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On the Transportation of Felons to the Colonies

On Transported Felons

From Virginia we hear, that six Convicts, who were transported for fourteen Years, and shipp’d at Liverpool, rose at Sea, shot the Captain, overcame and confin’d the Seamen, and kept Possession of the Vessel 19 Days; that coming in Sight of Cape Hatteras, they hoisted out the Boat to go on shore; when a Vessel passing by, a Boy they had not confin’d, hail’d her, and attempted to tell their Condition, but was prevented; and then the Villains drove a Spike up thro’ his under and upper Jaws, and wound Spunyarn round the End that came out near his Nose, to prevent his getting it out: They then cut away the Sails from the Yards, left the Ship, and went ashore. But a New-England Sloop coming by soon after, and seeing a Ship driving in the Sea in that Manner, boarded her, found Things as above mentioned, and carried her into North-Carolina; from whence a Hue and Cry went after the Villains, who had stroll’d along to Virginia; they were taken at Norfolk, and one of them confess’d the Fact; upon which they were order’d up, about two Weeks since, to Williamsburgh, for Trial as Pyrates.

From Maryland we hear, that a Convict Servant, about three Weeks since, went into his Master’s House, with an Ax in his Hand, determin’d to kill his Mistress; but changing his Purpose on seeing, as he expressed it, how d —— d innocent she look’d, he laid his Left-hand on a Block, cut it off, and threw it at her, saying, Now make me work, if you can.

N. B. ‘Tis said this desperate Villain is now begging in Pennsylvania, and ’tis thought has been seen in this City; he pretends to have lost his Hand by an Accident: The Publick are therefore caution’d to beware of him.

From Bucks County we hear, that a Convict Servant, one John McCaulefd, imported here last Fall, has broke open and robb’d several Houses, of Goods to a considerable Value; but being apprehended at a Ferry, is committed to Prison.

Yesterday the Trial of Samuel Saunders, for the Murder of Simon Girtie, came on at the Supream Court, when the Jury return’d their Verdict Manslaughter.

“When we see our Papers fill’d continually with Accounts of the most audacious Robberies, the most cruel Murders, and infinite other Villainies perpetrated by Convicts transported from Europe, what melancholly, what terrible Reflections must it occasion! What will become of our Posterity! — These are some of thy Favours, BRITAIN! Thou art called our MOTHER COUNTRY; but what good Mother ever sent Thieves and Villains to accompany her Children; to corrupt some with their infectious Vices, and murder the rest? What Father ever endeavour’d to spread the Plague in his Family! — We do not ask Fish, but thou givest us Serpents, and worse than Serpents! — In what can Britain show a more Sovereign Contempt for us, than by emptying their Jails into our Settlements; unless they would likewise empty their Jakes on our Tables? — What must we think of that B —– d, which has advis’d the Repeal of every Law we have hitherto made to prevent this Deluge of Wickedness overwhelming us; and with this cruel Sarcasm, That these Laws were against the Publick Utility, for they tended to prevent the IMPROVEMENT and WELL-PEOPLING of the Colonies! — And what must we think of those Merchants, who for the sake of a little paltry Gain, will be concern’d in importing and disposing of these abominable Cargoes?”

The Pennsylvania Gazette, April 11, 1751