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** Tho hell-Iilce saturnalia of martial law."— Mb. Boundell, Secretary to the Boyal 
CommisBion to Jamaica. 



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The following pages are designed to exhibit the truth in defence 
of a deeply wronged and slandered people. Wide-spread misappre- 
hension and ignorance prevail concerning the disturbances in Jamaica 
in 1865, and the measures adopted by the local authorities with 
respect to them. Few persons have a correct idea of the facts asso- 
ciated with the outbreak, or of the atrocities which were practised 
during martial law. The writer feels it to be due to the murdered 
members of the Church he belongs to, whose blood still cries from 
the ground; to the black and coloured inhabitants of the British 
West India Colonies, who are a meek, long-suffering, and forgiving 
race, and not the monsters of cruelty and vengeance they have been 
represented ; to the Missionary Churches of the West Indies ; and, 
above all, to the cause of truth and righteousness, to give to the reli- 
|[ious public such a brief, consecutive narrative as may help those 
who are candid and right-minded to arrive at right conclusions con- 
cerning the tragedy, and the several parties who were prominently 
<joncemed therein. Such a narrative will be found in this publica- 
tion ; which, it is hoped, will tend to neutralize, in some measure, 
the great wrong that was done, -when some Christian Ministers in 
Jamaica, panic-stricken, and ignorant of many of the horrible deeds 
which had been enacted, forgot what was due to the people of their 
•charge, and appended their signatures to complimentary addresses to 
men whose proceedings have been shown, by the results of official 
investigation, to be deserving of the utmost reprobation. Those who 
desire more fully to know the details of this tale of horror, will do 
well to read the " Parliamentary Blue Boohs " relating to the Jamaica 
disturbances, and the inquiry of the Boyal Commissioners concerning 
them ; " Jamaica and the Colonial Q/^e," by the Hon. G. Price ; and 
the series of ^^ Papers by the Jamaica Committee.^* 

The title which this pamphlet bears has been adopted, because it 
is descriptive of the state of feeling that prevailed in Jamaica in the 
latter part of 1865, in consequence of the sanguinary tyranny of the 
authorities, and which even yet is far from having passed away. 
Many persons feared to write to their friends, because letters were 
broken open and in some cases stopped altogether by the Govern- 
ment ; and multitudes, especially amongst the more intelligent and 
respectable coloured people, were afraid to speak upon passing events 
to each other, or whisper their thoughts in the privacy of their own 
domestic circle ; lest, being overheard, they should be dragged to 
prison or to the gallows, or subjected, without trial, to the torture of 
•* the wire-tailed cat." It is not too much to say that, for many 
months, the whole population of the land were paralysed wit 
*' terror." 

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Chap. I.— The national character dishonoured— Governor pyre— Panics m 
Jamaica easily created— Morant Bay outbreak- Causes of dissatisfaction amongst 
the people— Mis-goTermnent and corrupt legislation— Letter of Rev. Mr. Clarke- 
Testimony of the Baptist Miesionaries- Partiality and injustice of local courts— The 

Church establishment 


Chap. II.— Dr. Underhill's letter^Conditionof public feeling in St. Thomas-in-the- 
East— George William Gordon— Birth and charaotei>-Testimony of Dr. King— Dr. 
Kddes— Other testimony— Cases of oppression at Morant Bay— Mr. Gordon opposes 
misappropriation of public funds- Defeats measures of Governor Eyre— Gordon's 
letter to Colonial Secretary— Public Meetings relating to Dr. Underhill's letter. .P. 19 

Chap. HI.— The Magistrates' Court at Morant Bay— Want of discretion— The Vestry 
Meeting— Assembling of the crowd— Petition of Paul Bogle and others— Petition 
suppressed by the Governor— Bearer of the Petition flogged— The attack of the 
Volunteers— Retaliation— The Court-house burnt, and the Custos and others killed— 
False reports concerning the mutilation of the slain— The outbreak a local riot, 
not a rebellion— Provoked by the authorities— Want of energy on the part of the 
Government P. 3S 

Chap. IV.— Savage reprisals— Martial law— The first victim and Governor Eyre 
—Barbarous atrocities of British officers and men— Colonel Hobbs and his victims 
—Tragic death of Hobbs— The gallant 6th Regiment^BrutaUty of officers and 
men— Murder of Cherrington— Boy wantonly killed— Blind man slaughtered— James 
Johnson assassinated— Lame and helpless man shot— Attempt at villany followed 
by murder^— Cruel treatment of two men P. 4a- 

Chap. V.— Excesses of the troops— Rosa M'Bean shot— Joshua Francis killed— 
Two men murdered by Maroons— Bed-ridden man shol^Murder of Sandy M'Pherson 
—Six innocent men slaughtered— Henry Dean— David Burke killed— Case of Andrew 
Qarke— Tragedy of James Williams— The Maroons of Jamaica— Dr. Morris snd 
Ensign Cullen— Provost-marshal Ramsay— His barbarities— Flogging with wire 
cats— Horrible treatment of Livingstone and his wife— Murders and atrocities by 
Bamsay- Flogging prisoners before execution— Murder of Marshall P. 6 J 

Chap. VI.— Misrepresentation of Mr. Gordon— Arrested by Governor Eyre- 
Taken to Morant Bay— His brutal treatmentr-Nelson and Brand— The Court-Martial 
— Suppression of a letter by General Nelson, addressed to Gordon— Lord Chief 
Justice Cockbum pronounces the evidence " worthless "—The arrest and removal 
to Morant Bay illegal— Constitution of the Court illegal, and therefore without 
jurisdiction— Gordon's execution— Cruel and unjust treatment^His meek and. 
forgiving spirit— Last letter to his v ife— 1 rosecution of Eyre, Nelson, and Brand- 
Conduding remarks.' P* «* 

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The philanthropy and the Christianity of Britain 
suffered a sad eclipse in the events which transpired 
in Jamaica during the latter part of 1865 ; and the 
honour of the British army and navy was shamefully 
sullied by the brutality of military and naval oflScers, 
and the readiness with which they lent themselves to 
perform deeds of cruelty, to which we can scarcely find 
a parallel amongst any savage people on the face of the 
earth. Englishmen felt the blush of shame and indig- 
nation mantling their cheeks, at the dishonour done to 
themselves and their country, when they saw one filling 
the proud position of their Queen^s representative 
coming down from his high station, eagerly thrusting 
aside the policeman, and invading his office and duty, 
to capture and punish a political opponent, and also 
personally superintending and taking part in the cruel 
death of a poor Negro, who in the silence of the night 
is dragged from his home, and, after a wretched mock- 
ery of a trial which is a burlesque upon the adminis- 
tration of justice, is at once put to death with circum- 
stances of revolting inhumanity. The shame and 
indignation thus felt was aggravated, as they read of 
men commanding vessels in Her Majesty^s navy, per- 
forming the degrading duties of the hangman; and 

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others, bearing the commission of colonel or holdings 
other rank in the army, servilely obeying orders which 
it was an outrage against decency and humanity ta 
issue, and an insult to British officers to receive, and 
revelling with savage glee in the slaughter of defenceless^ 
and unresisting men. It is not to the honour of Britain 
that many, associated with the upper classes of society,, 
have put themselves forward to shield the evil-doers in 
this case from the consequences of their misdeeds, and 
prevent that full and impartial inquiry which ojffended 
justice and humanity demanded when the character of 
the nation was so seriously compromised. It relieves 
in some measure, though it fails to vindicate, the sullied 
honour of the nation, that the force of public opinion 
compelled a reluctant Government to dismiss Governor 
Eyre from the position he had dishonoured, and appoint 
a Commission to bring to light the true facts of the 
case ; also that the philanthropy and justice of the 
nation, represented by the Jamaica Committee, have, 
by forcing some of the guilty parties to the bar of 
justice, called forth that lucid and elaborate charge of 
Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, in the case of Nelson 
and Brand, which leaves a lasting stigma upon botk 
branches of the public service, disgraced by the inhu- 
manity of these officers, and brands ex- Governor Eyre 
with a degree of culpability which few men would like 
to bear with them to the grave and beyond it, as he 
will not fail to do. 

The administration of Mr. Eyre is not likely to be 
soon forgotten in Jamaica. A few panic-stricken 
women, and some feeble-minded men — ^too feeble to be 
capable of forming an opinion themselves — ^may laud 
him as having saved them from a variety of perils which 
had no existence except in their own over-excited 
imagination ; but all right-minded persons will repro- 


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bate his government^ as by far the most disastrous and 
oppressive with which Jamaica has ever been afflicted. 
Unlettered and ignorant as most of the Negroes in 
Jamaica are^ they are fully awake to the fact that life 
and liberty were never more insecure within her shores 
than when they lay at the mercy of Mr. Eyre and his 
advisers. Many persons endeavour to palliate the faiilts 
of the ex-Govemor, and find an excuse for the atrocities 
committed and sanctioned under his administration^ by 
urging that he was misled and acted under the influ- 
ence of bad advisers. Were it even so, that would be 
no apology for such deeds as were perpetrated by him, 
and under his direction. He had no right, as the 
representative of England's Queen, to put his office in 
commission, so as to divest himself of the responsi- 
bilities inherently belonging to his position ; nor could 
he in fact do so. The moral responsibility of all the 
murders of Negroes, and burning of Negro cottages^ 
and the innumerable outrages against person, life, and 
property that took place during the reign of terror 
called martial law, rests upon his head; and if mistaken 
men combine to screen him from legal punishment, his 
wrong-doing will not fail to be remembered when the 
Just and Holy One shall make inquisition for blood. 
Mr. Eyre was misled less by evil advisers than by his 
own prejudices and passions. His appointment was a 
mistake. He was an unfit man to be placed in such 
a high position, and to exercise such powers as those 
intrusted to him. His developments prove him to be 
a man of the most ordinary intellectual abilities, and 
also defective in some of those higher moral qualities 
without which no man is eminently great or good. Let 
the character of ex-Governor Eyre, as exhibited in 
his administration of the government of Jamaica, be 
analysed, and there will be found a deplorable abnega- 

B 2 

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tion of the nobler elements which constitute the leading 
characteristics of a truly great and estimable public 
man, such as the late Lord Metcalfe, who for several 
years occupied the same position, and commanded in a 
high degree the confidence and esteem of all the inha- 
bitants of Jamaica as their Mend and benefactor. 
Much has been said in the way of apology concerning 
the earlier developments of Mr. Eyre, and the amiable 
qualities he has exhibited on some occasions, his reli- 
gious habits, &c. It may be all true ; and just as much 
may be said with regard to many who have in the end 
stood out before the world shocking the sensibilities of 
men, when all that had hitherto appeared so fair and esti- 
mable in them was overcast and obliterated by the dark 
cloud of crime. For aught we know to the contrary, 
Mr. Eyre as an Australian explorer may have been as 
blameless as other travellers; and in his subsequent 
career as a colonial governor or sub-governor he may 
have kept himself from blameable excesses, because no 
powerful temptations presented themselves. But when 
the time of severe trial came to him in Jamaica, and he 
was placed in circumstances which demanded the exer- 
cise of high and noble qualities in the head of the 
government, to control and direct the current of pass- 
ing events to a wise and favourable issue, then he sig« 
nally failed ; it became painfully evident that the com- 
manding capabilities which the crisis required in the man 
at the helm of public affairs were mournfully lacking ; 
and he stood revealed, the unenviable bearer of the 
responsibilities attached to him in the charge of Chief 
Justice Cockbum, and author of what Mr. Boundell, 
the secretary of the Jamaica Royal Commission, 
appropriately designates *^the helUlike saturnalia of 
martial law^ 

By the evidence taken on oath by the Royal Corn- 

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missioners to whom the important task of investigation 
was intrusted, and who were armed with authority to 
compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses of all 
classes^ from ex-Governor Eyre downwards, it is clearly 
shown that the outbreak at Morant Bay, in the parish 
of St. Thomas-in-the-East, was simply a local riot, 
magnified by the craven fears of the civil and military 
authorities of the island into ^^ a dreadful i^ebellion" 
and made the occasion and pretext for shocking excesses, 
to which it will be diflScult to find a parallel in British 
colonial history. During the dark days of slavery, 
panics not unfrequently occurred in Jamaica, proving 
the chronic state of fear and apprehension in which the 
colonists lived, while they reaped the profits of a sys- 
tem fraught with cruel injustice and oppression to the 
African race, so long trodden down and plundered by 
the professedly Christian nations of Europe. These 
were sometimes attended by circumstances exceedingly 
ludicrous, arising out of the trifling facts which were 
suflScient to throw a large portion of the community 
into a condition of the wildest excitement and dismay. 
In the July and August numbers of the ^' Wesleyan 
Methodist Magazine^' for 1863, more than two years 
before the late tragedy in Jamaica occurred, there 
appeared an account, by the present writer, of a wide- 
spread panic in the parish where the late outbreak took 
place, nearly leading to the proclamation of martial 
law, — ^and all arising from the trifling incident of a 
Methodist Society-ticket being found in the box of a 
deceased slave by the plantation authorities, bearing the 
printed inscription, '^ The kingdom of heaven sufiereth 
violence, and the violent take it by force.^' Too 
ignorant to understand that this was only a verse of the 
New Testament, which was printed on the ticket and 
given to the possessor of it as a token of Church mem- 

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bership in the Methodist ' Society, the intelligent 
ofiBcials on the estate, and the astute magistrates, and 
other authorities of the parish, to whom the circum* 
stance had been referred as wearing a most suspicious 
aspect, at once jumped to the conclusion that some 
fearful conspiracy was on foot to destroy the lives of 
the white inhabitants, of which this /^ seditious paper ^' 
furnished the '^ proof strong as holy writ/^ When it 
further came to light that the Methodist Missionary 
residing in the town had given out some hundreds of 
similar documents among the slaves in the neighbour- 
hood, nothing could be more certain, in the estimation 
of these wise men, than that this most timely, discovery 
of the dreadful plot had saved the island from all the 
terrible consequences of a slave rebellion. The militia 
were called out, and the parochial authorities assembled 
in all possible haste ; scores, if not hundreds, of poor 
blacks, to their unutterable surprise, were captured. 
It was gravely proposed that the island should be pro- 
claimed under martial law ; and the wildest excitement 
and terror prevailed, until the Methodist preacher, who 
had been summoned before the civil and military 
authorities, assembled in solemn conclave, revealed the 
hitherto unsuspected truth, that '^ the highly seditious 
words " on the supposed treasonable documents were 
simply a quotation from St. Matthew^s Gospel ; (proof 
of which was given, after some delay in hunting up the 
fragment of a Bible used for swearing witnesses in the 
parochial courts ;) and that the paper which had created 
such a profound sensation had been given in recogni- 
tion of the fact that the deceased slave was a communi- 
cant in the Methodist Church. Thus fortunately the 
bubble burst before any serious evil had been done. 

An incident equally insignificant constituted the 
principal, if not the only^ basis upon which ex-Governor 

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Eyre rested the assertion that a terrible plot had been 
formed against the Government, and also involving in 
its objects the destruction of the white and coloured, 
as distinguished jfrom the black, population; thereby 
throwing the whole country into a panic it has not yet 
recovered from, and such as could lead even tender- 
hearted women to palliate and excuse acts of cruelty 
and atrocity, against which under other circumstances 
their whole nature would have revolted. It is not one 
of the least of Mr. Eyre's misdoings that he palmed 
upon the community he was unfortunately appointed to 
govern, and as far as he could upon the British Govern- 
ment and upon the world, the most groundless slanders 
against the Negro population of Jamaica, and falsely 
charged upon them the intention to commit crimes 
which never had a place in their imagination, holding 
up to public reprobation as monsters of cruelty and 
crime a people as humane and well-disposed as any 
class of peasantry in Her Majesty^s dominions. 

When the Royal Commissioners had finished their 
arduous labours, after the most elaborate and searching 
investigation, they found no traces of the plot which i 
Mr. Eyre and his coadjutors had conjured up to \ 
frighten themselves and the peaceful inhabitants of the 
island. It has since transpired that the trifling inci- 
dent, exalted and magnified by fear into positive proof 
that a barbarous massacre of the white and coloured 
inhabitants was in contemplation, admits of a most 
«imple and natural explanation. With many other 
bug-a-boo stories, put forth to alarm a too credulous 
people, it was stated that amongst the papers of Mr. 
O. W. Gordon, when examined by the authorities, there 
had been discovered a plan of Kingston, the principal 
city of the island, on which were marked the several 
places of rendezvous where the rebel blacks were to 

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assemble for the purpose of capturing and burning the^ 
city and destroying the inhabitants. The terror pro- 
duced by this statement was indescribable ; and multi- 
tudes were afraid to go to bed at night, lest they 
should be massacred as they slept, or only awake to 
find burning and bloodshed all around them. This 
state of terror lasted for weeks, even after the so-called 
rebellion had been put down according to official 
announcement ; it being far more easy to excite than to 
allay the fears of the people. And after all the stir 
made about the discovery of this famous paper, which 
was to prove G. W. Gordon a more wicked and san- 
guinary conspirator than Guy Fawkes himself, it turned 
out to be nothing more than the mischievous prank of 
an idle boy. Some years ago a youth, long since 
advanced to manhood, was employed in some inferior 
clerkship in G. W. Gordon^s office or counting-house ; 
and in an idle mood he one day amused himself witb 
sketching from memory a rude plan of the city, (Kings- 
ton,) placing marks at certain places that possessed for 
unexplained reasons some sort of interest to himself. 
This was placed amongst other miscellaneous papers in 
his desk, and was forgotten. There it remained un- 
noticed for years, until the youth had passed inta 
manhood and the time came when it pleased Governor 
Eyre to apprehend Mr. Gordon, and carry him to 
Morant Bay to be tried and put to death. His papers 
being then seized and examined, this boyish production 
came to light, and, without further investigation, was* 
hastily pronounced by the sagacious helpers and advisers 
of Mr. Eyre to be indisputable proof of a conspiracy 
amongst the blacks, of which Mr. Gordon was the pro- 
moter and abettor, to massacre the white and coloured 
inhabitants, and burn the city. Thus it was that, scared 
by shadows from which no man of true courage and. 

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self-possession would lia^e apprehended any danger^ the 
local authorities terrified the people of Jamaica with 
the groundless fears which had taken possession of their 
own minds^ to the exclusion of all that was manly and 
dignified^ and sanctioned the atrocities that are so 
strongly denounced in the admirable charge of the Lord 
Chief Justice of England as offences against British 
law and humanity of no common degree. 

The riot at Morant Bay was a sudden outburst of 
popular fury, unconnected with any plot, and confined 
to the parish and neighbourhood in which it originated ; 
but resulting from a general feeling of discontent which 
had long been chronic among the black population. 
Its causes were both proximate and remote, reaching 
back to the time immediately succeeding the era of 
emancipation. Those who are acquainted with the 
history of events in Jamaica from 1834 will recognise 
in the Morant Bay riot one of the fruits of the mis- 
govemment and mal-administration by which the 
labouring classes had been oppressed from the time 
they were released jfrom the shackles of slavery. The 
planting interest, so called, has always been dominant, 
infusing its own evil selfish spirit into the legislation of 
the colony, and controlling the administration of the 
laws for its own purposes, more especially in the 
inferior courts. By a persistent attempt, extending over 
more than thirty years, to engraft a new system of 
slaveiy upon the freedom which the philanthropy of the 
British nation had wrought out for the colonies, they 
engendered a spirit of mutual hostility between the 
proprietary and labouring classes, and produced »a want 
of confidence which has been fatal to the interests of 
most of the Jamaica landholders, and brought their 
once splendid estates to ruin ; while it has been disastrous 
to the civilization and well-being of the people them- 

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selves. In the legislature, the principal object of the 
ruling party, never lost sight of, was to keep down the 
emancipated classes, and so shape the laws enacted 
from time to time that the great burden of taxation 
should fall upon thera, and as lightly as possible upon 
their employers. The peasantry were even compelled 
to pay a most unequal share of the enormous expense 
incurred in several abortive schemes of immigration, 
intended solely to lower and keep down, as near 
starvation-point as possible, the wages they were to 
receive for their labour. This suicidal policy was per- 
sisted in, until the black labourers, systematically 
oppressed and defrauded by the hirelings who were 
chiefly intrusted with the charge of the plantations, 
were driven in self-defence to purchase, and depend for 
sustenance upon, their own small freeholds ; and thus a 
vast number of valuable estates, which, under wise and 
just management, would have continued to yield an ample 
income to their absentee proprietors, were thrown out 
of cultivation, and left to be overrun with bush. 
Under such circumstances, it is no wonder that a spirit 
of dissatisfaction spread widely amongst the people, and 
they lost confidence both in their employers and in the 
law-makers, highly appreciating the kind services of such 
men as Mr. G. W. Gordon, who boldly stood forth to 
expose and withstand the abuses by which the masses 
of the people were wronged. The Rev. Henry Clarke, 
island curate in the parish of Westmoreland, Jamaica, 
says : — 

" I have lived in this island during the last eighteen years, 
and have never had but one opinion of its government, 
which has been as corrupt, immoral, and oppressive, as any 
which has ever existed on the face of the earth. The whole 
influence of the Negro-hating, slavery-loving oligarchy which 
has ruled us has been openly and avowedly directed to the 

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impoverishing of the Negroes, in order that they might he 
ajble to compel them to work at their own rate of wages. 
This was the ohject of high import duties on the necessaries 
of life, and of Coolie immigration ; which, of my own know- 
ledge, I affirm to he a most atrocious form of the slave-trade 
and of slavery, expressly designed to lower the wages of the 
free Negro I attribute the existing poverty and demoral- 
ization among the people of my district, in a great measure, 
•to the practice which the estates adopted of moving the Negro 
villages periodically, in order to prevent the labourers from 
profiting by the bread-fruits, cocoa-nuts, and other trees of 
slow growth, which they plant around their dwellings. 
Every village of the estates in this district, of five thousand 
inhabitants, has been moved within the last ten years ; and 
as the people have to pull down and rebuild their cottages at 
their own expense, they have got into the way of erecting 
miserable little huts, in which the poor things are compelled 
to live, like pigs in a sty. I now humbly thank God that I 
have not appealed to Him in vain, and that He has scattered, 
^s in a moment, that detestable oligarchy which for full two 
hundred years has bought, sold, flogged, robbed, maimed, 
tortured, and debauched the poor black people of Jamaica. 
The licentiousness of white men in Jamaica has been, and in 
many parts is still, as boundless as it is unblushing. The 
laws, as well as the records, of Jamaica are such as 
should make every honest Englishman blush with shame for 
the savage barbarities his countrymen are capable of, when 
left to the exercise of their natural propensities, unrestrained 
by any fear of public opinion or of the law. The Negroes 
are as loyal and peaceable, and would be as industrious and 
virtuous, as any people in the world, if they were wisely and 
honestly governed. I would not be understood to mean 
that Negroes are better than English labourers would be 
tinder like circumstances ; but they certainly are not worse. 
All men are alike bad : it is only early training and the g^ace 
of God which make the difference in any of us. Now that 
Her Majesty has assumed the government of this island, I 
believe that peace and prosperity will prevail in it. But the 

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change must be complete to be effective ; and there must be 
a complete sweep of Jamaica magistrates as well as of 
Jamaica legislators." 

The Baptist Missionaries, in their statement pre- 
sented to the Governor in 1865, make the following 
remarks : — 

" Numbers of persons in various parts of the island arc 

in a starving condition The greater number have the 

greatest possible difficulty to support themselves and their 

families Among the foregoing causes of poverty and 

distress, we have referred your Excellency to the want of 
employment. In some districts, numbers of people are 
known to walk from six to thirty miles in search of work. 
Numbers, even in crop time, applying to the estates for em- 
ployment, are turned back without obtaining it In all 

parts of the island a reduction of wages is expected, in most 
cases to the extent of from twenty-five to fifty per cent. 

