« ZurückWeiter »
An authentic copy of Adm. Byng's trial whole to your Majesty's royal wisdom was published at London, Feb. 24. [83.). and determination.
The following papers are annexed Tlse aforementioned two petitions to the to it.
Lords of the Admiralty, printed in the
trial without dates. A memorial from the Lords of the Admiralty to the King, in relation to the sen. I. The humble memorial of George Lord tence pasjed upon Adm. Byng.
Visc. Torrington, nephew of the unhappy May it please your Majesty,
Adm. John Byng, in behalf of himself and
the rest of his family, BY Y an act of the 22d year of your Ma.
jesty's reign, intitled, an act for a. Most humbly foeweth, mending, explaining, and reducing into one TH
Hat the said Admiral having been aft of parliament, the laws relating to tried by a coure-martial for a breach the government of your Majesty's ships, of the articles of war, was adjudged by vessels, and forces by sea, it is enacted, the said court to have fallen under part “That no sentence of death given by of the 12th article of an act of parliaany court-martial held within the nar. ment passed the 22d year of his present row seas (except in cases of mutiny) Majesty, for amending, and explaining, shall be put in execution, till after the and reducing into one act of parliament, the report of the proceedings of the said laws relating to the government of his Macourt shall have been made to the Lord jefly's fhips, vessels, and forces by fea; High Admiral, or to the commissioners and the said court have sentenced the for executing the office of Lord High said Admiral to be fhot to death, at Admiral, and his or their directions shall such time and place as your Lordhips have been given therein."
fhall direct; but have in their faid fenIn pursuance of this act, the proceed- tence unanimously declared, that they ings of the court martial held upon Adm. did not believe his misconduct arose eiByng have been reported to us for our ther from cowardice or disaffection, and directions therein : which proceedings therefore recommend him to your Lordwe have taken into our most serious tips as an object of mercy; and declaand deliberate consideration; and doubts red, that the said court-martial were having arisen, with regard to the lega- under a necessity of condemning him to lity of the sentence, particularly, whe death, from the great feveriiy of the ther the crime of negligence, which is said 12th article of war, which admits not expressed in any part of the pro. of no mitigation, though the offence be ceedings, can, in this case, be supplied a mere error in judgment only. by implication; we find ourselves obli.
That, by the law of the land, every ged most humbly to beseech your Ma- person who is indiêted for any offence, jesty, that the opinion of the judges and has been tried and convicted-upon may be taken, whether the said sentence such indictment, has a certain time giis legal.
ven him by law for moving in arrest of For this purpose, we beg leave to lay judgment, and offering to the court his before your Majesty, a copy of the reasons why the judgment should not be charge as delivered to Adm. Byng, and carried into execution. likewise a copy of the thirty-seven re- That, from the nature of proceedings solutions of the court-martial, upon before a court-martial, no such motion can which the sentence is formed ; together be made, as your memorialitt is advised, with a copy of the sentence itself, and to the said court martial ; but by the act of a representation of the same date of parliament of the 22d of his present therewith, figned by the president and Majesty, it is enacted, That no fentence court-martial [45.]; and tewise co- of death given by any court-martial pies of two petitions from George Lord (except in cases of mutiny) shall be put Visc. Torrington, in behalf of Adm. in execution, till after the report of the Byng; mot humbly submitting the proceedings of the said court shall have
been made to your Lordships, and your sentence of the court-martial should not directions shall have been given therein. be executed on the Admiral; your pe
That neither in the sentence of the said titioner immediately thereupon applicourt-martial, nor in the letter of recom- ed to some gentlemen of eminence in mendation accompanying the same, the profession of the law, to advise and does the Admiral appear to have been assist your petitioner in assigning the said guilty, nor is he found guilty of any offence reasons : which they are willing to do ; intended by law, and particularly by the but alledge, that, by their indispensable faid 12th article, to be punished with attendance on the several courts of law death. Wherefore the sentence passed up- and equity towards the close of the term, on the Admiral cannot, as your memori- they cannot so soon be prepared to ad. alift is advised, be justified in point of law. vile and assist your petitioner cherein.
