Abbildungen der Seite

against an attack from the mutinous ships, which had manifested some strong indications of bombarding that place; and furnaces and red hot balls were kept ready.

Tbe last attempt at a reconciliation by treaty with the mutineers, was through the medium of the earl of Northesk, who was a favourite with the seamen on board the whole fleet. On the 6th of June, the two delegates of the Monmouth were rowed on board that ship, and informed his lordship, that it was the pleasure of the committee, that he should immediately accompany them on board the flag-ship, as they had proposals to make, leading to an accommodation; his lordship complied, and went attended by one officer: he found the convention in the state cabin, consisting of sixty delegates, with Parker sitting at their bead. Before they entered upon business, the president demanded of the person accompanying lord Northesk, who he was? The answer was, ''an officer of the Monmouth, who accompanied the captain as secretary." Parker then said, "that the committee, with one voice, had come toadeclaration of the terms on which alone, without the smallest alteration, they would give up the ships; and that they had sent for him, as one who was known to be the seamens' friend, to be charged with them to the king; from whom he most pledge his honour to return on board with a clear and positive answer within fifty-four hours."

Parker then read the letter, which is said to have contained some compliments to his majesty's virtues, and many >evere strictures on the demerits of his ministers. His lordship informed the delegates that "be would certainly bear the letter as desired, but he could not, from the onreasonablnes* of the demands,


flatter them with any expectation of success." They persisted that the whole must be complied with, or they would immediately put the fleet to sea. Parker then delivered to his lordship a paper, in the following words, by way of ratifying his credentials.

"Sandwich, June 6, 3 P.M. "To Captain Lord Northesk.

"You are hereby authorised and ordered to wait upon the king, wherevtr he may be, with the resolutions of the committee of delegates, and are directed to return back with an answer within fiftyfour hours from the date hereof.

"R. Parkek, president."

Lord Northesk proceeded to London with this dispatch; and after stopping for a short time at the admiralty, he attended earl Spencer to the king; and a privy council was said to be held the next day upon the subject, when it was thought proper to reject the demands of the seamen, as exorbitant and unreasonable. Captain Knight, of the Inflexible, carried down the refusal of the lords of the admiralty.

All the hopes of accomodation being now given up, measures were taken by lord Keith and Sir C. Grey to attack the fleet from the works at Sheerness, with gun-boats, &c. the defection, however, of the Repulse, Leopard, and Ardent, on the night of the 9th of June, with other symptoms of disunion among the routineers, rendered the application of force unnecessary.

On the next day, several other of the mutinous ships pulled down the red flag, as a signal for the merchantmen to proceed up the river, and the store and victualling ships t* remain behind: all of these, however, profited by the opportunity to make their escape, after having been fired at by some of the H flett. fleet. On the 11 th, the Neptune, of 98 guns, manned with pressgangs, volunteers, 8rc. sir E. Gower, commander, fell down to Longreach, with a view to act offensively against the mutineers: the Lancaster, which had also been in a state of mutiny near that place,* but had surrendered two or three days before, accompanied him, with the Agincourt, and a number of gunboats. But the firmness of the mutinous seamen being already shaken by the formidable preparations of government, and by the want of fresh provisions and water, it was evident that the combination was falling- to pieces. On the 12th, most of the ships struck the red flag, and hoisted the union, to signify their desire of returning to obedience: only seven had then the red flag flying. On the next morning the Agamemnfin, the Standard, the Nassau, the Iris, and the Vestal, ran away from the other ships, and went under the protection of the guns at the fort of Sheerness. The crews, however, of these vessels were very far from being unanimous, as several men were wounded and killed in the struggles which took place on board them, between the partizans of the officers and those of the seamen. This defection of their comrades appears to have excited the utmost despair in Parker and the other leaders of the mutiny; for, from the return of a part of the ships to their duty, their language became less intemperate, their conduct less harsh, and their appearance clouded with a melancholy gloom. On the 13 th the crews of all the ships intimated an inclination to submit, provided a general pardon should be granted. Th« crew of the Sandwich was particularly desirous, and Farker did not oppose this spirit j—-a spirit