On very few properties can land be leased for a term of 

years ; and, consequently, the small grower cannot risk the 
cultivation of produce which stands more than twelve 
months. Coffee, which takes three years to come into 
bearing, he cannot plant ; because he would have no hope of 
reaping the benefit. In most cases the tenant is subject to 
a six months' notice to quit; and, not unfrequently, no 
sooner has he planted off an acre, say of ground provisions, 

than such a notice is served upon him Not only have 

ground provisions increased in price, but there has been 
a great advance in the price of imported food; whila 
tha price of clothing used by the people has been doubled, 

and in some places even trebled The increase which has 

taken place has been greatly augmented by the Legislature 
allowing the ad valorem duty of twelve and a half per cent. 

to remain the same The effect of placing heavy duties 

upon the food and clothing of the labouring classes has been 
to check inaprovement In many districts Creole labour 

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has been displaced wbollj or in part by that of Coolies, 

Chinese, and Africans The cost of these immigration 

schemes to the country your Excellency will find to have been 
enormous. We believe an examination of the official returns 
will show that, from 1834 to the present time, it has not been 
much less than four hundred thousand pounds Com- 
plaints are made on account of the marked distinction, to the 
prejudice of the small settler, in favour of the great pro- 
prietor. The small settler has to pay for his horse or. mule 
eleven shillings, and for his ass three shillings and 
sixpence; while the working stock on the estates — steers, 
mules, and horned kind — are taxed only sixpence per 

head The peasantry suffer great hardships from the 

tardy administration of justice in some of our petty 

To the evils of partial and corrupt legislation were 
added those of partial and corrupt administration in^the 
inferior local courts, amounting in many instances to 
a practical denial of justice. The planters themselves 
were largely intrusted with magisterial commissions, 
which enabled them to play into each other^s hands in 
most cases involving questions between the employer 
and the employed, and cut off the weaker party from 
the redress which oft-inflicted wrong demanded. Ques- 
tions of alleged damage by stray cattle, and of wages 
detained on various pretexts by the planters, afforded 
frequent opportunities of mutual obligation and accom- 
modation, on the principle of '^ Claw me, claw thee,^' 
between those who were most improperly intrusted 
with the administration of the laws. This evil pre- 
vailed to a fearful extent in St. Thomas-in-the-East, 
the scene of the late outbreak, where a faction, of which 
the rector and some members of his family were the 
head, ran riot in oppression and injustice of this kind. 
Nor was it confined to the locality that has been 

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mentioned. Mr. Justice Ker, one of the judges of 
Jamaica^ says : — 

" I am called upon to observe, however, that St. Ann's has- 
long bad a real grievance. That grievance is the fact, that 
the confidential clerk and manager of the leading mercantile 
firm there, the Messrs. Bravo, is at the same time clerk of 
the magistrates and deputy clerk of the peace. It is utterly 
impossible but that a very large proportion of the cases 
which come before the magistrates for adjudication are cases 
in which the Messrs. Bravo are either directly or indirectly 
interested, or in which they have, or are believed to have, a 
bias. But could an iminstructed population ever be per- 
suaded that justice would be done in such cases P In point 
of fact, they do not believe it, as I have occasion very well 
to know. The influence exercised by the clerk of the magis- 
trates over the Bench is necessarily very great, sometimes 
paramount. Some recent decisions from St. Ann's, which have 
been brought to my notice, have given me a most unfavour- 
able impression of the administration of justice in that 

The following petition, presented to Governor Eyre a 
short time before the outbreak, and signed chiefly by 
those who afterwards perished in the bloody retribu- 
tion exacted by Mr. Eyre and his advisers, will show 
how largely the abuses prevailing in the local courts of 
justice contributed to promote the prevalent feeling of 
discontent that led to the sad outburst of popular fury 
at Morant Bay : — 

" We most humbly beg to implore Your Majesty's atten- 
tion to our humble communications. "When we were slaves, 
we never had such heavy work ; and after having finished 
those number of chains, with the expectation, at the end of the 
week, to obtain the amount of six shillings, we generally get 
one shilling and sixpence to two shillings and sixpence for 

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the whole week's pay. The island has been rained conse- 
quently of the advantage that is taken of us by the mana- 
gers of estates. Whenever we have a case which may be 
taken before the planter magistrates, they give us no satis- 
faction whatever, but combines with each other and takes 
away our rights. We most humbly beseech Your Majesty, 
that it may please Your Majesty to appoint a stipendiary 
magistrate to sit at every court day, as may enable us to 
obtain satisfaction. All we ask is, that Your Majesty may 
be pleased to consider over the state of this island, and render 
the poor some assistance ; and that Your Majesty's life may 
be long spared, and that the blessings of those ready to 
perish may rest upon you. 

"Andeew Eoss," 
and thirty-nine others. 
" Sf, Thomas-irirtTie'Easty 

" September 5th, 1865." 

This petition, signed only five weeks before the out- 
break, and placed in the bands of Mr. Eyre for trans- 
mission to Her Majesty, sheds light upon the causes of 
the riot, and serves to make manifest how painfully the 
people were feeling the oppressions heaped upon them 
by partial and class legislation^ and unjust interested 
magistrates, when those events occurred which imme- 
diately produced the catastrophe. 

But one of the most crying evils under which Jamaica 
has groaned, is the incubus of a costly Established 
Church, which on the whole has done far more ta 
hinder than to promote the advancement of religion and 
civilization in the colony. Until the labours of Mora- 
vian and Wesleyan Missionaries awakened religious feel- 
ings amongst the black and coloured population, and^ 
through their agency. Churches were raised up and 
established amongst these despised and neglected 
masses; the clergy, supported in connexion with the 

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State in the several parishes, regarded the free coloured 
people and slaves as forming no part whatever of their 
spiritual and pastoral charge, and gave no more atten- 
tion to them than they did to the cattle on the planta- 
tions. Then, influenced less by concern for the inter- 
ests of immortal souls than by sectarian intolerance, they 
began, for the first time, to devote to these contemned 
classes some degree of attention, and to admit them, 
very sparingly and ungraciously, to Church privileges ; 
and as the Missionaries, by their earnest and zealous 
labours, spread religious knowledge with its benign 
influences in various localities^ breaking up the fallow 
ground which none others thought of cultivating. 
Episcopal agents uniformly stepped in, and Episcopal 
churches were erected to absorb the fruit of missionary 
eflbrt ; all this being done at the public expense, and 
th6 Nonconformists themselves subjected to taxation, 
for the purpose of robbing them of the legitimate re- 
sults of their self-denying toil. In this way Episcopalian 
churches (founded, in most cases, upon the results of 
missionary labour) were multiplied, until they over- 
spread the land, furnishing lucrative situations for many 
of the sons and friends of the more influential Creole 
families, until the public burthens for State Church 
purposes were increased to the amount of some forty-five 
thousand pounds per annum, absorbing a large portion 
of the revenue of the island. The wrong done to the 
Wesley an and Baptist Churches especially, by this system 
of oppression, was very great. The membership of both 
these denominations was considerably in advance of that 
pertaining to the State Church ; yet all were compelled 
alike to contribute to the taxation levied for the purpose 
of building Episcopalian places of worship, and paying 
the stipends of ministers, for the advantage of the more 
wealthy portion of the community ; and then, unaided 

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by the revenues they were compelled to raise, they had 
to make similar provision for themselves. To aggravate 
the evil, the men, thus sustained by funds largely ex- 
torted from other religious communities, were very fre- 
quently possessed of none of the more important 
qualifications required for the oflBce they filled ; and, in 
too many instances, their lives were a reproach to the 
religion of which they professed to be the ministers. 
Nor is this evil yet removed. It is no violation of 
Christian charity, — for it is no violation of truth, — to 
say that a great proportion of the State clergy, whose 
support is largely derived, to the present day, from the 
taxation of Missionary and non-Episcopal churches in 
the West Indies, have no moral fitness for the oflSce. 
But for this system of monstrous injustice, absorbing 
and neutralizing the effects of Missionary labour, the 
moral and religious condition of the British West Indian 
colonies would have been far in advance of what it now 
is. Whatever may be said concerning State-churchism 
in the mother country, nearly forty years^ observation 
and experience in various colonies has fully satisfied me 
that in the West Indies it has been the reverse of a 
blessing, and has produced a far greater amount of evil 
than of good. Recent events show that it has been a 
principal element of evil in Jamaica, and contributed in 
no small degree to augment the dissatisfaction prevail- 
ing amongst the labouring classes; especially when 
men, interested .in the welfare of the masses, like 
William Knibb and George William Gordon, called 
attention to the manner in which the entire population, 
of all denominations, were, upon the principle that 
" might is right/^ compelled, whether they were willing 
or not, to give a portion of their hard earnings to 
provide religious advantages for the wealthier few. It 

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required clearer vision than large numbers of the 
people possessed to discover any shade of moral dis- 
tinction between such a system of legalized plunder 
and highway robbery. In both cases it amounts to — 
" You must give us your property for our advantage ; 
and if not, we will take it by force.'' 

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The operation of these and other similar causes pro- 
'duced that state of general dissatisfaction which became 
so strikingly manifest when the letter of Dr. Under- 
hill, the Secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society, 
addressed to Mr. Cardwell, the Colonial Secretary, was 
made public; and large meetings, in all parts of the 
island, endorsed the complaints embodied in that letter 
<jonceming the grievances under which the industrial 
classes were groaning. But nowhere was this dissatis- 
faction more strongly cherished than amongst the large 
population of St. Thomas-in-the-East, where local 
oppression and abuse of authority extensively prevailed. 
Partiality and injustice reigned in the local courts, in 
which planter influence predominated, until the people 
had lost all hope of obtaining redress of any 
grievance; for every magistrate who endeavoured 
to exercise fair dealing, and hold the scales of 
justice evenly, was sure to be shuflfled out of office 
on some pretence or other, or removed elsewhere, 
through the corrupt influences that had gained ascend- 
ancy in the parish. These were of such a nature as 
strikingly to illustrate the malign power of the Church 
establishment, and the gross oppression to which the 
people were subjected. The rector of the parish was 
one of the old-time, slave-holding clergymen, two of 
his sons filling public offices in the same parish ; so 
that this family with its connexions gave whatever 
direction they pleased to parochial affairs: and the 
vestry, which this family largely controlled, possessing 

c 2 

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the power to impose parochial taxes^ (including the 
demands made for various ecclesiastical purposes,) the 
Nonconformist congregations, which included a great 
majority of the people, were subjected to unjust bur- 
dens that were very keenly felt. The Gustos — for so 
the principal magistrate in' the parish is designated, 
holding a position somewhat analogous to the Lord- 
Lieutenancy of an English county — was the unfortu- 
nate Baron Von Ketelholdt, who was among the 
earliest victims of the outbreak; and he was a man 
possessing but little strength of character, so that he 
was easily moulded to the purposes of the ruling faction, • 
— a weakness which ultimately cost him his life. 
Large amounts had been levied, during several years 
past, by local taxation upon the people, to build a 
church in one of the parochial districts, where a new 
church was not truly required ; for the character of the 
resident clergyman was so much at a discount that 
few cared to attend his ministry; and this church- 
building scheme was well known in the neighbourhood 
to be only a gross piece of jobbery, designed not so 
much to serve the public good as to put a large sum of 
money into the pocket of the clergyman himself, — the 
Rev. Mr. Herschell, — who was also among the early 
victims of the rj^t, and who, contrary to all precedent 
and all propriety, was suffered to become the contractor 
for the erection of this ecclesiastical structure. And 
his conduct in connexion therewith was such as to 
create much offence, and bring obloquy upon his name, 
which even the tragical circumstances of his death have 
not been sufficient to obliterate. Another extensive 
ecclesiastical structure, still standing in an unfinished 
state near to t lie scene of the outbreak at Morant Bay, 
was also commenced, at a heavy expense to the people 
of the parish ; though the vast majority of them had no 

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manner of interest in these buildings^ which, if erected 
at all, should have been at the cost of those — the 
more wealthy class — for whose immediate benefit or 
convenience they were intended. 

Under these complicated oppressions/ aggravated by 
drought 9,nd poverty, the labouring people groaned in 
St. Thomas-in-the-East ; and when George William 
Oordon, whose tragic fate has called forth such wide- 
spread sympathy and indignation, interposed to obtain 
redress of existing grievances, he, at the instigation 
of the corrupt clique ruling over the parish, was treated 
by Governor Eyre with gross injustice, the sanctioning 
of which reflects but little honour upon the Duke of 
Newcastle, the Colonial Secretary of that day, and 
stands in unfavourable contrast with the proceedings of 
the Colonial Office when men like Sir George Murray, 
or Lord Goderich, were in power there. Mr. Gordon, 
like other men, doubtless had his infirmities; and 
perhaps it may be true that, if he had been somewhat 
less impulsive and imp6tuous, he might have accom- 
plished a larger amount of good; but there is no 
reason to believe that he was otherwise than a good and 
sincere man^ advocating, from disinterested motives, the 
rights of a down-trodden people, and labouring with 
earnest zeal to obtain redress of the numerous wrongs 
to which he saw them subjected. As one of the landed 
proprietors of St. Thomas-in-the-East, and representing 
the parish in the colonial parliament with no mean 
ability, his influence was powerfully felt in the parish 
vestry, in opposition to the selfish faction dominan 
there ; while he also stood forth as the stem uncompro- 
mising opponent of those measures which he deemed to 
be corrupt and oppressive in connexion with the 
administration of Governor Eyre. 

To persons who are not acquainted with the real 

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merits of the case it may appear that, if Gordon was 
somewhat harshly treated, he deserved in great measure 
what was done to him, as a factious and interested 
demagogue, taking advantage of the ignorance of the 
masses to stir them up against lawAil authority, and 
render them dissatisfied with their condition and their 
rulers. Nothing has been wanting on the part of Mr. 
Eyre and his adherents, to give this complexion to the 
case, and traduce the character of the murdered man : 
but a true insight into the facts warrants a widely 
different view, and shows that Gordon made himself 
enemies by his fidelity in exposing and rebuking real 
abuses both in parochial affairs and in the general 
government of the Colony, and at length became the 
innocent victim of political rancour, persecuted to 
death by as gross an abuse of trust, and as violent an 
outrage against law and justice, as the records of 
British Colonial history will furnish. 

George William Gordon was born in slavery. He 
was the son of Mr. Joseph Gordon, who was a planting 
attorney on a large scale, having the oversight of a con- 
siderable number of plantations by power of attorney 
from the absentee proprietors, from which he derived 
an ample income. He was Gustos of St. Andrew, the 
parish in which he resided ; and he also represented the 
parish in the House of Assembly. The mother of G. 
W. Gordon was a slave ; and, according to rule in such 
cases, the child followed the condition of the mother* 
But, by the profitable exercise of the intelligence and 
energy with which he was gifted, he acquired suflicient 
means to purchase his freedom and that of his slave-bora 
sisters ; and when, as the result of the changes brought 
about by the abolition of slavery, the once wealthy 
father became involved in pecuniary embarrassments, 
the son, bom to an inheritance of shame and servitude. 

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nobly stepped forward to his help, and purchased the 
property of the father^ to leave him in possession of it 
and in the enjoyment of the earthly comforts to which 
he had been accustomed. At the same time he won 
his way to a position of respectability and influence, as 
a member of the Legislature and a proprietor of the soil. 
These unchallenged facts show that George William 
Gordon was, both intellectually and morally, a man of 
superior character. And the testimony of competent 
and highly respectable witnesses fully sustains this 
estimate of that deeply injured man. 

The Rev. Dr. King, of the Church of Scotland, who 
knew him well, says : — 

" Without pronouncing any judgment on recent occur- 
rences, I am free to say that nothing but a total trans- 
formation of .disposition, or unsettlement of reason, could 
involve such a man as he was in seditious schemes or 
bloody adventures. He was a member of a United Presby- 
terian Church in Kingston, of which I filled temporarily 
the pulpit. He aided and cheered me in the fulfilment of 
my duties. I stayed with him occasionally, and we had 
excursions together. I had every facility for knowing what 
was thought of him by judges, magistrates, clergymen, and 
society in general ; and at that time every one, firom the 
highest to the lowest, spoke of him with esteem. Mr. 
William Wemyss Anderson was one of the first who called 
my attention specially to him, by characterising him as a 
man of princely generosity and of unbounded benevolence." 

Dr. Piddes, a physician who stands at the head of 
his profession in Jamaica, and who knew Mr. Gordon 
from his youth, says : — 

*^ I had been well acquainted with Gordon during the last 
twenty years; and, although I always regarded him as 
rather eccentric in his views and notions of the people's 
rights, and somewhat peculiar in his religious observances, I 

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had nevertheless great respect for the power of his intel- 
lect and the innate force of his character. He was, more- 
over, a man of generous disposition, and possessed much 
kindness of heart. That he wished well to his country and 
countrymen, I am thoroughly convinced; that he ever 
counselled the people to the commission of acts of violence 
and murder, I do not believe." 

''Mr. Gordon was personally known to me," says a 
member of the late Jamaica House of Assembly; "and 
Jamaica had a worthy and faithful son in him. It was 
impossible for him to escape the dangers which beset him, 
when he constantly proclaimed the wrongs done to the 
oppressed classes. I can bear witness to his faithful advo- 
cacy of the people's rights. I wish the Colony had fifty 
such men." 

** Few," says another witness who knew him well, " are 
willing to confront the wrong doings of men who hold a 
position of public and important trust. This, Mr. Gordon 
dared to do ; and for this, I believe, he has been called to 
suffer. To the maliciousness which seems to have prompted 
some of Mr. Gordon's foes, there appears to be no boimds. 
I speak from personal knowledge of Mr. Gordon, when I 
state that a more kind-hearted, humane, and generous man 
was not to be found in that Colony. Whenever an object of 
distress presented itself, none was more liberal in adminis- 
tering relief, none felt more deeply for the woes of suffering 
humanity, or was more prompt in mitigating that suffering. 
When we couple these things with the fact that Mr. Gordon 
was one of the largest land proprietors in Jamaica, nothing, 
I think, shows more clearly the improbability of his being 
the instigator of the late outbreak." 

Such was the man whom Governor Eyre seized upon, 
bearing him away from the bosom of his family to the 
scene of merciless slaughter, as an eagle bears its prey 
in its clutch; and, without one emotion of relenting or 
pity, handed him over to those amiable rivals of Cal- 

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craft, Messrs. Nelson and Brand, to be immolated upon 
the altar of political strife. A few facts may suffice to 
•explain the rancour of the faction ruling the affairs of 
ihe parish against Mr. Gordon, and the envenomed 
feelings so manifest in the proceedings of Mr. Eyre 
towards this injured man. 

The rector of St. Thomas-in-the-East, already 
referred to, being solicited for alms by a diseased wan- 
derer, took the extraordinary course of sending the poor 
man to the lock-up : an act which he had no authority 
to perform, as he was not a magistrate. The wretched 
outcast, thus sent to a place used only for punishment, 
and having no better shelter assigned to him than the 
privy of the establishment in a most disgusting state of 
' filthiness, died there, with no hand to aid him in his 
last moments, and was then buried, contrary to law, 
without an inquest being held. This outrage against 
humanity and justice Mr. G. W. Gordon — who was a 
member of the vestry, a magistrate, and the represent- 
ative of the parish in the Legislative Assembly — brought 
under the notice of the Governor, calling in question 
the conduct of the rector, and requesting an investi- 
gation. Contrary to all propriety, the matter was 
referred for inquiry to the parochial authorities, who 
were themselves also implicated in suffering such a state 
of things to exist in the parish as this case disclosed, 
instead of being placed, as it should have been, in the 
hands of a commission composed of disinterested men. 
The result was what might have been expected, and 
doubtless what Governor Eyre desired. All fair 
inquiry was smothered, and the inhuman and fllegal 
conduct of the rector, in sending a man to prison on 
account of his poverty, was represented as a sort of 
imitation of the Good Samaritan. It was made, in the 
report of the magistrates, to bear the aspect of a deed 

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of charity ; and the poor outcast^ according to them, 
was sent to the gaol for shelter, and to be taken care 
of! What kind of shelter was given to him, and what 
degree of care was exercised towards this poor human 
brother of the rector, may be inferred from the fact 
that he was found dead, after the lapse of a few days> 
in such a horrible place as the unventilated privy of a 
prison, where, during the whole time of his unlawful 
imprisonment, he had sat, and eaten, and drunk, and 
slept, until he slept the sleep of death. Surely, if this 
imitator of the Good Samaritan had wished to exercise 
the charity towards a suffering fellow-creature for 
which he would claim credit in this case, the spacious 
premises of the Morant Bay rectory, with its many 
out-rooms, might have furnished a less repulsive place 
of shelter ; and the rector^s ample income, derived from 
the public purse, might have furnished a little plain 
food to relieve his necessities, instead of turning him 
over to the cruel fate which befell him. A wondrous 
exercise of Christian charity, truly, to send a sick 
person ,to a gaol, to be fed, not at his own, but at the 
parochial expense ! 

The specious pretext was allowed to pass, and Mr. 
Gordon was censured for having called in question the 
humanity of the rector ; and, further to throw dust in the 
eyes of the public, Mr. Gordon was also deprived by 
Governor Eyre of the commissions he held as a magis- 
trate of several parishes. Strange to say, he failed to 
obtain redress of this grievance at the Colonial Office, 
although the Colonial Secretary, the Duke of Newcastle, 
censured both Mr. Eyre and the magistrates for their 
conduct in connexion with this inquiry in the following 
severe language : ^' I am unable to concur with you,^' 
says his grace, in a despatch addressed to Governor 
Eyre, " in the views which you have taken of the proceed- 

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ings of the justices ; nor can I regard the recapitulation 
.contained in your despatch No. 52 as an accurate and 
complete statement of the facts disclosed in the evi- 
dence On the evidence of the gaoler there can be no 

doubt that the gross and disgraceful abuses charged by 
Mr. Gordon against the ^ lock-up ' house did exist in it 

up to the time when it was visited by Mr. Gordon 

When the justices, finding the ^ lock-up ^ house in this 
state, then simply resolved that it was a very good one, 
without the slightest notice of the scandalous abuses 
which had been proved against it, they evaded the 
whole question ; and when they refused to hear eleven 
out of fourteen witnesses tendered by Mr. Gordon, on 
the ground that the evidence proflfered related not ta 
the then, but to the past, state of the ' lock-up ^ house, 
they betrayed their duty.'' 

There can be no doubt that this oppression of Mr. 
Gordon, because of his attempt to redress the griev- 
ances which the case of this poor man disclosed, gave 
intensity to the feeling of dissatisfaction already widely 
prevailing in the parish, and tended further to destroy all 
confidence in the integrity both of the parochial author- 
ities and of the island government. And there can be 
as little doubt that this effort of Mr. Gordon to correct 
the abuses existing in the parish — rendered abortive ta 
a great extent by partiality and injustice — awakened 
towards him that bitter hostility on the part of the 
dominant faction in the parish and of Governor Eyre, 
that culminated in his murder. Neither the one nor tie 
other could readily forgive the man who had brought 
upon them such severe condemnation from the Colonial 
Office, and exposed them to so public a humiliation. 

Mr. Gordon aggravated the unkindly feeling with 
which the Governor regarded him by the course he took as 
a member of the local parliament in opposing official cor- 

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ruption and peculation. A notorious fraud had been per- 
petrated, well known as " the tramway swindle,'^ whereby 
the public revenue which the people were heavily taxed 
to sustain was defrauded of many thousand pounds. 
Gross negligence and unfaithfulness on the part of Mr. 
Eyre, as the head of the government, were alleged in 
connexion with this business, and he was subjected to 
heavy censure from many quarters, especially from the 
Hon. George Price, a leading member of the local 
government, who, in a large and well- written pam- 
phlet, exposed, with scathing rebuke, the culpability 
of the Governor, and the indifference of the Colonial 
Office to the misconduct of its nominees in office. But 
from none did Mr. Eyre experience more caustic con- 
demnation than from Mr. Gordon, who, in his place as 
a legislator, inveighed loudly against the corruption 
which laid the people open to be plundered of their hard 
earnings by greedy and dishonest officials. This was 
not all. A grant of £1000 had been voted by the Legis- 
lature for sundry repairs to be done to the official resi- 
dence of the Governor. In violation of all propriety, a 
considerable part, some say £200, of this amount was 
used for the purchase of a piano, which would of course 
be more for the Governor's family use than the public 
service, arid, whenever he should remove from the 
government, would very likely be included and sold in 
the catalogue of his personal effects. This misappro- 
priation of funds, voted for a different purpose, was 
exposed and commented upon in the Legislature by Mr. 
Gordon, and the amount had to be refunded. It is not 
difficult to conceive how a circumstance of this kind, 
more than anything else, would add intensity to the 
bitterness of those feelings with which the Governor 
regarded Mr. Gordon ; and it sheds a gloomy light upon 
the proceedings of the Jamaica authorities in con- 

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nection with the arrest and condemnation of that 
unfortunate gentleman. 

A further mortification was brought upon the Governor, 
through Mr. Gordon^s instrumentality, in the successful 
opposition he gave to sundry favourite measures recom- 
mended by Mr. Eyre to the colonial legislature. 
Amongst these were the construction of a dock at 
Kingston, which he opposed on the ground that it was 
unconstitutional to, tax the whole of the people for what 
was really a private and speculative enterprise, and for 
the sole advantage of a small mercantile portion of the 
community. There were also bills passed on the 
Governor's recommendation to authorize capital punish- 
ment for petty offences, and to re-establish a district 
prison at Port Maria in a most unwholesome locality, 
and providing that hard labour should include the 
treadmill, shot drill, and crankr These Mr. Gordon 
resisted, as involving a return to the abolished barbarities 
of past evil times. Unable to resist the influence in 
the local legislature which the Governor was able to 
exert there to carry these objectionable measures 
through, Mr. Gordon exposed and protested against 
their evil tendency in a well-written letter to the 
Colonial Secretary, and succeeded in obtaining their 
disallowance by the Crown ; thereby, doubtless, exas- 
perating in no small degree the dislike with which he 
was regarded by the Governor and the servile men who 
served his purposes in the two legislative bodies.* 

* The following are extracts from Mr. Gordon's letter to the Colonial 
Secretary: — 

" Sis, — I have to bring before your notice, on behalf of the people of this 
eonntry, the following facts, which are submitted as grievances. From 
gross mismanagement and for wasteful purposes, the taxation of the country 

is increased The tramroad affair, besides having involved the country in 

a heavy expenditure, has also, by interfering with the principal public road, 
caused serious loss of stock to the passengers. The Grovemor, in his 

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Next came the celebrated Underbill letter^ to wbicb 
Mr. Eyre attached so mucb importance as causing tbe 
outbreak, forgetting that he himself was solely responsible 
for the agitation it produced in the island, inasmuch 
as it was he who gave it all the publicity it acquired. 
This letter, containing a temperate and able statement 
of the grievances under which the labouring classes 
of Jamaica were ground to the earth, was addressed to 
the Colonial Minister, Mr. Card well, who referred it in 
an official despatch to Mr. Eyre, for him to report 
upon it. With unpardonable indiscretion, if he really 

opening speech, recommends a project of a dock, which certainly is not one 
for which the people should he taxed. Is it constitutional to tax the people 
for speculative enterprises ? This is a measure which, if allowed to take 
•eflfect, will create new heart-hurnings in the minds of the inhahitants 
^nerally, and is a great puhlic wrong. 

