Edward Ely, Killing > murder, 7th December 1720.

Reference Number: t17201207-37
Offence: Killing > murder
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

Edward Ely was indicted by a special Commission pursuant to the Statute of 33 Hen. 8. Chap.23 for the Murder of Charles Bignell , in a Certain Island near the Dahlers in the Kingdom of Sweden in parts beyond the Seas; for that he the said Edward Ely on the 27th of September in the Sixth Year of the Reign of his present Majesty , did Murder the said Charles Bignell by giving him one Mortal Wound with a drawn Sword upon the upper part his Breast above the Left Pap, of the breadth of half Inch and the Depth of 12 Inches, of which he Instantly died .

Clement Courland Master of his Majesty's Ships the Worcester) deposed, that between 7 and 9 a Clock on Friday Night the 25th of September, 1719 he went into his Cabbin, and was follow'd by Mr. Bignell (the Deceased,) who was the First Lieutenant Mr. Cannon (the Surgeon) and Mr. Ely (the Prisoner, the Surgeon's first Mate ) that the Prisoner told the Deceased that he had been on Board the Dess , and got the Papers drawn out, and desired him to sign them (which Papers were for the Sale of the Deceesed's Share of a Prime which had been taken by the said Ship on the Coast of Scotland, to the Prisoner): that the Deceased ask'd him if another time would not do as well as them; to which the Prisoner reply'd no; he would no longer be make a property of: That the Deceased said he did not refuse to sign them, but would not be Husst into it; and bid the Prisoner take his things out of his (the Deceased's) Cabbin, where he had permitted him to lie for some time before. That the next Day the 26th in the Morning he heard several abusive Words pass between them upon the Quarter Deck, and the Deceased ordered the Prisoner to go off, which he did, and in about a Quarter of an Hour after came up again, pull'd off his Hat, and told the Deceased that he had leave from Capt. Boyle (the Commander of the said Ship) to walk the Quarter Deck when he pleased, to which the Deceased reply'd be might walk and be damn'd. That the same Day before Noon the Deceased told him (this Evidence) that the Captain had given him leave for the Boat to go on Shore when he would, to do himself Justice; that he (this Evidence) told him it were best let alone; but if he must do it, he had better defer it till he come to England, for it might be of very ill conse quence to him there; that he made light of his Advice, , and went out of his Cabbin. That in the Evening the Prisoner came upon the Deck, and told one of his (this Evidence's) Mates, that he had got the Captain's leave for a Boat to carry him a Shore the next Morning. That the next Morning (being Sunday the 27th) the Prisoner came into his Cabbin before he was up, and ask'd him for a Dram; that when he (this Evidence) arose, he heard that the Prisoner and the Deceased were gon-a-Shore; and in a Quarter of an Hour the Boat came aboard with the Corps of the Deceased with several Wounds some clear through. Then this Evidence being ask'd some Questions by the Prisoner, farther deposed that the Deceased and the Prisoner till this time were very great Friends, and that the Prisoner had lent the Deceased both Money and Necessaties several times; that the Deceased was apt to give Foul Words, and be Quarrelsome, and that this Evidence had parted with him on Account of the ill Language be had received from him That the Prisoner behaved himself all along very Civilly, and was not at all given to Quarrel.

