Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library







Published by the Jamaica Committee, 65 Fleet Street, 1866


Compiled from a multiplicity of documents

[Comments by the Jamaica Committee are in italics]

[Continued from Rebellion 03]


The story is continued in a despatch of Captain Hole:

Extracts from a Despatch from Captain Hole to Brigadier General Nelson.

Manchioneal, October 19.

I have further the honour to acquaint you that great number of the prisoners have been brought in by the constables of this district, all of whom seem to vie with one another to make amends for their late delinquencies by capturing all the people concerned in the rebellion. Amongst others, two ringleaders, both of whom were engaged in plundering the Mulatto River estate, Mr. Hinchlewood's property, were brought in. I assembled a court-martial, and the two men were hung in the middle of this town on the afternoon of the 17th inst.

I have disposed of several other prisoners by inflicting corporal punishment; but still there remains a great number on my hands, and this is swelling every moment.


The next is from Brigadier Nelson:-


Morant Bay, Oct. 22.

Sir, - In a report from this place I stated it to be my intention to despatch troops to Essington. . . .

Prisoners are being brought in very fast, known murderers of Messrs. Cooke, Walton, etc., and they will be brought to trial. . . . From the reports I have received from officers commanding outposts. and the information I gather, I consider, so far as I can form an opinion, that in their immediate districts the rebellion has been nipped in the bud.


The next despatch to be quoted . . . is from Lieutenant Adcock, 4th Regiment:-


Morant Bay, 25th Oct., 1865.

Sir, - I have the honour to inform you that on the morning of the 23rd instant I started with 30 men for Duckenfield, and visited several estates and villages. The people had for the most part deserted their dwellings, and taken with them any plunder they may have had, although leaving several traces behind them. I burnt seven houses in all, but did not even see a rebel. During the day I searched the whole country round about, but the state of the roads through the bush, mud up to the horses' knees, prevented me going quite as far as I would have wished. I, however, consider the state of the country quiet throughout this district. I caused information to be given to all the negroes round about, that if they returned to their work they would not be molested, provided they were not actual murderers, or concerned in a riot where murders were committed. In the evening 140 returned to Mr. Harrison, and a large number came to other planters on the morning of the 24th. On returning to Golden Grove in the evening, 67 prisoners had been sent in by the Maroons. I disposed of as many as possible, but was too tired to continue after dark. On the morning of the 24th I started got Morant Bay, having first flogged four and hung six rebels. I beg to state I did not meet a single man upon the road up to Leith Hall . There were a few prisoners here, all of whom I flogged, and then proceeded to John's Town and Beckford. At the latter place I burnt seven houses and one meeting house; in the former four houses. I had not then to burn any more houses, so I pushed on for Morant Bay, where I arrived a little after dark


Captain Ford, in command of the St. Thomas-in-the-East Irregular Troop, writes as follows. His despatch appears in the Morning Journal of the 30th October, but it relates to an earlier date:-

On our march from Morant Bay we shot two prisoners and catted five or six, and released them as these latter were only charged with being concerned in plundering, not murders. This morning we made raid with thirty men, all mounted, and got back to headquarters at four p.m., bringing in a few prisoners, and having flogged nine men, and burned three negto houses, and then had a court-martial on the prisoners, who amounted to about 50 or 60. Several were flogged without court-martial, from a simple examination; nine were convicted by court-martial: one of them to a hundred lashes, which he got at once, the other eight to be hanged or shot. We quarter on the enemy as much as possible; small stock, turkeys etc., we take ad libitum: other supplies we give receipts for. We press all the horses and saddles we can find, but the black troops are more successful than ours in catching horses--nearly all of them are mounted. They shot about 160 people on their marsh from Port Antonio to Manchioneal, hanged 7 in Manchioneal, and shot 3 on their way here. This is a picture of martial law. The soldiers enjoy it--the inhabitants have to dread it. If they run on their approach they are shot for running away. The contents of all the houses we have been in, except only this very house, but including the barracks, have been reduced to a mass of broken and hacked furniture, with doors and windows smashed by the rebels.



*The Daily News resume is again freely used as the basis of this account.

