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Sergeant Thomas Hickey Court-Martial: 1776 - Suggestions For Further Reading

washington british soldiers mayor

Defendant: Sergeant Thomas Hickey
Crimes Charged: Mutiny and sedition
Chief Defense Lawyer: None
Chief Prosecutor: None
Court-Martial Board: Colonel Samuel Parsons, presiding officer
Place: Richmond Hill, New York
Date of Court-Martial: June 26, 1776
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Death by hanging

SIGNIFICANCE: The case reflected the uncertain, ill-defined state of American governmental affairs, particularly the chaotic state of the courts. Because New York's courts were "as yet held by authority derived from the Crown," the Provincial Congress handed soldiers accused of treasonous activities over to General George Washington, whose authority derived from the Continental Congress, the country's one unifying quasi-legal institution. The status of 13 civilian conspirators, although charged, seemed unsure. They were sent to Connecticut temporarily.

Expecting the British army to attack New York, George Washington's Revolutionary army prepared for battle in a city uneasily divided in its loyalties. In June 1776, a Tory conspiracy was discovered. Wild stories circulated. One said Washington was to be murdered. Stripped of exaggeration, the basic "plot" was to stage a combined uprising of Loyalists and secret turncoats in Washington's army timed to coincide with the landing of British forces.

William Collier, an alert waiter, notified a city official of a conspiracy involving Gilbert Forbes, a gunsmith, Royal Governor William Tryon, hiding in a warship anchored offshore, and David Mathews, the mayor. A businessman informed authorities that a former employee, James Mason, had said he was receiving money from the British. Mason, when questioned, implicated several soldiers, including members of Washington's guard. One of those named was Sergeant Thomas Hickey, then under arrest on suspicion of counterfeiting.

In jail, Hickey spoke too freely. According to fellow prisoner Israel Young, Hickey and prisoner Michael Lynch said they would never again fight for the American cause and boasted that "there were near seven hundred men inlisted [sic] for the King." Another prisoner, Isaac Ketchum, testified Hickey had tried to enlist him and that Hickey and Lynch had bragged of their involvement in a conspiracy against Washington.

A secret committee investigated the charges, then issued warrants for the arrest of several people, including the mayor. The soldiers involved were turned over to General Washington, who ordered a courtmartial for Hickey.

William Greene, a soldier named by Mason, testified before the courtmartial that he had bribed Hickey to enlist in the king's service after having himself been bribed by the mayor. Greene said that both his and Hickey's names were on a list in Tryon's possession. The gunsmith, Forbes, corroborated Greene's testimony, adding that Mayor Mathews had given him 100 pounds, supplied by Tryon, with which to bribe Continental soldiers. Ketchum reported Hickey had said American soldiers were ready to fire on their compatriots once British forces landed.

Hickey, pleading not guilty, defended his actions, saying he:

engaged in the scheme at first for the sake of cheating the Tories, and getting some money from them, and afterwards consented to have his name sent on board the man-of-war, in order that, if the enemy should arrive and defeat the army here, and he should be taken prisoner, he might be safe.

Hickey, an Irishman, had deserted from the British army several years earlier.

Hickey was found guilty and sentenced to hang. Washington ordered that all men not on duty be present at Hickey's execution in the hopes that Hickey's "unhappy fate" would "be a warning to" all. On June 28, 20,000 people watched as Hickey, minus stripes and buttons, having refused a chaplain (he claimed clergy were all cutthroats), mounted the scaffold and died. The following day, British warships sailed into New York Harbor.

Hickey was the only conspirator executed. The 13 sent to Connecticut were never tried. Several conspirators, including Mayor Mathews, escaped. By fall the British had taken New York. The secret investigative committee had accused one man, James Clayford, of plotting to kidnap George Washington. But there seems to be no surviving record of what eventually happened to him.

Teddi DiCanio

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about 8 years ago

Wow, this is very interesting to read. I did not know my Great Grandfather was a spy.

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almost 3 years ago

Tim you might be related to me. I have the hickey name on my father's side of the tree.