That the said Admiral being now a Wherefore your petitioner mbit humbly close prisoner at Portsmouch, and inca- prays your Lord ships indulgence, to pable of taking proper care of his own grant him a few days only to deliver defence, your memorialist, as his nea to your Lordships the reasons in wri. phew, and at the desire of the rest of his ting against executing the said senaflated family, being advised, that ma- tence, ny very material things may be offered * And your petitioner, as in duty to your Lordships to shew that the said bound, mall ever pray, &c. fentence of the court-martial ought not
TORRINGTON. to be executed upon the Admiral, are defirous of laying the same before your
The King's order in council, for transmite Lordfhips, on behalf of the faid Ad- ting a copy of the report of the twelve miral, if indulged with an opportunity judges, in relation to the sentence upon of so doing.
Aảm. Byng, to the Lords Commissioners of Wherefore your memorialist moft hum.
the Admiralty; with a copy of the judges bly prays your Lordfhips permiflion report annexed thereto. to lay before your Lorships, by coun
At the court at St James's, the 16th day fel to be appointed on behalf of the of February 1757; prefent the King faid Admiral, such reasons as may be
[and thirty-one_rembers, among offered to your Lordships against the whom were the Duke of Argyll and carrying the said sentence into execu
the Earl of Hyndford.] tion; or that the said Adeniral may W Hercas his Majesty was
pleased, have such other relief in the premisses upon a reprelentation from the as to your Lordships, in your great Lords Commiflioners of the Admiralty, wisdom and goodness, fall leem to refer the sentence of the court-martial meet.
of the 27th of January last, upon the And your memorialist shall ever trial of Adm. Byog, to the twelve jud
ges, to consider thereof, and report to
his Majesty at this board their opinion, II. Ibe humble petition of George Lord
whether the said sentence is legal ; Vise . Torrington, nephew of the unhappy ported to his Majesty at this board, that
and whereas all the said judges have reAdm. John Byng, on behalf of himself and the rest of his afflized family,
they have confidered the said sentence,
together with the i2th article therein Myp humbly seweth,
referred to, and are unanimously of oTH
Hat your Lordships having been pinion that it is a legal sentence :
graciously pleased, in answer to his Majesty in council is thereupon pleayour petitioner's memorial delivered this led to order, that a copy of the said reday, to signify to your petitioner, by port of the twelve judges (svhich is hereyour secretary, that your Lordships were unto annexed) be transmitted to the ready to receive your petitioner's rea- said Lords Commissioners of the Admi. sons in writing, as to-morrow, why the ralty. [Signed,] W. Sharpe.
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty in rines, on board such one of his Majecouncil.
fty's ships in Portsmouth harbour as you May it please your Majefly,
fhall chink proper. For which this shall
Given under our IN obedience to your Majesty's com- be your warrant.
mands, fignified to us by an order hands, and the seal of the office of Admi. bearing date the gth of this inftant Fe. ralty, the 16th day of February, 1757. bruary, whereby it is referred to us, to
To the Hon. Edward Bor consider the sentence of the court-mar
cawen, Vice-Admiral of the
Temple. tial of the 27th of January laft, upon chief of his Majesty's ships Tho. Orby Hunter.
Geo. Hay. the trial of Adm. Byng, a copy whereof at Portsmouth; or, to the
Gilb. Elliot. is thereunto annexed, and to report to
commander in chief there, your Majesty at the council-board, for the time being whether the faid sentence is legal:
By command of their Lordships.
J. Clevland. We have considered the said sentence,
A further attempt was made to save together with the 12th article therein referred to ; and are unanimously of opi- message was presented to the Commons
the unhappy Admiral. The following nion, that it is a legal sentence.(Signed,] Mansfield. 7. Willes. 7. Par. by Mr Secretary Pitt, Feb. 26. and read ker. T. Dennison. M. Foster, E. Clive. by Mr Speaker, viz.
GEORGE R. Tho. Birch. H. Legge. S. S. Smythe. Rich. Adams, Hen. Bathurt. J. E. Wilmot - His Majesty, agreeably to his royal [Dated,) Feb. 14. 1757
word [xviii. 408.], for the fake
of justice, and of example to the disciA warrant from the Lords Commisioners of pline of the navy, and for the safety
the Admiralty, for carrying the sentence and honour of the nation, was deterpased upon Adm. Byng into execution, mined to have let the law take its course,
with relation to Adm. Byng, as upon By the commisioners for executing the office Monday next; and refifted all folicitaof Lord High Admiral of Great Britain
tions to the contrary. and Ireland, &c.
