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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 4

Commonwealth versus Duncan McGregor et al. on the charge of murder

This case came to the Superiour Court after British prisoners of war incarcerated on an American prison ship in Boston Harbor rose up, rioted, and shot Sgt. Thomas Beckford, a guard on the ship. Duncan McGregor and eight other prisoners were taken to a civilian court on charges of murder. The prisoners petitioned the court, protesting that their trial should take place in a military rather than a civil court, but the case went to trial in the August 1780 session in Suffolk County. The nine defendants were found not guilty.

Grand Jury notes
Suffolk Sup Court cor. G: Jury. Augt. 1780

vs. Duncan McGregor & als who fired from the Guard Ship & killed Thos. Beckford

Jos. Waterman ) I was serjeant & went on board with 6 men to relieve guard there. AM they the Prisners were very insulting & spit in guards face: just at night they got rum & got high. Some of the officers in round house told us the Pris. were going to rise; upon it I fired a signal Gun to Town for Assistance: Mr. Morton came on board & sd. if there was any thing amiss it must be rectified, & upon it they rose & disarmed us. 8 of us Serjt. Corporal & 6 men. they ordered us aft into the Guard house called us rebels, presently they fired: Duncan McGregor was the man who struck me with his hand. I then saw him with a Gun he sd. he brot. it from Ireland, he pushed at me with Bayonet. this shd. have been put to Morton Duncan McGregor took the Bayonet out of my hand. Majr. Rice Augt. 10th agt. I was informed of riot on board Prison Ship; I haled the ship & askd if Morton on board, I took him on board, they ordered me not to go away. they fired twice before I perceived the Serjeant dead, Morton fell over & one oar I went on board & told ’em they had killed my men & I must have some body to go on shore; I took 9 of em on board, one of ’em was Timothy Lynch, whom I saw on board with a Gun a bayonet & he dam’d me & swore he wd. blow my brains out. 125 Isaac Morton I was officer of the day for the Town, Augt. 10. 1780: I heard the first Gun fired by Serjt. Waterman & I went on board, one of ’em Duncan McGregor struck me on the head with his fist. 2 more came up & damd me, they had peices, they sd. they brought em from Ireland. Majr. Rice came on board alongside I got into boat & they fired Hez: Brackett. I was one of the guard on board, Serjt. Waterman fired a Gun out of Cabin Window, he ordered me to load, I saw a no. surround Sergt. & disarmed him then they disarmed me, a Scotman disarmed me. I was in round house & heard some of em call to a Boat along side. I took it to be Major Rice & calld him dam’d Rebel & to come on board or they wd. shoot him & upon it I heard the firing: Duncan McGregor came into the round house for Cartridges Thos. Kirk I was Guard on board. I was posted forward & one man insulted me & took hold of my Musket. Patt. Ryan. I don’t know which fired first. I heard the bulletts from the musket agt. the quarter Robt. Smith I was a guard on board Morris Buchan took my Gun from me damnd me & Congress, & damd my Eyes threw the Bayonet overboard, I saw my Gun next morning it looked as if it had been fired, my Cartridges were all gone Thos. Mann was abt. to strike me abt. 5 oClock—I saw Emanuel Joseph Porteguese put a Bayonet to Lieut Morton’s Breast & swore he would run him thrô John Daniels I was a Guard on board I was disarmed by blank. I saw Michael Hayes stand centry by round house he swore he’d be the death of some of the dam’d Rebels, I was on deck when they fired. I also saw Duncan McGregor with a bayonet in his hand Thos. Jones I was sitting in round house. Serjt. was told they were all to rise, he fired alarm Gun; Edward Haley Michael Hogan & Timo. Lynch reachd. to me & prickd me with bayonets, one with Club struck me confind us in round house & placed a centinel over us: John Rotch was playing with a stick: Edward Haley I think was innocent. Richd. Makins, two men. Timo. Lynch & Michl. Hogan drove us up on Deck with drawn Bayonets the Vessel was adrift Robert Crosby. Lynch & Hogan. 126 Benja. Wilson I was in the boat that rowed Majr. Rice on board. they killed the Serjeant & then I fired we were abt. midships, then they fired & sent a shower of Brickbatts into the boat
Duncan McGregor { Jos. Waterman: Isaac Morton: Hez. Brackett: John Daniels: James Melony
Thomas Man { Robt. Smith: Phil Rogers John Sullivan: Charles Selking Emanuel Joseph
Robt. Watt { Philip Rogers
Morris Pressingham { Robt. Smith
Timo. Lynch { Majr. Rice: Thos. Jones: Richd. Makin Robt. Crosby: James Melony: Phil: Rogers
Michl. Hogan { John Daniels: Thos. Jones: Richd. Makin: Robt. Crosby:
Michl. Hayes { Philip Rogers
John Rotch { Thos. Jones: Wm. Barret.
Keneth McPherson
James Melony I was a prisner on board the Guard ship. I saw Lynch & McGregor have Bayonets. Philip Rogers I saw Thos. Lynch near Cabin Door with a musket in his hand. Michael Hayes drove us upon Deck with threats: I saw Lynch over the Deck pointing at the Boat with a Gun. I saw Thos. Man with a musket before firing walking back & forth. Robert Watt was the first person that attacked the Centry John Sullivan I was down on Deck & saw Thos. Mann with a Gun Charles Selking I saw Thos. Man fire on the boat, the boat fired first Wm. Barret I was Corporal of the Guard officers called Sergt. & me into round house & sd. the Pris: were determined to rob us, after Morton came John Rotch seized my Bayonet, after Rotch seized me he struck me under the throat & kick’d me down. I found my Gun afterward & Serjt. Booth sd. she had been discharged. Benja. Edes. Timo. Lynch had a loose bullet. 127 Patrick Ryan I know nothing Edmund Hayley nothing Emanuel Joseph Franciso Santo. I saw Thos. Man have a Gun Keneth McPherson.