The following narrative is, almost wholly abridged from the letters of the special correspondent of Colonial Standard, the accuracy of which, it will be remembered, General Conner commended, and files of which were sent home by Governor Eyre:

Morant Bay, Thursday, Oct. 18

The supposed rebels that were captured and brought it during the day on Tuesday last and early on the following morning, were examined by the provost-marshal, at his office; but beyond being stragglers, nothing was proved that warranted the whole of them coming before a court-martial. About thirty were one by one lashed to a gun, and catted, receiving 50 lashes on the bare back, laid on after the man-of-war fashion, and the rest (about 20) committed as rebels. Among the rebels was George Marshall, a brown man of about 25 years old, who, on receiving 47 lashes, ground his teeth, and gave a ferocious look of defiance at the provost-marshal. He was immediately ordered to be taken from the gun and hanged. No time was lost, and he was accordingly strung up in the presence of the insurrectionists.

At twenty minutes to two o'clock a company of Maroons came in with 39 rebels, picked up in the Plantain Garden River District--some of these rebels belong to Morant Bay. Joseph Harris, one of the rebels just brought in, having escaped from the district prison during the insurrection, was immediately catted (50 lashes) in the presence of his co-rebels. Four more belonging to the same batch, received the same punishment for insubordination while they were being examined. Frank McQueen and Joseph Mitchell, the identified murderers of the Rev. Victor Hersche1l, brought in along with the same batch, were immediately ordered to be hanged. One rebel was shot yesterday at Easington by the regulars. He was asked if he knew where Paul Bogle was (the ringleader). He said yes, but refused to tell where he was secreted. He said he preferred to be shot than reveal his hiding place. He was instantly popped down. At the same place (at the Courthouse) two of the rebels were flogged.

The narrative is continued by the private Correspondent of the Colonial Standard of 24th October under date of 20th October.

Flogging, says our informant, is going on from morning to night. Many women and children detected as robbers are catted and let go daily. The greater criminals are sent on to Morant Bay to be hanged or shot.

Mr. Justice W. P. Kirkland, the only acting authority at Bath, received a verbal message to shoot prisoners, but did not consider that authority enough for such a proceeding. He sent off to Morant Bay for a confirmation, but delayed, from some cause, starting his despatch, so much so, that the prisoners have increased to between 120 and 150 in the meantime, and every place in the small town is wholly or partially taken up to lodge them.

The Maroons, inveterate against bloodthirsty rebels, have vowed their readiness to second in every way the just retribution which has overtaken them. They level the huts and houses of the rebels everywhere.

At two p.m. on Friday, the 20th, as our correspondent was closing his letter, 100 prisoners were brought in from the Plantain Garden River District, and the lash had commenced to be applied to them.

The special Correspondent of the Colonial Standard, writing from Morant Bay on Oct. 21, says:-

At an early hour yesterday morning the catting of rebels and stragglers as they were brough in from their hiding-places, was resumed. Amongst them was one Cameron, in whose possession was found a volunteer rifle, and who confessed to having killed a volunteer, and desired that he himself should be shot at once. This favour, however, the Provost-Marshal did not grant him, but by way of foretaste ordered him 50 lashes, which he duly received on his bare back, fastened around a column of the station. He remained there in company with another murderer and rebel who was tried and had received twenty-five lashes, until noon when they were taken down to the court-martial. A fifer of the rebels, brought in wounded in the foot by a rifle bullet, supposed to have been received from a volunteer rifle, was given 50 lashes on his bare back and released--his wound and his emaciated condition being sufficient guarantee for his future good conduct, should he survive.

The Colonial Standard thus introduces the case of Mr. Gordon:

At about twelve o'clock yesterday, the rebels, amongst them George William Gordon, were brought out and lined in front of the wharf where the courts-martial were about to be held. In order to save time two courts were formed--the one composed of Colonel Lewis, of the St. Catherine's Militia, Captain Espeut, of the Kingston Militia, and Captain Astwood, of the Kingston Cavalry; the other composed of Second-Lieut. Brent, commander of the gunboat Nettle, Second-Lieut. Herrington, commander of the gunboat Onyx, and Ensign Kelly, of the 4th West India Regiment. (G. W. Gordon was tried by the latter.) No time was lost in proceeding with the business of the courts, and at each five minutes condemned rebels were taken down under escort, awaiting their doom. The courts-martial sat until nearly 5 o'clock p.m., and at the close of the sittings 20 rebels were numbered among those sentenced to be hanged. I must here observe that these courts were conducted with marked military discipline; only three of the rebels brought before them escaped death. The court composed of the naval and military officers, spared them not--every one brought before it was sentenced to be hanged.