William Cannon , (Surgeon of the said Ship the Worcester) deposed that the Prisoner was his first Mate, and that he being in the Master's Cabbin the 25th of September 1719 heard the prisoner ask the Deceased to sign the Papers who told him he would not sign it then; there were Times and Seasons; upon which the Prisoner told him be would not be made a Property; that he should sign it, and pay him what he owed him before he went out of the Ship; upon which the Deseased said, he would pay him the Money as soon as he had it, but would not sign the Paper at all, being not to be huss'd into it. That a little while after, as he was walking on the Quarter Deck (where the Deceased also came and walked) he saw the Deceased's Servant and the Prisoner getting the Prisoner's things out of the Deceased's Cabbin; after they had taken four or five turns, the Prisoner came up, and he and the Deceased began to reproach each other with normal Obligations, and amongst others, the Deceased told the Prisoner, that he had been greatly favour'd in being admitted to walk the Quarter Deck. To which the Prisoner reply'd that he had been admitted to the Society of Lieutenants aboard other Ships as well as this and received as many Favours from them, and said to him, you are my officer here, and insist upon Privileges but what are we when we are ashore? to which the Deceased answered, I am Charles Bignell and you are Edward Ely . Upon which the Prisoner said be believed him to be like an Old Woman, and could do nothing but Scold. That he (this Evidence) went after wards to the Deceased to endeavour to mitigate the Matter, advising him to sign the Paper, telling him that he believed that the Prisoner was in Drink, or else he would not have used him so. To which the Deceased reply'd Drink is no Excuse for Rudeness; he shan't lye in my Cabbin any longer nor will I forgive him; for he has as good as challenged me; nor will I sign the Paper; for I am not to be huss'd into Compliance. That the next Morning about 10 or 11 a Clock he found the Deceased walking on one side of the Quarter Deck, and the Prisoner on the other side; that he asked the Prisoner where he had lain the last Night, who answered, that he had lain with Mr Weston (the Second Lieutenant) in his Bed, who gave him a Can of Elip before they went to Bed; and then told him that the Deceased had ordered him off the Quarter Deck, but Capt.Boyle had ordered him on again; and told him, that if he had a mind to do himself Justice, he should do it; thereby making an Uriah of him. That presently after the Deceased came to him and told him that the Prisoner had Challenged him before the whole Quarter Deck, and had told him that if he did not do him Justice he would post him for a Coward; that he (this Evidence) told the Deceased he was sorry for it, and again begg'd of him to sign the Paper to put an end to the Difference. That about 2 or 3 a Clock the Prisoner came to him on the Quarter Deck and made a Protection that he would do himself Justice let the Consequence be what it would. That he told him to Morrow was Sunday, and he hoped he would not do it then; upon which the Prisoner asked him if he thought he was Child? and said, to morrow is my Birth-Day, on which I am 30 years of Age; and perhaps it may be the Day of my Death; I have but one Life so left. Upon which he told him, that if he could prevail with the Deceased to sign the Paper he hoped that would put an end to the matter; to which the Prisoners reply'd perhaps it may, and perhaps it may not; as he will. That afterwards, he (this Evidence) went into the Master's Cabbin to consult with him how to prevent the Mischief that might arise from the aforementioned Dispute, and then went again to the Deceased to persuade him to sign the Paper and prevent the mischief which might otherwise ensue; but the Deceased told him that he spent his Breach in vain, for it was not consistent with his Honour to sign it, because it would be to sign himself a Coward; and he was not to be huss'd and bully'd into a Compliance; that the Deceased said his Principles were as honest as any man's, and that he did not intend to Wrong the Prisoner nor any Man; but to pay him as soon as he was able; and that he meant to have sign'd the Paper if the Prisoner had not used him in such a manner; but now he would never forgive him nor Drink with him, nor sit where he was. That the next Morning he was call'd up about 6 o, Clock and found the Deceased dead on the Quarter Deck. That he had 8 Wounds, one whereof was over the Left Pap, through the Left Lobe of the Lungs, coming out under the Armpit, which he judged to be the Cause of his Death. And that about Half an Hour after the Prisoner was brought aboard, and he drest a Wound he had received. That on Saturday the 10th of October following, when Mr. Ely was a Prisoner aboard the said Ship, he told him, that the Captain might have prevented it. This Evidence being ask'd by the Prisoner, further deposed, that the Deceased and the Prisoner were intimate Friends, and the Prisoner very serviceable to him; that the Deceased used to jangle with the Officers, and had once threatened to Cane him (this Evidence) when he should meet him on Shore, to which he (this Evidence) reply'd to the Deceased, that he would not be served by him as he had served Capt. Clarke. And that the Prisoner was Well-behaved, and never given to Quarrel.