MS .

August 29, 1780

Suffolk Ss. At the Superiour Court of Judicature Court of Assize and general Goal delivery begun and holden at Boston within and for the County of Suffolk on the last Tuesday of August in the year of our Lord seventeen hundred & Eighty

The Jurors for the Government & People of the Massachusetts Bay in New England upon their oath present, that Duncan McGreger resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Timothy Lynch resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Michael Hogan resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Patrick Ryan resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Thomas Man resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Robert Watt resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Morris Pressingham resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Keneth McPherson resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Michael Hayes resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Edward Hayley resident at Boston aforsaid John Rotch resident at Boston aforsaid Labourer Emanuel Joseph resident at Boston aforsaid not having the fear of GOD before their Eyes on the tenth day of August in the year of our Lord Seventeen hundred and Eighty with force and Arms at Boston aforsaid in the County of Suffolk aforsaid in and upon one Thomas Bickford in the peace of GOD and of the Government and People aforsaid then and there being feloniously wilfully and of their malice aforethought, did make an Assault, and that the said Timothy Lynch a certain Muskett of the value of forty shillings then and there charged with Gunpowder and one leaden bullet, which Musket the said Timothy Lynch in his with both his hands then & there had & held to against and upon the said Thomas Bickford, then and there feloniously wilfully and of his malice aforethought did shoot and discharge: and that 128 the said Timothy Lynch with the leaden bullet aforsaid, out of the muskett aforsaid then and there by force of the Gunpowder shot & sent forth as aforsaid the aforsaid Thomas Bickford in and upon the neck of him the said Thomas Bickford, just below the Vertebra of him the said Thomas Bickford, then and there with the leaden bullet aforsaid out of the Muskett aforsaid by the said Timothy Lynch so as aforsaid shot discharged & sent forth, feloniously wilfully & of his malice aforthought did strike & penetrate & wound giving to the said Thomas Bickford, then and there with the leaden bullet aforsaid, so as aforsaid shot, discharged and sent forth out of the Muskett aforsaid by the said Timothy Lynch in and upon the neck of him the said Thomas Bickford just below the Vertebra of him the said Thomas Bickford one mortal wound of the depth of four Inches and of the length Bredth of half an Inch, of which said mortal wound the aforsaid Thomas Bickford then and there instantly died; and that the aforsaid Duncan MacGregor Michael Hogan Thomas Man, Robert Watt Morris Pressingham Keneth McPherson Michael Hayes John Rotch, then & there feloniously wilfully and of their malice aforethought were present aiding abetting comforting assisting comforting mantaing the said Timothy Lynch the felony & murder aforsaid in manner & form aforsaid to do & commit and so the Jurors aforsaid aforsaid upon their oaths aforsaid do say that the said Duncn McGregor Timothy Lynch Michael Hogan, Thomas Man Robert Watt Morris Pressingham Keneth McPherson Michael Hayes John Rotch the said Thomas Bickford then & there in manner and form aforsaid, feloniously wilfully and of their malice aforethought did kill and murder against the peace of the Government and people aforsaid and the Dignity of the Same

