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Colonial Cases


Derby Mercury, 4 November 1776
.  .  .   JAMAICA, August 31 Monday the 29th of this instant, a coroner's inquest was held at Montego Bay, n the body of Johanna Bures, on suspicion of being murdered from the several violent marks that appeared on her body, and  sat by adjournment, till Wednesday in the afternoon.


The Observer, 8 January 1797


Major Shea was killed in a duel, at Jamaica, on the 19th ult.


The Observer, 24 February 1799

At a late Slave Court, at Kingston, Jamaica, two men and a woman, the property of Messrs. Pennock, Reid, and De la Coeur, were found guilty of a robbery on Hardy's Wharf, when one of the delinquents was sentenced to death, and the other two ordered to be transported for life.  This system of transporting a slave from native or habitual misery by way of punishment, however paradoxical it may appear, is stated, by a Northern correspondent, as by no means novel in criminal jurisprudence.


The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 98; 1805; page 677; [1806]
March 20. At Heywood-hall, St. Mary's parish, Jamaica, by a stroke from the tongue of a wain, whilst it was loading with sugars, Mr. John Armout, eldest son of Mr. John Armout, a merchant of Edinburgh.

The Times, 18 February 1806
  A duel was fought, on Tuesday morning, at Fort Augusta, between two Officers, of the 2d West-India regiment, quartered there, when one of them was very dangerously wounded, the ball having struck him just above his temple.
  The same day, a Coroner's Inquest was held on the body of Lieut. M'KINNON, of the [66th] Regiment of Foot, who put an end to his existence that morning in the city.  - Verdict, Killed himself with a pistol in a fit of mental derangement.


The Observer, 20 April 1806

   A body of slaves having been tried about the middle of February, at Morant Bay, Jamaica, for attacking their overseer with stones, and forcing him into the house, two of them, including the head driver, were sentenced to be hung; the driver's head to be placed on top of the Buckingham Mill-house, and the head of the other to be fixed on a pole in the public road.  Four others of the body were sentenced to be transported for life.


Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 18 January 1808

Me. Wm. Stead, late surgeon of the Narcissus Guineaman, having been found dead in the Fishmarket at Kingston, Jamaica, and an Inquest being taken by the Coroner, the Jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Henry Laffer, captain of the Ellen Guineaman, Richard Lundy, Captain, and Alexander Miller, Mate of the Hillsborough Guineaman.  By the evidence adduced on the inquest, it was discovered that another murder had been committed, on the body of Wm. Wood, second Mate of the Ellen, which had been interred at Spring Park, by order of captain Laffer, the same evening.  The Coroner issued his warrant to have the body taken up; after a full investigation, the jury returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Capt. Laffer and Michael Kelly, ... Mate.  The accused were committed for trial at ...


Cambrian, 31 December 1808

A melancholy accident occurred off Port Royal harbour, Jamaica, previously to the sailing of the last homeward-bound fleet from thence:- A poor sailor, having, while ashore, took into his head that he would swim to the ship to which he belonged, though a oat was just going off to it.  His shipmates used every argument to dissuade him from the mad attempt, and even employed force to get him into the boat, but all in vain.  He jumped into the sea; but had not proceeded fifty yards, before those in the boat heard him utter a loud shriek and a groan; they guessed at what had happened, and instantly rowed back to where he was.  On approaching near to him, he uttered a second piercing shriek.  He was taken into the boat, but in a most mangled and horrible condition.  A shark had taken off one of his limbs at the upper part of the thigh, and returning again, tore out his entrails.


The Observer, 5 January 1812

   A letter from Jamaica says, that the following decision has excited a strong sensation in that colony.  The principals of a mercantile house, who had advanced large sums of money to a planter, on the mortgage of his estate (to the amount, it is said, of 30,000l sterling), took the legal measures to effect payment of their claims.  The defendant, in arrest of judgment, put in a plea that the transaction was usurious, insomuch as the terms of the mortgage bound the planter to send the produce of his estate to the mercantile house for sale, by which they had their commissions on the sale, in addition to the legal interest on their loans.

   The Chancellor, The Hon. Governor-General admitted the plea, and declared the transaction usurious.  The plaintiff was in consequence non-suited, and all his advances to the planter lost; besides his being further rendered liable to a prosecution in a criminal court for usury.  Will the mercantile monies interest assist the planter with the means of cultivating his lands, unless the planter in his turn employs the merchant, and consigns his produce to the house that assisted him, rather than to another?