Daniel Clarke (Midshipman) deposed, that he heard the Deceased ask the Prisoner what was the matter that he was so hasty for his signing the Paper, and told him that he did not deny signing it, but another time might do as well; to which the Prisoner reply'd he would not be made a Property of: And then one of them Challenged the other; but he could not tell which, and the Deceased said the Boat is now boisting out, and he would go ashore with him directly; to which the Prisoner reply'd, No you are my Officer now, but if you don't see me, I'll post you, for you will talk and Chatter, and that's all you can do. That soon after the Deceased bid the Prisoner go look after the Sick Men; to which he reply'd you are not my Captain now, for Capt. Boyle's come aboard again. That the Prisoner in the Evening ask'd Mr. Young (the Master's first Mate) whether he had the Morning Watch, who told him No; then the Prisoner

said if he had, the Captain had given him leave for the Boat in the Morning.

Andrew Whitton deposed, that the Prisoner came on the Quarter Deck the 27th of September 1719. That he went into the Master's Cabbin, and fetch him (this Evidence) a Cann of Elip; that then he went to the Deceased's Cabbin Door and having just opened it, said something to him; that about half an Hour after 5 a Clock the Boat was lower'd and Mann'd for him; and he gave his Sword to the Cox-swain, bidding him to take as much care of it as he would of his Blood, and so followed him into the Boat, and put off directly. That immediately after the Deceased came to him and asked him who was gone ashore, and he told him; and the Deceased said he would be with him presently; that the Coxswain came back with the Boat, and told the Deceased that the Prisoner gave his Service to him and desired him to make haste for it was very cold; who reply'd he might be there time enough to his Cost; that he went into the Boat, and about a quarter of an Hour after the Boat return'd with Mr. Bignell dead. That the Boat was order'd ashore again to fetch the Prisoner, and he went with the second Lieutenant (Mr. Wiston) and the Prisoner voluntarily surrender'd himself to them. That some time after he told him (this Evidence) that he was put upon it by a certain Person (and pointed at Mr. Wiston's Cabbin-Door) who he said was a Rogue or else he had not done it.

James Navis (Coxswain) deposed, that he was called up the 27th of September, 1719 about 5 in the Morning to Man the Boat, which he did; and the Prisoner came into it, and bid him put him ashore on a very small island which the Ship lay against; that when he had set him ashore be ordered him to go to the Ship and give his Service to the Deceased and tell him that it was a very cold Morning, and that he could not stay long. That when he returned to the Ship he found the Deceased walking the Quarter Deck and deliver'd the Message; to which he reply'd, I may be ashore by and by to his Sorrow. That the Deceased gave him a pair of Pistols wrapt up in red Bays, bidding him carry them into the Boat, and presently after came in himself, bidding him row him to the Place where the Prisoner was. That when they came there the Deceased unbutton'd his Wastcoat, and bid him mind that he was naked Breasted; that then he order'd the Boats Crew to stay in the Boat, and he (this Evidence) to follow him with the Pistols; that when he came up to the Prisoner he shook him by the Hand, and ask'd what he wanted with him; that he did not hear what Answer he made; but the Deceased said we shall decide this matter presently, and then gave the Prisoner some Pistol Cartridges, bidding him take his Choice of the Pistols. That thereupon the Deceased came to the Right Side of him, and the Prisoner to his Left, in order as he thought to take the Pistols from him. That the Prisoner's Sword was in his Left Hand in the Scabbard. That the Deceased stooping upon some Occasion or other, (he knew not what) the Prisoner drew his Sword, and struck the Deceased 2 or 3 times with it over his Head; upon which the Deceased leapt from him to draw his Sword; but before he could do it the Prisoner run him into the Belly, and the Left Breast over the Left Pap: That the Deceased having got out his Sword made two or three Passes at the Prisoner; but his Sword faulter'd in his Hand; and the Prisoner continued pushing at him till he fell with his Legs under him. That it was all done in about three Minutes, and then this Evidence called the Boat's Crew to take Care of the Deceased, who when they took hold of him he said, This Villian hath kill'd me before I drew my Sword; and died immediately.