a true bill R T Paine Atty pr. Stat Samuel Welles { foreman

Suffolk Ss. Augt. Term 1780 Duncan McGregor Timothy Lynch, Michael Hogan, Thomas Man, Robert Watt, Morris Pressingham, Kenneth McPherson Michael Hayes & John Rotch are set to the Bar and being severally demanded how they will acquit themselves thereof they severally say that thereof they are not guilty, & thereof for trial severally put themselves upon God & the Country.

Att. Oliver Peabody,1 Cler. 129

Indictmt. for Murder

vs. McGregor et al

Prisoners of War

The Jury say that

Duncan McGregor is not guilty

Timothy Lynch is not guilty

Michael Hogan is not guilty

Thomas Man is not guilty

Robert Watt is not guilty

Morris Pressingham is not guilty

Kenneth McPherson is not guilty

Michael Hayes is not guilty

John Roth is not guilty

Att. Oliver Peabody, Clerk

MS (Suffolk Files, no. 102707. Massachusetts Judicial Archives, Boston, Mass.).


Oliver Peabody (1753–1831) was a 1773 Harvard graduate who later returned to his native New Hampshire, where he became a state senator and later an associate justice of the Court of Common Pleas (1813–1816) (Selim Hobart Peabody, Peabody Genealogy, ed. Charles Henry Pope [Boston, 1909], 68).

Petition from defendants
McGregor,Duncan Roche, John Watt, Robert Lynch, Timothy Hayes, Michael McPherson, Kenneth Hogan, Michael Mann, Thomas Prestingham, Morris RTP
August 29, 1780

At a Superior Court of Judicature Court of assize &c held at Boston within & for the County of Suffolk on the last tuesday of August 1780.

upon the Indictment

against Duncan McGregor, Timothy Lynch, Michael Hogan Thomas Man, Robert Watt, Morris Pressingham Kenneth McPherson, Michael Hayes, John Rotch,

and the said Duncan McGregor Timothy Lynch Moris Pressingham Michael Hogan Michael Hayse Robert Watt Thomas Man Kennet McPherson & Jno. Roch in their own proper persons come & having heard the Indictment aforsd. read, & severally protesting that they are not guilty of the premisses charged in the said Indictment, for plea nevertheless, severally say that they ought not to be compelled to answer to sd. Indictment: because 130 they say that all Homicides & other offences committed by the Subjects of one State at War with another against the Goverment & People of another State while an open War is subsisting between them, ever have been & of right ever ought to be enquired of heard & determined by the Courts Martial in the Country or place where such Homicide or offences may be committed, agreeable to the laws of Nations & the laws of War, & not by the Courts or Justices appointed in any Country or place to enquire of an determine upon Homicides & other offences committed within such Country or place agreeable to the municipal laws, Customs & statutes of the same.