"A Bill was passed to inflict corporal punishment for petty offences 

This measure is strictly one aimed against the lower classes, who just now are 
in a state of great destitution. If yon could only hehold them, your feelings 
<of compassion would he aroused to mercy and relief, instead of the inflic- 
tion of corporal punishment, which is death, or next to it. Representations, 
imfounded and uncharitahle, may be wickedly made against the peasants of 
this country ; but, in good truth, they are as peaceable, civil, and well- 
-disposed, as any people can well be. What they require is, what has been 
neglected, — attention to their sanitary improvement, and relief, to some 
extent, from the excessive taxation on the necessary articles of food and 
clothing. These are the points which are lost sight of for the debasing 
purposes of the whip. 

" A Bill was also passed to re-establish a district prison at Port Maria, 
which provides that hard labonr shall include the hand-mill, shot-drill, and 
crank. Fort Maria is the grave of Jamaica. Yet the prison, which was 
abolished, is again to be re-established, with the iron shackles ; to which 
the unfortunate prisoners have been consigned by the present Grovemor, with 
liard labour. From the depreciated state of health to which the prisoners 
must be reduced at Fort Maria, many of them will leave the prison to be 
for ever after worthless, and a tax upon society. When it is remembered 
that many are sent to prison for minor offences— in many cases wrongfolly, 
and under wrong sentences — by erring judgments and unlearned justices, it 
does seem that it is a most cruel proceeding. I only write from the stem 
obligations of a sense of justice and common hunanity." 

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believed in the wide-spread disaffection reported by 
him to exist amongst the people, Mr. Eyre took 
measures which caused Dr. UnderhilPs letter to be 
circulated in every newspaper printed in the colony, 
calling forth an almost universal response of such a 
character as indicated how general was the dissatisfac- 
tion among all classes of the community with the state 
of affairs and the government of the island. At the 
public meetings, held in the several parishes, Mr. 
Gordon took a prominent part in exposing existing 
abuses, and thus further incurred the enmity of the 
Governor, who appears to have been rendered furious 
by the opposition to his own grovelling, short-sighted 
policy which these meetings developed. This was 
evident from the significant fact, that when martial law 
was proclaimed, a large number, besides the unfortunate 
Gordon, who had taken part in these public meetings, 
were pounced upon by Governor Eyre and his agents 
and made prisoners, being sent to Morant Bay, and 
delivered over to the tender mercies of Nelson and 
Eamsay, under the impudent pretext that they wer 
parties to the Morant Bay outbreak, and concerned in 
the imaginary plot which the Governor's own cowardice 
had conjured up ; as if it were probable that planters, 
legal and medical practitioners, editors of newspapers, 
and members of the Legislature, all of them white men, 
or so nearly approaching it as to be married into 
respectable white families, and all of them in easy, if 
not aflBiuent, circumstances, would enter into a conspiracy 
with the Negroes to assassinate all the white and 
coloured inhabitants, — including, of course, by inference, 
ihemselves and their own families^ — that the blacks 
might possess the island for themselves. A more 
palpable absurdity could scarcely have been conceived. 
It is remarkable that the whole of those men who were 

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arrested by command of Governor Eyre, and ignomini- 
ously hurried off to Morant Bay, to be tried like 
Gordon by court-martial, were parties who had taken a 
prominent share in the TJndethill meetings, so called ► 
It was no relenting on the part of Mr. Eyre that saved 
these innocent men from sharing the fate of Gordon ; 
but the misgivings which arose, rather tardily, in the 
minds of some of the principal military authorities as 
to the legality of trying and executing civilians by 
military tribunals, for alleged political offences com- 
mitted by them long anterior to the existence of martial 
law ; a procedure which the charge of the Lord Chief 
Justice of England stigmatizes with the guilt of murder,, 
inasmuch as it is putting men to death without any 
authority of law. 

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The precediDg observations serve to explain what 
had been for a long time the condition of affairs, and 
what was the state of public feeling in the island, when, 
on Saturday, the 7th of October, two planter justices of 
the peace — Mr. Walton, the owner of a plantation in 
the vicinity, who was among the slain of the following 
week, and another — were sitting in the Morant Bay 
court-house, adjudicating cases which planters ought 
not to have been competent judicially to meddle with, 
inasmuch as they involved questions of land occupation, 
and other matters upon which planters were not likely 
to give a fair and unbiassed judgment ; it being well 
understood that planter magistrates would help and 
favour each other, and hold on to planter interests in 
all questions at issue between the labourers and their 
employers. For some cause never explained, the 
decisions of the two Magistrates on this occasion failed 
to give satisfaction to the black people, who filled the 
court-house in considerable numbers ; and they expressed 
their discontent, according to their wont, in audible 
murmurs. This gave offence to the magisterial digni- 
taries, who ordered that the murmurers should be taken 
into custody by the police. On hearing this order given, 
the people immediately retired from the court-house; 
and outside the oflBicers attempted to arrest one of the 
number, whom they had marked as signifying dissatis- 
faction with the proceedings of the magistrates. This 
act was alike illegal and unwise, as the police had no 
authority without a warrant to arrest men out of the 


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court, and the evil complained of had ceased as soon as 
notice was taken of it. It was resisted by the man's 
friends; and the attempt proved abortive, having no 
other result than to increase the indignation of the 
people, already smarting under grievous wrongs. If 
the magistrates had exercised the forbearance which 
any English judge would have shown, and let the 
matter rest here, they would have acted discreetly; 
but on the following Monday, when the court resumed 
its sittings, a black man named Paul Bogle, (who from 
his superior intelligence exerted considerable influence 
amongst the labourers in the neighbourhood in which 
he lived,) when the Magistrates, in an alleged case of 
trespass, sentenced a person to fine or imprisonment, 
interposed his advice to the man, as he had a perfect 
right to do, to give notice that he would appeal against 
the Magistrates' decision. Irritated by Bogle's inter- 
ference, the Magistrates, yielding to spiteful feeling, 
very foolishly fell back upon and revived the old case, 
and proceeded to issue warrants against Bogle and 
several others on the charge of interfering with the 
police in the execution of their duty. This amounted to 
something like a declaration of war against the black 
people concerned, who had certainly done nothing more 
than resist, very unwisely perhaps, the illegal apprehen- 
sion of a man without a warrant ; and it could scarcely 
have any other effect, considering the provocation 
already given, than to stir them up to resist violence 
with violence. 

The next day a posse of officers, ludicrously small, (as 
it consisted of only three or four men,) was sent to 
apprehend the offenders, amounting to some twenty- 
eight, whose names were included in the warrants 
Wrought up by this time to something approaching 
desperation. Bogle and his associates resisted the officers. 

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and made thera prisoners ; dismissing them, however, 
after a short time, without harm or insult. Thus the 
magistrates went blundering on, and by their reckless 
intemperate proceedings raised a spirit which they 
could neither subdue nor control. 

On Wednesday, the 11th of October, the quarterly 
meeting of the parish Vestry was to be held ; and the 
parish authorities, with the Gustos at their head, alarmed 
at the demonstrations of the last few days, and without 
sufficient discretion to remonstrate with the excited and 
misguided people, and endeavour to bring them to 
reason by mild and conciliatory measures, could think 
of nothing but a resort to brute force. Accordingly a 
despatch was sent off to the Governor, giving an 
exaggerated account of what had occurred, and calling 
for military aid. Meanwhile, a small body of volunteers 
belonging to the parish was summoned to Morant Bay, 
to afford protection to the Vestry, because it was 
rumoured that Paul Bogle, and a large number of the 
people with him, intended that day to go down to the 
Bay. A more unfortunate step could not have Tbeen 
taken ; and to this foolish act of calling out the volun- 
teers may be attributed all the deplorable results which 
ensued. Even as it was, if there had been anfongst the 
authorities one person gifted with cool self-possession 
and sound discretion, to go out and advise the people 
to abstain from violence, there would have been no 
outbreak, and the fatal collision of that day would have 
been prevented. It was an unfortunate circumstance 
that Mr. Gordon was, through indisposition, prevented 
from attending that vestry meeting, of which he was 
a member; for, no doubt, had he been present, he 
would have pointed out to the people that they were 
acting unadvisedly, and taking an unwise course to 
obtain redress of their grievances : and a few words 

D 2 

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from him, whom they knew and respected, would have 
been suflScient. But he was not there, through illness ; 
and there was not one present, either clergyman, 
magistrate, or vestryman, that had the courage and 
good sense to do what the emergency and humanity 

The meeting of the Vestry took place, and the busi- 
ness proceeded to its close without any interruption. 
The members of the Vestry were about to regale them- 
selves with the dinner usually provided on such occasions, 
at the expense of the parish ; but before the viands, 
which were in course of preparation, could be served, 
a large assembly of people made their appearance at 
the entrance of the square in which the court-house 
stood. It has never been explained what specific 
purpose they had in view, in marching into the town as 
they did ; but it was probably nothing more than was 
meant by the late Reform gatherings in London, which 
were designed for no purposes of violence, but as demon- 
strations, on the part of those who took part in them, 
to assert what they conceived to be their claims to right 
and justice. The elaborate investigations of the Royal 
Commission, directed especially to this point, failed ta 
elicit the slightest evidence that any plot existed 
amongst the Negroes. They brought no fire-arms 
with them ; for those which they afterwards used they 
took fipom the police station, after they found the 
volunteers drawn up in hostile array to receive them ; 
and the fact that those who were killed after the attack 
upon the court-house were in most, if not all cases, beaten 
to death, and not hewn down, would show that they 
had not even armed themselves with the cutlass, a large 
knife, used as the chief implement of their daily toil. 
The conclusion to which we are brought by a fair con- 
sideration of all that has come to light is^ that the 

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assembling of the mob, upon the 11th of October, was 
an unpremeditated and ill-judged act, consequent upon 
the injudicious and culpable proceedings of the local 
authorities. The brutal and indiscriminate massacre 
of all who were connected with, or present at, the riot, 
who could have shed light upon the subject, has 
rendered it impossible that any satisfactory information 
can be obtained as to the views and purposes of the 
rioters; but the facts, that no traces of any plot or 
organization could be discovered ; that they proceeded 
to Morant Bay, unarmed ; that they did not injure, or 
attempt to injure, any individual, until they were fired 
upon, and a considerable number of them killed or 
wounded, — render it absurd to look upon the movement 
as an attempt at rebellion, or anything more than a 
sudden riot, capable of being altogether prevented by 
the exercise of something like discretion on the part 
of the unfortunate men in the court-house, who paid 
with their lives the penalty of those errors into which 
their fears hurried them. 

This is fully borne out by the petition which was 
addressed to the Governor only the day before the riot 
!took place, signed by James Dacres, Paul Bogle, James 
McLaren, and others, who were afterwards hurried to 
ihe gallows by military tribunals. In this remarkable 
document they complain of the conduct of the Magis- 
trates; represent themselves as loyal to the Queen; 
express their belief that the attack made upon them by 
the police at Morant Bay (on the preceding Saturday) 
was an outrageous assault, and that they had the right 
to resist the arrest of innocent persons. They further 
complain of wrongs spreading over the past twenty- 
seven years, and call upon the Governor to protect 
them from the oppressions they were subject to; and 
intimate that if he will not do so^ they will be compelled 

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to put their own shoulders to the wheel, with due 
obeisance to the laws of the Queen and country. The 
following is the petition of these oppressed villagers : — 

" We, the petitioners of St. Thomas-in-the-East, do send 
to inform Your Excellency of the mean advantages that has 
been taken of us from time to time ; and more especially 
this present time, when, on Saturday, the 7th of this month, 
an outrageous assault was committed on us by the policemen 
of this parish, by order of the justices, which occasioned an 
outbreaking; for which warrants have been issued against 
innocent persons, which we were compelled to resist. We 
therefore call upon Your Excellency for protection, seeing we 
are Her Majesty 's loyal subjects ; which protection, if refused^ 
we will be compelled to put our shoulders to the wheels, as 
we have been imposed upon for a period of twenty-seven 
years, with due obeisance to the laws of our Queen and 
country, and we can no longer endure the same. 

" Therefore is our object of calling upon Your Excellency ; 
and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. 
"James Dacres, 
Paul Bogle, 
James M*Laren, and others." 

This certainly is not the language of those who were 
engaged in^ and about to carry into effect, a deadly con- 
spiracy against the Government, and to destroy the 
white and coloured people; but that of men honestly 
appealing to the right quarter for the redress of crying 
grievances; and is, in itself, sufficient proof that the 
riot which took place on the following day must have 
been unpremeditated, provoked by circumstances which 
occurred immediately after the petition had been for- 
warded to the Governor. 

The conduct of Mr. Eyre with regard to this important 
paper was most extraordinary and reprehensible; and 
serves to show his utter want of candour, and the little 
reliance that is to be placed upon his representations of 
the outbreak, and the causes which produced it. - Thia 

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petition was sent by a special messenger ; and it is in 
evidence that it was placed in the Governor's hands on 
the forenoon of the 11th, a very short time after he had 
received the communication of the Gustos, requesting 
military aid. Had he been a wise and prudent man, 
and equal to the duties of his position, he would have 
acted as his predecessor in oflSce, Earl Mulgrave, did on 
a somewhat similar occasion. Repairing without delay 
to the spot where mischief was evidently threatening, and 
acquainting himself with the real merits of the case, he 
would have addressed himself to the application of the 
remedy required. But, strange to say, with an indififer- 
ence which shows in a striking point of view his unfit- 
ness for the position he occupied, he simply gave orders 
for a military force to be sent, suppressed the petition 
of the complaining Negroes, and betook himself to a 
dinner-party in the mountains. And, after the colli- 
sion had taken place which these two communications 
showed to be imminent, he altogether put away the 
important petition of the oppressed people which had 
been conveyed to him, making no mention of it in his 
oflScial dispatches to the Golonial Office. It would pro- 
bably never have been brought forward, important as it 
is in throwing light upon the events of those few memo- 
rable days and the real purposes of the unfortunate 
Negroes, had he not been compelled to produce it 
through questions put to him by the counsel employed 
by the Jamaica Committee to watch the proceedings of 
the Royal Commission. 

But yet more strange is the fact that the poor fellow 
who carried the petition to the Governor was punished 
with a severe flogging by the notorious Ramsay, whether 
with the connivance and sanction of Mr. Eyre does 
not very clearly appear; but it is difficult to imagine 
how, without such connivance, Ramsay could have be- 

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come aware of the circumstances. And, as far as can 
be ascertained, every person who signed that petition, 
or was privy to it in any way, was mercilessly hunted 
down and put to death. 

The unhappy events which occurred on the 11th of 
October are matters of sufficient notoriety. That the 
conduct of the complaining Negroes, in marching as 
they did to Morant Bay on the day of the vestry-meet- 
ing, was unwise and culpable, is not to be denied ; but, 
even then, no such sad results as followed would have 
ensued, but for the much more culpable proceedings of 
the Gustos, and those who were assembled with him in 
the court-house. Terrified beyond all reason and pro- 
priety, it seems never to have occurred to them that, 
before resorting to extremities, some one ought to go 
out and remonstrate with the advancing crowd, and 
advise them to return quietly to their homes, and to keep 
the peace. Or, if it did occur to them, no one had 
sufficient courage to take this reasonable course ; but, 
swift to shed blood, the Riot Act is hastily read, (so it is 
affirmed,) — not one, perhaps, of all the crowd being 
aware of the proceeding, or understanding what it 
meant, — and the volunteers, a feeble company of 
some eighteen or twenty men, are ordered at once to 
fire upon the people. More sensible and less sanguinary 
men would have tried the efifect of blank cartridges 
before proceeding to the fatal extremity of the rifle 
ball; but no such prudent and temperate proceeding 
was thought of, and the volunteers, under the direction 
of the magistrates, sent a deadly volley into the midst 
of the advancing crowd. This was repeated; and 
between thirty and forty, killed or grievously wounded, 
fell to the ground. It wanted only this to bring on a 
fearful crisis, which might have been avoided. 

The black people of our colonies are by no means 

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sanguinary or revengeful. Long years of injustice and 
oppression have shown them to be enduring, patient^ and 
forgiving. Before emancipation, and since, I have had 
opportunities for observation ; and it is a fact which 
their general history in every British colony bears out, 
that neither towards each other, nor towards their 
oppressors, do they manifest anything like a vindictive 
spirit. But they are, like all other men, capable of 
being aroused and excited by accumulated provocation 
to deeds of fury and blood : and at Morant Bay the 
provocation was supplied. Rendered nearly desperate 
already by multiplied wrongs, they could not tamely 
stand by, and see friends and relations wantonly shot 
down at their feet by dozens ; and, infuriated beyond all 
control by the savage and murderous attack made upon 
them, they rushed upon the aggressors, and inflicted a 
merciless and terrible retaliation that will not soon be 
forgotten. Several of the volunteers who fired upon 
them first fell victims to their fury ; and then the Magis- 
trates and others, who had sheltered within the court- 
house, and from thence continued firing upon the 
crowd, after the building had been either accidentally 
or designedly set on fire, were driven from their refuge, 
and killed in detail, as they fell into the hands of their 

Frightful stories , were circulated concerning indig- 
nities and barbarities which the Negroes were said to 
have practised upon the dead bodies of their victims. 
These stories were gathered up and repeated by Mr. 
Eyre, and had currency given to them in his despatches. 
His conduct in this matter is altogether indefensible ; 
for, being on the spot, he must have known that these 
were mere fabrications, and that no such savage mutila- 
tions of the slaughtered whites took place. This was 
amply proved before the Commissioners ; and, further 

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than this^ it was proved beyond all doubt, to the lasting^ 
disgrace of .the British army, that the revolting bar- 
barities really inflicted upon the dead were practised by 
British soldiers, and officers bearing her Majesty's com- 
mission in the army and navy. I was assured by a 
highly respectable gentleman that, with the exception 
of cutting off a finger of the Baron von Ketelholdt, to 
obtain possession of a valuable ring which he wore at 
the time of his death, there was no mutilation of any of 
the bodies beyond that occasioned by the blows which 
caused their death. My informant witnessed the 
outbreak, being in the Morant Bay court-house with 
the unfortunate Baron and his companions ; and he also 
saw the bodies of the slain, and inspected them after- 
wards. One circumstance occurred, which perhaps 
served to give some colour of truth to the story con- 
cerning indignities offered to the remains of the slaugh- 
tered victims. This, however, was not attributable to 
the rioters, but to the neglect of the friends of the 
unfortunate dead, who were too thoroughly panic- 
stricken to be capable of taking any kind of action, 
even after all traces of the rioters had long disappeared 
from the town ; in consequence of which the bodies of 
the victims were left unburied and exposed, until one of 
them, that of Mr. Herschell, attracted the notice of the 
vulture crows, which are always flying about in search 
of prey. These ravenous birds attacked the senseless 
remains, plucking out the eyes, and otherwise disfiguring 
the body. This was the only case of mutilation that 

Mr. Eyre, in one of his despatches to Mr. Cardwell, 
anxious to heap obloquy upon the black portion of the 
population, makes the following statement, aft^r he had 
spent some time at Morant Bay, and had abundant 
opportunity of learning the truth :— 

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"The most frightful atrocities were perpetrated. The 
island curate of Bath, the Eev. Mr. Herschell, is said to 
have had his tongue cut out whilst still alive, and an attempt 
is said to have been made to skin him. One person (Mr. 
Charles Price, a black gentleman, formerly a member of 
Assembly) was ripped open, and his entrails taken out. One 
gentleman (Lieut. Hall, of the Volunteers) is said to have 
been pushed into an outbuilding, which was then set on fire, 
and kept there till he was ultimately roasted alive. Many 
were said to have had their eyes scooped out ; heads were 
cleft open, and the brains taken out. The Baron's fingers 
were cut ofl^, and carried away as trophies by the murderers. 
Some bodies were half burnt, others horribly battered. In- 
deed, the whole outrage could only be paralleled by the 
atrocities of the Indian mutiny. The women, as usual on 
such occasions, were even more brutal and barbarous than 
the men ; the only redeeming trait being that, so far as we 
could learn, no ladies or children had as yet been injured." 

Mr. Eyre had been at Morant Bay several times 
before he wrote this, and could have learned the truth 
without difficulty ; and it is significant that, possessing 
fall opportunity of testing the facts, he is careful to say 
concerning most of these frightful stories, "It is said'' 
that so and so took place. Unfortunately for Mr. Eyre^s 
regard for truth, it was proved before the Royal Com- 
mission that this statement was incorrect in nearly 
every particular. Mr. HerschelPs tongue was 7iot cut 
out, nor was any attempt made to skin him. Mr. Price 
was not ripped open, nor his entrails taken out. Lieut. 
Hall was not roasted alive, but killed by a shot in the 
throat, during the riot, when the volunteers were firing 
on the Negroes from the court-house, and, the people 
were firing in return. One only of the Baron^s fingers 
was cut off, to obtain the ring that adorned it. No eyes 
were scooped out, no brains taken out; and there is no 

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evidence that the women were more barbarous than the 
men. But there is evidence that the life of the Rector 
was saved by a woman ; that one of his wounded sons, 
who afterwards died, was carefully attended by another 
woman, at some risk to herself; and that several others 
were protected and assisted by black women. 

The rioters, having taken vengeance upon their assail- 
ants, separated immediately, and left the town, doing 
no further violence to either person or property ; the 
riot having lasted not more than four or five hours. 
But in several other localities in the parish bodies of 
disorderly people assembled, stimulated, no doubt, by 
exaggerated accounts of what had taken place at Morant 
Bay ; and several stores and houses were plundered. In 
two or three cases, also, ill-disposed persons took advan- 
tage of the occasion to retaliate upon those who had 
rendered themselves unpopular in various ways, — one 
white man named Hire being killed, and others severely 

Not one word can be said in apology for these lawless 
deeds; and the savage violence which marked the con- 
duct of the mob at Morant Bay, and in one or two 
other places, though not without provocation, must be 
strongly reprobated, even by those who take the most 
favourable view of their case. But it is right and pro- 
per that the truth, the whole truth, as far as it can 
be ascertained, should appear ; and that blame in just 
proportion should rest where it is due. Many of the 
newspapers of the day gave currency to the most ex- 
aggerated statements concerning the events that took 
place; and not only were the Negroes concerned in 
them held up before the world as some of the most 
revolting monsters of cruelty that ever existed, but 
slanders of the vilest kind were heaped upon the black 
and coloured races generally ; and multitudes, who have 

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not been better informed, yet cherish views and feelings 
concerning them, in consequence of such misrepresenta- 
tions, which are not to be reconciled either with charity 
or truth. 

The facts concerning this riot, falsely magnified into 
a rebellion, are few and simple. A number of persons, 
smarting under grievous wrongs, assembled together in 
a tumultuous manner ; but there is no proof that they 
offered violence to any one. It is said they threw 
stones ; but it is a remarkable fact that not one person 
has been brought forward that was hurt or hit by these 
missiles; and it is probably a fabrication got up to 
justify or excuse the sanguinary deed which brought on 
the fatal collision. Too much prominence cannot be 
given to the fact that the Gustos^ and those associated 
with him, performed the first act of violence by firing 
upon the crowd. Up to this point no person had been 
injured, no violence offered to any individual. If the 
people were transgressing the limits of right, and trans- 
gressing the law, in assembling as they had done, the 
Gustos, or the Rector, or some of the parties in the 
court-house, men of superior standing and intelligence, 
should have gone out and remonstrated with the unlet- 
tered and misguided assemblage; and, pointing out 
wherein they were wrong, should have given them suit- 
able advice. This was no more than might reasonably 
have been expected from magistrates and clergymen, 
two of the latter being present. But without a wprd of 
counsel, or any attempt to turn an excited people from 
any wrongful purposes they might have in view, they 
were at once fired upon, and many of them killed and 
wounded. ' 

This act of the authorities is totally indefensible on 
any ground, and it is the pivot upon which the whole 
case turns. But for this there would have been no riot. 

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no bloodshed, no burning of the court-house, no martial 
law, and none of those terrible atrocities which followed, 
and excited the indignation of the whole Christian 
world. The authorities were the first aggressors, and 
upon them justly rests the responsibility of the out- 
break. They first shed blood, wantonly and unneces- 
sarily; and the people upon whom they ordered the 
volunteers to fire would have • been more or less than 
men, had they not retaliated in the way they did. 
However much we may deplore and condemn the 
slaughter of Baron Ketelholdt and his associates, they 
' certainly brought destruction upon themselves, and 
became the victims of their own foolish and guilty dis- 
regard of the sanctity of human life. The act of 
firing successive volleys upon a mob who had done so 
little to provoke — nothing to deserve — it, can scarcely 
be classed in any other category than that of murder, 
and would probably have been pronounced to be such 
by an unbiassed British jury. 