But being informed, that a member WHereas at a court-martial assembled of the house of Commons, who was
on board his Majesty's ship the a member of the court-martial which St George in Portsmouth harbour, upon tried the said Admiral, has, in his the 28th of December 1756, and held place, applied to the house, in behalf every day afterwards, Sandays except. of himself, and several other members ed, till the 27th of January 1757, in- of the said court, praying the aid of clufive, Thomas Smith, Esq; Vice- parliament to be released from the oath Admiral of the Red, President, a fen- of fecrecy imposed on courts-martial, in tence was given to the effect following, order to disclose the grounds whereon viz.Here the whole sentence is re- fentence of death passed on the said Adcited, excepting the last clause, begin- miral, the result of which discovery ning, But as it appears (45.), recom. may hew the sentence to be improper; mending the Admiral to mercy.]: his Majesty has thought fit to respite the And whereas, upon laying the said fen- execution of the fame, in order that tence before the King, his Majefty hath there may be an opportunity of knowing, been pleased to consent, that the fame by the separate examination of the shall be carried into execution ; we do members of the said court, upon oath, therefore, in pursuance of his Majesty's what ground there is for the above fug. consent, hereby require and direct you geftion. to carry the fentence of the said court. His Majesty is determined fill to let martial into execution accordingly, on this sentence be carried into execution, Monday, the 28th inftant, by causing unless it shall appear, from the said exahim, the faid Admiral John Byng, to mination, that Adm. Byng was unjustly, be shot to death, by a platoon of ma- condemned.
G.R. VOL. XIX.
The same day, on a motion made to P. S. This bill was carried to the the Commons, so much of the afore. Lords, March 1. It was then read a first mentioned act 22° Geo. II. as relates to time; and it being moved to be read a the oath of secrecy was read; leave was fecond time next day, the motion, after given to bring in a bill, to release from debate, was agreed to, and the Lords the obligacion of that oath, the mem- were ordered to be fummoned. All the bers of the court-martial appointed for members of the court-martial were orthe trial of Adm. Byng, pursuant to the dered to attend, in order to be examiexception contained in the oath ; Mr ned. As Capt' Keppel, Douglas, and Potter and Sir Francis Dashwood were Denis, three of them, are members of ordered to prepare and bring in the bil!; the other house, leave was asked of, and Mr Potter presented it; it was read a granted by the Commons, for their atfirst and second time, and committed; tendance. Such of the judges as were the report was made ; and the bill was in town were likewise ordered to attend. ordered to be ingroffed. It was passed It was accordingly read a second time on the 28th, and ordered to be carried March 2. And it was agreed, that the to the Lords by Mr Potter.
several persons to be examined, fhould Of the bill so passed an abstract fol. be called in separately, and examined lows, viz. " Whereas by an act 22° upon oath; that the questions and an. Geo. II, it is enacted, That upon all fwers should be taken down in writing trials by court-martial, all the officers at the bar by the clerk; and that the who constitute the same shall take an oath of secrecy directed by the act 22° oath, that they will not, upon any ac- Geo. II. should be previously read to each. count, at any time whatsoever, disclose Vice-Adm. Smith was called first. Af. or discover the vote or opinion of any ter reading the oath of secrecy, the 12th particular member of the fame court- article of the act 22° Geo. II. [46.] was martial, unless thereunto required by read. Then it was proposed, that the act of parliament; and whereas Adm. Vice-Admiral should be asked, "Whe. Byng has been tried by a court-martial, ther he now thinks, or, as far as he can and sentenced to be shot to death; and recollect, ever did think, that he could whereas application has been made by a have applied any part of that article, to member of the said court-martial, in a man whose conduct he thought probehalf of himself and several other ceeded from error of judgment only ?" members of the said court, praying ear- Which being objected to, the question, nestly to be released from that part of after debate, was waved for that time. the oath, and alledging that they have Four questions were then put to the fomething to disclose relative to the faid Vice-Admiral; and they were repeated fentence, which greatly affects their upon the examination of every other own consciences, and which it is neces- member of the court-martial, viz. sary should be disclosed in arder to do 1. “Whether you know any matter juttice to the faid Admiral ; be it enact that palled previous to the sentence pro. ed, That it shall be lawful for all and nounced apon Adm. Byng, which may every the persons who constituted the show that sentence to have been unjust ?" faid court-martial, and they are hereby
“ Whether you know any matter required, to disclose or discover, upon that pasied previous to the said sentence, oath, before his Majesty in council, or which may few that sentence to have before a committee thereof, all and been given through any undue practice every the votes or opinions of any mem- or motive ?" ber or members of the said court-mar- 3. " Whether you are desirous that tial. Provided, That nothing in this the bill now under the consideration of act shall oblige any of the said mem- the house, for dispensing with the oath bers to disclose or discover any thing o. of secrecy, should pass into a law ?" ther than such as he might voluntarily 4.“ Whether you are of opinion, that have disclofed or discovered in cafe he you hare any particulars to reveal, relahad not taken the faid oath of secrecy.”