and afsd.. Duncan McGregor Timothy Lynch, Morris Prestingham, Michael Hogan, Michael Hayse, Robert Watt, Thos. Man, Kennet McPherson & Jno. Roche

and each of them severally further say, that they were born within the kingdom of Great Britain & from the day of their birth to the present time have always owed a faithful allegeance to the British King, which they nor either of them have ever violated, & they & each of them further say that on the first day of August last past on the high Seas they were by force of arms taken, by some of the Subjects of the United States of America, fighting under the said King of Great Britain in open War with the united States of America, and they & each of them further say that at the time when afsd. offence in afsd. Indictment contained is therein supposed to be committed & long before that time & ever since they & each of them have been by force of arms imprisoned & detained & in all respects treated as Prisoners of War

and this they & each of them are ready to verify, Wherefore the sd. Duncan McGregor, Timothy Lynch, Morris Prestingham, Michael Hogan, Michael Hayes, Robert Watt, Thos. Man, Kennet McPherson, & Jno. Roche

& each of them pray Judgment if the Honorable Court here will further proceed upon the Indictment aforsd. against them & that they may be dismissed from the Court hereof & upon the Premisses &c.

Dun: McGregor John Roche Robert Watt Timothy Lynch x Michael Hayse x Kennet McPherson x Thos: Mann x Morris Prestingham x

And Robert Treat Paine Esq. attorney General for the Goverment & People aforsaid, who prosecutes in this behalf for the sd. Goverment & People, as to the said plea of them the sd. Duncan McGreger Thomas Lynch Michael Hogan, Thomas Man Robert Wat Morris Pressingham Keneth McPherson Michael Hayes & John Rotch.

by them severally above pleaded as aforesaid, for the sd. Goverment & People of this State saith that the sd. pleas & the matter therein contained are not sufficient in law to preclude the sd. Court here from their Jurisdiction to hear & determine the Murder & felony specified in the sd. Indictment & above charged against the sd. Duncan McGregor, Thos. Lynch Michael Hogan Thomas Mann Robert Wat Morris Pressingham Keneth McPherson Michael Hayes & John Rotch.

in & by the sd. Indictment wherefore for want of a proper plea sufficient answer in their behalf he prayeth Judgment & that they may answer here touching & concerning the premisses

R T Paine

MS (Suffolk Files, no. 102707. Massachusetts Judicial Archives, Boston, Mass.).

Trial notes
Suffolk Supr: Court Augt. 1780 1

State vs. Duncan McGregor, Timo. Lynch Michael Hogan, Thomas Man, Robert Watt, Morris Pressingham, Keneth McPherson, Michael Hayes, John Rotch for murder of Thos. Bickford. they pleaded a plea to the Jurisdiction. Demurer to the plea.

