise very abusive; and so riotous that the Deponent was obliged to order him to be put into the Boat by force.

        Q:(from the Prisoner)--  Upon Mr. McGOURAN's being put in arrest did he not apply to him to be sent to Boston?

        A: No.

        Q: Where was it that Mr. McGOURAN challenged him?

        A: On the quarter deck of the armed Snow Spy.

        Q: What were the objections he made to the provision account?

        A: It neither gave an account of what he received nor what remained, altho' he had orders to make it out, some days before.

        Q: Can he produce the provision Account which he delivered to him?

        A: No, his papers are on board the Ship, which is not yet come up.

Capt. John COLLETT of the Royal Fensible American Regiment, being duly sworn deposed that upon Mr. McGOURAN's coming on board and desiring to speak with Captain PAYNE, he went on Deck and the Deponent from the Cabbin heard Capt. PAYNE tell him, that he was in liquor, and bid him go on board his Ship, to which he replied that he would not;

and added that there were no Officers among them, and that one Lieutenant was a match for two Captains, and bid them come on shore and fight him; and was otherwise very abusive.

        Q: Did Mr. McGOURAN appear to be in liquor?

        A: He could not otherwise account for his behaviour.

The Court then proceeded to the examination into the 1st Charge exhibited by Captain COLLETT against Mr. McGOURAN vizt. That of being drunk on duty and behaving unlike a Gentleman to an Officer on duty;

and Lieutenant Richard WILSON of the Royal Fensible American Regiment being duly sworn deposed that a Complaint having been made to Captain COLLETT that Mr. McGOURAN, who was on duty on board the Sloop Sally was in liquor, the deponent was sent on board to see if he really was so, and in that case to put him under an arrest, and take charge of the party;

that upon his going on board he found him sitting in the Cabbin with his party, and from his appearance and behaviour he seem'd to him to be in liquor, he therefore told him his business, and he gave up his Arms;

but after some time he grew violent, insisted on not giving up the command of the party; challenged the deponent to fight, took him by the Collar, and called upon the party to assist him and was so abusive and outrageous that he was obliged to carry him, by force on Deck.

        Q:(from the Prisoner)--  What reason had he to think that Mr. McGOURAN was drunk?

        A: He had all the appearance of a drunken man from his discourse and behaviour in every respect.

John BAKER, Mate of the Sloop Sally, being duly sworn deposed that about the middle of October Mr. McGOURAN came with a guard on board the Sloop Sally, and from his behaviour at first he appeared to be in liquor, and afterwards he drank some grog with the Master of the Sloop;

that upon his asking for beds for himself and party, the Master told him that there was no other place for the men but the hold, but both he and the Deponent himself repeatedly made Mr. McGOURAN offers of their beds, which he refused and said they wanted to take advantage of him;

that some little time after their being in bed, Mr. McGOURAN went upon deck, called up all his men, and after ordering them to fix their Bayonets, bid them take possession of the Cabbin and lay there, which they accordingly did, and the Master and Deponent thought it high time to quit it and the Master went on board the Neptune to Complain to Capt. COLLETT, who sent Mr. WILSON to relieve him.

        Q: At what time of the Night was it that Mr. McGOURAN called up the men and took possession of the Cabbin?

        A: He believes that it was about 10 o'Clock or between 10 and 11.

        Q:(from the Prisoner)--  Were not all those belonging to the Vessel Americans?

        A: He believes they were but cannot be certain.

        Q: Were they not all strangers to Mr. McGOURAN?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did he not hear that the Owner and Master of the Schooner named MILLAR had made their escape that night?

        A: No, he did not.

The Court then proceeded to the second Article of Charge brought by Captain COLLETT against Mr. McGOURAN, Vizt. Disobedience of Orders; and quitting his post, and taking his party to a Tavern when the Enemy were within four or five Miles,

and Captain COLLETT in support thereof deposed that Captain PAYNE being gone to a different part of the Island, he ordered Mr. McGOURAN with a party on board a Sloop, which was to assist in bringing off some wood, but he left her and went on shore with his whole party to a Tavern;

that upon his finding him there he told him that it was very unlike an Officer to quit the Sloop, but as he had come on shore, he ought to have put himself upon his guard, as Captain PAYNE had been attack'd that morning, and ordered him to take post in a redoubt which they had erected on the Shore, which he saw him go towards and afterwards saw him in the redoubt;

but upon the Deponent's return from on board the Lively Man of War, in about three quarters of an hour afterwards he found that Mr. McGOURAN and his whole party had evacuated it and gone again to the Tavern;

that in the Evening of the same day he sent a Serjeant to Mr. McGOURAN to bid him come to him, which he refused to do, and said that it was his (the Deponent's) business to come to him, or to write to him, or to send an Officer, and therefore he would not go.

Serjeant Bartholomew RYAN of the Royal Fensible American Regiment being duly sworn, was examined.

        Q: Was he not sent with a message from Capt. COLLETT to Mr. McGOURAN, ordering him to come to him?

        A: Yes, he was sent on board the Sloop Sally.

        Q: What answer did Mr. McGOURAN bid him carry to Capt. COLLETT?

        A: He bid him tell Capt. COLLETT that he would not obey his Orders unless he sent them by an Officer or in writing.

        Q: Did Mr. McGOURAN tell him that it was Capt: COLLETT's business to come to him?

        A: No he did not tell him so.

        Q: Was he on board the Sloop Sally with Mr. McGOURAN?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did not he and his party quit her and go to a tavern?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did Mr. McGOURAN go into the redoubt?

        A: He went up to it, he thinks, and when Capt. COLLETT went away, he returned to the tavern.

Lieut. Richard WILSON of the Royal Fensible American Regiment, already sworn, was again examined.

        Q: Does he remember Serjeant RYAN being sent with a message from Capt: COLLETT to Mr. McGOURAN, on board the Sloop Sally?

        A: Yes.

        Q: Did not Mr. McGOURAN afterwards tell him that it was Capt. COLLETT's business to come to him?

        A: Yes, he did; he said that he would make Capt. COLLETT know that it was his business to come to him.

        Q: Did he report this to Capt. COLLETT?

        A: He did next morning.

        Q: Was Mr. McGOURAN in arrest at the time he told him so?

        A: Yes, he was.

        Q:(from the Prisoner to Captain COLLETT)-- Was not the Sloop Mr. McGOURAN quitted aground on the Island that the redoubt was built on?

        A: Yes, she was, but the sailors remained on board of her, and therefore the party might have done so too.

The Court Adjourned till 3 [8-?] o'Clock on Monday morning.

Click here for ---> McGouran Court Martial, Part 2

Great Britain, Public Record Office, War Office, Class 71, Volume 82, Pages 102-115.

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