. After the burning of the Gaspee
in Rhode Island in June 1772, English authorities at first attempted to apply to
the case the Dockyards Act, passed in April 1772, which permitted trial either where
the offense was committed or in England of those accused of destroying British warships.
Legal advice, however, ruled the Dockyards Act inapplicable for the Gaspee
since it had not been burned in a yard. Then the government called into play the
statute passed in 1543 permitting offenses of treason committed outside the realm
to be tried in England. In 1769 Parliament had asserted that this old statute was
effective in the colonies (Bernhard Knollenberg, Growth of the American Revolution
, 1766–1775, N.Y., 1975, p. 84–85 and notes 31–33).