John Burd , William Baker and John Slade (the Persons who together with the former Evidence, James Knaves , Rowed the Prisoner and the Deceased ashore and saw what past there) confirm'd the former Evidence, particularly the Prisoner's striking the Deceased over the Head, and Stabbing him two or three times before the Deceased drew his Sword, and that the Deceased said of the Prisoner, The Villian hath Kill'd me before I drew my Sword.

Mr. Caxman the Surgeon being call'd again, deposed that the Deceased had no Wound in his Belly.

George Weston (Second Lieutenant of the said Ship) being call'd by the Prisoner, deposed that he heard the Deceased tell the Prisoner, that if he lov'd Fighting he would give him enough of it; to which the Prisoner reply'd, No, if ever I quarrel it shall be on the right sake of the Hedge; you are my Officer. That the Captain gave the Prisoner leave for the Boat, when assured the Captain that the Deceased and himself were Friends, and that he was only going for his Health. That when he went to fetch the Prisoner off from the Island he readily surrender'd himself, and gave him his Sword and the Pistol Cartridges, and told this Evidence that the Deceased Spit in his Face and called him Villain. That the Prisoner had lent the Deceased Money when at Sheernesse to go to London with. That the Deceased was foul Mouth and Quarrelsome. And that he heard the Deceased challenge the Prisoner, who reply'd, on, No, you are my Officer. That this Evidence coming up the had bent the Point of his Sword and gave Armouror to straighten on the Saturday, but without any view of fighting. That the Prisoner took that Sword without his Knowledge. That he has known the Prisoner to be very Good Humour'd, not given to Quarrel, but has made up several Quarrels.

George Young deposed, that the Prisoner came upon the Quarter Deck, and told him he had the Boat in the Morning, and desired him to call him at Four a Clock; that the Prisoner turn'd out before Four, and this Evidence asking him where he was going, he answered on Shore for his Health, and that when he return'd he would give him part of a Bottle of Wine, it being his Birth Day.

Mr. Symonds deposed that the Occasion of the Quarrel was relating to a Prize which they had taken on the Coast of Scotland bound from Rotterdam to the Isle of Man, and the Captain having received a Letter concerning that Affair, said he believed it would not be condemn'd as Prize; that the Deceased offer'd to sell his Share of it for a Guineas, which the Prisoner agreed to give for it: but on the Prisoner's applying to him to assign over the same to him he refused, and called the Prisoner all the Rogues and ill Names imaginable. That the Deceased was a Foul Mouth'd, censurious Man as ever God put Gut in; and was very abusive to Capt Boyle, abused his Friends that Fed and Clothed him, and every Body else; that he wore the Prisoner's Shirts and borrowed his Money. That the Deceased ingratiated himself with the Sailors, and set them against the Officers.

Richard Chamberlain deposed, that he knew the Deceased, who was second Lieutenant on board the Gibraltor, for 16 Months, while this Evidence was first Lieutenant of the said Ship; that he affronted and abused him on Board; struck and kickt him, insomuch that he was forc'd to get his Discharge.

Francis Davis deposed, that he heard the Deceased challenge the Prisoner, who replyed, that he knew better than to fight his Superior Officer.

Richard Armstrong (Armourer) deposed, that Mr. Weston brought a Sword to him to streighten on the Saturday, and that he having made a little dent in the doing of it, took his File to smooth it, but did not Sharpen it; which was the same Sword the Prisoner did the Fact with.

Mr. Hunt deposed, that he was on the View of the Deceased's Body twice, and found about 18 Wounds, but no Wound in the Belly; that on the Left Breast was Mortal: That the Prisoner had 2 Wounds, one Three Inches and half deep, the other Four inches, made by a Sword. That if the Deceased had received the Wound in his Breast first, he believed he could not have stood to receive the others afterward, but he might have made some Resistance.

The Prisoner called Mr. Jackson and Mr. Paul who gave the Deceased the Character of a foul-mouth, malicious, quarrelsom Person, and the Prisoner a very good Character; which good Character of the Prisoner was confirm'd by Four or Five other Gentlemen.

After a long Tryal, and impartial hearing of all the Evidence on both sides, the Jury found the Prisoner Guilty . Death .


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