This narrative proceeds:

Morant Bay, Wednesday, 12 o'clock,

October 25th, 1865

Between five and six o'clock this evening, the four notorious leaders of the rebellion, Paul Bogle, Moses Bogle, James Bogle, and James McLaren, together with fourteen other rebels, were led out for execution.

Thursday, Oct, 26th.

There were sixteen or more of the rebels executed this evening, and eighteen catted and released. Up to date the number of rebels executed here (Morant Bay) amount to 102.

Friday, Oct. 27.

At about eight o'clock this morning the Wolverene anchored off Morant Bay, having on board three prisoners from Kingston, and three from Vere. They were immediately landed and placed in the custody of the Provost-Marshal. Prisoners are every day brought in, and those on hand left to be tried number over two hundred--a great many women among them.

The court-martial adjourned. today about three o'clock, to reassemble tomorrow. Eighteen more of the rebels, including three women, were tried and sentenced to be executed-- the sentence to be carried into effect this evening. Amongst these is Frederick Hill, who was released on Wednesday, nothing having been proved against him; but Master Hill was recognized by James Bonner Barnett, a baker on the bay, as one of the foremost of those who, on the night of the rebellion, demanded a supply of bread, and who deprived him of his lantern.

Morant Bay, Monday, Oct. 30.

The Maroons visited Dumfries and Notts River on Thursday last, and at both places they burnt several of the negro huts and shot 5 of the rebels. They are paying visits to all the settlements. As a mark that the rebellion in St. Thomas-in-the-East is crushed out, I have to mention that the labourers in the River District, as well as those upon Coley and Hall Head estates, have turned out actively to work. The court-martial presided over by Lieutenant and Commander Brand resumed its sittings on Saturday at about three o'clock. Eleven rebels were tried and condemned, among these were two women who took considerable share in the insurrection. They were executed the same evening, at about half-past five. Several were catted and released. The court-martial presided over by Lieutenant and Commander Brand met at twelve o'clock today (Monday). Sixteen of the rebels were condemned to death; and one to be flogged 100 lashes. Late in the evening 12 were hanged. There is one continued scene of hanging, day by day, and it becomes a matter for consideration whether the burial of so many people, packed, as I heard a blue jacket say "like sardines," in the town, is not likely to produce some serious epidemic here.

Already the effluvium of the dead bodies commences to taint the atmosphere. Last night, particularly, a disagreeable effluvia, arising from the graves in which these dead bodies are interred, pervaded the entire town, and it was not without difficulty that one could avoid getting nauseated.

The same correspondent gives an idea of the number of executions in the one parish of St. Thomas-in-the-East. He says:-

Tuesday, October 31.

It may not be altogether uninteresting to your readers to know that slightly over 1,050 rebels have been hanged or shot in the parish of St. Thomas-in-the-East up to date, and it is not at all unlikely that ere the different courts-martial close their sittings there will be far over 2,000 who will have paid the penalty of their vile attempt to exterminate the white and coloured races of this island.

The court-martial has just resumed; fifteen were tried and condemned to death.

The same correspondent continues his narration:-

Morant Bay, November 1.

In my last despatch I mentioned the trial and condemnation to death by court-martial of fifteen rebels. Thirteen of them were executed on Saturday evening in the presence of over 200 of their co-rebels. On the same day two rebels were catted--one received 100 lashes and the other 150, well laid on by four stalwart blue jackets. The Provost-Marshal this morning visited the hotbed of the rebellion, Stony Gut. During his tour he fell in with a straggler, who could give no satisfactory account of himself. He was at once given in charge of the police, conducted to the station, and fifty lashes with the cat were administered to him "by way of caution." The court-martial resumed its sittings at two o'clock today, and adjourned about six o'clock, p.m. Fourteen of the rebels were tried this sitting, thirteen sentenced to be hanged; among these Jessie Taylor, the woman who, it was proved, sat on late Mr. Charles A. Price's chest with a hatchet in her hand; and also a man to receive 100 lashes. The sentences were carried out at six o'clock the same evening, in the presence of the untried rebels, numbering over 200.

Morant Bay, Friday, November 3.

