Wednesday, 21 May 2008

On Death Row in St. Helena for Stealing the Governor's Beer

Back to the Judicial Records. My last update was on the case of dueling, in which the jury took seven minutes to acquit the three men accused of murder.

One of the most recent cases I have transcribed involved a rather feckless soldier John Bowles, who was caught in the cellar of Plantation House late one Saturday evening in September 1809 with three bottles of beer in his hand, and three "in his breast".

He was charged with stealing six bottles of beer, and the Court heard the case in October 1809. Since it was his house that had been robbed, the Governor, Alex Beatson, stepped down as president of the court for this case. The jury took 45 minutes to declare Bowles guilty, but recommended mercy.

The president duly sentenced him to death.

Apparently an appeal was launched, because in January 1810 Bowles was brought before the Court again, and it was recorded that his appeal had been referred to the Directors of the Honourable Company, who had referred it to the King.

Sometime later (between February and May - the actual date was omitted) he was informed that his appeal had been successful.

In my work so far I have also come across a couple of cases of child abuse/rape. In both cases the children were said to have contracted some form of venereal disease; both were under 9 years of age.

One case was dismissed because of the lack of acceptable evidence. In the other case the defendant Patrick Jones was convicted, and was duly hanged on 9th February 1810.

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