Mr. Hitchborn2 in Support of his plea do they owe any allegiance may not persons be in State & not Subject to its Law: Vattel B3§137.142. the right of war gives right to kill whenever they can 13.3.§20 HPC3 1.B. ch.17.§6–7. Aliens that come in a martial manner cannot be considered as Traytors 7.Coke.46. Calvins Case. 1. Black. 370.1. 372. an Alien Enemy is intitald to no protection: 132 2 Vin5 .264 would it be murder if Congress should order all the Prisoners to be hung up at Yard arm have Prisoners a right to rise & retake a vessell Mm. Vattel B.III.ch.8. Foster.6 187. Plea overuled by Court & they pleaded not guilty. Wm. Barret, I was one corporal of the Guard, the off: sd. the Pris. was abt. to rob them: Pris were saucy, getting sticks, bricks &c Lt. Morton came alongside; I drew my Bayonet John Rotch catch it out of my hand & cut me over the nose. I then got my Gun & Rotch & als. got my Gun all the Prisners were present cursing & daming me & saying they would have my life. Rotch struck me under the chin & on the head with my Gun: abt. an hour from the time of their first begginning to make preparation to their assaulting me: instantly I was on the Guard bed. the Prisoners on board run in & got the Guns out of the Guard Room Joseph Waterman I was Serjt. of Guard with a Corporal & 6 men, just a night they were in great hubbub forward. the officers Prisners told me the Pris. were abt. to rise they supposed to rob them & cut away the bulk head, a little after Lt. Morton came & asked the occasion of my firing, & told the Pris. if I or any other person had abused them they should have restitution but they hea sd. nothing to him: they took my Gun I drew my Bayonet & put it to McGregors Breast. he took it from me, they call’d me dam’d Rebell damd Rascal & ordered me back to the Guard Room. some for putting me down the hold, they had billets of wood in their hands & sticks & the like McGregor had on his Kelts & Scotch Stockins Isaac Morton I was Lieut. & officer of the day. I heard a gun fired on board the Prison ship just before sun down I went along side heard a disturbance on board. Serjt. said the centry was disarmed; I askd the Pris: how they fared, they sd. the Guard had not abused them Thos. Lynch damd me for a Rebel & if I came to the assistance of the Guard I was no better than they & he would throw me over board: McGregor sd. you are not better than the guard you Yankey Rouge, & struck me on the head with his fists. Michael Hay said you shall not abuse him McGregor came with Gun & Bayonet 133 & threatned to run me through, & threatned me to throw me over board & all of us; McGregor said he brought his Gun from Ireland, he said he disarm’d the Guards to make an Escape: Major Rice came along side, & bid me step into the boat. McGregor having a Gun in his hand sd. if you offer to go into the boat Ill blow your brains out, there was a cry of fire fire blow their brains of the damd Rebell out Major Rice bid us shove off, they cryed us board the ship fire blow their Damd brains out & immediately they fired & a man dropt, a billet of wood then from the ships knock’d me over board: there was no firing from the boat while I was there. Major Rice On the 10th last mo. I heard that Lt. Morton was on board Prison Ship. I went to the ship and see Morton a board, they swore on board the ship if I did not come on board they’d kill me. they fired killed Serjt. Bickford, after the firing I went into the Boat & person pointed a Gun & Bayonet at my head & swore he would blow my brains out. I carried him on shore & deld. him to Major Carnes Lynch did not appear to be drunk Benja. Edes the preceeding night there was a disturbance, that night I went to Boston point & saw Majr. Carnes with Timothy Lynch in his hand who said he was delivered him by Majr. Rice, we knock’d up Mr. Otis. Got a light veiwed Lynch he was bloody about the bosom to the wastband: found a musket bullet in his pocket: Heza. Bracket I was one of the Guard on board, the Prisners seem’d displeased. Serjt. fired a Gun out the cabin windows: Serjt told all of us to take our Guns. Paul Brown the centry forward came & told me he was disarmed. I saw a No. surrounding Serj. McGregor was among them. I was surrounded but not by any of these: a Prisner stood centry at round house. McGregor came in & searched for cartridges. Majr. Rice came along side Lt. Morton got into the boat & the firing soon began. Edward Carnes Maj. Rice deld. Timothy Lynch. he was bloody, he sd. he was in the boat wn. the affair happened: he did not appear to me to be drunk. he pretended to great things: Thos. Kirk I was one of the Guards stationed forward. Pat Ryan was very saucy Robt. Smith I was one of the Guard PM. Morris Pressingham seized me, took my Gun, loaded it before my face, took my Cartridge box, & swore he’d blow my brains out if I was not still: they ordered me into the Guard 134 Room. J Rotch & Richd. Makin sat down by me on a Chest & said I Should not be hurt if I was still I knew Rotch by his talk, it was not he that knock’d down Barret. McGregor came in & took out the ax Thos. Man had a billet of wood running abt. damed all the Yankees, wished he could kill em all. Swung the Stick at me & damed me: I found my Gun next morning. it had been fired John Darrick I was one of the Guards Michael Hayes had a Gun standing centry near the fore mast & swore he’d be the Death of some of the dam’d Rebels. I saw McGregor have a Bayonet in his hand—my Gun was charged when taken away & was charged when I found her next morning & had been discharged. Thomas Jones I was on board the ship a Prisner complaint was made by us that these Prisners intended to rob us. Serjt. fired an alarm gun. Timothy Lynch came down into the cabin with a Drawn Bayonet & pricked at me & swore 7 the round house. Michael Hayes came with him & knocked the Light out. Lynch and centry, & would not let us come out witht. giving the countersign exchange all this was after the firing. I saw John Rotch with a club very active. Richard Makin I on board in the cabin Lynch & Hogan came down & drove us up on Deck. we went down & staid there then the firing was Lynch had a Bayonet. Hogan struck the Light out. Philip Rogers I was a prisoner on board. abt. 9 oClock. I saw a boat & Majr. Rice in it. Timo. Lynch standing by Gunnel with a Gun & Bayonet over the Majr. Rice & threatning him. I desired him to heave off he sd. do you keep off us Ill knock you down. I saw Thos. Mann before firing walking forward with a Gun like a centry Robert Watt I saw attack the centry at the round house. I could not see if he took his arms: Michael Hayes before firing swore me upon & sd. if I did not go he’d make me the Prisoner make complaint of provision & Potts. John Sullivan I was drove on deck & saw Thos. Mann walking on deck with a Gun & Bayonet. Emanuel Joseph. Thomas Man had a Gun he sd. it was a good one with 3 bulls. he sd. he would fire into the first boat that came along side. Timothy Lynch pointed a Bayonet at my breast Michael Hayes & Duncan McGregor came down below with Bayonetts & sticks & drove me up on Deck. 135 Mr. Sumner8 we shall endeavour to establish this point that as they were Prisoners by force they had right to regain their liberty by force we allow there was a Combination to disarm the Guard as they had a right not to committ murder our Prisoners have the same right at New York.—have not Prisoners a right to rise & retake a vessel.—if our Guard had struck them could they go to a Justice of Peace. Q their enjoying the liberty of being free of Shackles is sufficient Consid: for their noble rising. Mr. Hitchborn they were lawfully assembled.—you must take each Man’s case by itself Mm. Foster of malice 291, 256, 257, 352, 353 §8 Mr. Hitchborn 4 Black. 145 of manslaughter HPC: 76. manslaughter 1 HHPC 615 HPC 72: a man ought not to justify robbing the man unless he was free from fault you dont set here as judges of the Laws of return the Guard was not sufficient Prestons Case,9 not answerable for one another Joseph Otis. Morton sd. he did not pursue Lynch thrô the Grates.10