During the afternoon, Edward T. Goldson and Samuel Clarke received each 12 lashes from the cat on their bare backs for insubordination. They were tied to a column in front of the police-station to receive their punishment. The court-martial was opened today at about half-past 12 by Lieutenant and Commander Brand (president), Ensign Taylor, 6th Royals, and Ensign Cole, 1st West India Regiment. (In the evening 7 prisoners were hung). Lieutenant and Commander Brand is a credit to the service in which he belongs, and to the crown he serves. Patient, calm, deliberate, with a mild voice and manner, as president of the court-martial, he gives every prisoner however proven to be guilty, his own way of questioning witnesses through him, and the right of entering into his defence. The Provost-Martial still continues as active and energetic as ever, preserving order and discipline on all sides, which astonishes everyone.


Mr. Chamerovzow hag published a letter from Mr. A. W. H. Lake, Special Correspondent of the Colonial Standard, containing the following remarkable. The letter is dated Kingston, Jamaica, Dec. 22:

I was sent to Morant Bay as a special correspondent to the Colonial Standard at a period when that village was under martial law, the horrors and terrors of which I never anticipated. I saw men flogged and hanged for no just cause; the former until their very blood formed river courses down their backs; and every man, woman and child (at Morant Bay), myself included, dreaded the very appearance of the chief actor (the Provost Marshal) in these revolting scenes. In such a condition. of fear, many atrocities committed there, although chronicled in my rough note-book, I felt that I dared not have given in their true character without incurring the risk of being handled very roughly. Then, some of those who had been arrested as "political prisoners" were my most intimate friends. I was known by the authorities to be intimate with them. I then felt that I, too, might become the subject of suspicion on the part of the authorities: so to avoid this, I thought the only safe course was to endorse, for a time, the many acts lawlessly perpetrated at Morant Bay by the Provost Marshal. I was obliged, under the pressure of circumstances, to write as I did, because it was at my utmost peril to have attempted to find fault; and yet, I saw these atrocities going on, and felt they ought to be laid before the public. I had no alternative but to put them before the public in the manner I did. It was enough for me that the statements existed as records of the evil doings; and I looked forward to a time of tranquillity and security when the pressure would no longer be upon me, and when I would be able to state my opinions without let or hindrance. It was too fearful a reign of terror for me to have attempted to find fault; but when I desired the public to know that men were slain in such numbers, that they were being packed like sardines in a pan, I gave the public the information in a way safest to myself. So, also with the case of Genge, Marshal, and others. I saw that murder in the direst degree was perpetrated in Marshal's case. I told the sad tale in the safest way I could, without getting my neck in a similar noose, and left the public to draw their own inferences; and they accordingly drew the inferences I desired.

I direct your attention to the case of Sergeant-Major Judah, who succeeded me as special correspondent at Morant Bay, in consequence of my health having broken down from exposure, and the fearful stench that pervaded the place on account of the number of dead people that were buried within the precincts of the little town, very few feet below the surface of the ground. That gentleman simply stated in one of his communications that the Morant Bay magazine was left unguarded. He wrote that in the interests of the Government, as he thought; and it gave offence to Brigadier-General Nelson and to his Excellency the Governor, and he was, "in the most public manner" (I quote from the official order), deprived of his stripes and pay, dismissed from the volunteer service and received a broad hint that, if martial law had not terminated, he would have been treated as a rebel.

- - -

The public of Jamaica demand that an investigation should be immediately entered upon as to the causes of the outbreak--this they will have very little difficulty in arriving at--and the means adopted for its repression. Nothing short of a commission wholly composed of the British element, will be able to arrive at the truth. I shall be prepared to give my testimony to the horrible butcheries I witnessed before such a commission, but certainly not before a local one, in which not an individual in the colony would have an atom of confidence.

My opinions during martial law were the same as they are now. They were never changed. I was then shackled in the expression of my sentiments, not by the paper for which I wrote, but by the terrible daily examples I witnessed -so terrible that almost every innocent one at Morant Bay thought of the probability of his turn coming round, when he too would be visited with similar vengeance by the Provost Marshal. Some of her Majesty's justices of the peace were being catted by the Provost Marshal.

There were those to whom I could venture to whisper my thoughts and opinions, and upon them I can call to testify that I always gave expression to the sentiments that I now express. But what with the terrors of martial law around us, the system of espionage that existed, and directly after martial law the passing of an Act making it treason and sedition to give expression to any thoughts and opinions antagonistic to the action of the Government, we were all forced to act the part of dissemblers, many other members of the press included, but looking forward with intense anxiety for the expression of British opinion, upon which hung the hopes of many, as the only thing that seemed to them, if expressed as it has been, sufficient to offer resistance to the tide of wrong and oppression on the part of those in power.

