Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 08 December 2023), February 1752, trial of William Carey (t17520218-3).

William Carey, Killing > murder, 18th February 1752.

3. William Carey , was indicted for the murder of Adam Pilcher on the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the Admiralty of England , April 26, 1751 .

John Baston . I was a sailor on board the Swimmer, and so was the deceased, Gregory, Master. On the 26th of April, 1751, I being in the foretop of the ship saw Adam Pilcher come down the main shrowds (as far as I could understand) to fight the carpenter: I saw Carey, the mate , come and take up the end of a rope, about two or three inches in circumference, and strike Pilcher over the back; he turned round to Carey and they struggled together, and both together fell over a gun by accident; then Carey left Pilcher, and went to the steerage from the main deck: Pilcher said, Are you going to fetch the scymiter again?

Q. Had he ever fetched it before?

Baston. He had once before to another man, and cut him in three places. Pilcher went from the larboard to the starboard side to the gunnel, and jumped overboard: seeing him overboard I came down, and then I saw the prisoner with this scymiter (holding one in his hand) swaggering about how we would serve him if he came in.

Q. What were the words?

Baston. He threatened him: I really can't say the words. I said are you going to drown the man; he turn'd round and pointed the scymiter to my breast: I said he is a kinsman of mine, and I am afraid he will be drowned. Said the prisoner, I'll take care he shall not be drowned, let him come in. I called out to Pilcher and said he will not hurt you; upon which he came in: there was some words past between them after that, I can't say what: then with this hanger the prisoner made an attempt to cut the deceased, he did not cut him, but drew his hand and made a fair stab at him the poor young man clapped his two hands to the wound and cry 'd, O Lord! just walked from one side to the other, and dropt directly: the wound was a little below the breast-bone: I believe he died in about a minute.

Q. Had Pilcher given any other provocation?

Baston. I know none he had given him than what I have related.

Prisoner. I was chief mate, and desired to know what they were going to fight for.

Baston. The carpenter never came near Pilcher.

Q. Did he strike Pilcher in order to prevent his fighting with the carpenter ?

Baston. I can't tell that: I did not hear the prisoner mention one word before he struck him.

Q. from the prisoner. How could that witness hear what passed between the deceased and I when he was in the fore-top ?

Baston. I heard every word that passed, for I was down when he stabbed the deceased: I was in the gang-way when he was in the water.

Q. from the prisoner. When I came out with the hanger in my hand, did I not order you all to your duty?

Baston. I was at my duty, but came down when Pilcher was in the water.

Q. from the prisoner. How can that witness remember when he was so intoxicated?

Baston. I was not in liquor: the prisoner was a little in liquor.

Q. Was the scymiter drawn in his hand when Pilcher came into the ship again?

Baston. It was.

Q. How long was the time from his coming into the ship again and the prisoner wounding him?

Baston. About three or four minutes I believe.

Q. Did you see any blows pass between the time of his coming into the Ship and the Wound given?

Baston. No, none at all: this was on deck on the starboard side.

Q. Do you know of any disagreement or quarrel between them before that time?

Baston. They had some words in the passage; about six, eight, or ten days before the prisoner had called the deceased to come aft to him; the other said, Do you think I am such a fool to come aft to be licked?

Q. Where was Capt. Gregory at the time this was done?

Baston. He was on shore.