greatly accelerated by the arrival on' board of lieutenant Mott, with the proclamations, acts of parliament, &c. of which the men complained they bad been kept in ignorance till that period. In the course of the evening the men resolved to submit' to the king's mercy, conceiving that it would no doubt be extended to those who had not known to what extent they had offended. In this state of the crew the Sandwich went under the guns of the fort at Sheerness the next morning ; upon which admiral Buckner's boat, with a piquet-guard of soldiers, went to the ship to arrest Parker, and bring him on shore: as soon as he heard that a boat bad arrived for him, he surrendered himself to four of the ship's crew, to protect him from the outrages of the rest of the seamen, whose vengeance he feared: upon this, the officers of the Sandwich surrendered Parker, and a delegate of the name of Davies, who had acted as captain under him, to the soldiers, with about thirty other delegates: these were committed to the black hole in the garrison at Sheerness. On the first appearance of the soldiers, one of the delegates, Wallace, of the Standard, shot himself dead, and was afterwards buried in the highway. Parker was secured in Maidstone gaol. All resistance to the authority of the officers now ceased on board the ships, and the mutiny was in effect terminated.

The trial of Parker commenced the 22d of June, on board the Nep^ tune, off Greenhithe, before a courtmartial, consisting of captains in the navy, of which sir T. Paisley was president. The charge was read by Mr. Benfield: it accused the prisoner of various acts of mutiny committed on board his majesty's fleet at the Nore: of disobedience of orders, ders, and of contempt of the authority of bis officers. Captain Moss, of the Sandwich, attended as prosecutor on the part of the crown. Admiral Buckner was the first witness called; and deposed, that he saw the prisoner Parker parade about the town of Sheerncss about the 12th of May, with an assemblage of people, with a red flag displayed : at that time he went on hoard the,, Sandwich, for the purpose of making known to the seamen of that ship and others, his majesty's proclamation of pardon, provided they returned immediately to their duty, on the same terms as those granted to their brethren at Spithead. On his going on board he saw no mark of respect whatever shewn him: the officers were then without their side-arms, and were deprived of the command of the ship. Finding all his endeavours to bring the»crew to their duty fruidess, he returned on shore. Ori the 23d his flag on board the Sandwich was struck, without his orders. On the evening of that day, as he was examining the complaints alleged against two marines, who had been brought in by a party of the military, the prisoner, and a man named Davies, with three or four others, came abruptly into the commissioners' house at Sheerness, and demanded, "Why those men (the purines) were in custody ?" informing him, at the same time, that "his flag was struck} that he had Do longer any authority; and that the power was in their hands!" Ihey then (Parker being their spokesman) took the men away, as they said, "to try them for being on shore." About the 4th of June <ht admiral received a letter from the prisoner Parker, in which he ")'led himself pretidtut (if the com•ttrt nf delegate!, staling, that'' the

[ocr errors]

administration had acted improperly in stopping the provisions for the men, and that the foolish proclamation was calculated to inflame the minds of honest men."

Lieutenant Justice, of the Sandwich, deposed, that at the commencement of the mutiny he reccived an official paper, while be was on board, sent by admiral Buckner, respecting the vote of the house of commons, granting the sum of 3/2,000/. to answer the expences incurred by a compliance with the requisitions of the seamen at Portsmouth j and that be read it to the crew, who received the intelligence with three cheers.

1 he next material evidence which affected the prisoner was given by captain Wood.of the Hound. When that ship arrived at the Nore, on the 'id of June, Parker came on board, and told him, that he (the prisoner) had the honour of representing the whole fleet: he advised him not to be so violent to some of the delegates as he had been. The prisoner told captain Wood that lie did not like his ship's company, and therefore should order her to be carried as near to the Sandwich as possible, as a place of security: he gave orders to the pilot accordingly j and the Hound came to ou the Sandwich's quarter. In obeying these orders of the prisoner, the pilot displeased him in some of the proceedings; upon which he said to the pilot, in threatening lartguage, ." You have committed one mistake —take cgre you do not commit another ; if you do, 1 will make a beefsteak of y«u at the yard-arm." On the fourth day of bis trial, Parker was put upon his defence. In this arduous undertaking he displayed a dear judgment an$ a sound understanding. He recapitulated, in a plain but perspicuous manner, the H 2 «videric« evidence which had been brought against him, and commented upon several parts of it with considerable skill. He thanked the court for tha indulgence which had been given him, and solemnly declared, that he had no hand in the commencement of the mutiny; but that, two days afterwards, be saw that a violent spirit had spread among the men, and he then embarked in the cause for the purpose of checking the violence of the proceedings; and he was thoroughly satisfied, that if he had not taken an active part, the mutiny, which ended so unfortunately, would have been attended with consequences still more dreadful. He called several witnesses, whom he examined with great ability ; but was unable to disprove the charges brought against him; particularly that which bore the heaviest against him, namely, that of ordering the men'on boaad the Director to fire on the Repulse, a ship which had deserted from the mutinous ships.