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almost 8 years ago

there are 1700 people in peterborough ontario trying to kill me for an settlement i did not sign neither did my husband neither one of us signed divorce or life insurance papers i am not a person that can get insurance because i am terminal and dying because my daughter has put 7 long haired rats inside of me that fell out and know i am dying of kidney failure because of this carl mclean stacey armstrong aka moore brian roxie page karen janice janice gail norm page perry armstrong cut my sons openis off and sowed it back on because he is handicapped withh hydrophalus shunt leg perths diease spinal bifida they took his mynocle off his back peggy heard ex cas worker was paid 139,000 for her part in this roxie page paid 450,000 to all hospitals all mental hospitals all jails all nursses doctors lab tec nursing homes brenda susan donny powers were paid 25 million dollars to put a hit on my life office podrick 150 layett brady ernie herod killed his ex wife by not supplying a second tank of oxgen for her did not resitate her and the von was there they are suppose to phone when they arrive and if anything happens he told this straight to my face more then once he ernie herod stole 11 million dollars from manulife in peterborough ontario canada he has promised people 64.00 per person to have me killed there are 1700 pepole involed beverly ann moore bouffard aka tracey forbes said she knew that delbert cassidy stabbed mike onb lock street and had a bloody knife at coffee time donut shop and that he was going out west with the inbsurance money and that she was going to follow him wilma armstrong said she killed brenda stinson stacey armstrong moore has wanted me dead for years and ask for 11 million dollars or she would kill me and her grandparents she put 7 long haired rats inside of me that fell out with fred moore who is wanted in 7 states alma hilda brum vandryen is also wanted laurie majors also wanted florance pamela jordan said she killed her ex common law jantelle jordan father over 2 years ago for 30,000 insurance money in buffalo or newyork she has 1500,00 on each of her childrens lifes her son ron jordan lives in buffalo stacey armstrong stole the morning after pill from lansdowne st shoppers drug mart beverly moore bouffard stole from novelty shoe repair tonys in peterborough and childrens aid society roxie page paid for this to happen with daryl laurie wilma perry armstrong jack sylvia armstrong officer brady eastdale podrick layett karen obrien podrick 150 jensen lawyers peter mallard brent wamsly billico kent lilico robert kimball james huraney
nicole mark earl mark is a tronto police office so is dave sparks carl mclean vivan mclean shelly moore mclean cathy dixon reid roger o'brien wayne o'brien susan steve driscoll marty cindy hutchinson stacey armstrong moore paid laura lidsay mary fred moore wilma dykstra armstrong rick ricky tim jr tim sr and wife renita gretia audrea dykstra carl cal valerie dunfford tom mike brenda mills cathy steve barnes jim jean scroggins don armstrong joan garr fuller joanne sweeting married now philliph and jessica healy maureen m maureen off sick trevor pam from dializes 5th floor at prhc dr hughes dr kamilla dr thorton dr thomas dr thompson
lab tec ceo tracey forbes tracey miller not involed jamie harold debbie bonnie munroe domminic memo don torrance wanda winslow burgess ken burgess ted boyton mallohney ken burgess dan milodinovich scott shearer rod bryant not involed
brenda brady battle shearer involed
carl mclean was one of the head leaders in this with roxie page stacey armstrong moore perry wilma armstrong ernie herod daryl laurie armstrong hailey daniel macleod hailfax joel armstrong montreal jousha armstrong and girlfriend jenna tronto florance pamela jordan jantelle jordan all started this with beverly ann moore bouffard september 22 1964 they all new what they were doing they planned it they paid for it they new when where how ken connie blair helped in the kidnapping of charlie decker with bev moore bouffard stacey armstrong moore fred moore ernie herod they have charlie decker taken out of childrens aid in peterborough ontario he is 17 years old crown ward of childrens aid society at kawartha haliburtion childrens aid society charlie decker attends crestwood secondfary school in ontario charlie is emontionally delayed about the age of a 6 to 7 year old in a 17 year old body sometimes 2 years old if i were to stand before the courts today i would ask that they give them all the leathal injection where it is upheld for they took my life

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almost 5 years ago