Joseph Channon . I belong to this ship: there was a quarrel between Godfrey Miller , the carpenter, and the deceased; but I did not see that; they were to come down to the main deck to fight it out: after Pilcher came down and stripped himself, he wanted the carpenter to come down: Carey said he'd have no disturbance on board the ship, and took a two inch and half rope, and beat Pilcher on the back; Pilcher turned about, they struggled together, and both tumbled over a gun on the deck: then the prisoner got up again, and ran into the cabin; Pilcher got up and said, G - d d - n you, are you going for your hanger? if you do, I'll cry out murder! he did, three or four times, and ran to the starboard side of the ship, and jumped overboard. The prisoner came and stood on the gunnel, swaggering, with his hanger in his hand, cursing and swearing, and threatning Pilcher, who was swimming in the water by the side of the ship: then every man belonging to the ship came down, and desired him to put the hanger aside, and not to drown him: then the prisoner called to him, and said, Adam, come in, I'll not hurt you. He came in: there were a great many ill words past between them on the main-deck on both sides; afterwards Carey had the hanger in his hands, he went up with it, and said, G - d d - n you, I have a mind to cut you down, made a push at him, and run him into the body a little below the breast-bone; the deceased said, O Lord! clapp'd his hand on the wound, and ran backwards to the larboard side of the deck, and fell directly.

Q. Had the deceased any thing in his hand?

Channan. He had nothing at all; he had only his trowsers and pumps on.

Q. from the prisoner. Did not that evidence come down out of the main-top, and tell me the carpenter and Adam were going to fight ?

Channan. No, I did not: I was up in the maintop and sent the top-gallant-mast down; Mr. Brown had called me before out of the round-top.

Q. from the prisoner. Did not you see Pilcher knock me down?

Channan. I never saw him hold up a hand to the prisoner: I believe they both fell by accident, and that Pilcher fell undermost; my reason for it is Carey's running for the hanger, which shewed he must be on the top.

Q. Did the prisoner throw the deceased down?

Channan. No, he did not: getting the topmast down, there was much lumber, the topmast boom lying on the deck.

Q. from the prisoner. Did not I say, Brown, come and release me?

Channan. He did not come near you.

Q. from the prisoner. Was not you much in liquor?

Channan. No, I was no more than I am now.

Q. Was the other evidence in liquor?

Channan. No, I can't say he was; Pilcher was a little in liquor.

Q. from the prisoner. Had you not been drinking, when I admonished you for it?

Channan. You never said a word to me that I had been drinking; neither had I.

Q. Where was you when the wound was given?

Channan. I was standing on the main-hatches, and saw it given.

Q. Did Pilcher strike the prisoner after he came into the ship?

Channan. He did not, or lift his hand to him.

Edmund Jones . I was on board at the time this unfortunate thing happened. On the 26th of April last, we were busy on board the ship in Leghorn-mould ; Capt. William Gregory was on shore, the prisoner was then commanding officer on board ; as I was at work on the quarter-deck, I saw Pilcher come down the shrouds, and Godfrey Miller , the carpenter, following him; I saw Pilcher strip himself to his waist; Carey clapp'd his hand to the carpenter's breast, and what he said, I don't know: he stopp'd him, and he went off the quarter-deck to the main-deck; by and by I saw the deceased jump over-board, I ran to see what was the meaning of it, and met the prisoner with a hanger drawn in his hand. I said, pray be so good as to put it by: he said, d - n you, you old villain, go and attend your duty; I went to my duty: then I heard the cry of murder: I ran and saw the deceased falling; I took him in my arms, and before I could take my handkerchief to tye about him, he was dead in my arms: he had no weapon : I never saw him lift a hand against the prisoner: all the words I heard pass after the man was dead was, Can't we get a doctor or relief for the man ?

Q. Did you see them both fall over a gun, or striking with a rope?

Jones. No, my lord, I did not.

Q. Did you look at the wound after he was dead?

Jones. I did; I saw it opened a little below the breast-bone; I don't know whether it went upwards or how; I was sober, and I believe the other two evidences were all sober; Pilcher was a little in liquor.

Prisoner's defence.

