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Colonial Cases

R. v. Pye and others [1752]

piracy - capital punishment - slavery

Admiralty Court

31 October 1752

Source: Halifax Gazette, 3 February 1753

[2] St. John's in Antigua, Nov. 3. On Tuesday last came on, before a Court of Admiralty, of which the Hon. Andrew Lesly, Esq., was President, the Tryal of Francis Pye, late Mate, Richard Paddy, late Carpenter, and Robert Crockfort, Mariner, lately belonging to the Snow Joronomy, George Sanders, Master, for Piracy, &c. when, after a Hearing of about five Hours, the Evidences being summ'd up, Robert Crockfort was acquitted, and Francis Pye and Richard Paddy, were convicted of the Crimes laid to their Charge, and, according to the Decree of the said Court, are to be hung on Gibbets. Saturday the 11th Instant is appointed for their Execution.

As no Account of the Proceedings which brought on these two Men the deserved Sentence of Death, has yet been inserted in this Paper, we hope the following One will suffice:

According to the Deposition of the Evidences, taken in the above Court, the Snow Joronomy sail'd from Bristol some Time in December 1751, under the Command of Capt. Daniel Ward, bound for the Coast of Africa. After their Arrival at Whiteman's Bay, the Captain sickened, and died ashore. The second mate died also. Mr. George Sanders, the first Mate, had then succeeded to the Command of the Vessel. After being some Time in the Bay, they met with very bad Weather, and hard Gales, wherein they lost all their Anchors and Cables, which obliged them to put out, and stand off and on for a Day or two. About the 5th or 6th of July following, they met with the Ship Juba, Capt. Smith, from Bristol, off Cape-Mount, who promised the Snow some Supplies, which she wanted, and desired her to follow him to Anamaboa; on which Capt. Saunders, then ill, ordered Pye, whom he had advanced to be his Mate, to follow the Juba, which he obey'd till the next Night about Nine, when he asked one of the Men if he would join him and go off the Coast (proposing to go to one of the Windward Islands, Recruit, and pay themselves their Wages; but were forced to make this Island) telling him he need not fear, for all who refused to accompany them, should go overboard. About the same Time, a Proposal was made to poison the Captain by putting some Ingredients for that Purpose into his Water-Gruel, upon which one of the disaffected men, who had some Knowledge of physical Compositions, ran down to the Surgeon's Chest, rummaged it, and at last found a Bottle of Aqua Fortis, when he cried out, Here it is, this will do the Business; but the Execution of this execrable Design was defeated, by the Boatswain's throwing that destroying Liquid overboard. Then Pye, with a Pot of Brandy, drank D---n to the Captain, which was heartily pledged by Paddy, but with Reluctance and through Fear by the rest. Capt. Saunders growing well, came upon Deck, but made no Attempt to recover the Command of the Vessel, but camly [sic] submitted to the Insults of Pye, thro' his Means, faring in all Respects like of Foremast Man; while he and Paddy, insolently and rebelliously assumed to themselves his Province and Provisions. Some Time after, they being in Want of Necessaries, bore away for this Island, where they arrived the 6th of October, N.S. and coming off English Harbour they fired several Guns, as Signals of Distress, which brought Boats out to their Assistance: On the People's coming on board, Capt. Saunders preferred his Complaint against the above-mentioned Men, who were secured in Irons, and after the Snow's anchoring in Falmouth Harbour, conveyed on board his Majesty's Ship Advice, then lying at English Harbour, in order for their Appearance at the Bar. --- Soon after the Snow's Arrival, the Produce of Part of her Cargo (being about 60 or 70 Slaves) and what remain'd, was sold for the Benefit of her Owners or Insurers; who, 'tis said, will be great Losers.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School