One gentleman. Dr. Major, who was in the court- 
house when the attack was made upon it, fell into the 
hands of the rioters ; but no injury was done to him, 
as he was one who had always manifested a kindly 
sympathy with the labouring class in their wrongs and 
oppressions. They singled out for retaliation those whom 
they regarded as their oppressors, or the tools of oppres- 
sion, and offered no violence or injury to others. The 
number of victims who perished in the outbreak was 
eighteen killed, thirty-one wounded, — including two or 
three who for different reasons were maltreated in 
diflFerent localities by mobs who took the opportunity 
afforded by the prevailing confusion to visit upon 
wrong-doers the injuries formerly received at their 
hands. The volunteers fell in a conflict in which they 
commenced the shedding of blood; and well-nigh aU 

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the others Tvho were killed had rendered themselves ob- 
noxious to the people's vengeance by the wrongs they 
had contributed to heap upon them. That so few were 
injured, when the mob were masters of the situation 
And had the town and its inhabitants completely at 
their mercy for many hours, shows that they could be 
moderate even when most infuriated, and completely 
falsifies the representations in which a part of the press 
delighted to indulge as to the ferocity and barbarity of 
the blacks, and their intention to massacre the white 
and coloured people. They could easily have burnt 
the town and destroyed many lives, if they had been 
so disposed; but having, in a sudden paroxysm of 
fury, smitten down those by whom they had been 
assailed in a cowardly and sanguinary manner, they 
retired, satisfied with the transient victory they had 
achieved, and the vengeance they had inflicted. It 
was like a whirlwind, brief in its duration, but terrible 
in its results; affording another illustration of the 
truth which West India planters have been so slow 
and unwilling to recognise, that the Negro is human, 
swayed by the same emotions and passions as his 
brethren with a paler skin, and requiring at their hands 
treatment suitable to the high, and immortal nature 
with which his Creator has endowed him. 

A lamentable want of decision and promptitude 
seems to have marked the conduct of the Jamaica 
authorities in relation to the outbreak. Governor 
Eyre received Baron Ketelholdt's despatch, reporting 
the riotous disposition of the Negroes, and asking for 
military aid, at eight o'clock on the 11th of October. 
Within an hour or two after that, the letter or petition 
of Paul Bogle and others was placed in hh hands. 
He must have been blind indeed not to see that a 
'dangerous collision between the Magistrates and the 

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people was immment. Had he at once sent off a 
dozen or twenty men by land^ they could have reached 
Morant Bay in four hours, and their presence would 
have been sufficient to check the rioters ; or if he had 
at once caused a small military force to embark in a 
steamer from Port Eoyal^ they could have been landed 
in time to prevent the disturbance. But, contenting 
himself with merely requesting the Commander of the 
forces to send on a hundred men to Morant Bay, with- 
out troubling himself further about the matter, he 
betook himself to his dinner party in the mountains. 
Such was the culpable indifference that prevailed, that 
no movement was made until the following day. Then, 
some twenty-four hours after the receipt of the de- 
spatch, the "Wolverine^* ship of* war was leisurely got 
under weigh; and, arriving at Morant Bay with a 
military force, discovered that the mischief had occurred, 
which a more prompt attention to duty on the part of 
the civil and military authorities might have prevented. 
It does not appear that any official notice was ever 
taken of this culpable apathy, so as to lay the blame 
where it was justly due for such unaccountable and, as^ 
it proved, fatal delay. 

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But if there was a want of promptitude in taking 
measures to prevent the outbreak, there was certainly 
no lack of energy in making reprisals. Fearful indeed 
has been the penalty exacted from a whole community 
for the misdeeds of a few persons. A thousand dwell- 
ings given to the flames, and a thousand homes 
wantonly desolated ; a multitude of widows and father- 
less children left without a shelter, and recklessly 
plundered ; and a long catalogue of frightful murders 
and inhuman cruelties, rivalling in their details the 
fiendish ingenuity with which North American savages 
torture their victims, — bear witness to the ferocious 
barbarity with which Governor Eyre, and the military 
and naval oflScers acting under his direction, retaliated 
upon an unarmed and unresisting people the deeds of 
violence in which only a few of them had taken any 
part. On receiving intelligence of the riot at Morant 
Bay, and the death of Gustos Von Ketelholdt and his 
fellow-sufferers, Mr. Eyre immediately summoned a 
council of war, at which it was determined to place the 
county of Surrey under martial law, excepting only 
the city of Kingston. Military detachments and vessels 
of war were sent on to the scene of the disturbance ; 
bodies of volunteers were enrolled ; and a chief hang- 
man, called the Provost-Marshal, was commissioned, in 
the person of Mr. Gordon Duberry Ramsay, of in- 
famous notoriety. Governor Eyre himself hastened 
to the spot, taking care, however, in the exercise of 
that discretion which is said to be the better part of 
valour, not to travel by land, as a man like the Earl of 


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Mulgrave or Sir John Keene would have done; but 
keeping his person secure within the bulwarks of a 
war steamer, where no stray bullet was at all likely to 
reach him, and prepared, as results abundantly showed, 
to " cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war ! " Seldom 
have * these significant words received a more fearful 
comment. Havoc attended upon his footsteps; and, 
like the hungry hounds of Cuba, the savage hordes 
which he let loose upon the people without any check to 
their ferocity, and with no instructions but to ravage 
and destroy, gorged themselves with blood. 

The official despatches sent to the Colonial Office by 
Governor Eyre himself, containing the reports furnished 
by military and naval officers, and commanders of the 
volunteer detachments, delated such deeds of cruelty, 
breathed such remorseless vengeance, and boasted of 
such wholesale and indiscriminate slaughter, as to call 
forth, as soon as they appeared, one general burst of 
indignation from the religious public and the newspaper 
press of Great Britain, and elicited loud cries of shame 
and reprobation from the newspapers of other countries. 
Some of these boastfol statements were afterwards 
disclaimed, or retracted, by their authors, and others 
modified and toned down, so far as they could 
contrive to do it without making the direct acknow- 
ledgment that they had attempted to obtain a cheap 
kind of glory by putting forth wilful falsities, and 
boasting of imaginary victories over defenceless men, 
and women, and children. But enough remains, fully 
substantiated on oath before the Eoyal Commission, to 
make it manifest that the alleged atrocities of the 
riotous Negroes had been far outdone by British 
officers and British soldiers and sailors ; and that the 
designation '^monsters of cruelty^* was far more appli- 
cable to the whites than to the blacks. Many of the 

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barbarities practised by the white troops, the volun* 
teers, the blacks of the West India regiments, and the 
Maroons, never came fully to light ; and many doubt- 
less are altogether hidden with the murdered in the 
hasty graves to which they were ruthlessly consigned, 
until that day when all secrets will be revealed; but 
quite sufficient was established during the investigations 
of the Royal Commissioners, and not unfrequently by 
the reluctant testimony drawn from the perpetrators 
themselves, to show that during that reign of terror 
called " martial law,^^ extending over thirty days, the 
east end of Jamaica became a pandemonium of crime ; 
and deeds were enacted under British authority, and in 
the name of Britain's Sovereign, that equal, if they do 
not exceed, the worst excesses of the Russians in Poland, 
and fix a stain upon the honour of the nation that ages 
will not wipe away. 

Two days after the outbreak. Governor Eyre proceeded 
to Morant Bay, and at once commissioned and sent out his 
agents of destruction, eager for the slaughter. It is a 
very significant fact, and illustrates the character and 
disposition of the man, that the first life taken under the 
newly proclaimed martial law was taken in the presence 
of the Governor himself, under his own directions, and 
almost under his own hand. The Council of War was 
held on the morning of the 13th of October, at which 
it was determined to proclaim martial law. This was 
done ; and the same afternoon Mr. Eyre embarked for 
Morant Bay, from whence he went on at night, in the 
" Onyx '' gun-boat, under the command of the notorious 
Lieutenant Brand, to Port Morant, a distance of some 
six miles; and by morning light on the 14th were 
initiated those scenes of slaughter/ which marked the 
history of the several succeeding weeks. 

At Port Morant, a terror-stricken person, named 
K 2 

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Hague, one of the Custom House officials, complained 
to the Governor, and those who were with him, concern- 
ing a black man in the village, named Fleming, that he 
had held out some threats against himself. This was 
enough for men who were athirst for blood. It was 
midnight when the Governor and his party landed at 
Port Morant, and immediately Captain Ross and 
twenty-five men were sent to capture Fleming. It was- 
sufficient proof that he was no leader of rebels, that he 
was found quietly at home in his own house, and not- 
associated with any armed force; nor was there the- 
slightest reason to believe that he was in any way mixed 
up with the tragic events which had transpired at 
Morant Bay. But there, on the spot, in the dark hours- 
of the morning, a pretended court-martial was impro*^ 
vised. It consisted of a Mr. Lewis, just made an 
officer of volunteers; a Mr. Fyfe, a stipendiary^ magis-^ 
trate, newly appointed to command the Maroons ; aud 
Captain Hunt, the Governor's own secretary. A few 
minutes sufficed for this mockery of a British tribunal 
to pronounce the man guilty ; for the Governor was close 
at hand, looking on, with that pattern soldier. Brigadier 
Nelson, waiting anxiously for the man's conviction; 
and before the poor fellow was well awake he was- 
sentenced to be executed forthwith. Dragged from his 
bed in the middle of the night, and placed at once on 
trial, before men bent upon putting him to death, there 
was neither time nor opportunity for defence. Imme- 
diately the man was condemned, Mr. Eyre, the repre- 
sentative of England's Queen, took upon him the office 
of provost-marshal, bearing an active part in this cruel 
outrage. He wrote a note to Mr. Brand, and sent it to 
him on board the gun-boat "Onyx," directing that worthy 
to come ashore immediately, and bring a rope with him, 
and perform the functions of assistant hangman. How 

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^iignified and fitting this in a British Governor, and the 
commander of one of Her Majesty^s vessels of war ! 
Such an office and such employment were perfectly 
congenial to Lieutenant Srand ; and he at once obeyed 
the summons, and hastened ashore to perform the 
dishonourable task assigned to him. Such a scene 
was surely never exhibited in a British colony before, 
amongst all the strange doings our colonies have wit- 
nessed : a naval commander, whose rank is supposed to 
be that of a gentleman, invading the unenviable province 
of Calcraft's assistant ; and His Excellency, the repre- 
sentative of Britain's Sovereign, invading that of Calcraft 
himself, superintending and directing the details of this 
heartless execution. It is well that the sun had not 
yet risen, to shed his rays upon such a deed of shame, 
And that the whole of this repulsive procedure was 
-shrouded in the darkness that best befitted it. 

No time was lost in erecting a gallows, but one was 
improvised for the occasion. The thirst for life could 
not wait for customary forms ; so the bough of a neigh- 
bouring tree was selected for the purpose. The poor 
victim, scarcely conscious of the doom awaiting him, 
was tied, and hurried to the spot by the lieutenant 
hangman and his helpers, the rope placed upon his 
throat, and the other end thrown over and made fast to 
the branch of the tree. A door, hastily torn from its 
hinges, was made to serve the purpose of a scaffold ; and 
this being kicked from under him, the wretched man 
was swung off to die. But, done in such haste, the 
cruel deed is not well done; it is sadly and cruelly 
bungled. We will, to avoid mistake, give the remainder 
of the tragedy in the words of Mr. Lewis, one of the 
members of the court-martial that condemned Fleming,, 
as given by him upon oath, very reluctantly, before the 
Royal Commissioners : — 

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" He was hung upon a tree, and the trap was a door, a 
temporary one. This being taken away, the bough gave 
way, and his feet slightly touched the ground. Lieutenant 
Brand went up to him with a revolver, and fired twice inta 
him ; and a soldier then came up, and fired into his breast, 
and that was the end of Fleming." 

And with that red hand, stained with this cruel deed, 
this man Brand went, soon after, to preside at the mock 
trial of George William Gordon ! Who can be sur- 
prised that the result should be what it was ? Brand 
boasted of this transaction, as if he had performed some 
feat honourable to an officer in Her Majesty's navy : 
*' He had the pleasure of hanging the first damned rebel, 
named Fleming, at Port Morant ; but nothing would 
give him greater pleasure than to hang this damned son 

of a , Gordon .'' Only that it is a fact proved 

beyond all doubt, it could scarcely be believed that, in 
any part of the dominions of Queen Victoria, a man of 
such low, brutal nature and language could be allowed 
to sit as president of a court that disposed of the lives 
of several hundreds of British subjects, In the haiids 
of such a person, poor Gordon had no more chance of 
escape, or.of being justly dealt witli, than if he had been 
in the jaws of a tiger. 

All the time this bad deed was being enacted. Governor 
Eyre was looking on ; feasting his eyes upon the cruel 
slaughter of a man who had been fifteen years in the 
employment of the gentleman whose servant he was, 
when dragged from his bed to be put to death. Having 
thus with his own hand participated in initiating an 
unparalleled series of crimes and murders, — for his 
hand penned the note which brought the assistant 
hangman with his rope to perfect the tragedy, — he 
returned to Morant Bay, where similar scenes 
occurred in the course of the day, to be succeeded by 

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hundreds more, until they were finally checked by the 
indignant voice of an outraged people. 

" There can be no doubt," says Mr. Gorrie, " that the 
trial and execution of Fleming, under the eye of Mr. Eyre 
himself, had a most important effect upon the mode in which 
affairs were afterwards conducted. Many of the chief actors 
in the subsequent proceedings were present : General Nelson, 
who was the officer in command ; Lieutenant Brand, who 
presided at the court-martial at Morant Bay ; Colonel Lewis, 
(militia,) who presided, or sat, on courts-martial there or 
elsewhere ; Captain Hunt, who presided at courts-martial at 
Port Antonio ; and Mr. Fyfe, who became chief of the 
Maroons ; and all learned that their proceedings gave satis- 
faction to the Governor. 

" At the worst, the unhappy wretch Fleming had only 
been guilty of brawling or rioting, without injuring any 
individual, assuming the charges against him to have been 
proved. He was not accused of having been at Morant Bay 
when the justices and volunteers were killed : he was not 
taken in arms, or at the head of any organized body of men, 
offering resistance to constituted authority. The offence 
of which he was accused had been committed, if at all, before 
the proclamation of martial law, the date of which was the 
13th of October, so that his trial by court-martial was ille- 
gal : that is to say, the Governor of the island, Mr. Eyye, the 
three military men who constituted the court-martial, 
General Nelson, who ordered "and approved of the proceed- 
ings, and Lieutenant Brand, who was induced by Mr. Eyre 
to act as executioner, took upon themselves duties which 
could only be performed by the civil law Judges and ordinary 
instruments of the law, and put a subject of Her Majesty 
to death, whom they had no authority to try. Moreover, 
the mode in which the proceedings were carried out, was 
singularly repulsive, and calculated, when approved of by 
the Governor, to make military men regardless of human 
life and the requirements of justice^ Fleming was appre- 
hended about four o'clock in the morning : he got no oppor- 

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tunity of preparing his defence ; be was at once tried, and 
executed the same morning by six o'clock^ Even if he had 
been the worst rebel that ever shook a throne, this haste 
would have been indecent and repulsive. But thus to seize 
and hurry to death an obscure subject of Her Majesty, who 
was not caught in any overt act of resistance to authority, 
is worthy of the utmost condemnation." 

Thus it was that Governor Eyre himself inaugurated a 
series of butcheries, since pronounced by the highest legal 
authority of the realm to be as much at variance with the 
law as they are shocking to humanity. The military 
force brought to Morant Bay was at once marched off 
in different detachments, overspreading the country; 
but nowhere did they find any indications of the wide- 
spread rebellion which was made the pretext for the 
atrocities committed by the military themselves. In no 
direction did they find any armed force of rebels. 
They encountered no resistance : they found no collec- 
tion of ammunition or arms of any kind. Moving in 
larger bodies, or in smaller companies of two or three, 
or half-a-dozen, not a single shot was fired at them, no 
hand was anywhere raised to oppose them. The pre- 
tence of a rebellion and a rebellious conspiracy against 
the Government, was as impudent a fabrication as was 
ever attempted to be imposed upofi a credulous commu- 
nity. After the outbreak at Morant Bay, provoked, as 
we have seen, by the indiscretion of the authorities, a 
riotous mob assembled in two or three different direc- 
tions ; but everywhere the appearance of the military 
was sufficient to disperse them ; and the gallantry of 
these military heroes was expended in making war upon 
a defenceless and unresisting people, including the sick, 
and lame, and blind, and women and children, and 
burning down the dwelling-houses of thousands who 
were as ignorant of all that had taken place at Morant 

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Bay as if they had been the inhabitants of another 
country. Two days after the proclamation of martial 
law. Governor Eyre himself pronounced the rebellion to 
be at an end; and, in his despatch to the Colonial 
Secretary, dated October 20th, only one week after 
martial law was in force, he wrote : " No stand has ever 
been. made against the troops; and though we are not 
Only in complete military occupation, but have traversed 
with troops all the disturbed districts, not a single 
casualty has befallen any of our soldiers or sailors, and 
they are all in good health/' Several days later, the 
Governor, in another despatch, writes : " Even in the 
district to the eastward, where the rebellion actually 
broke out, there was no attempt to resist ; an organized 
force, of only thirty-five men, marched through the 
heart of the disturbed district, from Port Morant to the 
Rhine, beyond Bath/' Thus Governor Eyre himself 
shows, what was amply proved before the Commission- 
ers, that there was no rebellion — ^nothing beyond a 
sudden local riot — to sanction in any degree the havoc 
and bloodshed to which the country and its defenceless 
inhabitants were given up for several weeks by the man 
whose office bound him to be their protector. 

From British soldiers and sailors, especially from 
British military and naval officers, who are supposed to 
be, from their education and profession, gentlemen and 
men of honour, we were entitled to expect something 
like the exercise of moderation and humanity, when 
dealing with an unarmed and unresisting people. But 
whether it was that the Governor had animated them 
with the same ferocious spirit he had himself displayed 
in disposing of the unhappy man Fleming, or that other 
influences were brought to bear upon them, certain it 
is, that officers and men alike seemed, when let loose 
upon the defenceless black people, thousands of whom 

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were innocent of all intention to do wrong, to be more 
like incarnate fiends than men ; reveUing in cruelty and 
slaughter, and carrying destruction and ruin wherever 
they came. The gallantry of the troops and volunteers 
was loudly boasted of, but with wonderfully small 
reason. This boasted gallantry was certainly not dis- 
played in meeting any attack of a brave and determined 
foe, on somewhat like equal terms, but in shooting 
down unarmed and unresisting men and boys, who, 
frightened at the sight of a red coat, were flying to the 
shelter of the bush, pot caring to trust themselves to 
the tender mercies of these heroes ; and in turning out 
feeble women and their little children from their 
homes, and desolating those homes with fire. In no 
instance was a hand uplifted to oppose them ; yet these 
wonderfully heroic soldiers left a thousand families 
without the shelter of a roof. If ever a body of men 
earned a title to be branded as cowards, surely none 
can dispute the title in the case of the heartless body of 
destroyers let loose upon the parish of St. Thoraas-in- 
the>East by Mr. Eyre. A gentleman who accompanied 
the first detachment of troops that marched through 
what was called '^ the disturbed district,^^ on the next 
day after the proclamation of martial law, under the 
command of Ensign CuUen, who was afterwards tried 
on a charge of murder, told me that, although they met 
with not the slightest resistance, such was the ferocity 
of these men, that if he had not been present to exer- 
cise some restraint upon them, they would not have 
left a single black person alive, or a Negro dwelling un- 
destroyed, on all the line of their march between Port 
Morant and Bath. As it was, blood and fire marked 
their course. The accounts given by some of the offi- 
cers of their own exploits, and published in the news- 
papers or in the Governor's despatches, caused men to 

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stand aghast at the excesses they described; and it 
was these, and these alone, that called forth such an 
outburst of indignation from the British public as ren- 
dered it necessary for the Government at home at once 
to supersede Governor Eyre, and appoint a Royal Com- 
mission to investigate the doings of the authorities in 

Colonel Hobbs was one who particularly distinguished 
himself by what, with sad perversion of language, was 
called " his gallantry,^' in making war upon a noncom- 
batant people, and by the manner in which he boasted 
of his deeds, — deeds which would fix upon any man a 
lasting stigma of infamy. Amongst the earliest des- 
patches made public, there was one from this officer, 
commanding a British regiment, in which occurs the 
following passage, scarcely to be paralleled for its cool 
and ineffable atrocity : — " About daylight this morn- 
ing, in passing through the village of Cross Roads, where 
the rebels destroyed every thing, I found a number of 
special constables, who had captured a number of 
prisoners from the rebel camp.^' (A mere figure of 
speech this, as no traces of the existence of any rebel 
cam p were ever discovered.) " Finding their guilt clear,^^ 
(without any trial or defence,) " and unable to take or 
leave them, I had them all shot. The constables then 
hung them upon trees, eleven in number. Their coun- 
tenances were all diabolical, and they never flinched the 
very slightest.^^ Thus, without even a form of trial, 
simply as a matter of convenience, — for he could not 
take them or leave them, — this British officer puts eleven 
British subjects to death, who were probably as innocent 
of all rebellion as himself j and, not content with simply 
murdering them, he causes the dead bodies to be 
treated with insulting and revolting indignity. One of 
the offences alleged against the black rioters at Morant 

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Bay was, that they treated their dead victims with bar- 
barous outrage, by wantonly mutilating and heaping 
indignity upbn the bodies of the slain. This was clearly 
disproved ; but here we have a white gentleman, and 
■an officer high in command in Her Majesty's service, 
boasting of doing foul dishonour to the dead bodies of 
his slaughtered victims. After destroying life by shoot- 
ing . them, in a spirit of barbarism which would have 
been disgraceful in a North American savage, he caused 
the senseless reinains to be hung up on the sur- 
rounding trees. This occurred at a place called Chiego 

Next day this gentleman. Colonel Hobbs, shot nine 
more at Fonthill, and after that sixteen at Coley ; and 
so little care was taken to ascertain anything concern- 
ing the guilt or innocence of these slaughtered victims, 
that the officers acting under Hobbs admitted to the 
Commissioners, when examined upon oath, that of 
twenty-eight they put to death, they did not even know 
the names of eighteen. As none of them were taken 
in arms, or actual resistance to constituted authority, 
we can understand how very little trouble was taken to 
<Jiscover that these poor creatures had done anything 
deserving death, when even their names remained 

Colonel Hobbs not only dishonoured the dead, but, 
with sacrilegious impiety, he did what he could to 
dishonour the places devoted to prayer and the worship 
of God ; causing the dead bodies of some he had killed 
to be hung up to the rafters, and left there to decay, 
until the friends of the murdered came by stealth to 
take them away and consign them to their more 
appropriate resting-place in the dust. As if lost to 
all shame and decency, he boasted in his despatches of 
the methods he adopted to add refinement to cruelty 

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and murder. He said, " I shot nine of the Fonthill 
rebels in a chapel, where their leader commenced with 
prayers, and ended with blasphemy and sedition ; and I 
there adopted a plan which struck immense terror into 
these wicked men, far more than death; which is, I 
caused them to hang each other. They entreated to be 
shot, to avoid this, which appears to me to be far more 
dreadful an ordeal to them^ than death.^' 

'' This description,^' says Mr. Gorrie, ^^ scarcely does 
justice to the mode of punishment adopted. Before 
the victims were hung, they were first shot; and the 
general body of prisoners, whether tried or not, were 
ordered to take up the bleeding bodies of their former 
friends and neighbours, and hang them to the rafters of 
the building where together they had engaged in the 
worship of God." 

This Colonel Hobbs shot thirteen men at Monklands, 
all at once, thinking no doubt it was capital sport to 
make a battiie of his fellow-men. He had a trench 
dug, and made the unfortunate men kneel with their 
backs towards it. The soldiers drawn up for the 
purpose fired at the sound of the bugle, or the word 
of command. Some, not killed, cried out with pain; 
and the soldiers ordered them with brutal curses to 
shut their mouths, or they would blow their brains out. 
They gave two or three who were wounded a close shot 
to finish them. Even after this one George Rankin 
remained alive. The soldiers were in the act of throw- 
ing the earth into the trench to fill it up, covering both 
the living and the dead, when Hobbs gave orders that 
the pickaxe should be used to finish Rankin. ^^ It is 
capable of proof," says Mr. Gorrie, " by living witnesses, 
that the brutal order was executed, and the man killed 
with the pickaxe ; but if not, he was buried alive." 

When writing his despatches, in which he made a 

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boast of his sanguinary deeds^ Colonel Hobbs little 
thought that ere long he would be compelled to appear 
before the Royal Commissioners, and testify to these 
things upon oath. Such, however, was the case, and 
there he was made to swear to his own infamy. A 
short time after, either shame or remorse, or both 
together, overwhelmed him, and his reason became 
unsettled; and embarking, after the lapse of a few 
weeks, for England, this butcher of the innocent jumped 
overboard, and found a watery grave. Apologists for 
the wrong doings of those days have said, "Hobbs 
was mad when he wrote his despatches, and perpeti-ated 
the cruelties those documents described/^ Should a 
madman, such as it is said that Hobbs was, have 
been let loose upon the poor defenceless Negroes to 
ravage and destroy? That he became mad is very 
probable: this was doubtless the result of the 
shame and remorse which overwhelmed him, when the 
outcry of an indignant public aroused him to a 
sQuse of the enormities of which he had been guilty; 
and was permitted in the operations of that retributive 
Providence which often causes the sins of the wicked to 
come upon their own heads, and cuts off the bloody and 
deceitful man before he has lived out half his days. 