tive to the case of and the sentence pas. whole court, to a Rt Hon. member of sed upon Adm. Byng, which you judge this house (Lord Lyttelton), lignifying, neceffary for his Majesty's information, that if it was neceffary, the members and which you think likely to incline would willingly attend, to set forth the his Majesty to mercy!"
reasons that induced them to recommend The first question was answered in the him to his Majesty's mercy. 2. negative by them all, except Rear-Adm. Whether you think yourself restrained by Norris. His answer to it was, “I your oath of secrecy, from laying before beg to be excused answering to that his Majesty those matters for inducing question while I am under the oath of his Majesty's mercy, which are mensecrecy.” Then the following questioned or referred to in that letter to my fion was proposed to be put him, viz. Lord Lyttelton ? A. As the sentence, and “ Whether you have any matter to dis- application for his Majesty's mercy, were close, that would shew the fentence to the unanimous resolutions of the court, be unjust, if you was released from the I apprehend that I am at liberty to give oath of secrecy ?" Which was objected the reasons why I requested that mercy. to; but was put, after debate. He an- Rear. Adm. Norris. " I must beg leave fwered, "No."
not to answer to that question.' The second question was answered in After Mesf. Brodrick and Holmes were the negative by them all.
examined, the house being informed, The third question was answered in that Mr Norris was willing to answer to the negative by Vice-Adm. Smith, Rear- the question, he was called in again, and Adm. Holburne and Brodrick, and Capt the question put. He answered, “ At Holmes, Geary, Boys, Simcoe, Dou- the time I said I was desirous the act glas, Bentley, and Denis.- The an. should take place, I understood that we fwers of eight of thefe ten were simply should have an opportunity of delivernegative. Those of the other two fol. ing our particular reasons, for figning low, viz. Vice Adm. Smith's : “ As the sentence, and letter of recommenfor myself, I have no desire of it; but dation.” if it will be a relief to the consciences Capt. Holmes. “ I know nothing more, of any
of my brethren, it will not be but the sentence, and the letter, which disagreeable to me."---Caps. Geary's: all the gentlemen ligned, to the admi“ No, my Lords; but I have no ob- ralty." jection, if it will be to the fatisfaction of Capt. Geary. “ No, my Lords ; noany person."
thing but what I have figned to, by the Three answered to this question in sentence, and letter of recommendation. the affirmative, as follows, viz.
-2. Whether if the act was passed, Rear-Adm. Norris : * Yes."
Capt. you could better explain that sentence Moore: “I am very desirous it should, and letter than you are now able ? A. that I might be absolved from the oath. My oath of secrecy won't permit me to I have been under great concern when fay any more. l Whether you think, I have taken the oath, I don't mean by your oath of secrecy you are reftrainupon this trial.” Capt. Keppel: “Yes, ed from disclosing any thing, but the undoubtedly."
vote and opinion of the members ? A. To the fourth question, Rear-Adms I am one of the members, and I humHolburne and Brodrick, and Capt bly beg leave to think it my own opis Boys, Simcoe, Douglas, Bentley, and nion." Denis, answered in the negative, fim. Capt. Moore.
" I do not think myply. -The answers of the other fix self at liberty, while I am under this follow; with suppletory questions put oath, to answer that question. - 2. to some of them, and their answers. Whether if this bill was passed, you
Vice-Adm. Smith. “I have not, in- could better explain the sentence, and deed, further than as I wrote, what seem. letter of recommendation, than you are ed to be at that time the sense of the now able ? A. I could give better infor