When the prisoner had finished his defence, the court was cleared of strangers; and in about two hours afterwards the following sentence was pronounced:—" That the whole of the charges are fully proved; that the crime is as unprecedented as wicked, as ruinous to the navy as to the peace and prosperity of the country; the court does therefore adjuge him to death; and he is ordered to suffer death accordingly, at such time and place as the lords commissioners of the admiralty, or any three of them, shall appoint."

After the sentence was passed, the prisoner with a degree of undismayed composure, which excited the astonishment and admiration of •very one present, addressed the court as follows: "I bow to your

sentence with all due submission f being convinced I have acted by the dictates of a good conscience. God, who knows the hearts of all men, will, I hope, receive me. I hope that my death will atone to the country ; and that those brave men, who have acted with me, will receive a general pardon. I am satisfied they will all return to their duty with alacrity."

Parker was executed in a few days afterwards, on board the Sandwich. He died very penitent, and with great composure. He was buried at Sbeerness; but his wife, by the aid of some other women, surreptitiously obtained the body, which was conveyed to London; and the curiosity of the public leading them in crowds to inspect it, themagistrateswereatlength obliged to interfere, and by their orders it was intered in Whitechapel churchyard.

The court-martial continued sitting and trying the other mutineers more than a month, during which time a great number received sentence of death; and several were ordered to be whipped. Many of the ringleaders of the mutiny, who were convicted, were executed; but a considerable number remained under sentence, till after the signal victory obtained by Admiral Duncan, when his majesty sent a general pardon to these unhappy men, who were at that period confined on board a prison-ship in the river Thames

In the month of June, also, his majesty's ship the Pompee, one of lord Bridport's fleet, returned to Portsmouth, in consequence of a mutiny which had broke out on board of her when off Brest. Four of the ringleaders were afterwards convicted, and two of them executed on board the same ship at Portsmouth*

Having thus stated the outline of these transactions, so manning to the peace and safety of the kingdom, it will be proper, before we conclude the subject, to take a short review of the measures adopted by the two houses of parliament upon this interesting affair.

The duke of Bedford in the house of lords on the .id of May isked, whether any of his majesty*s ministers had it in charge, from his majesty, to make any communication upon the recent and important events which had occurred in the marine department. If no such communication was made, either now or on a future day, he should think it consistent with his duty to bring a subject so closely connected with the best and dearest interests of the country before their lord«hips, by moving for the production of certain papers connected with it.

ban Spencer replied, that he had it not in charge from his majesty to make any communication to the house, nor did he foresee that any would be made upon the subject.

Karl Howe said, that as his name hid occurred upon the subject, he was desirous to explain to their lordships the part which he had acted in the business, which he would do whenever the noble duke brought the subject before the house; though, for the sake of the service, be could have wished that ike matter had never been brought before the legislature; because, in consequence of it, they would be brought into a very delicate situation. After the duke of Clarence and the earl of Carlisle, however, bad made some observations up«n the delicacy of the subject, earl Howe again rose, and observed that what appeared to him to be the question in a parliamentary discus

sion of the business, was, Will y»'J agree to the terms made by the admiralty with the seamen, or not:' Were the terms fully ratified, it would be virtually giving a sanction to their conduct; if refused, it would shew the seamen that no reliance was to be placed on the promises of government; and the consequences this idea might have, were more easy to be seen than described. He thought that the engagements of the admiralty with the seamen ought to be ratified by the legislnture.

Earl Howe afterwards observed, that, from what had transpired, he found that he should not have a better opportunity of relating to their lordships the part he had taken in this affair. Between the second week of February and the middle of March (being then confined by illness) he received by the post several petitions, purporting to be transmitted from different ships of the Channel leet. They were all exact copies of each other, limited solely to a request for an hicrease of pay, that the seamen might be able to make better provision for their families; decently expressed, but without any signature. His lordship could not reply to applications which were anonymous; nor acknowledge the receipt of them to parties unavowed and unascertained. About four or five of the petitions first received, though a little differ ent in the hand-writing, were obvi. ously, he said, dictated by the sarw person; and his lordship had farther reason to think that they were fabricated by some malicious individual, who meant to insinuate the prevalence of a general discontetn in the navy. Not resting, howevei, on this concluson, his lordship wrote to an officer at Portsmouth, to in quire whether any such dissatisfac

« ZurückWeiter »