Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 30 September 2022), February 1752, trial of John How (t17520218-2).

John How, Killing > murder, 18th February 1752.

2. John How , was indicted for the murder of Abigail Stebbings in a river called York River, otherwise Hudson's River, near the city of York, in North America , within the Jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England , June 7, 1750 ; it was laid over again for the murder of a person unknown.

John Murcer . I was on board his Majesty's ship The Greyhound in 1750; I was midshipman, the prisoner was Lieutenant , he was at that time commanding officer on board : between three and four o'clock in the afternoon we saw a boat coming out at the mouth of York-River with a pennant at the mast head: the Lieutenant ordered a gun to be fired at her, in order for her bringing too: she keeping her course, he ordered a second gun to be fired, it was a swivel gun: we heard afterwards there was a woman killed.

Q. Who pointed the gun?

Murcer. The Lieutenant did; I did not see it charged.

Richard Whitbey . I was on board the Greyhound at that time; a boat came out of the South River with her pennant flying at her mast head, upon which the Lieutenant ordered a gun to be fired at her, in order to her striking her pennant; the Lieutenant pointed, I believe, to go over the boat: it might be about a mile distance, or better, from us.

Q. Could he have stopped this vessel without firing upon her?

Whitbey. I believe he could not, she went at such a great rate ; had we launched out our boat, she would not have come up with her?

Alexander Watson . I was on board the Greyhound : the prisoner was Lieutenant in the year 1750 ; I saw a pleasure boat come out at the mouth of the river in which Mr. Richards was failing to sea; we fired a gun at her to make her strike; there were no possible means to make her strike without; I don't believe the man of war could have overtaken her, and our ship was at anchor, there were two guns fired one after another.

Matthew White . I was on board the ship Greyhound in the year 1750: I was quarter-master; the prisoner was lieutenant: I saw the boat come out of the south river, about three in the afternoon, with her pennant flying: the lieutenant ordered a gun to be fired to make her strike her pennant: she kept her pennant flying after that: then he ordered a second to be fired; upon which the pennant was ordered half down, and she turned back into New York again.

John Crisp . The gunner ordered me to load a gun, but the guns were loaded long enough before the boat was seen.

Q. Do you know of any body being killed?

Crisp. I don't know there was.

Acquitted .