When before the Royal Commissioners, he manifestly 
laboured under a painful sense of the infamy which his 
boasted deeds had brought upon him; and he endeavoured 
to shelter himself under a letter penned by a man of 
kindred spirit, an officer named Elkington, who was 
acting as Deputy Adjutant- General. Revelling in the 
scent of blood, this man wrote to Colonel Hobbs, 
October 18th, a letter which he (Hobbs) regarded as 
official, urging him on to the slaughter of the Negroes. 
It was couched in the following terms : — 

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chapter it* 63 

^*Deab Colonel, 

" I SEND you an order to push on at once to Stony Gut : 
but I trust you are there already. Hole is doing splendid 
service with his men all about Manchioneal, and shooting 
€very black man who cannot account for himself. (Sixty 
on line of march.) Nelson is at Port Antonio, hanging 
like fun by court-martial. I hope you will not send in any 
prisoners. Civil law can do nothing. Lots of food for 
you at Gardens. Send for boots if you need them at 
Newcastle, and write to me if you want ammunition as 
well at Newcastle, for I' will send more to them. Do 
punish the blackguards well. 

** Yours in haste, 

« J. Elkington, D.A.G." 

Who would have thought it possible that such 
ruffianism could be found amongst gentlemen of the 
British army? "Who could have imagined that there 
were to be found men holding commissions in Her 
Majesty^s service brutal enough to write such a 
letter, or base enough to act upon such, sanguinary 
instructions ? 

Colonel Hobbs belonged to the 6th Regiment of Foot, 
the officers and men of which distinguished themselves 
in the bloody doings of those days, in Jamaica, beyond 
their fellows. It would be scarcely justice to this 
gallant body of British soldiers that their heroic deeds 
should not be made known, or that the glorious victories 
achieved by them over defenceless women and boys, 
and the blind, and lame, and infirm, should not be 
recorded. The following facts were testified on oath 
before the Royal Commissioners. 

At Fonthill, on Friday, October the 20th, some 
soldiers belonging to this gallant 6th Regiment, slept 
in the cottage of a Negro named Cherrington, who 
treated them with kind hospitality, furnishing them with 

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dry clothes and a dinner. Ou Sunday, two days after, 
two t)f them returned to the cottage ; and while the wife 
was absent for a few moments in a neighbour's house, 
without the slightest provocation, they brutally mur- 
dered the husband Cherrington, and then proceeded to 
plunder the house. After driving out the children 
whom they had made fatherless, they were about to set 
fire to the cottage, when the opportune arrival upon the 
spot of a neighbouring constable prevented this con- 
summation of their villany. The widow produced to 
the Commissioners the bullet with which her husband 
was killed. 

At Stony Gut a boy was wantonly shot by Lieutenant 
Oxley's party, when they visited that locality. The 
little fellow had unexpectedly come upon the military ; 
and when he saw them, he turned round and attempted 
to run and escape, when these gallant soldiers fired upon 
and killed the lad. He had not been away from home, 
and had taken no part in the riot at Morant Bay. The 
body lay unburied until the vultures gathered about it, 
when the neighbours summoned courage to hide away 
the festering remains in the earth. 

At a very pleasant and flourishing village, called 
Somerset, there resided an old man named Richard 
Graham, blind and infirm through old age, so that he 
could not move about without being led. On Tuesday, 
the 17th of October, when the soldiers of the gallant 
6th were displaying their courage in burning the 
houses of the helpless inhabitants, this blind old man 
was found sitting quietly at the door of his cottage, in 
the sunshine, supposing that his age and infirmities 
would be a sufficient protection from violence. But the 
gallant 6th respected neither age nor infirmity. It 
was enough for them that any person had a black 
skin ; that was sufficient proof in their eyes that he 

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must be a rebel. A nephew of the old man who lived 
with him, when he saw these heroes approaching, hid 
himself in the bush until the soldiers should take their 
departure. From his hiding-place close at hand, the 
young man heard a gun fired in the yard; and on 
coming forth after the destroyers were gone, he pro- 
ceeded to the spot, and found the old man dead. These 
brave soldiers of Her Majesty's 6th Regiment had 
gained a distinguished victory over the blind old man, 
and shot him; and to celebrate and complete their 
triumph, they had set fire to the poor man's house, and 
the body was partly consumed in the flames. The 
nephew and a son of the old man buried his charred 
remains. Both their houses were also burnt, after 
being plundered by the soldiers, who carried off all 
their clothes, even those belonging to their little 

About the same time, a party of these white soldiers 
went to Garbrand Hall, and entered the house of a black 
man, named James Johnson, who had just returned 
from Morant Bay, whither he had been taken as a pri- 
soner, but had been released on the interposition of a 
Mr. Miller, who had previously known him, and the 
good character he bore. When the soldiers came to- 
the house, his wife, Catherine Johnson, was sitting at 
the door, with her baby in her arms ; the husband, who 
had just come in from his ground, having gone to an 
adjacent building to obtain a light for his pipe. The 
soldiers inquired of the woman where her husband was,, 
and she replied, " He is gone to the kitchen." While 
shie was speaking, he made his appearance ; when the 
soldiers, turning to him, inquired if he was one of the 
rebels? He said, "No;'' and, as the word fell from, 
his lips, they fired, and shot him dead ; — only the wife 
and their little son were present. The ruffians then sei^ 


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the house on fire, tod the body of the murdered man 
was likely to hav« been burned inside, before the newly 
widowed woman could summon help. Two young men, 
a cousin and brother-in-law, came and rescued the body 
from the flames, and dug a grave, and buried it. The 
bereaved woman, thus wantonly deprived of her home 
and her husband, found shelter with another widow, 
whose husband had been slaughtered at Morant Bay. 

At Monklands, two men were shot by these brave 
soldiers, one of whom was William Shann. He was a 
lame man, helpless from numerous sores, so that it was 
with difficulty he could move about. As these heroes 
of the 6th Regiment went past, he was lying on a bench 
at the front of his cottage. His mother thus described 
the scene, in her evidence given before the Commis- 
sioners: — "Two soldiers came to the door-mouth: I 
rose up, and said, ^ Sirs, it is a sick person ; it is my son 
that is sick.^ Just as I said so, the other one fire off, 
and the young man drop down. They said afterwards 
they were truly sorry it was an innocent person, but 
they canH help it, it was done already, they only do their 
duty. They say they thought it was a rebel ; they were 
very sorry, but they can^t help it.^' 

On the same day, at Mount Libanus, two soldiers of 
the same battalion seized a woman, Mrs. Rebecca Telfer, 
and demanded from her her marriage ring. She said it 
was lost ; but one of the soldiers said he did not believe 
her statement, and cried out, " Shoot her ! shoot her ! ^^ 
She bent down, and said, '^ Good massa, donH shoot me, 
for I donH know any thing at all. If you shoot me, who 
is to take care of my little children ? '^ She begged 
hard for her life, and gave them two shillings, which was 
all the money she had, to induce them to let her go. 
Her house had already been bnmt down, and she was 
sheltering in a small kitchen that had escaped the flames. 

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The soldiers then seized upon her, and endeavoured to 
force her to enter the small building with them. She 
resisted them with all her might; when, just at that 
juncture, her father-in-law, John Telfer, who lived near 
at hand, appeared upon the scene, having heard the 
noise she made in struggling with them. The soldiers, 
irritated at his appearance to interfere with their vile 
purposes, instantly seized their rifles, and shot him 
•down ; and she took the opportunity of their releasing 
iher, to snatch up her two children, and escape into the 

On the 22nd of October, four white soldiers were 
^aken by a Mr. Christopher Codr^Dgton to his house at 
Bose Garden, where they took dinner. When they re-, 
turned,, in the evening, to David Mayne's shop at Long 
Bay, two constables were there with two prisoners, named 
James Sparkes and Johnson Speed. They proceeded at 
once to tie Sparkes to a tree, and gave him a hundred 
lashes. They then tied .up Johnson Speed, and had 
given him eighty-five lashes, when the cat broke. One 
of the soldiers ran into the shop, and brought a horse- 
whip to finish the flogging ; but the other interfered, 
and prevetited him, saying it was not the right thing to 
beat a man with. One of the bystanders was here asked 
by the soldiers whether the man Speed had done any 
thing during the disturbances ; evidently seeking a pre- 
text for further villany. He replied that, when Mr. 
Hinchelwood's house was burning, Speed was there. 
"The soldier who was flogging him then said, " Where is 
my rifle ?'^ The man cried out, "Lord, I don't do 
nothing, and Igoing to dead/^ The soldier levelled his 
rifle, and fired ; but either it contained no ball, or he 
had missed. He loaded again, and fired, hitting the 
poor victim in the middle of his back, as he was tied to 
the tree. Another soldier then stepped up, as he 

F 2 

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dropped writhing upon the ground, as far as ther cordfe* 
would allow him to fall, and, putting his rifle to the man^s^ 
ear, scattered his brains all around. These were soldiers 
belonging to the second battalion of Her Majesty^* 6th 
Begiment of Foot, — '^ the gallant 6th" 

The 6th Regiment was greatly lauded in some of the 
island newspapers, and the gallantry of its officers and 
men made the subject of high-sounding praise; as if 
they had bravely met and overcome some hostile force^ 
vastly superior to themselves. Whereas, they never 
heard a shot fired except by themselves, and never saw 
an enemy, unless we may regard as enemies a few terri- 
fied black men and women and children ; who, totally 
unarmed, and never dreaming of resistance, fled in terroi^ 
at the sight of their red coats. All the laurels they ever 
won in Jamaica were gained by shooting down a flying 
people, and making war upon the old, and blind, and 
lame, turning helpless families out of their homes, and: 
burning down their dwellings. Wherever this regiment 
goes, its gallant deeds ought to be proclaimed, that due 
honour may be rendered to the heroic conquerors of 
feeble and unresisting Negroes. 

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The same spirit animated the other troops^ both 
Tolunteers and regular soldiers^ who were marched to 
the eastern part of Jamaica^ to assist in patting down 
the imaginary rebellion ; and deeds were enacted^ the 
bare recital of which awakens both shame and indigna- 
tion. Some instances of these^ taken at random from 
the evidence sworn to before the Royal Commissioners, 
will further serve to show how the black subjects of Her 
Majesty in Jamaica were dealt with, under the sanc- 
tion of Governor Eyre, during the thirty days of 
^martial law. 

Rosa M^Bean left her husband on the 14th of Octo- 
^ber to go to Manchester market. On her way she met 
:some soldiers, and they shot her. She was, however, 
not killed outright, and was taken home to her hus- 
Jband, to whom she related how she had been wounded. 
At the same time, and the same place, two men were 
wantonly killed, and another wounded, who, when the 
Commissioners were in the island, still lay in the hospital 
at Kingston. 

Joshua Francis, an old black man, was sexton of a 
church at Monklands. When leaving the church on 
Tuesday, the 17th of October, he was walking along the 
highway with the keys in his hand, Smd was wantonly 
ahot down by the soldiers, whom he was unfortunate 
enough to meet, and literally riddled with balls, these 
heroes having made a target of the poor old Negro. 
This was done without the slightest provocation. They 
also burned the house ia iH^hich he Uve^ with h^s 

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daughter, and took away every thing valuable they had 
in their possession. Some days afterwards the soldiers 
returned, and were about to bum a small house in which 
the daughter had taken refuge with her husband, wha 
was sick. She entreated one of the officers to save it 
for the sake of her children ; and on her telling him 
that she was the daughter of the slaughtered sexton, he 
gave orders that the house should not be destroyed. 

Some Maroons went to MilPs River, to the house of 
a black man named Robert Bailey. His wife was stand- 
ing at the door of the cottage, and the man who was 
leader of the party bade her " good evening,^^ and in- 
quired for her son, William Bailey. She said he was in- 
the house, very sick with fever. The Maroons entered 
the house, and shot the sick youth as he lay upon his- 
bed. They afterwards laid hands upon the father of the 
young man, and made him turn his face towards them, 
and then wantonly shot him down in the yard, with 
another man, named Robert Walker, who happened to 
be present. After this they set fire to the house, and 
then took their departure; carrying with them the- 
clothes of the murdered men, and whatever else they 
chose to bear away. 

At Harbour Head (Port Morant) some Maroons, 
entered the house of John Noble, a black man. He 
was sick, and had been lying bed-ridden for many 
years. They directed him to get up and go out of the 
house. He said he could not, for he was not able. 
They then forced him out, tied him up to a tree, and 
shot him, leaving him there dead, and giving instruc- 
tions that the body was to remain there and not to be 
buried. Briscoe, one of these ruffianly Maroons, who 
If as identified with many acts of wanton cruelty and 
murder, and called himself Captain Briscoe, said, in his 
examination before the Commissioners, that the maa 

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was shot for the crime of having a son who was a rioter; 
and he pretended that he was a receiver of stolen goods. 

Some black soldiers of the Ist West India Regiment 
laid hold of a man, named Sandy MTherson, near to 
Long Bay. They tied him, and were taking him along 
with them, a prisoner, when one of these savages levelled 
his musket and shot the poor fellow in the neck, and 
he fell dead. Another in the same village, who was 
hastening to get into his house when the white soldiers 
made their appearance, was caught by them, and shot 
in a similar way. 

On the 17th of October, a black soldier belonging to 
the 1st West India Regiment, on his way from Man-, 
chioneal to Long Bay, met some constables with four 
black prisoners in their charge. He inquired what 
these men were, and being informed they were prisoners, 
he deliberately took them, one by one, and, placing them 
at a convenient distance, shot them all in detail. The 
same soldier had, a short time before, in sheer wanton- 
ness, shot a bull, the skeleton of which, picked clean 
by the vultures, lay upon the turnpike road when the 
Commissioners were carrying on their investigations. 
The soldier proceeded to Long Bay, where he found in 
the custody of a person named Berry six black prisoners 
suspected of stealing a sow, the property of one Christo- 
pher Codrington. The late manager of the Jamaica 
Cotton Company (then a justice of the peace) was 
present, with James Codrington, Mr. DaVid Mayne, and 
several constables and assistants. In the presence of 
them all, — and such was the panic-stricken condition of 
the whole country, in consequence of the misrepresenta- 
tions of Governor Eyre, and the atrocious proceedings 
of the military authorities, that none dared to interpose 
by a word, — this single soldier was permitted to take 
these untried prisoners out, one by one, and put them 

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to death by shooting them with his rifle, while the 

persons above named quietly stood by and looked upon 

the butchery. The widows of two of the victims, 

named Berry, appeared before the Royal Commissioners 

to give their dismal account of the tragedy which 

deprived them of their husbands. The next day after 

this brutal massacre had taken place, the sow the 

murdered men were supposed to have stolen, and for 

stealing which they had been put to death without any 

pretence of a trial, came out of the bush with a litter of 

young pigs, which sufficiently accounted for her disap^ 

pearance. Captain Hole, of the 2nd Battalion of the 

6th Regiment, was informed soon after how these six 

innocent persons had been shot ; but he seems to have 

made no eflfort to discover the murderer ; nor was any 

attempt ever made to bring him to justice. It would have 

been perfectly easy to do so ; for, the atrocious deed being 

perpetrated in the presence of numerous spectators, there 

could have been no difficulty in identifying the assassin. 

On the 17th of October, another unfortunate 

was seized upon by one of the Codringtons at Long 

Bay. His name was Henry Dean; and the witness, 

who stated the facts on oath, thus spoke of the man's 

arrest : — " He went and hid himself in the bush 

because he had heard that the soldiers shot all the 

people, and he heard also that Mr. James Codrington 

had sent to take his wife, and his wife was big with 

child. He did not wish her to be hurt; so before they 

killed his wife, he came out to be killed instead ; and as 

he came out, Mr. David Mayne ordered the constable 

to tie him. Mayne struck him across the face until 

his nose and mouth began to bleed. ^ Man ! man ! ' 

bawled the prisoner, ' what have I done to you ? ' He 

and two others were then tied behind a carriage, and 

compelled to run behind it to Manchioneal, and that 

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was the last that was seen of Henry Dean by those 
who knew him/^ On turning to the list of those who 
were put to death at Manchioneal there is found in it 
the name of G. H. Dean. 

David Burke was shot at Manchioneal. The soldiers 
ordered him to go before them, and point out rebels. 
"He was a big stout young man/* said a witness^ 
" and he walked quite lumber-like, and they cried, ' He 
is a rebel/ and shot him dead.** 

Andrew Clarke was shot in his own house at Man« 
chioneal, under the following circumstances, as described 
by his widow : — '^ I was sitting with the baby, and I 
saw a black soldier approach. He saiid to Andrew 
Clarke, 'Where are all the men*s goods you have? 
Please bring them out.* Clarke said, ' I have been 
sick for three months, and did not interfere.* The 
soldier then entered the ho^se, and searched it, but 
found nothing. Three other soldiers then came in and 
another man with them, and I explained to them that; 
it was John Murray*s house. They then shot my 
husband, and he dropped on his side and bawled for 
mercy : the soldiers told me to take myself out, and I 
came out. One of them then said, ' Put another 
bullet into that fellow*s head ; * and they blew out his 
brains. Having done all this, they then burnt the 
house with fire they had brought from the kitchen.** 

There was residing at Airy Castle, between Port 
Morant and Bath, a respectable black man, named 
James Williams. He was a member of the Methodist 
Church, maintaining his family in much comfort by 
his industry, and represented to me by his minister, the 
B;ev. W. C. Murray, who was intimately acquainted 
with him, as a man of superior intelligence and un- 
blemished reputation. During all the excitement that 
ioUowed the outbreak at Morant Bay, he kqpt to his 

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own house as much as possible^ and refrained from 
going abroad, that he might preserve himself and 
family from the perils by which they were surrounded. 
But no black man^s life was safe in those days,, what- 
ever might be his charactt^r and position, especially in 
that neighbourhood, where murder and rapine were 
rampant. In the same village there was living another 
person of the same name, James Williams, who had, 
at some previous time, in some way not known, inquired 
the enmity of the before-mentioned ruflSanly Maroon, 
who was intrusted with some petty command, and 
suflFered to assume the title of Captain Briscoe amongst 
the demi-savages to whose ranks he belonged. This 
was a favourable opportunity to gratify his vengeance 
with impunity; and he selected several of the men 
under his command, and sent them to wreak his malice 
upon the object of his dislike. They went to the village, 
and in answer to their inquiries were directed to the 
house of the firstruamed James Williams, who was both 
better known and more respected than his name-sake. 
He was at once seized and bound, the wife and family 
turned out of the house, and the place plundered of 
whatever the ruffians chose to take. The house was then 
set on fire, and burnt to the ground. The poor fellow, 
who could hardly persuade himself that they were in 
earnest, was, in spite of all remonstrances on his own 
part, and the entreaties of his family, dragged away to 
a marl-pit close at hand, and there ruthlessly shot to 
death. Immediately afterwards, Briscoe appeared 
upon the scene, and, on looking upon the mangled 
bleeding corpse, discovered that they had taken and 
put to death the wrong person. The men were at once 
dispatched in search of the other James Williams, whom 
they soon found, and dealt with in a similar way, putting 
him to death with their rifles, turning his wife and 

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children from their home^ and setting fire to their dwell- 
ing. On the 5th of May, this year, 1867, 1 was passing 
through the village of Airy Castle, on my way to 
conduct Divine service at Bath, when the driver of the 
vehicle in which I was travelling, pointing to a lovely 
spot embosomed in a rich grove of various fruit-trees, 
said, " There stood the house of James Williams,'* and, 
driving on a few rods further, he drew up the vehicle 
in front of a deep marl-pit by the side of the road, and, 
pointing his whip towards it, said, " There is the place 
where James Williams was shot by the Maroons, and 
I was there and saw it done/' These atrocities were 
reported by Mr. Murray, the Wesleyan Minister at 
Bath, to Mr. Fyfe, the commander of the Maroons ; but 
he made no attempt to have the murderers punished 
as they deserved. One beneficial result, however, 
followed Mr. Murray's interposition: Briscoe and his 
party, who had been sent to ravage and destroy through 
a wide extent of country, were recalled ; and thus, 
doubtless, many innocent lives were saved, and many 
dwellings preserved from desolation; for every step 
of this ruthless band was marked by rapine and blood. 
Great care was required afterwards to guard Mr. Murray 
against the vengeance of these Maroons, who had been 
disappointed in their anticipated feast of blood and 

It may not be out of place to remark here that the 
Maroons of Jamaica are not, as many suppose, the 
aborigines of the island, or their descendants. All the 
aboriginal inhabitants were exterminated by the 
Spaniards before the island became a British possession. 
When the Spainards surrendered the colony to the 
English, they left behind them a number of their 
African slaves, who, not caring to subject themselves to 
the will of new masters, betook themselves to the 

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mountain fastnesses^ and formed their own s^lements 
where it was exceedingly difficulty from the impracti- 
cable nature of the ground, to get at them. With these 
Spanish slaves originated the body of people known as 
the Maroons of Jamaica, accosaions being made to 
their number from time to 1;ime by runaway slaves 
escaping from English masters. Frequent collisions 
took place between them and the British authorities in 
the island ; and at the latter end of the last century 
attempts were made by the Government to subjugate 
these Arabs of the mountains. It was with the greatest 
difficulty, and after a large sacrifice both of treasure and 
life, that this was accomplished ; the Maroons resisting 
the attempt to invade their strongholds with much 
bravery, and repelling their assailants in many actions 
with great slaughter. On their submission, certain 
rights and privileges were conceded to them by treaty. 
During the continuance of slavery, these wild 
mountaineers were largely employed as a rural police, 
for the capture of fugitive slaves. A few of them have 
come under religious influence, and have attached 
themselves to Christian Churches in the neighbourhood 
of their mountain settlements ; but, for the most part, 
they are an ignorant and savage race, far removed from 
civilization, and well suited to be actors in such cruel 
and sanguinary proceedings as those which disgraced 
Jamaica in 1865. Governor Eyre summoned them in 
large numbers to assist in putting down the imaginary 
rebellion ; and let them loose, with other hungry dogs of 
-war, against the unfortunate and unresisting Negroes. 
After working wide-spread desolation and bloodshed 
through the eastern part of the island, to the disgrace 
of the colony, they were feted and honoured as if they 
had been the saviours of the country. 

Dr. Morris and Lieutenant CuUen, of the 6tK Begi- 

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ment, were charged with the murder of three men near 
the iron bridge at Golden Grove. It was sworn by 
eye-witnesses that the three men were shot without 
trials and one of them^ not being quite dead^ was dis- 
patched by the revolver of one of the murderers. The 
bodies were buried on the spot ; and after the accusa- 
tion was made against these officers, they were exhumed, 
leaving no doubt whatever as to the substantial truth 
of the allegation that the men were put to death as the 
witnesses stated. The accused officers were tried by 
court-martial on this charge ; but doubts were raised on 
some points, which furnished the opportunity for ac- 
quitting them. It is, however, beyond all question, 
that the three victims were brutally murdered by men 
calling themselves British officers. 

In those evil days, Provost-marshal Bamsay dis- 
tinguished himself by acts of brutality and ruffianism 
which have seldom been surpassed. He was understood 
to have been formerly connected with the army in some 
subordinate capacity; after which he became associated 
with the police establishment in Jamaica. For some 
reason unexplained, this individual was selected to fill 
the office of Provost-marshal during the reign of terror ; 
and the villanies related concerning him would appear 
to be fabulous and incredible, if so many of them had 
not been proved on oath, by unexceptionable testimony, 
before the Royal Commissioners. On the 14th of October 
Bamsay made his appearance in the streets of Bath, 
very early in the morning, crying aloud, "Martial law 
is proclaimed. God save the Queen .^^ An old soldier, 
named Peter Bruce, was appointed to act as Provost- 
marshal^s assistant. Accompanied by a man named 
Eirkland, a local Magistrate, and his assistant Bruce, 
Bamsay at once directed his footsteps to the gaol, where 
a number of prisoners had been already assembled. 

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having been brought in by the Maroons, and imme- 
diately proceeded to flog them^ without trials indiscrimi- 
nately, and without any authority except his own. One 
after another, a considerable number of these unfortu- 
nate people were thrown upon the ground, and held 
down by several persons, while they were lacerated with 
the cat ; Bamsay himself, as proved by the evidence of 
Kirkland before the Commissioners, flogging flfteen of 
them with his own hand. It was at this place that 
women, some of them in a state of pregnancy, were 
subjected to the lash by these monsters ; and here, as 
proved by the testimony of Assistant Provost-marshal 
Bruce, because the ordinary instruments of cruelty 
inflicted torture insufficient to gratify their san- 
guinary propensities, though made of strong knotted 
cord, and capable of causing terrible punishment, strings 
of twisted piano wire were added, to render the sufierings 
of the victims more excruciating and terrible. 

