Report of Ab. W. De Peyster


The Letter or Report of Abm˙ W˙ De Peyster, Esq˙, relative lo the disposition of the Prisoners in Connecticut, was read, and is in the words following, to wit:

"Harlem, August 21, 1776.

"GENTLEMEN: In obedience to the orders received from the President of the honourable Convention, I waited upon Governour Trumbull, at Lebanon, to take his directions for the disposition of the thirteen prisoners left at Litchfield; when his Honour was pleased to order that Gilbert Forbes and William Forbes should remain in Litchfield Jail, in the custody of Lynde Lord, Esq˙, the Sheriff of that County; that D˙ Mathews, Esq˙, should be removed from thence to Hartford Jail, to the care of Williams, Esq˙, Sheriff of Hartford County; and that John L˙ C˙ Broome, Esq˙, Nathl˙ Gyre, Lazarus Gyre, Jonathan Baker, James Mason, Isaac Young, Israel Young, Thomas Coyne, John Clark, and Thomas Vernon, be committed to the County, (say custody of Prosper Whetmore, Esq˙, Sheriff of the County of New-London,) to he confined in the Jail in the town of Norwich, in the said County. The Governour, at same time, wrote letters of instruction to the Sheriffs, respectively, advising them of the manner in which the prisoners were to be treated. The one to the Sheriff of Hartford County, respecting Mr˙ Mathews, the Governour informed me contained a permission to let Mr˙ Mathews walk about the town in the daytime, with some person as his guard, who he was to be at the expense of, and who was every evening to see him safely in his lodgings in Jail, where, I understand, he was to have his quarters.

"As soon as the Governour dismissed me, I set out for Litchfield. When I arrived there I found that the Committee of that town, in my absence, had permitted all the prisoners, who had been put in close confinement, (except Gilbert Forbes,) to go at large about the town, as the keeping them shut up in jail would have endangered their lives. The Sheriff had taken the two Youngs at his own house. Broome had his quarters in the Jailer' s apartments, adjoining the Jail. The others were at work in different places, some in harvest, and others at their respective trades, as journeymen. Mr˙ Mathews, during my absence, I understand, had, agreeable to his promise, strictly confined himself to Captain Seamour' s house, in which I had left him. This change in the prisoners' situation from that in which they were when I left Litchfield, made the account I brought them of their removal very unwelcome; and they now, to a man, solicit as much to remain at Litchfield as they had before to be conveyed to some other place. The Mayor was very desirous indeed to remain at Litchfield, and urged as a reason, among many others, for his being left there, that he was not in very affluent circumstances, and he was apprehensive that living at Hartford. would be very expensive; that he boarded at Captain Seamour' s at a moderate rate; that the expense of travelling was very high; that he did not know how long he would remain a prisoner, and therefore he was desirous to live at as little expense as possible; and as the Convention had been pleased to order that he should maintain himself at his own expense, he thought it not unreasonable that he should have liberty to live where he would be at the least expense; that Captain Seamour would be his security, and undertake to keep him safe in his own house. Broome was equally anxious to remain at Litchfield, and offered the same reasons. At length, at the request of Captain Seamour, and by consent of the Committee of that place, I agreed to leave the above two gentlemen in the custody of Captain Seamour, who engaged to be security for their safe custody, and to see them safe, at their own expense, to the places respectively assigned them by the Governour. in case either the Governour or the Convention, upon their being informed of what I had done, disapproved of their remaining at Litchfield; for which purpose I left in Captain Seamour' s hands Mr˙ Mathews' s warrant of commitment, together with the above-mentioned letter to the Sheriff of Hartford, to be delivered by him to the said Sheriff, in case the Mayor should be ordered to Hartford. As the two Youngs were likewise to live at their own expense, the Sheriff of Litchfield, at whose house I found them, thought it not amiss that they be also left, especially as they would be immediately under his eye, and kept by him confined within the walls of his house, unless when he (the Sheriff) thought proper to let them take a little air in the streets, when he would attend to them himself. Upon this, and with approbation of the Committee, I agreed to leave the two Youngs also, upon the same


condition as above-mentioned, that they repair to Norwich, under a guard, at their own expense, in case the Governour or Convention insisted on their removal; which the Sheriff promised me to see performed by them. I however directed Sheriff Lord to take bond for them in the penalty of £500, to be executed by them and their brother Joseph, who was expected at Litchfield the next day, with condition that they repair to Norwich, as aforesaid, as soon as advised thereof; that they, in the mean time, demean themselves as good subjects of the States; and, lastly, that they strictly conform themselves to the directions of the said Sheriff as to their behaviour; which bond I prepared before I left Litchfield. As a further security, I caused the Youngs to deposite into the hands of the Sheriff all the money they had with them, which, I was told by the Sheriff, amounted to about £200.

"Soon after this I set out for Norwich, with Nathan Gyre, Lazarus Gyre, James Mason, Jonathan Baker, Thomas Coyne, John Clarke, and Thomas Vernon, under a guard of three men besides an officer; but we had not proceeded more than two miles from the town of Litchfield, before I was under a necessity to leave old Gyre upon the road, so very sick that had I conveyed him a mile farther the jolting of the wagon, over such rough and stony roads as we had to travel, would inevitably have deprived him of what little life he had left. The other six I conveyed safe to Norwich, and delivered into the custody of the Sheriff of the County of New-London.

"In my way clown to Norwich I again called on the Governour, and acquainted him with my leaving the Mayor, Broome, and the two Youngs, at Litchfield. He replied, it was very well; for his part, he had no objections, provided the Convention of this State approved of it. He added, that the Jails at Hartford and Norwich were small. Indeed, I found the Jail at Hartford pretty full of prisoners, and Norwich but barely large enough to contain the six I left there.

"Upon my return again through Lebanon, the Governour made out a new warrant for old Gyre to be kept in custody of the Sheriff of Litchfield, which was delivered to the said Sheriff on my arrival there, and he accordingly took charge of him; so very ill, however, that it is more than probable he is now dead.

"Before I left Litchfield the last time, I discharged the Sheriff' s demands against the Convention for the support of the prisoners up to August 6th, for which I took his Jailer' s receipt. I have only to add. that the Sheriff of New-London begged I would request the Convention of this State to send some money to Norwich for the support of the six prisoners I left with him, as soon as they conveniently could.

"I am, gentlemen, with the utmost respect, your most obedient and very humble servant,


"To the Hon˙ the Convention of the State of New-York."

Ordered, That the said Report be referred to the same Committee to whom was referred the Letter of David Mathews to his wife, and the Letter of the Committee of Litchfield.