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General Court Martial of Job Williams
Part 1 of 3

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.

Lieut. Colonel John BIRD 15th Regt. Foot, President
Major Willm. PRESCOTT 15th Foot M     Major Robt. McLEROTH, 64th Foot
Capt. Edwd. EVANS, 23rd Foot E     Capt. Gerrd. LAWRENCE, 57th Foot
Capt. Francis BROWNE, 27th Foot M     Capt. Peter H ELLISTON,
       17th Dragoons
Capt. Geo. GOLDFRAP, 15th Foot B     Capt. Will. NORTON, 44th Foot
Capt. Chs. LATON, 64th Foot E     Capt. Onslow BECKWITH, 45th Foot
Capt. Twisleton G RIDSDALE,
   44th Foot
R     Capt. Will. TIFFIN, R. Artillery
Stephen Payne ADYE Esqr. Deputy Judge Advocate

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?

        A. Yes.

        Q. When did he say so?

        A. After he had knocked Lieut. TAYLOR down with the Chair.

        Q. Was Captain WILLIAMS sober at the time?

        A. He appeared to be sober when he came in, and drank very little liquor afterwards.

        Q. What length of time intervened between the first blow the prisoner gave Lieutenant TAYLOR and the last?

        A. He believes according to the best of his Judgement, about five minutes.

        Q. Did they sit down after the affray begun?

        A. No they were standing the whole time.

        Q. Did Lieutenant TAYLOR offer to retaliate the blows that Captain WILLIAMS gave him?

        A. No, he only made use of scurrilous language.

        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?

        A. According to the best of his knowledge, it was by the scurrilous language that he made use of in the intermediate spaces of time.

        Q. Were the candles put out during the scuffle?

        A. No; the table was overset, but there was a candle or two standing on the side board.

        Q. At what time was the blow given that wounded Lieutenant TAYLOR on the head?

        A. It was given when he struck him the second time and knocked him down.

        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?

        A. He looked upon it to have been a mere matter of accident.

        Q. Had either Captain WILLIAMS or Lieutenant TAYLOR swords or other side arms on?

        A. He is not positive whether either of them had, but Lieutenant TAYLOR the next day asked at the Witness’s house, for a bayonet which he said, he had brought with him the night before; but whether the bayonet was found in the room the Witness does not know.

        Q. What conversation had he with Lieutenant TAYLOR the next morning?

        A. Lieutenant TAYLOR came to his house between 6 and 7 o’Clock in the next morning and said that he had been ill used by Captain WILLIAMS the night before; and that he would have gentlemanlike satisfaction;

              the Witness then sent a servant to Captain WILLIAMS’s lodging, who brought back word that Captain WILLIAMS was gone out; that whilst breakfast was getting ready, Lieutenant TAYLOR went out, and in about five minutes returned with Captain WILLIAMS;

              that Captain WILLIAMS told the Witness that the matter was left entirely to him, and he answered that Captain WILLIAMS had been much in the wrong, and had not treated Mr. TAYLOR properly, upon which Captain WILLIAMS addressing himself to Mr. TAYLOR, said, Sir I beg your pardon, and they then shook hands;

              that Lieutenant TAYLOR and the Witness rode that day to Kingsbridge together, and Mr. TAYLOR complained that his head was sore, but mounted picket in the Evening, and continued at Kingsbridge ‘till about the 30th Instant, when he came to town and was taken ill.

        Q. Did Captain WILLIAMS appear to be warm during the affray?

        A. Captain WILLIAMS introduced the conversation about the plunder, and upon Lieutenant TAYLOR saying that it was a falsehood, Captain WILLIAMS then grew warm.

        Q. Did Captain WILLIAMS strike Lieutenant TAYLOR with the same Chair the second time that he did the first?

        A. No, the chair he first struck with was broke and he took another.

        Q. How far did he go from the place he was standing at, to get the chair he struck with the second time?

        A. He cannot pretend to say.

        Q. Was the chair within his reach?

        A. He cannot say.

        Q. What is the size of the room that the affray happened in?

        A. About eighteen or twenty feet square.

        Q. Did any body besides the Witness himself, the Prisoner and Lieutenant TAYLOR sup in that room that night?

        A. No.

        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?

        A. Not in the presence of Mr. TAYLOR; this conversation between Captain WILLIAMS and him, passed before Mr. TAYLOR came in.

        Q. Did he not invite Captain WILLIAMS to supper on account of his having something to say to him in private?

        A. He may have invited him but is not certain whether he gave the invitation or Captain WILLIAMS came without one, but he is positive that he had no private business with him.

        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.

        A. The dispute arose from words to that purport.

        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?

        A. He cannot pretend to say whether he was in a passion, as he did not know his disposition; the words he made use of were, that if any person or any gentleman said that he had plundered, it was a damn’d falsehood.

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?

        A. It may have arisen from either cause.

        Q. Was there any appearance of the skull being fractured?

        A. None at all.

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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