"Wild Colonial Boy"

 

Trial of John Williams.

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Tuesday 22nd April 1806.

Transcript.

At a General Court Martial held in the Mefs (sic) Room of the 3rd Battalion of His Majesty's 1st Regiment of Foot on Royals, in Chichester Barracks in the County of Sussex on Tuesday the Twenty Second day of April 1806, by order of Lieutenant General Lennox Commanding the Sussex District, being there as to authorize by a Warrant from His Majesty bearing date the 25th Day of March last. Major Andrew Wauchope of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Regiment of Foot on Royals presiding.

Lieutenant General Charles Lennox                            

Lieutenant General Charles Lennox).             Chichester Barracks.
                                                                        (Early Photo)    


      Chichester Barracks & the High Street, 2003
(Click on the photos for a larger view)

Present

Deputy Judge Advocate -      John Pedder

Capt. Hugh Patrickson -        4th Reg. of Dragons or Queen's Own

Capt. William Onslow   -         4th Reg. of Dragons or Queen's Own

Capt. Donald McLean   -        1st Reg. of Foot on Royals

Capt. George Parsons  -         1st Reg. of Foot on Royals

Capt. George Ince       -        1st Reg. of Foot on Royals

Capt. William Smith      -        4th Reg. of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut. Charles Walton   -        4th Reg. of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut. James Holmes     -        4th Reg.  of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut. John Dalton        -        4th Reg. of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut William Henry Wright    -  4th Reg. of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut Thomas Burton Bedford - 4th Reg of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut. Thomas William Baker   - 4th Reg of Dragons or Queen's Own

Lieut Lewis de Saleberry       - 1st Reg of Foot on Royals

The Charge

The several members of the Court being duly sworn and the Deputy Judge Advocate also sworn. John Williams, a private in the Second Battalion of His Majesty's 35th Regiment of Foot came before the Court and the following charge preferred by Ensign and Adjutant George Porter, of the same Battalion of the said Regiment, was exhibited against him.

"For having deserted on the 9th day of March 1806 from the hospital of the said Regiment in Lewes Barracks in the County of Sussex, then being a prisoner in the said hospital and so continuing a desertion until brought back to the said Regiment, then lying at Lewes aforesaid, on the 30th Day of the said month of March".

The Transcript

 The Prisoner admitted that he is, and was, during the periods specified in the charge, a private in the said Battalion of the 35th regiment of Foot.

Testimony of Ensign and Adjutant, George Porter.

Ensign and Adjutant George Porter being sworn entered on the proof of the charge and deposed, that the Prisoner, John Williams, was confined on the 9th Day of March last in the Regiment Hospital in Lewes Barracks in the County of Chichester, having received part of a punishment awarded by a Regimental Court Martial for absenting himself from the Regiment without leave.

That in the evening of the said 9th of March, between the hours of seven and eight o'clock, the Corporal of the Hospital Guard came and informed him, the deponent, Ensign George Porter, that the Prisoner has made his escape. Further, that the Prisoner was absent from the Regiment from that period and that he, the deponent, did not see him again until he was brought back on the 30th day of the said month of March by an Escort.

The Prisoner waived asking the Prosecutor any questions.

Testimony of Sergeant Joseph Usher.

Sergeant Joseph Usher of the 2nd Battalion of the 35th regiment was sworn and examined by desire of the Prosecutor. Sergeant Joseph Usher of the 2nd Battalion of the 35th regiment was sworn and examined by desire of the Prosecutor.

(Q) Was the Prisoner confined in the regimental Hospital in Lewers Barracks and when?

(A). Yes, on the 9th day of March last.

(Q) Were you the Sergeant at the time doing duty at the Hospital ?

(A) Yes, I was.

(Q) Did the Prisoner desert from the hospital and when?

(A) Yes, he did. On the 9th day of March last in the evening at about ten minutes to eight.

(Q) How long was he absent from the Regiment ?

(A) From that 9th day of March until the 30th of the same month when he was brought back.

(Q) Did you see him when he was brought back ? (Question was by the Court)

(A) I did.

(Q) Can you state why he was in hospital ? (Question by the Court)

(A) Yes, he was brought to the hospital and delivered into my care on receiving part of his punishment for absenting himself from his quarters without leave.

The Prisoner waived asking any questions.

Testimony of Private Robert Harrison.

Robert Harrison a private of the same battalion of the same regiment was sworn and examined by desire of the Prosecutor.

(Q) Do you know the Prisoner ?