When Ramsay gave his orders for the flogging of the 
prisoners, Bruce made a cat according to the regimental 
style, with nine tails, and three knots on each tail ; but 
that was not considered sufficiently effective, and he was 
Kjrdered to make a cat of wire. They were made of 
<5ord and wire, mixed according to the taste of those who 
made them. The tails were not limited to nine, but 
amounted to sixteen or seventeen strands with wire 
around them, and the wire was often knotted so as to 
cut the skin. This was all proved on oath before the 
Bioyal Commissioners by the testimony of numerous 
witnesses ; and some remnants of these instruments of 
torture, which had been overlooked when Colonel Fyfe 
got the others destroyed out of the way, were produced 
before the Commissioners. " Were the punishments 
very severe ? '' was a question asked of Bruce. His 
answer was, '^O, very! I have seen amongst soldiers 

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three hundred lashes in the armjr^ but I never saw any- 
thing like this/' 

The evidence of Thomas Beckford^ a butcher at Bath^ 
gives a good idea of the horrors of the time : — 

*' Mr. Kirkland sent to say I must go and assist to flog the 
people. I said I didn't able to flog ; I never did ; it would 
be bard for me to flog and to be killing beef. He said, if 
I did not flog, I would get a hundred lashes. I was com- 
pelled, for tbe sword and gun of the Maroon were around me. 
It was about the middle of martial law. On Friday the 
13th, tbe regiment came up from Kingston. On Monday 
I began to kill beef for the Maroons ; and on Wednesday, 
October 18th, I flogged forty-nine people that day. . I 
know that one, Alick Taylor, had one hundred lashes, and 
was hanged. G-eorge Tyrerhad one hundred, William Burke 
had one hundred, Thomas Bolton had one hundred, Daniel 
Taylor had one hundred, Toby Butler had one hundred, and 
was hanged. All the rest had fifty, twenty-five, or thirty. 
Nobody helped me that day. All the females had sixteen 
lashes. I cannot tell exactly how many were women ; about 
twenty. I think one Fanny Junor, who was heavy with 
ohUd, had nineteen lashes. She said she was, and she was 
sent to be examined, and they said she was not. Married 
women examined her. She was big with child at that time. 
The female cat was like this, — a piece of knotted twine. 
Some had seventeen and some sixteen lashes strung with it, all 
with knots the same as this. The men were flogged with this 
cat (specimen produced). There were about sixteen or seven- 
teen strands Uke that, all with wire round in that way, and 
aU that length, put into a good piece'of stick. I took that 
piece, and kept it since that time. My hand'got tired with 
flogging, and I cried out, and they mixed a glass of rum and 
water to give me strength. Mr. Kirkland sent it to me* 
I began about nine in the morning, and I^neverjleft oS till 
about four in the afternoon." 

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Amongst the victims at Bath were two persons, Jasper 
Hall Livingstone and his wife Cecilia, both of them 
members of the Wesleyan Church at that place, under 
the care of the Rev. W. C. Murray, the native Wes- 
leyan Missionary then stationed there. The man was 
put to death, after being brutally flogged; and the 
poor woman, although pregnant, was subjected to 
the torture of the cat, part of the punishment 
being inflicted with the diabolical instrument made of 
iron wire. The only crime committed by them was 
knocking at the gate of a shop, where they were desirous 
of making some purchases. The following is the sub- 
stance of the evidence given by Mrs. Livingstone before 
the Commissioners : — 

" I am the widow of Jasper Hall Livingstone. On Thurs- 
day, the 13th of October, I told my husband I wanted 
something, and if he would carry me to Joe Williams' shop 
in Bath. We went to the gate, and the gate was locked, • 
and we asked if they would let us in. The young inan said 
he could not let us in to-day. Joseph Williams afterwards 
pointed out my husband to Mr. Kirkland, and said he had 
attempted to break into the shop. They took him to Mr. 
Xirkland's yard. Joseph Williams said something against 
him. He was ordered to have a hundred lashes. I ^as 
there and saw it. He fell o£P the cart to which he was tied. 
He fainted away. Water was thrown upon him. Mr. 
Kirkland ordered him to be sent to Morant Bay." (In the 
list of those executed at Morant Bay is the name of Jasper 
Livingstone, October 27th, charged with plunder and rebel- 
lion ; the fact of himself and wife knocking at the gate in 
open day, and before many witnesses, where they wished to 
purchase necessaries, being made to bear this construction.) 
** I was taken before Mr. Kirkland the same day as my hus- 
band was flogged. The same Joseph Williams gave evidence 
against me. I was tied to the cart. They gave me twenty- 

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six- lashes. I was then in the family way. I did not tell 
them 80. I am eight months now ; I was four months then. 
I was flogged on the Friday, and they hurned my house 
on the Saturday. The Maroons took from me three horses 
and a mare in foal. I have a large family." 

Richard Harris, an intelligent black planter, who 
acted as constable during martial law, said in his 
evidence, " When they flogged Mrs. Livingstone, and 
gave her four or five lashes, and saw the wire cut her 
back, Bruce said, ' This cat wonH do to flog the women ; * 
and they changed it, and sent upstairs to where Mr. 
Duffers was, and got another cat without wire, and 
gave her the balance of the lashes.^' 

After inaugurating these horrible atrocities in the 
beautiful little village of Bath, Ramsay left them to be 
•carried on by one of kindred spirit with himself, the 
man Kirkland, and returned to Morant Bay. Several 
prisoners were sent ashore from the " Wolverine " war 
steamer, and they were given into the custody of 
Ramsay ; who, without waiting for any form of trial, 
set about to hang them at once, giving directions to 
several sailors how to adjust the ropes. One of these 
prisoners, who by some means escaped death, said, in 
giving his testimony before the Royal Commissioners, 
"We commenced to pray, at least I did, in my 
heart. I said, ^ I do not know what I done, and I am 
going to be executed.' While this was going on, an 
officer happened to pass by, and said to Ramsay, ' What 
are you going to do with these people ? ' Ramsay said, 
' This lot has got to be hanged off first.^ The ofijcer 
said, ' Take them to the court<house first ; ^ and Ramsay 
pulled his beard and stamped his foot on the grounds 
but immediately marched us off to the court-house.'* 
This came before the Commissioners in the evidence of 
Richard Clarke. 

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That day three men and a woman were hanged by 
Bamsay^ who suspended them to the rails of the court- 
house^ the sailors pulling their feet and jerking them 
until they were dead. 

The same day^ or the next, Bamsay shot a young 
man in the most wanton and brutal manner^ near the 
village of White Horses, without trial or provocation of 
any kind. His name was Archy Francis. He threat- 
ened also to shoot a man, named James League, for 
merely looking at him. " You damned black brute,^' 
he said, " if you look at me again I will shoot you/' 

This unexampled ruffian proclaimed himself to the 
poor ignorant people at White Horses Kinff of Jamaica, 
and threatened to shoot a woman who looked at him, 
telling her he had shot a man at the waterfall. When 
Ramsay and his companions had passed on, she went to 
the waterfall, a short distance off, and found a boy, 
named Henry Bunnyman, whom this Ramsay, with 
some others, had shot, and left weltering in his blood. 
In this cruel act he was assisted by some soldiers who 
were in his company. The public road lay close to the 
sea, and the youth was bathing in the shallow water 
near the shore, when the assassins happened to pass by» 
Ramsay, and those with him, thought it excellent fun 
to make a target of him, and shoot at him in the water. 
{The lad was fired at, amongst others, by a Lieutenant 
O^Connor, a British officer, who ought to have all the 
honour given to him of taking part in this unprovoked 
murder of an unoffending lad. It must have been a 
matter of no small surprise to the Commissioners that 
amongst the officers of the British army were to be 
found such unmitigated ruffians as some of those who 
distinguished themselves by their sanguinary proceed- 
ings during these dark days.) 

The foUowing.testimony was given by James League, 

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CHAFTEB y. 8a 

e blacksmith at White Horses, before the Royal Com- 
missioners :— 

*' T remember the Saturday after the disturbances at 
Morant Bay. In the morning I heard that the soldiers 
were coming, and I put on my clean clothes and took a 
walk, and said, ' They will protect the innocent.' I met 
Lieutenant Oxley and Mr. Testard, and they were convers- 
ing about it. After leaving them I saw Inspector Ramsay 
on horseback, galloping up. He said, ' Who is that d — d 
black brute P ' and rushed on me. By this time the marine 
sailors were below Mr. Enniss's house at White Horses, 
and I went down immediately as he said. He told me to 
fall into the rank, and I did so. After that we were all 
going up together, and when we came to Testard's shop, I 
saw, about ten yards from Donaldson's place, a yoimg man 
mamed Archy Francis come out of a yard to meet them ; 
-and Mr. Ramsay shot him in the head, and ordered that he 
was not to be buried, but must remain there, as an example 
iio the rest. He left him there ; and as he shot him I looked 
upon him." — " Looked upon whom ? " the Commissioners 
•asked. — ** Ramsay. He said, *You d — d black brute, if 
you look at me again I will shoot you.' Archy Francis 
•was about twenty or forty yards from Ramsay when he was 

Ramsay, when he perpetrated this wanton deed, had 
only a few minutes before committed the murder of 
Henry Bunnyman, having stopped behind his party to 
assassinate the unoflFending lad. The following is the 
substance of the evidence given before the Commission- 
ers by Sophia Bates, the mother of Henry Bunnyman 
by a former husband : — 

"About five o'clock in the evening she saw her son 
.crawling into the yard, covered with blood, and observed 
that he had been shot. He died on the Sunday night at 
inine o'clock. When he came in, the mother asked him how 

G 2 

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he came by his wounds, and he said, ^ Mother, I went to- 
take a bathe, and the soldiers came, and I ran to the sea- 
side and dived, and tbej sbot at me, and don't catch me. 
When I rise, I look back, don't see anybody, and I come 
out ; ' and then, he said, a white man clapped his hand on 
his shoulder, and shot him right on the hip." 

The mother in her evidence enters into some further 
details of what her son told her, from which it may be 
inferred that there were two persons present, one who 
had a horse, and one on foot ; that after they had shot 
the boy, the one on horseback directed the other to 
finish him, and this seems to have been attempted with 
circamstances of horrid cruelty. After the boy had* 
" stretched out,^' not able to bear any more, the one- 
on horseback asked if he was dead, and, being so assured, 
rode off and left him. In addition to the wounds, when 
he crawled into his mother^s yard his face was all 
chopped, as with a stone, and he was naked. Lieutenant 
O^Connor admits in his evidence, that a man was fired 
at before the party came to White Horses, and he wa* 
fired at by Lieutenant O'Connor himself. Apparently^ 
however, Bamsay remained behind and watched for 
the boy coming ashore, when he supposed that the 
party who had been firing at him in the water had 
taken their departure, and deliberately murdered him. 
That Ramsay was behind the party is proved by the 
evidence of League, the blacksmith, already quoted, 
who explained that he came galloping up after the 
witness had met Lieutenant Oxley, and committed the 
second murder by shooting Archy Francis, as described 
in his testimony. 

Ramsay made it a common practice, showing the 
delight he took in human sufiering, to flog prisoners^ 
in sheer wanton cruelty, who were condemned to be 
executed. And many a poor sufferer was dragged to 

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the gallows with his person fearfally lacerated^ and 
streaming with gore, from the brutality of this man. 
A gun, or gun-carriage, was. brought out upon the 
square before the burnt court-house at Morant Bay^ 
and the prisoners were tied up to the wheel, and flogged 
with the navy cat, by sailors belonging to Her 
Majesty's ship of war *' Wolverine/' One of Ramsay's 
numerous deeds of cruelty brought himself within the 
shadow of the gallows. It was distinctly proved by 
the sworn testimony of many witnesses, that while a 
poor fellow, named Marshall, was undergoing a cruel 
torture by the lash, he turned round in his agony, and 
cast a look at Ramsay, who was superintending the 
punishment, at the same time grinding his teeth either 
through pain or indignation. The cruel wretch observed 
this, and immediately ordered him to be taken down 
and hanged ; and in a few moments the suffering man, 
his back streaming with blood, was writhing in the 
agonies of death upon the rail which was made to serve 
the purposes of a gallows. No offence had been proved 
or charged against him. The following testimony 
concerning this cruel act was given on oath by Mr. 
Lake : — 

" On receiving the forty-seventh or forty-eighth lash, the 
man turned round and ground his teeth. The Provost- 
marshal ordered him to be hanged immediately. His back wias 
like a bit of raw beef, bleeding very profusely. He was taken 
down, thrown on his back, his hands and feet tied, a rope 
put round his neck, and thrown over a rail ; and then he was 
twisted up as you would a barrel of flour. He had no drop. 
Afler he had been suspended about three minutes, a huge 
white stone was taken and put between his arms, which were 
tied behind him. The Provost-marshal said, ' Take him from 
the gun, and hang him.' " 

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Mr. Daniel Marshalleck, of Morant Bay, a Magis- 
trate, thus describes the scene :— 

*' I was sitting at my house, and I heard that a man was 
to be flogged. I went out in the parade, in company with« 
another party, and I saw a man, by the name of Marshall^ 
being tied ; he was tied to a gun and flogged ; he had a great 
number of lashes given to him, I think very nearly flfty ; I did 
not count them, but there was a great number of lashes. 
The man shrieked a little, and drew up his body ; and I heard 
the Provost-marshal, Mr. Eamsay, say, 'Take down that man 
and hang him.' The man was immediately taken down. He was 
so weak that he could scarcely walk ; he was pulled along,, 
and when got just under the hanging place he was pulled up ;; 
a rope was put round his neck as he was lying down, or very 
nearly so ; he could scarcely stand, and he was pulled up 
and hanged just as a barrel would be hoisted up the side or 
a ship." 

By direction of the Government, Ramsay was in- 
dieted for this murder; but a planter grand jury 
defeated all attempts to bring upon him the punishment 
anch a crime deserved. 

Amongst the troopers on duty at Morant Bay, was Mr- 
Joseph Gordon Smith, a nephew of George William 
Gx)rdon. He describes what he witnessed : — 

** Eamsay flogged the prisoners without even asking their 
names — nearly all, I beheve ; but I did not see all, because we 
were dismissed when a shower of rain came on. Afterwards I 
went to the guard-room, and he was then swearing five of them,, 
with their hands fastened and a rope round their necks ; and 
he was swearing them in these words : ' You shall well and 
truly state what G-. W. Gordon has to do with the rebellion ; *' 
and between each part of this, a sailor came down with the 
whip over their shoulders. Mr. Lindo, the solicitor to this- 
Comndssion, saw my face, and saw that I was very much 

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excited ; and he put Us hand on mj mouth and said, ' For 
God's sake, Smith, keep your mouth shut.* " 

One of those apprehended by Ramsay at Morant 
Bay was a grey-haired, most respectable old Negro, 
named Chisholm, who kept a shop in the town. Mr. 
Gordon had been in the habit of baiting his horses at 
Chisholm^s shop when travelling through Morant Bay ; 
and occasionally corresponded with the old man on 
business and politics. This, of course, was sufficient 
to mark him out as a fit object for Ramsay's brutality. 
He gave this testimony before the Commissioners i-^ 

*^ I keep a little shop at Morant Bay. I was taken in 
custody on October 16th, by Ramsay himself. He came in 
with Mr. Richard Cooke, who brought him there ; he collared 
me, and I said, ' What do you want me for ? ' He hit me two 
blows. He took me to the poHce station ; and I remained in 
custody, in the gaol in the workhouse, from October 16th 
to December 11th. I was never tried; I was flogged. 
Ramsay came into the prison one morning, and began asking 
me if Gordon had told the people that they were to kill 
buckra. I told him, * No, Mr. Gordon never said such a 
thing.' Then they took a cat and gave it to a soldier ; and 
the soldier put it on my back, put it on my back, and put it 
on my back [meaning three lashes], and then Ramsay cried, 
* Stop ! * I had only my shirt on my back. Then he asked 
me again the same question ; and I said, ' Mr. Gordon never 
did, he never did, he was a peace-maker.' Then he said, 
' You are a har ! ' and he struck me on my face with his fist, 
and the soldier struck me with a stick ; they flogged me with 
a whip and stick both. Ramsay took a loaded pistol to blow 
out my brains. By striking me, the blood was made to flow, 
a|}d it washed over my face ; and though there was some person 
in the gaol besides Ramsay and the soldier, I could not see. 
I do not know whether General Nelson was present when 

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I was struck. Mj bead was scattered, and the blood was 
washing me. After that he saw the blood, and asked me 
where I got it. They took up Mrs. Chisholm, and Eliza 
my grandchild, and a little child. We were all in gaol, and 
nobody was at my house, and the money and things were 
taken away by the people." 

On Wednesday, October 18th, Bamsay made a flying 
visit to Stoney Gut, to proclaim martial law, accom- 
panied by two policemen ; and shortly afterwards a party 
of soldiers arrived there, under Lieutenant Oxley ; so 
that " Stoney Gut," " the great stronghold of the 
rebels," as it was absurdly called, to give something like 
colour to the idea that the outbreak was '^ a rebellion/' 
was actually taken by Bamsay, with his cat in his belt, 
and two policemen. A man of the name of Levinstou, 
alarmed at the approach of the troops, rushed out of his 
house, and attempted to escape. He was shot at a^d 
wounded, but escaped with his life. His wife was seized 
by Bamsay, and thrown down upon her face, and flogged 
by the policemen on the lower part of her person, to 
compel her to tell where Paul Bogle was. She said she 
did not know ; and the flogging was repeated on three 
successive occasions, twenty-five lashes being given each 
time. She was then taken as a prisoner to Paul Bogle^s 
chapel, where the sailors and marines were, and Bamsay 
took the rope of the lamp of the chapel, and put it round 
her neck, and threatened to hang her if she did not tell 
where Bogle was. The woman states that she was 
raised off the ground, and that she felt her eyes begin 
to start out of her head. Lieutenant O'Connor admits 
the rope was round her neck from four to six minutes. 
A very worthy and gallant officer and gentleman he must 
be, to stand by and sufler a woman to be thus treated 
under his command ! He also admits that the rope was 

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*' just tightened/' but denies that it could affect the face 
or her powers of breathing. But it is probable the 
sufferer understood what she felt better than this gallant 
ornament of the British army. She was afterwards tied 
outside the chapel " like a beast/' as a policeman phrased 
it, and kept outside all night, while the men were inside. 

Bamsay attempted to hang two men from the Airy 
Castle district, named McQueen and Mitchell, without 
trial and without authority ; but he was prevented by 
Lieutenant De Worgan, of the *' Wolverine/' who inter- 
posed, and declared that he would suffer no man to be 
punished without trial where he commanded. Another 
British officer, an Ensign of the Gth Begiment, showed 
a very different spirit. He was content to act as 
assistant hangman under Bamsay; and had actually, 
with others assisting, proceeded so far as to put ropes 
around the necks of the intended victims, and put them 
up on barrels to be turned off, when De Worgan inter- 
fered, and prevented the consummation of the murder. 
All honour to Lieutenant De Worgan, who dared to be 
just and humane when terror and cruelty reigned all 
around I 

It was Bamsay's practice to extort evidence by tor- 
ture and flogging against the prisoners he wished to 
bring to the gallows. A Wesleyan Missionary had oc- 
casion to call at the police station at Morant Bay, and 
became an eye-witness of the fact. While he was there 
a man was tied up to be flogged. After he had received 
several lashes, the question was put to him whether he 
had taken any oath to join the rebels ? He said, " No." 
^' Until you tell us the truth we will flog you," was the 
rejoinder of Bamsay; and the lash was vigorously 
applied again. This process was continued until the 
poor fellow, to escape from their tortures, at length 
gave the answer that was desired ; and then the punish- 

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ment was continued until he made the further admis- 
sion, that Paul Bogle was the man who administered 
the oath to him. On evidence thus obtained by torture, 
victims were sentenced to the gallows. 

The atrocities committed by this man Bamsay would 
fill a volume. He revelled in tyranny and cruelty, until 
his very name became a terror. A young man, for 
speaking to another person near the police station, was 
tied to a column and flogged by Bamsay^s order. To one 
Bichard Clarke, for daring to speak to him, he ordered 
fifty lashes to be administered, which he afterwards 
reduced to twenty-five. He flogged one of the volun- 
teers for speaking under the window of his room ; and 
when, at the suggestion of the police sergeant, the man 
begged to be let ofl^, he ordered that another dozen 
should be inflicted. The man's name was Edward 
Gentle. Men were ordered to be flogged by Bamsay 
for winking, not taking off their hats, &c. A poor 
fellow was going to the gallows, tied and bound for the 
slaughter, when his little boy handed him a hat, to 
shield his naked head from the rays of the sun. Bamsay 
happened to see it, and rewarded the filial act of the 
boy with fifty lashes ; and while the father was being 
brutally strangled, with other sufferers, the poor lad, 
tied to a gun close at hand, was groaning and bleeding 
under the lash. Several coloured Ministers of religion 
were amongst the prisoners arrested by Governor Eyre's 
orders, and sent on to Morant Bay, to be tried and put 
to death> because some months before they had, in the 
exercise of their rights as British subjects, taken part in 
public meetings at which his own administration was 
not always spoken of in flattering terms. These men 
were marched out, under the orders of Bamsay, day after 
day, and compelled to look on while the Negroes were 
butchered, eighteen or twenty at a time, and others. 

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cruelly flogged. One of these coloured Ministers, who 
had been selected for the slaughter, and kept a prisoner 
for several weeks, told me that he always kept his eyes 
turned away from Bamsay when he was near, not daring 
to look npon him, lest he should resent it as an oflfence, 
and order him out to be flogged. " How dare you look 
at me ? " said he to a poor trembling creature, whose 
look had been fixed upon him with the sort of fascina- 
tion with which men sometimes regard a horrid 
monster. ^^Take him out, and give him a dozen !^' 
It was thus that this man was suffered and, indeed^ 
authorized by Governor Eyre to treat the free subjects 
of Queen Victoria in 1865. 

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The case of Mr. George William Gordon has received 
a large degree of public attention^ as standing out 
prominently amongst the horrors and atrocities which 
mark the period of Mr. Eyre^s administration in 
Jamaica. Many attempts have been made to mis- 
represent the character of Mr. Gordon. Governor Eyre 
himself^ with lamentable disregard to truths has not 
scrupled to give utterance to slanders against his victim^ 
which have called forth a triumphant refutation from 
Christian Ministers and others intimately acquainted 
with his character and history, whose honest indigna- 
tion was aroused by this wicked attempt of ex-Gt)vernor 
Eyre to blacken the character of the innocent man 
whom he had hurried to an ignominious death. 

The following letter from Mrs. Gordon appeared in 
'' The Times '' of April 6th, 1867 :— 


" SiE, — Your report of the recent proceedings at Market 
Drayton gives special prominence to certain statements 
touching the character of my late husband, G. W. Gordon. 
I did not wish to become his vindicator, feeling assured that 
time would do him justice ; but I am urged by many friends^ 
whose entreaties I can no longer resist, to protest against 
those assertions as utterly false and calumnious. 

" As the widow of a man who was wrongfully put to 
death, I ask at your hands the insertion of this protest 
from me ; and I would request the additional favour of your 
publishing the subjoined testimonial to his character, signed 

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1)7 persons whose reputation for integrity has never been, 

***In a dispatch from Mr. Eyre to Mr. Cardwell, dated' 
King's House, January, 1866, to be found in the Blue Book 
on the Jamaica disturbances, entitled, 'Papers laid before- 
the Eoyal Commission of Inquiry by Governor Eyre,' the^ 
following paragraph appears at p. 196, par. 4 : — 

" * It is well known out here that Mr. Gordon was uni- 
versally regarded as a bad man, in every sense of the word ;: 
reported to be grossly immoral, and an adulterer, a liar, a 
swindler, dishonest, cruel, vindictive, and a hypocrite. Such 
are the terms applied to the late G. W. Gordon ; and I 
believe abundant proof might be adduced of all these 

** ' The undersigned, having resided, in the island many 
years, and having had very considerable opportunities of 
knowing and forming an estimate of the late Mr. Gordon's 
character in his various relations, do hereby protest against 
the foregoing allegations as made by Mr. Eyre, and declare 
them to be totally without foundation. 

" ' (Signed) James Phillippo, sen., Baptist Missionary, 
Jamaica; William Andrews, attomey-at-law, Kingston, 
Jamaica; Eobert Osbom; James Bell; Alexander Fiddes, 
F.E.C.S. Edin. ; Andrew Lyon, Common Councilman 
of the city and parish of Kingston ; Thomas Geddes, Mis- 
sionary, ' Savanna-la-Mar ; James Scott, M.E.C.S. Eng. : 
Abraham Pinto, merchant ; Mr. Eamos, merchant ; Eobert 
Gordon, priest of the Church of England, head-master of 
Wolmer's Grammar School, Kingston.' 

" One of my greatest consolations in my present state of 
bereavement is my conviction of my husband's innocence, and 
of the thorough uprightness of his character, and that one^ 
day these wiU be fully established. 

" I am, Sir, yours obediently, 

"M. Gordon." 
" Watford, RerUy April 6th.'' 

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That Mr. Gordon was not a common man may be 
inferred from the fact that^ from the condition of a 
slave^ he raised himself to a respectable position in 
colonial society ; and, while yet a comparatively young 
man, obtained a place in the Legislature, of which he 
continued to be a member until his tragic death. That 
he was not the bad man Mr. Eyre describes, is proved 
by the testimony already given in the preceding pages 
by the Rev. Dr. King and Dr. Piddes, both of whom 
had the best opportunities of knowing him as a man^ 
and also as a Christian. The touching vindication of 
the slandered martyr by his mourning widow speaks for 
itself. A member of the Jamaica House of Assembly, 
who diflfered with Mr. Gordon on public measures, 
gives an account of him very different from that of Mr. 
Eyre, and places the ex-Governor's veracity in a very 
questionable light :— 

" The Jamaica House of Assembly has been for the last 
-twenty years a planters* assembly, where wrongs were 
heaped like Pelion on Ossa. It has brought destruction on 
its own head ; and many good men who were members of it 
must rejoice over its fall. Mr. Gordon had been, in better 
times, a member of the House ; and in later days, when 
corruption was rampant, he found time to resume his labours 
there ; and I am bound in the cause of truth and fairness 
to state that, though disagreeing in many things with him, 
and disliking his offensive allusions to Mr- Eyre, he was one 
of the few really useful men in the House. Indeed, from 
his peculiar amiability of disposition, his courage, and re- 
liance on what he would call ' the good cause,' he constituted 
a very host in himself. Month after month he was seen to 
neglect his own affairs, and give himself up to the people's 
cause. ' The poor people of Jamaica are oppressed by vile 
laws ! ' was his incessant cry ; and whether the idea was an 
idle dream, springing from a morbid mind, or a fact which 

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was undeniable, Mr. Gordon spoke with amazing seriousness ; 
and he sometimes commanded, as I think he always deserved, 
admiration for his heroic defence of the rights of the poorer 
classes, and of the just claims of humanity." 