MS .


This case was heard at the Aug. 1780 term Superiour Court of Judicature in Boston for Suffolk County before William Cushing as chief justice and Nathaniel Peaslee Sargeant, David Sewall, and James Sullivan as associate justices.

And now the Prisoners aforesaid are set to the Bar & desiring Counsel the Court thereupon assign Increase Sumner, Benja. Hichborn & Perez Morton Esqr. as Counsel, who in behalf of the Prisoners make a Plea against the Jurisdiction of the Court they being British Subjects, which is overruled by the Court, and they now are arraigned upon this Indictment & being severally demanded how 136 they will acquit themselves thereof they severally say that thereof they are not guilty & thereof for trial put themselves upon God & the Country—A Jury is thereupon impannelled & sworn to try the Issue viz. Wm. Cunningham foreman & fellows namely Joseph Kettle Aaron White Thos. Mosely John White Thos. Moor, Lemuel Cravath, Abijah Allen, Isaac Colburn Moses Davis Wm. Foster and Saml. Whitney, who after hearing all matters & Things concerning the same return their Verdict & upon their Oaths do say, that the sd. Duncan McGregor is not guilty, Timothy Lynch is not guilty, Michael Hogan is not guilty, Thomas Man is not guilty, Robert Watt is not guilty, Morris Pressingham is not guilty, Kenneth McPherson is not guilty, Michael Hayes is not guilty, John Rotch is not guilty, whreupon the Prisoners Counsel move that they be discharged, It is therefore considered by the Court that the Prisoners aforesaid go without Day—And now Patrick Ryan, Edmund Healey and Emanuel Joseph Prisoners of War confined in Goal upon suspicion of being concerned in the aforementioned Case and no Bill being found the Court order that they be delivered. (Superiour Court of Judicature Minute Books, Suffolk County, Aug. 1780. Massachusetts Judicial Archives, Boston, Mass.)