(A) Yes, John Williams

(Q) Were you on sentry duty in the hospital ward in the barracks of Lewes on the 9th of March ?

(A) Yes

(Q) Was the Prisoner confined there ?

(A) Yes

(Q) Did the Prisoner make his escape out of the ward.

(A) Yes

(Q) Was it while you were Sentry ? (Question was by the Court)

(A) Yes. I was on duty at the time and this man, the Prisoner, wanted to go out. I was to go out with either one of the Prisoners, of whom there were five, and to leave the others in the hospital room. Coming out of the room with the Prisoner, being a dark evening about a quarter to 8 o'clock, the Prisoner made a push away from me. I followed him until I lost sight of him below the boundary in the hospital yard, the rails of which he went through. I lost him all at once and went back to the hospital and made the alarm that the prisoner was gone.

The Prosecutor then closed.

The Prisoner acknowledged the crime and threw himself on the Mercy of the Court.

The Verdict

The Court Martial having duly weighed and considered the whole matter is of the opinion that with respect to the charge exhibited against the Prisoner., John Williams, namely:-

"Having deserted on the 9th day of March 1806 from the hospital of the said regiment in Lewes Barracks in the County of Sussex (Sufrex), then being a Prisoner in the said hospital and so continuing a deserter until brought back to the said Regiment then lying at Lewes aforesaid on the 30th day of the said month of March.

The Prisoner, John Williams, is Guilty and the Court doth adjudge and sentence that the said John Williams shall be transported beyond the seas for the term of fourteen years as a Felon.

Signed : John Pedder, Deputy Judge Advocate and Major Wauchope, 3rd. Batt. Royals. President.

Judge Advocate General's Letters dated 15th May 1806.

To : Right Hon. General Fitzpatrick, His Majesty's Secretary of War

"Sir,

I have had the honour of laying before The King the proceedings of a General Court Martial holden at Chichester in the County of Sussex on the 22nd of April last, when John Williams, a private soldier in the 2nd Battalion of the 35th regiment of Foot, was tried and found guilty of Desertion.

I am to acquaint you that His Majesty has thought fit to confirm the sentence of the court martial, whereby the Prisoner, John Williams is adjudged to be transported as a Felon for the Term of Fourteen Years, and to direct that he be transported to New South Wales.

In order to same taking effect, I shall forthwith make the notification required by the Mutiny Act to the Lord Chief Justice, or one other of the Justices of His Majesty's Court of King's Bench. You will therefore be pleased in convenient him to give the necessary direction for carrying into execution His majesty's Pleasure which has been signified to Lieutenant General Lennox, Officer Commanding His Majesty's forces in the Sussex District, under whose command the said Prisoner is now in confinement.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient and humble Servant,

Mat Bond

Judge Advocate General's Letter dated 15th May 1806

To : Right Hon.Lord Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of His Majesty's Court of King's Bench or one other of the Justices of the said Court.

"My Lord or Sir,

Whereas John Williams, a private soldier in the Second Battalion of the Thirty Fifth regiment of Foot, was by and at a General Court Martial holden at Chichester in the County of Sussex , on the twenty second of April last tried and convicted of Desertion and whereas the said Court thinking the offence not deserving of capital punishment, did instead of awarding a corporal punishment adjudged the said John Williams to be transported as a Felon for the Term of Fourteen Years, which sentence of the said Court martial intends should be carried into execution.

I am therefore by the King's Command to notify you the said sentence together with His Majesty's Pleasure, that the same be carried into execution and that the said offender be transported as a Felon to New South Wales for the said Term of Fourteen Years, which notification is hereby made to the intent that you may make such order for the transportation of the said John Williams as is by law required and to you may seem necessary.

Mat Bond, Judge Advocate General.

Sentence carried out

Following his conviction of desertion John Williams was transported, "beyond the seas," to New South Wales, Australia, arriving in Sydney from London on " H.M.S. Duke of Portland," on 27th July 1807.

(Reference for these proceedings - W.O. 71/207)

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Footnote

The former barracks are presently being refurbished and will become a restaurant when work is complete. Most recently it was a theatre and the sign, "Theatre Lane," evidences that. The date on the white triangle is 1770. The guy in the green cap is myself, Kieran Williams, and this shot was taken during my 2003 visit to "Brecknockshire" It was a unique experience to be inside this building knowing that right here our ancestor received his sentence of "transportation beyond the seas" I felt I could almost hear the presiding officer dispensing the sentence.

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