Under those circumstances I wrote. Under far different circumstances I now write; and if at all I merit censure, it is for possessing a natural dread, a desire to avoid the laceration of my flesh "by way of caution." Ah! and a noose placed around my neck.

The Rev. E. Palmer, a Baptist minister of Kingston has written a letter to a friend in this country, from which we take the following painful extracts:-

I landed at Morant Bay at about half-past three o'clock p.m. on Thursday, the 2nd November. I was instantly marched by a company of marines to the police-station, and on my way thither, amidst the taunts and jeers of the marines, was shown the gallows, ropes, etc. all prepared for my execution at seven o'clock the following morning. On our arrival at the station we were ordered to answer to our names. At the presence of the justly-dreaded provost-marshal terror seized our minds, and in an instant there arose a cry for mercy which made my blood curdle in my veins.

A fellow-prisoner named Goldson was lashed to a post in front of the station, and received twelve lashes by an order from the provost-marshal, put on by a blue-jacket with all his might, or, as they say, "in true man-of-war fashion." In like manner one S. Clarke received twelve lashes: the following day witnessed his execution. A Rev. J. H. Crole was ordered to get two dozen, but his body presented such a milk-white appearance that the provost-marshal's cheek was suffused with a blush of shame, so, that he recalled the order. Judge what my feelings must have been at that instant when I was every moment expecting to be next called out and summarily dealt with. You may be disposed to inquire what was the cause of these men being flogged. Nothing, nothing whatever. They had not even put down their parcels out of their hands, nor shown the least symptoms of insubordination of any kind whatever before they were flogged. "Veri1y, there is a God that judgeth in the earth." How Mr. W. Kelly Smith, the reputed editor of the Watchman, escaped the wrath of the provost-marshal God only knows, for he was severely threatened. Most foully and wickedly was I abused by the provost-marshal, who called me the "damned Baptist parson;" said we were only fit to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water;" were black devils, savages, and used other expressions too disgusting to be communicated.

About a quarter of an hour after this degradation I was again ordered to go into the parade to witness the executions that were about to take place. I am afraid to describe the scenes I have witnessed, as there is no certainty of this letter reaching you in perfect safety. Such horrors may Heaven permit me never to witness again. The utter disregard for sex or age, to the innocent or to the guilty--the utter recklessness with regard to the taking away of human life, Heaven's own gift--beggars all description.

Another writer says:-

You need no additional details of the horrors that were perpetrated on the so-called rebels by the soldiers, Maroons, and others of equal savagery, employed in executing them on summary justice, or I might tell you of reports still more harrowing than any you have heard--of men wantonly shot down from the roofs of their houses when employed in repairing them-of women stabbed in their huts with children at their breasts, or in other indescribable conditions; the children dashed upon the ground and murdered; of men flogged, then hung; of numbers paraded through the town to execution with halters round their necks; and of still greater atrocities perpetrated in the woods and open fields. Suffice it to say that the perpetrators of these outrages have fixed a stain upon our country which nothing but their total condemnation by the Government and country will wipe out." The writer then notices the assumption of a part of the English press that these riots were in an especial manner connected with the Baptist body. He affirms that the greater part of the rioters were connected with no religious society whatever, but were Africans as uncivilised as they were in their native wilds, the number being eked out by persons connected with a variety of religious denominations. This statement he supports by adducing a schedule, which we subjoin, and which shows the names of the principal persons arrested on suspicion of complicity with the so-called rebellion, distinguishing the denominations to which they severally belong. His list shows that, together with three Baptists of the Baptist Missionary Society, three native Baptists, three Jews, one native Wesleyan, one United Methodist, one Independent and one member of the Scottish Kirk, there were twenty-six members of the Church of England, and upwards of thirty Roman Catholics. Of the three Baptists first on the list, two have been acquitted, or rather dismissed without any charge being made against them, leaving one only to take his trial before a commission for imputed seditious language at a public meeting held some weeks anterior to the emeute. Of the others, more than two-thirds have been told, after all their losses and sufferings, that there is no charge against them; and the residue, about six in number, are on bail.

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