"Mr. Gordon," says a lady who knew him well, '* was a 
benevolent and just man, who had incurred the resentment 
of the planter class and of certain officials, Iby his exposure of 
abuses, and his unwavering fidelity to the cause of the 
coloured people. Mr. Gordon was one of the best of men; 
intelligent, kind-hearted, active in all measures for the 
amelioration of the condition of the poor, and honourably 
known for the stand he made against the oppressions of the 
governing class." 

The Rev. Edwin Blake, Wesleyan Minister, who was 
well acquainted with Mr. Gordon, both as to his public 
life and private character, says, — 

" He was a member of the Church of England, but took 
the chair at Wesleyan or Baptist Missionary meetings. He 
was a man of extensive information, of most generous im- 
pulses ; and he had laboured long to promote the welfare of 
his fellow-creatures. He was thoroughly devoted to God, 
and concerned himself sincerely in promoting the welfare of 
those around him. He was most liberal in his contribu- 
tions to the cause of God in every department. There was 
scarcely a chapel that required building, a school established, 
or any good work carried on, that did not find a hearty sup- 
porter in G. W. Gordon." 

Mr. Gordon became a martyr to the fidelity with 
^hich he laboured for the interests of the down-trodden 
labourers of Jamaica, misgoverned and plundered by 
those above them. If, like some others around him, 
he had in public life looked chiefly to his own interests 
and sought his o^n aggrandisement, with his fearless 

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energy of character he might have acquired ease, and 
honour, and office with its emoluments, and escaped 
the melancholy fate that unhappily overtook him. But^ 
with disinterested regard to the poor and lowly, he stood 
forward to advocate their cause in the face of abundant 
obloquy and scorn, fully aware of the resentment with 
which his proceedings were regarded by his political 
opponents, and the intense malignity cherished towards 
him by Governor Eyre and his adherents. On the 10th 
of May, 1865, only a few months before he was put ta 
death, he wrote to Mr. Chamerovzow with almost pro- 
phetic truth : — 

" I have to contend with hatred and persecution of no 
ordinary kind at present. You will, by a paper sent to you, 
see that the government, judge, attorney-general, and 
special jury, are all conspired against me here; and I be- 
lieve, if some of them found the opportunity, they would 
ungcnipulously dispatch me. But the Lord is with us, 
and the God of Jacob has promised to be our refuge, and 
our present help in trouble." 

That opportunity arose with the outbreak at Morant 
Bay ; and, as Mr. Gordon had predicted, his political 
opponents eagerly seized upon it, and ^' unscrupulously 
dispatched him/' The whole circumstances of his 
trial and death, taken with the antecedents, mark the 
case as one of the foulest murders on record ; and the 
solemn and elaborate charge of the Lord Chief Justice 
Cockbum, delivered to the grand jury on the indict- 
ment of Messrs. Nelson and Brand, stamps this cha^ 
racter upon the transaction. 

'' During the thirty days^ continuance of martial law in 
four of the adjacent parishes/' writes Dr. Fiddes, "Kingston 

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bore every impress of a city suffering under a reign of terror : 
anxiety was depicted on every face. \ had no dread or fear 
of any general rising of the Negroes ; for I always doubted 
the probability of such an occurrence. But I did feel 
alarm at seeing a man working the state machine, and 
wielding all the power and authority vested in him by right 
of his office, whom I considered to be influenced by appari- 
tions of sedition and high treason which really had no 
existence, except in his own imagination ; and I was doubly 
alarmed from a knowledge of the fact that he was princi- 
pally advised and counselled by Dr. Bowerbank, who, it is 
notorious, saw a lion in every path, and a grinning skeleton 
in every compartment of the state. Arrests were being daily 
made of persons having no complicity in » any rebellious 
movement, and who had never interfered directly or indirectly 
in such imlawful matters." 

Governor Eyre had, at Port Morant, on the 14th of 
October, three days after the outbreak, as we have de- 
scribed, been present, and taken an active part in the 
immolation of the first victim of martial law. Thence he 
went to Jlorant Bay, and embarked for Port Antonio ; 
more victims being offered at both places. On the 
17th he returned in the ^'Wolverine" ship of war to 
Kingston, bent, as results show, upon availing himself 
of the opportunity now offered to effect the destruction 
of his formidable political opponent, G. W. Gordon. 
Without the loss of a moment, apparently, he issues a 
warrant for the apprehension of Gordon, and a diligent 
search is immediately set on foot for the destined 
victim. At first he could not be found; but, hearing 
that a warrant had been issued to apprehend him, on 
the advice of his friend Dr. Fiddes, Mr. Gordon went 
to the house of General O'Connor, the Commander of 
the forces, to place himself at the disposal of the autho- 
rities. While he was there. Governor Eyre came in, 


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accompanied by Dr. Bowerbank, and no sooner set eyes 
on Mr. Gordon than he hastily stepped up to him, and, 
invading the office of the policeman, apprehended Mr. 
Gordon as his prisoner. So eager was this representative 
of Her Majesty to complete the sacrifice of his op- 
ponent, that, barely permitting him to take a last hasty 
farewell of his wife, to whom he was fondly attached, 
within half an hour from the time of his arrest he was 
on the way to the scene of slaughter. When he entered 
the house, he said to Mrs. Gordon, *^ I am to be taken 
to Morant Bay at once, to die this evening.^^ He then 
handed her his watch, with his purse ; and with one last 
embrace, one final farewell, which was all that was per- 
mitted to him, he parted from his wife, only to meet her 
again in the better land. The steam of the '^Wol- 
verine^' was abeady up, and in an incredibly short 
time — contrasting very remarkably with the want of 
promptitude in despatching the same steamer with 
troops a week before — Governor Eyre, like a ravenous 
bird with its prey in its clutch, was speeding aWay with 
his victim to Morant Bay : " at which place,'' says Dr. 
Fiddes, " the functions of the court-martial were being 
exercised so heartily and with so much glee, and the 
work of flogging and of hanging was so diligently per- 
formed, that it actually seemed as if the inmates of 
Pandemonium had left their dwelling-place and come 
to earth for the purpose of scourging frail humanity. 
From what I saw of the manner of Mr. Gordon's 
seizure, and from his immediate transference from a place 
where no martial law existed to a town where it was in 
full activity, I concluded that his fate was sealed." 

When Mr. Gordon was taken on board the " Wol- 
verine," men shook their heads, and declared that " his 
life was not worth a ^in, for Mr. Eyre was his keeper ; " 
and a member of the Executive Committee was heard 

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^o say that, "if he had twenty necks, they would all be 
broken/' A malefactor condemned for the foulest 
crime could not have been treated with more cruelty 
and vindictiveness than this unfortunate gentleman. 
He was shackled, and fed upon biscuits and water ; no 
one being permitted to speak to him, except those who 
heaped reproaches and curses upon his head. 

He was as yet untried, and against him, as afterwards 
^appeared, nothing but perjured testimony and the flim- 
siest allegations could be brought ; but he was at once 
treated as if he had been a conncted murderer. All 
this time he was in the custody of Mr. Eyre himself, 
who took him to Morant Bay and delivered him in 
person into the hands of those who were to put him to 
death. This inhumanity towards a helpless prisoner, 
apart from all the other circumstances of the case, would 
'be in itself suflBcient to cover Mr. Eyre with shame, and 
■serves to illustrate the bad feelings by which he was. 
actuated through the whole of the disgraceful tragedy. 

A rough sea prevented the " Wolverine '^ from going 
into Morant Bay that evening, and she steamed away 
with the Governor and his prisoner on board to Port 
Antonio ; so that it was not until the morning of the 
•20th of October that Mr. Gordon was landed. " On 
arriving at Morant Bay," says a diember of the As- 
sembly, "he was mobbed by the sailors, his shirt was 
pulled over his pantaloons, and he was jeered and 
laughed at by officers and men of the British navy." 

That the army might not be behind the navy in bru- 
tality, one of the soldiers tore oflF Mr. Gordon's coat and 
VFaistcoat ; another robbed him of his spectacles. And 
all this was done with the approbation of one at least of 
the officers ; for Captain Ford, relating these incidents, 
says, " So you see that he was very little diflerently 
treated from the common herd." Sick, emaciated, con- 

H 2 

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sumptive, and without coat or waistcoat^ he was kept 
standing in the sun for a long time. 

Mr. Gordon spoke a few words to a man named 
Clive, a fellow prisoner, who was next to him, when 
Eamsay strode up, and threatened him with instant 
death if he spoke. Mr. Gordon at length grew faint, 
and sank upon the ground, his manacled hands pre- 
venting him from helping himself. The sentry took 
him, and allowed him to sit upon a stone. " Where is 

that ?" roared the Provost-marshal. "Who 

told him to sit down ? " The sentry explained that he 
had sunk in a fainting state to the 'ground, and Ramsay 
then directed his hands to be loosened a little. An 
officer, in the course of the day, went to Ramsay, and 
said to him, " If you do not take better care of Gordon, 
you will not have the pleasure of seeing him hanged ; 
for he will die.^' The system adopted by Ramsay, of 
compelling the untried prisoners to witness the daily 
executions, and to dig the graves of the slaughtered, \^ 
something new in the annals of torture. Mr. Gordon 
was compelled thus to witness these scenes of horror 
before he himself was martyred, Ramsay and some of 
the officers taunting him with the certainty of his own 
approaching doom. On one occasion he was led out 
in front of all the other prisoners, when one named 
William Grant was being put to death. Ramsay led 
him forward, and, brutally directing his attention to the 
contorted features of the struggling and dying man, as 
he hung with his feet nearly touching the ground, said, 
*^ See what he has come to, and to that you will cer- 
tainly come." Mr. Qt)rdon, with that meekness which 
even his political opponents admit to have been one of 
his characteristics, only bowed, and was led back to his 
place. In his prison — a vile place, reeking with filth 
and vermin — he was treated like a wild beast, and wor- 

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ried on every side. His prayers were ridiculed ; and, but 
for the kindly interposition of Sergeant M^Kenzie, of 
the police force, his Bible would have been taken away 
from him. 

In this filthy place he was kept during Friday, 
October 20th, and on Saturday was given up to the 
tender, mercies of the court-martial, which was con- 
vened to give the colour of a judicial proceeding to the 
work of wholesale slaughter. If ever a man was fore- 
doomed, Mr. Gordon was ; a fact perfectly understood 
by his friends, who were aware that there was as little 
chance of his escaping the grip of the deadly foe into 
whose power he had fallen, as if he had been in the jaws 
of a wild beast. There was no martial law in Kings- 
ton, where Mr. Gordon was arrested by the hands of 
Governor Eyre ; and there he could have been proceeded 
against in the ordinary administration of justice, if he 
had in any way violated the law. This was, however, 
too slow and uncertain a process for the purposes of 
Mr. Eyre, who, as results showed, had no reason what- 
ever to charge Mr. Gordon with having been concerned 
in the riot, either directly or indirectly, or of being 
privy to it. Mr. Gordon had, however, incurred the 
deadly enmity of those who now revelled in the exercise 
of irresponsible power, and nothing less than his death 
would satisfy them. To make sure of this, and setting - 
at defiance all law, and all humanity and justice, the 
victim is dragged, bound and helpless, to Morant Bay, 
where law, humanity, and justice are alike in abeyance. 

General Nelson and Lieutenant Brand had already 
received from their chief something like a training in 
the work of slaughter ; for both these men were pre- 
sent and active, when Fleming, the first suflFerer sub- 
jected to the tender mercies of martial law, was put to 
death at Port Morant ; and into the hands of these two 

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Mr. Gordon was consigned, vhile Mr. Eyre betook 
himself elsewhere to await the inevitable result- 
Under the direction of Nelson a court was formed, and 
at the head of it, as president, was placed the same 
Brand who had acted as hangman in the case of Flem- 
ing and finished that revolting act of cruelty with hi&> 
revolver, who had been heard to declare, in the foul lan- 
guage of the lowest blackguardism, that '^ nothing would 
give him greater pleasure than to hang that damned 

son of a , Gordon/^ The other members of this 

court were a naval lieutenant named Errington, whose 
commission was four years old only ; and Ensign Kelly,, 
of one of the West India regiments, whose commission 
was not a year old. To this trio of young men,. 
General Nelson handed over the prisoner, giving them 
a draught charge and precis of evidence. Nelson had 
been in close communication with Governor Eyre on 
board the "Wolverine,^^ and perfectly understood his 
views. He had seen Mr, Gordon, though ill atid untried,, 
shackled and fed on biscuits and water, as if he ha4 
been a convicted felon, and perfectly acquiesced with 
the Governor and others in all this cruel injustice. 
There is very little room to doubt that the sentence to be 
pronounced was perfectly understood by the parties con- 
cerned, before a single witness was called into court. It 
is stated that Ramsay, the Provost-marshal, entered the- 
prison yard that morning, and in presence of all the poor 
crouching miserables there, tried and untried, openly 
proclaimed that if any one would give evidence against 
Mr. Gordon, he would not only save hia life, but be 
rewarded by the Government. The two witnesses who 
spoke against Mr. Gordon were those who responded to 
this invitation. 

Into the details of this mockery of a trial we cannot 
enter. Before this court, composed of wild, harum-- 

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CHAl^l^EB VI. 103 

scaram young men, two of whom had been acting as 
assistant hangmen and had become fearfaily familiar 
with the killing of men in cold bloody Mr. Gordon was 
brought to defend himself against charges of treason 
and rebellion, on October 21st. He had no intimation 
given to him of any specific acts laid to his charge ; was 
allowed no time to prepare his defence ; had no legal 
adviser ; was not allowed to call any witnesses to repel 
the accusations made against him ; and had to extem- 
porize such defence as he was permitted to make, when 
he was exhausted by ill treatment, and both physically 
and mentally unfitted for the terrible crisis he was 
called to pass through. 

One significant fact, which reflects undying shame 
upon General Nelson, and shows the heartless cruelty 
with which the fate of Gordon was pre-determined, was 
the suppression of a letter written by a legal friend and 
adviser of Gordon, and intended to assist him in his 
trial. Mr. William Wemyss Anderson, solicitor and 
derk of the peace for Portland, a personal friend of 
Mr. Gordon, sought an interview with his former client 
on board the *^ Wolverine," which was not permitted. 
He then addressed a letter to him; and enclosed it 
under cover to General Nelson, who, to his everlasting 
disgrace, suppressed and destroyed it, so that it never 
reached the hands of its rightful owner. The following 
is a copy of this important communication : — 

" TiTCHriELD, October, 1865. 
" Mt dear Gordon, 

" Having been prohibited communication with you on 
board the * Wolverine,' I have requested the favour of the 
General to forward this. I know nothing of the charges 
against you ; but, as an old friend and professional adviser, I 
cannot refrain from tendering to you my advice, assuming 
that, whatever your errors may have been, they were corn- 
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mitted before the proclamation of martial law. I advise you 
to plead : — 

" First. That, on that account, you are amenable only to 
the ordinary civil and criminal courts of the country ; and, 

"Second. That only is crime which is prompted by 
criminal intention ; and that you, having no such intention, 
are not criminally liable for the consequences, however 
disastrous these unhappily may have been. 

" I need not add one word to assure you of my deepest 
sympathy ; but on such a topic it would be out of place 
now to enlarge. 

" Yours very truly, 

"W. Wemyss Andekson." 

General Nelson, when questioned before the Eoyal 
Commissioners, admitted having received that letter; 
and added, ^' I either tore it up at once, or gave it to 
my aide-de-camp to tear it up. It was not given to 
Mr. Gordon. I read it before it was destroyed.^^ 

Surely the suppression, under such circumstances, of 
a letter of such a character, and so important to the 
accused, was conduct so unbecoming a British officer 
and a gentleman, that it ought, if the military authori- 
ties of the country had done their duty, to have caused 
General Nelson^s immediatedismissal from Her Majesty^s 
service, as it is a mean and dastardly act which every 
upright and humane person must regard with the 
strongest reprobation. General Nelson was evidently 
afraid to let the unfortunate gentleman have the advan- 
tage of his solicitor's counsel, lest it should interfere 
with the nefarious doings which brought Mr. Gordon 
to an ignominious death. Probably it was this very 
letter that opened the eyes of General Nelson to the 
illegality of trying and executing civilians, by martial 
law, for alleged offences committed weeks and months 
before martial law was proclaimed; and so prevented 

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the putting to death of Mr. Levien, Dr. Bruce, Mr. 
Phillips, and many others, who had been sent to Morant 
Bay to be dealt with in the same manner as Mr. 

The evidence adduced against Mr. Gordon proved 
literally nothing to substantiate the charges on which 
he was arraigned ; and only in a case where the doom 
of the accused had been already decided upon, would it 
have been received as suflBcient to justify his condemna- 
tion. Lord Chief Justice Cockburn says, in his charge 
to the grand jury, in the case of General Nelson and 
Lieutenant Brand, when these gentlemen were indicted 
for the murder of Mr. Gordon, " I cannot withhold 
from your attention the extraordinary character of the 
evidence, and the inconclusiveness and moral worthless- 
ness of the evidence upon which Mr. Gordon was 
convicted. I have before me a record of the proceed- 
ings, and the charge which was then made against 
Mr. Gordon.^^ His Lordship here proceeded with a 
lengthened and luminous review of the evidence which 
has appeared in the Royal Commissioners' Blue Book. 
He severely commented on the incomplete character of 
some portion of the evidence, remarking that it was 
"all moonshine to ground a charge of high treason 
upon such evidence.^' His Lordship then continued : — 
"I must- particularly find fault with the taking of 
depositions of certain living persons who could have 
been called as witnesses. Contrary alike to the practice 
and justice of English law, these depositions have been 
put in as evidence when themselves could have been 
called. There cannot be the slightest doubt, according 
to all the rules of law, military or ordinary, that the 
great bulk of the evidence on which Mr. Gordon was 
convicted was legally inadmissible.^' 

His Lordship further says: — 

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" No doubt, in the result, many lamentable circumstances 
have taken place. A man has been condemned and sen- 
tenced to death and executed on evidence which would not 
have been admitted before any properly constituted 
tribunal, and upon evidence which fails altogether to 
establish the crime with which he was charged, and of 
which he was convicted. He was a man obnoxious to the 
authorities ; he was in the habit of reviling their jurisdiction, 
and calling it in question. He kept the minds of the popu- 
lation in a perpetual agitation by the power he exercised 
over them. He was a man of whom, in the opinion of the 
authorities, it was undoubtedly desirable to get rid: but 
they would not be justified in putting him to death, unless 
there was evidence that he was guilty of the crime laid to 
his charge. Intention is, at all times, the essence of crimes. 
I have seen it written, and I confess I shuddered as I read 
it, that it was justifiable to send Mr. Gordon to a court- 
martial to be tried, because a court-martial might be justi- 
fied in convicting a man because he was mischievous. If 
that was the principle on which they proceeded in Mr. 
Gordon's case, I say it is one of the most lamentable 
instances of the miscarriage of justice with which history 
can furnish us." 

" I cannot help thinking," says Chief Justice Cockburn, 
— "and I have a strong opinion on the point, — that the 
whole proceeding of taking Mr. Gordon from where he was, 
putting him on board a war steamer, and conveying him to 
Morant Bay, was an imjustifiable proceeding ; and to Mr. 
Gordon it made the difierence of life and death. I say so 
advisedly ; because, afber most careful perusal of the evi- 
dence produced against him, I am irresistibly led to this 
conclusion. If the man, upon that evidence, had been tried, 
— I am wrong : he could not have been tried on the evi- 
dence by an .ordinary tribunal, presided over by any compe- 
tent judge : I must stop myself, — I was going a great deal 
too far to say that he could have been tried on that evidence. 
He could not have been tried, because it would not be 

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received. Three-fourths, nay, nine-tenths of the evidence 
upon which he was convicted and sentenced to death, is 
evidence that, according to rules, not only of ordinary law,, 
but of military law, according to no rules of right and 
justice could have been admitted ; would never have been 
admitted if a competent judge had presided ; and if there 
had been a man of military experience of courts* martial, and 
who knew what rules ought to govern and regulate the 
reception of evidence. I should add that, not only that 
upon looking upon this evidence I come to this conclusion,, 
but that no jury, however influenced by prejudice or passion, 
if guided by a competent, honest judge, could, upon evidence 
so morally and intrinsically worthless, and upon evidence 
80 utterly inconclusive, have condemned that man upon a 
charge of murder. But then it is a very difficult question 
indeed, when you come to deal with the parties now charged 
before you on this indictment ; and it is a very different 
thing to say they ought to be held responsible for what may 
have been the utterly illegal and unwarrantable act of the 
Governor and Gustos in conveying Mr. Gordon to Morant 
Bay. I know it has been said and written, it was justifiable 
to take Mr. Gordon to Morant Bay, because he had been as 
much guilty of high treason and sedition there as at Kings- 
ton ; and therefore, as his crime was local, it was competent 
to take him to trial in that part of the island where he* was 
guilty of the charge. It is perfectly true crime is local ; and 
a man must be tried where the offence is alleged to have 
been committed; but you have no right to choose your 
tribunal, or to say you will take a man to be tried at any 
particular place, because there may be a sterner judge there, 
or a better chance of obtaining a conviction than you would 
have in any other county. So that, although Mr. Gordon 
could be tried at Kingston, or at Morant Bay, when they 
had him at Kingston, I apprehend they ought to have tried 
him there. It is the principal town in the island ; it has its 
assizes and courts of law ; it is the place where the justices 
administer the law ; it is in the county of Surrey, the county 

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in which Morant Bay is situated, and the county in which 
the olfence is alleged to have heen committed. Therefore 
Mr. Gordon ought to have been tried at Kingston. But 
when Mr. Gordon was brought within martial law, assuming 
there was such a condition, it was not for the tribunal to 
inquire how he came among them. If Mr. Gordon had 
lived, and was subject to some minor punishment in 
Jamaica, and, having come to England, brought an action 
for damages against Mr. Eyre, it may well be that an 
English jury, presided over by an English judge, would have 
awarded him exemplary damages for the wroug that had 
been done him.'* 

In this important charge, in which the Lord Chief 
Justice has shown that the whole proceedings in Mr. 
Gordon^s case involved an outrage against all law and 
justice, he especially condemns the constitution of the 
court that tried and condemned him as anomalous and 
illegal, therefore possessing no lawful jurisdiction. After 
showing most lucidly and decisively that there is neither 
authority nor precedent for applying martial law , to 
<;ivilians, as was done in Jamaica, he proceeds thus : — 

" But now there is another serious question arises : that 
is to say, supposing that the true conclusion of the discussion 
is, that martial law is not the wild and extravagant exercise 
of authority which modern writers describe it to be ; if 
martial law — simply a military law — is applied to civilians, 
then comes the question as to the constitution of this tri- 
bunal. If this tribunal was to be constituted according to 
military law, it was a bad tribunal, and had no jurisdiction. 
There is'nothing in the Acts relating to the military service, 
and nothing in the Articles of War, which authorizes the 
mixing up of a court-martial with officers of the two services, 
and of which this court-martial was composed. According 
to the Acts of Parliament and the Articles of War applicable 
to the two services, no naval officer was entitled to sit on a 

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military court-martial, unless by express authority ; and if 
this be treated as a naval court-martial, it is equally illegal, 
because it was not presided over by naval officers." 

Thus, according to the decision of the highest legal 
functionary in the realm, Mr. Gordon^s trial and death 
were, from beginning to end, stamped with the character 
of a legal murder. His arrest by the hands of Governor 
Eyre was an illegal act, inasmuch as it compromised the 
dignity of the latter as Her Majesty's representative ; his 
removal to a district under martial law, in order that he 
might there be tried and put to death, was illegal, and appa- 
rently prompted by the worst motives ; the constitution 
of the court that tried and condemned him was illegal, 
so as to deprive it of all jurisdiction ; and the evidence 
on which the victim was condemned and executed was 
'^so morally and intrinsically worthless that no com- 
petent judge could have allowed it to be received.^' But 
Mr. Gordon must be sacrificed ; and, accordingly, he 
was got rid of by as atrocious an outrage against the 
liberty and lives of British subjects as the history of 
modem times can furnish. 

The circumstances attendant upon his execution were 
in character with those of his arrest and trial, exhibit- 
ing a degree of heartless barbarity most disgraceful to 
British officers. No decision was pronounced by the 
court, so as to aflFord an intimation to the prisoner of 
the fate awaiting him ; and Mr. Gordon was conducted 
back to his wretched prison in ignorance of what was to 
be the result of the mock trial to which he had been 
subjected ; though it could not have been difficult for 
him to guess at it, from all that had taken place. The 
death of the prisoner had, however, been resolved upon, 
and no time was lost. The Governor was anxiously await- 
iig, at the seat of government, tidings of the issue of 

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the proceedings. Death is the sentence that has been 
agreed upon ; and^ of course^ it is immediately con- 
firmed by Mr. Eyre. On Saturday Mr. Gordon has 
been tried; but all day on the Sabbath he is left in 
ignorance of what is impending^ until Monday mornings 
when General Nelson waits upon him in his cell^ quite 
early^ to inform him thajb in one hour he is to die. 
This single hour is devoted to writing a letter to his 
wife^ which has been permitted to appear in prints and 
is strikingly illustrative of the character of the man^ 
and not unworthy the age of the martyrs. Simple and 
touching^ expressive of a firm and unshaken reliance 
upon God^ and breathing nothing but submission and 
the purest spirit of forgiveness towards his persecutors 
and murderers^ it has appealed with resistless power to 
thousands of hearts against the cruelty and wickedness 
by which such a man was hunted to the grave. It is 
a complete refutation of the slanders penned by Go- 
vernor Eyre against the murdered man^ after he had 
gone to his dishonoured grave ; for no man who was 
such as Mr. Eyre represented Mr. Gordon to have been 
could have written such a letter at such a time. 