Carmarthen Journal, 15 February 1812

   Mr. Grant, Overseer, on Mammee Bay Estate, Jamaica, was murdered, some time since, by six runaway Negroes, who entered his dwelling at night, and finding him sick in bed, they, after a severe struggle strangled him.  They then lighted a candle, put a clean dress on him, and sent, as from him, for some friends, who, on arriving, found him dead; his previous illness occasioned less surprise, and he was buried without any inquest being held on the body.  Five of the wretches are in custody.


Cambrian, 9 October 1813

   We regret to announce the loss if the Hinchinbrook packet, Capt. James, on her homeward passage from the West Indies.  She sailed from Jamaica on the 19th of July, and six days after was wrecked on Watland Island.  The crew were all saved, with the exception of Mr. H. Thomas, the surgeon; but the mail was lost.


Cambrian, 25 June 1814

   In April last, Capt. Stackpole, of the Statira frigate, was killed in a duel with the Lieutenant of the Royal Navy at Jamaica.  A Coroner's inquest was held shortly afterwards on the body, when a verdict was returned, that the deceased came to his death by a ball fired from a musket or pistol by some person or persons unknown.


The Cambrian, 13 September 1823


June 28, at the parish of Hanover, Jamaica, in his 20th year, Mr. Isaac Pike, late of Bristol.  He was unfortunately drowned in attempting to ford, on horseback, Dundee River, when it was much swollen with rain.


ATHENIAN (Georgia USA), 9 February 1827

The male Creoles of Jamaica have been long celebrated as expert swimmers and divers, but we were not before apprized that the females also are adepts in the art, as will appear in the following paragraph, from a Kingston paper of the 24th ultimo:

   A melancholy accident happened at Black rover lately.  A lad of colour had gone into the river to bathe, (which was coming rapidly down occasioned by the late heavy and continued rains,) and was observed to be in danger, when his mother Miss Mary Cole, plunged into the water and in the attempt to save her son, she lost her life.  A Coroner's inquest was held on the body on Sunday, when a verdict was returned, "that the deceased was accidentally drowned in the Black River, in attempting to save the life of her son, who was in danger of drowning at that time." The life of the young man, Mr. Jacob Vaz, was preserved by the praiseworthy exertions of Mr. John B. Wells and his servant, a young negro man named [Sam?] Wood.  The rapidity of the current prevented the possibility of saving Miss Cole, although she was known to be a good swimmer.  Several persons were very active in their attempts to help the deceased.  She was an old inhabitant, and much respected.  There have been 6 persons drowned in this parish during the present month.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 10 March 1842
JAMAICA. - Accounts have been received from Jamaica to the 27th of January, in the New York Papers, via Liverpool, to the 16th ult., which contain intelligence nearly three weeks later than the previous accounts.  The insurrection had nearly subsided. .  .  .   Courts-martial are held in all parts for the trial of the blacks,  .  .  .

Monmouthshire Merlin, 7 April 1832
Extract of a letter from his Majesty's ship North Star, dated Jamaica, January 17- .  .  .   A missionary has been shot by the seamen of the Rose, by sentence of a court martial, and another in irons, on board the Blanche, for having aided and advised the slaves in the insurrection.


Monmouthshire Merlin, 28 September 1833
  It affords us considerable regret to be obliged to announce that the Hon. Lord William Paget, commander of his Majesty's ship North Star, has been shot at Vera Cruz by a sentinel.  The particulars we have not yet learnt. - Kingston Chronicle, Aug. 23.
  FALMOUTH, SEPT. 23. - The Jamaica papers, received by the Goldfinch, give an account of the murder of Colonel Woodbine, his lady, and family, who resided about nine miles distant from Carthagena.  It appears that the lady had some slight dispute with some Indians, who were determined ion revenge.  Accordingly a great many of them collected together, and proceeded to the house of the Colonel, and, after forcing an entrance, laid hold of Mrs. W., and cut her throat from ear to ear; they next cut the Colonel's throat from ear to ear, and left him and went in pursuit of the son, who made his escape to the woods.  Having discovered him they murdered him also, and thus quenched their thirst for vengeance.  This lamentable affair has caused a great sensation in Carthagena, where the Colonel was much beloved.  Several of the Indians have been arrested.

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