On Aug. 14, 1780, the Boston Gazette reported:

Thursday Evening last a Number of Prisoners on board the Guard Ship mutinied, seized and disarmed the Guard, consisting of eight Men, cut the Cable, and she drove ashore near Lechmere’s Point, leading up Cambridge River. On the Alarm being given, the Town Major (John Rice, jun. Esq;) attempting to go on board with an additional Guard to quell the Mutiny, was fired on from the Guard Ship when the Serjeant, Thomas Bickford, was killed; on which, the Major calling to the Shore, and informing of what had happened, it being very Foggy, the Town was alarmed, when a Number of Boats went off to his Assistance, and quell’d the Mutiny. After which, 21 of the Prisoners were bro’t on Shore, and committed to Prison.—A Jury of Inquest being summoned to sit on the Body of the deceased, after about forty-four Hours Examination of the Prisoners separately, found, from their own Confessions, eleven Principals and Accomplices, accessory to the Murder, who are now in Goal, waiting for Trial.


Benjamin Hichborn (1746–1817), see vol. 2.


RTP uses the abbreviation HPC for Matthew Hale, Historia Placitorum Coronæ: The History of the Pleas of the Crown (London, 1736).


Edward Coke, The Reports of Sir Edward Coke, Knt. in English, in Thirteen Parts Complete; with References to all the Ancient and Modern Books of the Law (London, various editions). RTP owned a copy of the Reports (unspecified edition) along with other works by Coke including his Institutes and Entries. The famous Calvin’s Case (1608) “finessed a delicate political compromise over whether James’s Scottish subjects, through his accession, had acquired the rights of English subjects” (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography).


Charles Viner, General Abridgment of Law and Equity, Alphabetically Digested under Proper Titles; with Notes and References to the Whole was published in twenty-three volumes between 1742 and 1757. The catalogue of RTP’s library lists “Cases in Equity Abridg’d 2d vol,” which was purchased for him in London by Gawen Browne from John Stockwell for £1.11s.6d.


Foster, Reports and Discourses on Crown Law. According to notes kept by Chief Justice William Cushing, RTP “on the authority of Foster 186, 187, contended that prisoners of war are amenable for an offence malum in se; and of course may be tried by the ordinary tribunals of justice in the country, in which the crime is committed. This has been the practice in England: and although they may perhaps be tried also by courts-martial, that cannot oust the courts of law of their general jurisdiction.— To which opinion the court held, and on deliberation unanimously overruled the plea” that as prisoners of war and subjects of the king of Great Britain, they were not liable to courts “who judge by municipal law: but ought to be tried by the laws of nations, and by courts-martial” (Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 14:498–499).


A full line illegible due to ink bleeding through.


Increase Sumner (1746–1799) graduated from Harvard (A.B., 1767) and was admitted to the bar in 1774. A lawyer in Boston, he became a justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1782 and later a popular governor of Massachusetts. In 1783 he purchased the Robert Auchmuty mansion in Roxbury, one of the loyalist estates. Later, RTP’s son Charles Paine married Sumner’s niece Sarah Sumner Cushing (Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, 16:531–538).


Although not specifically identified, presumably a reference to Rex v. Preston and/or the connected Rex v. Weems—the Boston Massacre trials—and the culpability of individuals within a group action.


RTP was extremely succinct in his diary entries for this case: Sept. 6: “Tryal of the Prisoners from Guard Ship, for Murder”; Sept. 7: “Do. not guilty.”