I was the commanding officer on board at that time; it was very provoking for them to go to fight, to neglect their duty, and make a mutiny in the ship: when I went to the deceased, he abused me, and said he would not go to his duty, and asked me what I would do to make him. I believe I said, I shall soon make you, and took up a small rope that belongs to one of the main-top-fails : he jumped on me with his head in my breast, and shoved me over one of the guns. The second mate came and released me from him; just as I had got clear of him, down came Baston and four more out of the round-top, over the forecastle, swearing they would cut the son of a bitch's gullet out; I imagined it to be myself, I asked them whose gullet they would cut out: said one of them, why should we be debarred from taking satisfaction; said I, if you have any quarrel, go on shore and dispute it; for it shall not be aboard the ship, you have drank yourselves on purpose, to do what you threatened to do at sea on me; I will take care to prevent it: as I spoke those words, four of them drawed up to me, as though they would seize me, I got to the quarter-deck for safety, Baston made an offer at me to knock me down, and I made a pass at him to shun him; this was repeated three times : I made a shift to get at the top of the ladder: then I said you villian offer to touch me once more upon your peril. I went to the carpenter, and labouring a quarter of an hour to get him off the deck: I desired them to get him to sleep, after that Baston came to the foot of the ladder and said, will not you let us take the man in, he is in liquor, he has been over-board, and we fear he will be drowned: said I are not you a parcel of villians to let him be over-board, and not suffer him to come in: said Baston he is afraid of you, said I why need he be afraid of me? I want you to go to your duty, I will not hurt a hair of his head: I stooped down over the gang-way, and looking over the side, and saw him standing on the bend of the ship, (not in the water,) holding the chain plates: as soon as he discovered me, he threw himself in the water again: then Baston and I called to him, Baston said, come, never fear boy, I will stand by you while I have life: I said, I beg you will come in and dress yourself, and get up to the main-top to your duty: I just turned myself about, and spoke to the men that were forwards, that belonged to the fore-top, they refused going to work, and swore they would not do any more duty except I would let them have their satisfaction on the carpenter. I told them I would not suffer it; a man called out of another ship, and asked what was the matter? Baston came on the gunnel where I stood, and said, here is a d - d Dutch-built son of a bitch; the carpenter has affronted my brother, and here is a son of a bitch of an officer with a scymiter will not let us have satisfaction of him: he answered D - n him, heave him and his scymeter over board: Baston said, I will lose the last drop of blood in my body but he shall: as he spoke these words, I had the hanger in my hand, I struck upon the gunnel; said I, while I have breath I will not suffer such a thing, and insist on your going to your duty: just as I spoke, I turned my head round, the deceased knocked me down with my side against a gun, and my shoulders against the ship's gunnel: and the hanger was in my hand, he came against the point of it: he stooped down to take up a hand-spike, and raising himself up again, made a little halt, and came about half way to where I was, and dropped down on his back-side: then the people came from the quarter-deck and took him up. Baston was talking to a man all the time, and hearing the report of it, turned to me, and said, you have killed the man: no said I, not to my knowledge: he called for some people to come on board to assist him: I took hold on the deceased and found him in a cold sweat, and said for God's sake, go and get a Surgeon, and bid them go to a great Dutch ship at a little distance for one: the people came on board from the next ship, one man said, I believe if you open a vein, he will come too, he is only in a fit, I went into the cabbin, they wanted to get my hanger from me to cut me to pieces: they were a good while breaking open my chest, the Captain is dead, and the ship is sold: I would have got the second mate for an evidence, but he is at Lisbon.

Q. to Baston. Did the deceased fall on the prisoner's sword?

Baston. He was far from that, the prisoner first made a cut at him, then stabbed him, and not a man offered to lift a hand against the prisoner.

To his Character.

Lewis Pierce . I have known Carey 14 or 15 years: he has been a near neighbour of mine in London: he was always a very modest, sober, honest man, I have known him receive a great many affronts, and never known him quarrelsome in my life: I have been a sea-faring man, but not within this 17 years.

William Securplace . I have known him 15 years and upwards, I sailed under him, he was a very good man both for himself and owners of the ship, I have been acquainted with him in New-England, Carolina, and all parts almost.

Acquitted .