Naval Justice

The 18th century was a tough time to be a criminal, with many capital crimes entering the books, especially for misbehaviour at sea. Here’s an article from the Virginia Gazette of 8 June 1769:

“On Friday the same court of Admiralty met for the trial of Stephen Porter, mariner, for the Murder of Capt John Westcot, and sundry others, on board a Bristol ship, on the high sea, on the cast of Guinea, in the year 1766; but on the officers going to bring him up from the prison they found him hanging to one of the window bars, quite dead, he having made use of a string he usually kept up his irons with. The coroner’s inquest brought it in self murder, and he was sentenced to be buried in the highway, at the farther end of the Bowry lane, and have a stake drove through his body.”

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