A minister of religion, living at Morant Bay, whose 
residence overlooks at some distance the ruins of the 
court-house, told me, as we sat gazing with melancholy 
interest "upon the scene of the tragedy, '^ We all sup- 
posed, from the fact that no decision of the court- 
martial in the case of Mr. Gordon had been pronounced^ 
that the trial was not finished, and would be resumed 
on the Monday morning, and an opportunity given to 
Mr. Gordon to make his defence; but, about eight 
o'clock, happening to look from the front of my residence 
in the direction of the ruined court-house, I observed, 
through the wet, hazy atmosphere, an unusual object 
in the broken archway, which I at first supposed to be 

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a person stooping down. But, seeing, after the lapse of 
«ome minutes, that the object remained stationary, and 
its posture was unchanged, I took the glass, and, direct- 
ing it towards the spot, to my great horror I recognised 
the person of Mr. Grordon, pinioned, and hanging by 
the neck upon the ruined arch. It was some hours 
before I recovered from the shock which this sickening 
spectacle gave me.'^ 

Before the hour had fully elapsed which had been 
allotted to him by the mercy of the military authorities, 
— not without cause does an old-fashioned book say, 
" The tender mercies of the wicked are crueV^ — Gene- 
ral Nelson appeared, and summoned the condemned 
man to his fate. He was taken out, and conducted up 
the steps in front of the court-house ; a rope was placed 
about his neck, the other end being thrown over the 
crown of the arch. He was then made to mount upon 
a barrel, which was knocked from under him, and the 
innocent object of political animosity was cut off from 
amongst the living. More than twenty other sufferers 
were strangled at the same time upon a boom runting 
out upon supports from the court-house steps, and 
others were hung up upon the rails, and the whole left 
suspended, as was the body of Mr. Gordon, until the 
following day, when they were thrown all together into 
a trench dug at the back of the building. The actors 
in this tragedy may escape the punishment they merit 
at the hands of man ; but the righteous Lord, who 
loveth righteousness, will not fail to hear the innocent 
blood which crieth to Him from the ground. 

There are several facts testified on oath before the 
Royal Commissioners, which impart additional shades of 
darkness to the already dark tragedy of G. W. Gordon's 
death, beside those which have been already stated. 
These serve to show how clear and weighty were the 

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reasons which induced the Jamaica Committee to take 
measures for arraigning the principal actors before a 
British jury on the charge of murder ; not to gratify 
any feelings of private revenge, but to vindicate the 
outraged law and the tarnished honour of the British 

It has been already related how General Nelson sup- 
pressed and destroyed a letter addressed to Mr. Gordon 
by Mr. William Wemyss Anderson, of the utmost im- 
portance to the accused gentleman, as it was intended 
to instruct him how to proceed on the trial, and to 
point out the grounds on which he might object to the 
jurisdiction of any court-martial in his case. The charge 
of the Lord Chief Justice shows that Mr. Anderson^s 
objections were perfectly valid, and suflScient to bar the 
proceedings altogether. But this letter never reached 
Mr. Gordon, because General Nelson opened, and read, 
and destroyed it; thus deliberately depriving his 
prisoner of his last chance for life. This fact is on 
record in the Parliamentary papers ; and perhaps some 
member of the House of Commons may think it due to 
the national honour, to inquire if such an act is fitting 
and proper in an officer of the British army. Concern- 
ing the inhumanity involved in such a procedure 
towards a man in jeopardy of his life, there can be but 
one opinion. 

It is also proved that Mr. Gordon was desirous of 
having Dr. Fiddes, or Dr. Major, called at his trial, to 
prove that he was out of health at the time of the 
Morant Bay outbreak, and that circumstance prevented 
his being present at the Vestry meeting which ended so 
tragically. The fact of his absence being construed 
into proof that he had previous knowledge of what was 
to take place, and had therefore purposely kept away 
from the meeting, he desired. that his medical advisers 

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might be called^ to show thiat he was at the time physi- 
cally incapable of being there. Both might have been 
easily summoned, and certainly would have been if a 
fair trial had been the object in view. Dr. Major was 
either at Morant Bay, or so near that a messenger could 
have reached him in an hour. But with the same dis- 
regard of justice and humanity which marked the whole 
treatment of Mr. Gordon, this reasonable request was 
refused, and neither of the medical men was allowed 
to give evidence on a mattier so vital to the accused. 
Thus by the officers who had to do with this impudent 
mockery of a trial he was deprived of his defence. The 
following letter, written the day before he was arrested 
and hurried to Morant Bay to be slaughtered, will ex- 
plain Mr. Grordon^s reason for wishing his medical 
attendants to be examined. It was addressed to Dr. 
Fiddes :— 

• " Kingston, October IQth^ 1865. 

"My deab Doctob, 

" The cough is nearly gone, but the debility of stomach 
continues ; and I send for some more of the bitters, if you 
please. Private obloquy id being attached to me about the 
deplorable occurrences in St. Thomas-in-the-East, but I am 
as innocent as you are about them. I rather think, if the 
causes be traced, that the Governor's conduct, and the in- 
discretion of the late Baron, and judicial proceedings in the 
parish, will be found to be the real causes. Mr. Eyre has 
much to answer for in Jamaica affairs. 
"Yours faithfully, 

"GBOxaa William Goedon." 

It is a very significant circumstance that, when Gor- 
don was to be brought to trial, the court-martial was 
changed. It had been composed partly of militia offi- 
cers : and Colonel A. H, Lewis, who had been a politi- 
cal friend of Gordon, had been President of the court 


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sitting at Morant Bay. But this court was dissolved^ 
in order that Lieutenant Brand and his two boyish as- 
sociates might have the disposal of Mr. Gordon^s case ; 
men whose utter incompetency and unfitness must have 
been very well known to General Nelson. The reason 
assigned for making this ominous change was^ according 
to the Report of the Commissioners, that General Nel- 
son " deemed it right that Mr. Gordon should not be 
tried by a court composed of persons who might be sup- 
posed to be influenced by local prejudices.^^ General 
Nelson's conduct, in suppressing the letter of Mr. Gor- 
don's legal adviser, renders it very difficult Jbo believe in 
any over-anxiety on his part to protect the prisoner 
against the influence of ^^ local prejudices ;/' nor does it 
tend to remove the difficulty that Lieutenant Brand, of 
all others, was selected as President of the court. With 
Mr. Lewis as President or even a member of the court, 
Mr. Gordon would have had a chance of a fair trial. 
But an impartial hearing was out of the question, when 
the fate of the accused was placed in the hands of a 
man who had boasted of the pleasure he would have in 
hanging him, and two associates who were ready with 
himself, as the result showed, to send the unfortunate 
accused to an ignominious end, on evidence pronounced 
by the Lord Chief Justice to be so morally and intrinsi- 
cally worthless that no competent or honest Judge could 
have allowed it to be received. 

General Nelson professed to have founded the pro- 
ceedings in Gordon's trial on his own examination of 
Mr. Gordon's papers. But the fact is, no papers were 
found amongst those in the possession of Mr. Gordon, 
which could be used against him at the trial ; and none 
were so used ; the only documents being depositions of 
witnesses not present, a packet abstracted from the post- 
office by Ramsay, and two letters, which the evidence 
before the Commissioners shows to have been obtained 
from other sources. The most diligent search, failed to 

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discover anything condemnatory of Mr. Gordon, or to 
connect him, directly or indirectly, with the outbreak 
at Morant Bay; and it shows how completely his perse- 
cutors were at a loss for something to criminate him, 
that, on the morning of his trial, as proved before the 
Commissioners, Bamsay, the notorious Provost-marshal, 
went to the gaol, and proclaimed aloud in the hearing of 
all the prisoners, " Who can give evidence against Gor- 
don ? Who knows about Gordon, and can give the evi- 
dence against him, will save his life and be rewarded.^^ 
It would have been strange if, among the host of poor 
wretches there, every one of whom was in danger of 
being put to death, there were none found who, 
prompted by the love of life, would come forward to do 
what was desired. Two did come forward : and so it 
was that, by tendering a bribe to men on the brink of 
eternity, that miserable testimony was obtained which 
the Lord Chief Justice pronounces to be moonshine, but 
which was made the pretext for sending poor Gordon to 
his death. 

Let the conduct of General Nelson be further re- 
garded in connexion with the last act of the tragedy, and 
how shocking to all right feeling is the inhumanity it 
discloses ! He had the heartlessness to deny to Mr. 
Gordon on the verge of eternity what would not be 
refused to the vilest criminal, — an interview with a 
minister of religion. When General Nelson announced 
to the poor sufferer that his sentence was death, and he 
was to die in one hour, Mr. Gordon requested to see 
Mr. Parnther, the Wesleyan Minister in the town, with 
whom he was on terms of Christian friendship, and at 
whose house he frequently rested when travelling in 
that direction. This request was refused with a cruelty 
at which one shudders. Thus defrauded of the counsel 
of his legal adviser, deprived of the testimony of his 
medical attendants, and now sternly refused in his last 

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hour the consolations of religion, and the counsels of » 
Christian Minister, George William Gordon was sent 
to the gallows. If there be any meaning in the charge 
of Chief Justice Cockbum, his execution was a murder ; 
and, .taking into view all its antecedents and associa- 
tions, it is as barbarous a murder as can be found in the* 
annals of modern crime. At whose door lies the guilt 
of this bad deed, will be seen in that day when the Judge 
of all the earth shall render unto every man according- 
as his work shall be. Meanwhile, conscience will riot 
fail to do its part in punishing the wrong-doers. * 

Mr. Gordon bore with unruffled meekness the com- 
plicated wrongs and indignities to which he was sub- 
jected ; and even the last crowning act of barbarity, in 
denying him the consolations of religion, failed to arouse 
in him any feelings unworthy of a Christian man about 
to pass within the veil ; for immediately after, it he sat 
down, and, with the hand so soon to be stiffened in 
death, penned a letter to his wife, breathing the same 
forgiving spirit towards his enemies that his Divine 
Master exhibited upon the cross, when He prayed for 
His persecutors, '^ Father, forgive them ; for they know 
not what they do.^' This letter, so worthy of a good 
man^s last hour, will long remain a satisfactory memo- 
rial of the Christian character and temper of him who 
wrote it under such harrowing circumstances, and of the 
repulsive harshness of the British officer who, at such an 
hour, could refuse such a request. The following is the 
letter, the ink of which was scarcely dry before the 
spirit whence it emanated had passed to the better land, 
" where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary 
are at rest.^^ 

" My beloved Lucy, 

" General Nelson has just been kind enough ta 
inform me that the court-martial on Saturday last has 
crdered me to be hung, and that the sentence is to be 

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•executed in an hour hence, so that I shall be gone for evet 
from this world of sin and sorrow. I regret that mj 
worldly affairs are so deranged, but now it cannot be helped. 
I do not deserve the sentence, for I never advised or took 
part in any insurrection ; all I ever did was to recommend 
the people who complained, to seek redress in a legitimate 
way ; and if in this I 6rred, or have been misrepresented, I 
<lon't think I deserve this extreme sentence. It is, however, 
the will of my Heavenly Father that I should thus suffer in 
obeying His command to relieve the poor and needy, and to 
protect, so far as I was able, the oppressed; and glory be to 
His name, and I thank Him that I suffer in such a cause. 
Olory be to God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Ohrist, and I can say that it is a great honour thus to suffer, 
for the servant cannot be greater than his Lord. I can now 
eay with Paul the aged, * The hour of my departure it is 
€ome, and I am ready to be offered up ; I have kept, the 
faith, I have fought a good fight, and henceforth there is 
laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord 
the righteous Judge shall give to me.' Please to say to all 
my friends an affectionate farewell, and that they must not 
grieve for me, for I die innocently. Assure Mr. Airey of 
the truth of this, and all others. Comfort your heart. I 
certainly little expected this. You must do your best, and 
the Lord will help you ; and do not be ashamed of the death 
your poor husband will have suffered. The judges seemed 
against me, and from the rigid manner of the court I could 
not get in all the explanation I intended. The man 
Anderson made an xmfounded statement : so did Gordon, 
but his testimony was different from the deposition. 
The judges took the latter and erased them. It seemed 
that I was to be sacrificed. I know nothing of Bogle, 
and never advised him to the act or acts which have 
brought me to this end. Please to write to Mr. Chame- 
rovzow. Lord Brougham, and Messrs. Henkell, Da il^sson, 
and Co. I did not expect that, not being a rebel, I should 
have been tried and disposed of in this way. I thought 
His Excellency the Governor would have allowed me a fair 
trial, if any charge of sedition or inflammatory language were 

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partly attributed to me ; but I have no power of control. Maj 
the Lord be merciful to him ! General Nelson, who has just 
come for me, has faithfully promised to let you have this. 
May the Lord bless him, and the soldiers and sailors, and all. 
men ! Say farewell to Mr. Phillippo, and also Mr. Licard, 
and aunt, and Mr. Bell, Mr. Yinen, and Mr. Henry Dalouse, 
and many others whom I do not remember, but who have^ 
been true and faithful to me. As the General is come, I 
must close. Eemember me to aunt Eliza in England, and. 
tell her not to be ashamed of my death. And now, my 
dearest one, th^ most beloved and faithful, the Lord bless,, 
preserve, and keep you. A kiss for dear mamma, who will, 
be kind to you — to Janet. Kiss also Ann, Janet. Say 
good bye to dear Mr. Davidson, and all others. I have only 
been allowed one hour ; I wish more time had been allowed. . 
Farewell also to Mr. E. 0. Smith, who sent up my private 
letter to him. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ 
be with us all ! 

" Your truly devoted and now nearly dying husband, 

"Gbobge W. GoBDOir. 

'' I asked to see Mr. Pamther, but the General said I 
could not. I wish him farewell in Christ. Love to all* 
Eemember aunty and my father. G. W, G." 

The Jamaica Committee, with laudable zeal for right 
and justice, and the security of the life and liberty of 
British subjects in our colonial possessions, took measures 
for prosecuting Governor Eyre, General Nelson, and 
Lieutenant Brand, for the part they respectively took 
in destroying the life of Mr. Gordon, which they were 
competently advised amounted legall y in each case to 
the crime of murder. Mr. Eyre had made it matter of 
somewhat ostentatious boasting that he took upon him-> 
self the entire responsibility of the arrest, trial, and 
execution of Mr. Gordon ; yet, when the time of trial 
came, with something very much like craven disregard 
of his own boasting, he shrunk from the responsiUlity 

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hje had assumed^ and skulked away from the inyeatiga* 
tion^ which it might have been supposed an honourable 
man would have courted^ and which it is certain that 
any man^ conscious of the rectitude of his own actions 
and motives, would have been prompt to meet. The 
Magistrates of Shropshire refused to send the case 
of Mr. Eyre to a jury, extending over him the shield of 
their protection by dismissing the case ; adding another 
to those strange examples of "justices' justice ^' that so 
often astonish the good people of England. The 
magistrates in London, faithful to justice and the law, 
committed Messrs. Nelson and Brand for trial ; but the 
grand jury of Middlesex, to the unbounded astonishment 
of all who heard or read the charge of the Lord Chief 
Justice, ignored the bill, and liberated the accused 
parties from the very serious circumstances in which they 
were involved. It must have been a mortification, 
deeply and painfully felt by them, to find themselves 
arraigned at the Old Bailey on the charge of murder. 
But the attempt to bring the wrong doers to merited 
punishment, although baffled and defeated by well- 
understood causes, has not been barren of important 
and gratifying results. The elaborate charge of Chief 
Justice Cock burn to the grand jury in the case of 
Nelson and Brand has supplied what was felt to be a 
desideratum, — a full exposition of the law of England 
with regard to martial law, and the power of the crown 
to apply it in the case of civilians. And so fully has he 
exploded the wild and extravagant doctrines promul- 
gated and acted upon concerning this subject, that no 
such abuses will ever be practicable again in a British 
colony as those which recently disgraced Jamaica; 
while it fixes an indelible stigma upon all concerned in 
the murder of Mr. Gordon, and the other atrocities 
perpetrated in the island during the prevalence of 
martial law. "If,^' said his Lordship, "the rains of 
heaven had not washed out the blood from the 

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stones of Jamaica^ that blood would cry out for 

This is a strong figure of speech, but it contains 
words t)f appalling truth. There is reason to believe 
that the facts as to the amount of life sacrificed in 
Jamaica, under the sanction of ex-Governor Eyre, and 
by ,the agencies he set to work for that purpose, far 
surpassed what was proved on oath before the Royal 
Commissioners. After it was seen that the reckless 
boastings of military and volunteer officers concerning 
their sanguinary doings amongst the unarmed, unresist- 
ing Negroes of Jamaica, called forth no approval of 
their valour, as they seemed to expect; but, on the 
contrary, awakened disgust and indignation in the 
British public to an unexampled extent ; they dropped 
their ill-timed braggadocio, and endeavoured, by con- 
trary representations, to counteract the eflfect produced. 
No doubt everything was done before the Commissioners 
that could possibly^ minify the havoc and bloodshed 
which had taken place, and give the most favourable 
aspect to the whole case. But if we take it just as it is 
represented in the official Report of the Commissioners, 
it presents an appalling record of human wickedness, 
and casts a fearful amount of responsibility upon Mr. 
Eyre, such as most men would shudder to contemplate, 
in the view of having to appear with it, and confront it, 
before the judgment-seat of Christ. 

It will be remembered that before the hanging and 
shooting commenced, the so-called rebellion had been 
suppressed. Not one of the numerous victims of the 
martial law firenzy was killed in actual resistance to 
authority : every one was massacred in cold blood, and 
in a fiendish spirit of revenge. In the heat of conflict, 
the Negroes, exasperated to fury by a wanton attack 
made upon them with deadly weapons, killed eighteen 
persons and wounded thirty-one. Twenty houses oar 
jstores were wholly or partially plundered, and^five build- 

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ings, including the court-house and school-house at 
Morant Bay, and a house at Mulatto River, accidentally 
set on fire, were burnt. But on the part of the authori- 
ties there were, on the day of the riot at Morant Bay, 
ten killed and twenty wounded by the fire of the volun- 
teers ; four hundred and thirty-nine are proved to have 
been afterwards put to death (a number, there is reason 
to fear, very far short of the reality) ; six hundred 
were tortured by the cat, many of them with the 
fearful instrument of cruelty made partly of ironwir e ; 
and a thousand houses were wantonly burnt, leaving four 
thousand of the labouring population without a shelter or 
a home. It is not surprising that the Royal Commis- 
sioners say in the conclusion of their Report : — 

** By the continuance of martial law in its full force to the 
extreme limit of its statutory operation, the people wera 
deprived fpr a longer time than the necessary period of the 
great constitutional privileges by which the security of life 
and property is provided for. That the punishments inflicted 
were excessive. That the punishment of death was unneces- 
sarily frequent. That the floggings were reckless, and at 
Bath positively barbarous. That the burning of one thou- 
sand houses was wanton and cruel." 

Lord Chief Justice Cockburn has conferred a benefit 
upon the world by publishing his admirable charge in a 
volume, with his own revision and corrections and 
copious notes. The following remarks close the volume, 
and present such a lucid view of the barbarity and ille- 
gality with which Mr. Gordon was treated, that it is 
impossible to read them, and remember that they pro- 
ceed from the highest legal authority in the realm, 
without regarding Mr. Gordon as a murdered man, and 
feeling that a most unenviable responsibility will to the 
end of their lives, and beyond that period, attach to the 
men by whom he was cruelly and unlawfully doneto 
death. The Chief Justice says :— Digitized by Google 


" EDglisli legislation, looking, no doubt, to tlie disadvan- 
tage a man labours under who has the power of Government 
to contend with, and to the danger of angry passions and 
hostile prejudices interfering with the calm administration 
of justice on trials for treason, has provided additional safe- 
guards for the protection of the accused. The prisoner, in 
addition to the right to have copies of the depositions as on 
ordinary, trials, has by statute (7 Anne, c. xi., s. 21) the 
right to have a copy of the indictment delivered to him a 
fortnight before the trial, together with a list of the wit- 
nesses to be produced against him, as well as a list of the 
jury. On opening the ' Times ' of May 1st, my eye alighted 
on the following passage from a report of the proceedings 
against the Fenian prisoners at Dublin : — 

"* Mr. Justice Fitzgerald' sat half an hour before the 
usual time yesterday morning, in order to assign counsel to 
prisoners against whom true bills had been found for high 
treason. When they were placed at the bar, his Lordship 
informed them that the grand jury had found bills of indict- 
ment against them for high treason. They were entitled to 
copies of the indictment, which would be furnished them 
either to-day or to-morrow, as also lists of the jurors and 
witnesses. They would be called upon to plead to the 
indictment found against them on Monday, the 13th of 
May. He had further to tell them that they were entitled 
to name two coimsel and an attorney to act for them. If 
they were not prepared to do that then, they could name 
the professional gentlemen they wished to represent them at 
any time between that and the 13th of May to the 
Governor of the prison, who would communicate their 
wishes to the Crown Solicitor.' 

"Contrast this with the proceedings in Mr. Gordon's 
case. Taken from a place where he would have had the 
advantage of a regular trial, a previous knowledge of the 
case he had to meet, the means of defence, the presence of 
friends, the assistance of counsel, the cross-examination of 
the witnesses, the full opportimity to rebut their testimony 
i.y counter-evidence, the direction to the jury of a profes- 
sional and responsible Judge, he is hurried off without aa 


opportunity of comiminicating with anyone, and transported 
to another part of the island, where he had neither friend 
nor adviser. Even a letter written to him by a friend, 
su^esting the line of defence, is purposely kept from him. 
Alone and helpless, he is immediately, and with unseemly 
and deplorable haste, put upon his trial, without know- 
ledge of the charge till called upon to answer it, without 
knowledge of the facts intended to be proved, or of the wit- 
nesses intended to be examined, still less that the deposi- 
tions of living vyitnesses taken behind his back would be 
brought forward against him. Under these most disadvan- 
tageous circumstances he is put upon his trial, before a 
court, in all probability, sharing in the common preposses- 
sion against him, and is condemned on evidence, in my 
judgment, wholly insufficient to warrant his condemnation. 
It may be said, it is true, that Gordon did not apply for a 
postponement of the trial. But of what advantage would a 
postponement have been to him, while in total ignorance of 
what he had to me^t ? Besides which, this unhappy man 
appears, if one may judge from the utter want of vigour and 
intelligence displayed in his defence, to have been paralysed 
by the circumstances in which he was placed, and to have 
been rendered incapable of grappling with the difficulties by 
which he was surrounded. No one, I think, who has the 
faintest idea of what the administration of justice involves, 
could deem the proceedings on this trial consistent with 
justice, or, to use a homely phrase, with that fair play which 
is the right of the commonest criminal. All I can say is, 
that if, on martial law being proclaimed, a man can lawfully 
be thus tried, condemned, and sacrificed, such a state of 
things is a scandal and a reproach to the institutions of this 
great and free country ; and as a minister of justice, pro- 
foundly imbued with a sense of what is due to the first and 
greatest of earthly obligations, I enter my solemn and 
emphatic protest against the lives of men being thus dealt 
with in time to come." 

It was some satisfaction to the public mind that Mr. 
Eyre was promptly dismissed from the government of 

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Jamaica^ and deprived of the authority he had so- 
grossly abused. And it is scarcely possible that any 
administration can venture so to outrage public opinion 
and propriety, as to place hira again in a similar posi- 
tion of responsibility. But it is still more satisfactory 
to know, that no West India Governor -will be able, in 
future, to shelter himself under any local enactment iu 
placing a colony under martial law, and that all local 
laws on that subject have been ordered to be effaced 
fipom the statute book; so that henceforth no 
Governor can proclaim martial law, except on his own 
personal responsibility, — a responsibility so stupendous 
that it will seldom, if ever, be incurred ; especially after 
the exposition of the Isrw on the subject given by Chief 
Justice Cockburn. It is also a pleasing fact that a new 
system of administration has been inaugurated in mis- 
governed Jamaica, which bids fair to produce a better 
and more equitable state of things than that which for 
so many years has existed in that colony. Some of 
the reforms which Mr. Gordon advocated, and laboured 
long to accomplish, are now in progress. The present 
Governor, Sir J. P. Grant, armed with powers almost 
despotic, is repealing and altering oppressive laws, ren- 
dering the burden of taxation more equal amongst rich 
and poor, cutting down the enormous expense of the- 
Church establishment, and providing for such a fair and 
impartial administration of the laws as shall obviate just 
ground of complaint ; and we trust the day is not far 
distant,, when the peasantry of Jamaica, released from 
the oppressions by which they have been ground to the 
earth, will be amongst the most prosperous and happy 
classes of Her Majesty ^s subjects. 




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