Friday, April 20, 2018

Court Martial of Corporal Angus McDonald, 78th Regiment of Foot, 1761

Court martial of Corporal Angus McDonald, 78th Regiment
In his Sketches, Stewart of Garth maintained that the high moral code of the early Highlanders meant that misconduct was virtually unknown within their regiments. Although it is true that Highlanders feature far less frequently in the General Courts Martial records than miscreants from other battalions, it would be wrong to go to the other extreme and suggest that their ranks were filled with plaster saints. A worthy champion of this violent heritage was Corporal Angus McDonald of Fraser's Highlanders, who was brought before a General Court Martial at Quebec in September 1761.

The following is a complete transcript of the corporal's legal proceedings.

Official proceedings
Proceedings of a General Court Martial held at Quebec the 25th Day of September 1761, By Virtue of a Warrant from his Excellency Governor Murray dated the 24th said Month.

Major James Agnew President.

Captain Samuel Gardiner
Captain George Byrd
Captain Robert Rutherford
Captain John Carden
Captain Edmund Malcome
Captain John Brown
Captain Nicholas Cox
Captain James Dalrymple
Captain Thomas Smelt
Captain Robert Brigstock
Captain Henry Alt
Captain Edward Crymble

Hector Theophilus Cramaché Deputy Judge Advocate.

Opening statement
The Court being duly Sworn the Prisoner Angus MacDonald of the 78th Regiment was brought before the Court and tried for quitting his Post, and robbing several of the French Inhabitants under Pretence he had orders to take Quarters for some Troops.

Deposition of Lieutenant Henry Marr
A Letter from Lieutenant Marr of the 47th Regiment dated the 21st of September at St. Lawrence to Lieutenant Mills as Town Adjutant.

St. Lawrence 21st September 1761
Dear Sir,
When I left St Francois to proceed to this Place, I was ordered by Major Irving to leave a Corporal, and two Men, as a Guard, to the King's wood; I accordingly ordered the Prisoner Corporal Macdonald of the 78th Regiment to remain there, but he either tired with Solitude, or fond of Novelty and Frolick, determined to leave his Guard and cross the River to the Parishes of St. Joachim, St. Anns, and Chateau in the North Shore, where he behaved in a very extraordinary manner; as you will see by the enclosed Letter, which fully represents the Affair, when I first heard of his being absent I imagined he had deserted, and ordered Strick Search to be made for him every where till Sunday last, when I was favoured with the enclosed relating to him.

Henry Marr Lieutenant
47th Regiment

Deposition of Ensign Philip Pitman
A Letter from Ensign Pitman of the 19th September dated at Chateau River

Chateau River 19th Sepr. 1761
Dear Sir,
One Angus Monro or McDonald has been up and down the Parishes of St. Joachim, St. Anns, and Chateau for this week past, imposing on the Inhabitants of said Parishes in a most Vilinous, and extraordinary manner, by extorting from them Money, Horses, and anything he had occasion for shewing as he pretended an order for so doing in writing; and sometimes on refusal threatened to beat, or put them to Death, pretending to be an officer, he is a Soldier of the 78th Regiment above the middle size, and has Caroty Hair, is of Captain Nairns Company, and I understand belongs to your Party, I this Day rode from Chateau to St. Anns privetly to apprehend him, but unfortunately he was gone over to the Island an Hour before I got there, I hope you will take all possible Care to secure him, that he may be brought to Justice, I write this Letter which I send with the Captains of Malitia of whom he got four Dollars, as he did from the Captains of Malitia of the other two Parishes.

Ph: Pitman

Deposition of John Morris
John Morris Soldier of the 58th Regiment was sworn and deposes, that the Prisoner is a Soldier belonging to Lieutenant Marrs Party, on the Island of Orleans, and was ordered with two other Men to take some Wood, at St. Francois in that Island, and that Lieut. Marr, having received Information the Prisoner had drawn some Money from the Captains of Militia on the North Shore, the Deponent was sent by him for them, where he saw the Houses marked with scores for Quarters and Magazines as he was informed by the Canadians that he returned, and was sent to St. Francois by Lieutenant Marr with four Men, to take him up, which he did, and Carried him to Town.

Deposition of Captain Jacques Perrault
Jacques Perrault Captain of the Militia of St. Famille in the Island of Orleans being sworn deposes, that the Prisoner came to his Parish, saying he had Orders to see what Houses in his Parish were capable of receiving Men, that he asked him for his Orders, that he said he had none, and must make a Report to the General first, that afterwards he demanded four Dollars of the Deponent and upon his saying he had none, he ordered him to get a canoe with three Men and that he would go straight to Quebec, to complain, that fearing the Consequence he offered him two which he accepted, that he commanded a Canoe to carry him over to the North Shore.

Deposition of Captain Jean Lesarre
Jean Lesarre Captain of the Militia of St. Anns being sworn deposes, that he found on his Return, from Town, the Prisoner at his House, where he had landed from St. Famille, that the Prisoner told him he must shew him the best Houses to Lodge 48 Men, and they must cut and carry to the water Side every Week 48 Cords of Wood, that he, or his Serjeant must go with him to St. Joachim what he made him assemble the whole Parish, nay even ordered the Women to appear, and said he would not Quarter Men in the Houses where there were young Women, that he demanded five Dollars, that the Deponent not having a farthing was obliged to search the whole Parish to borrow three, for which he pretended to give a Receipt, now produced, being a Scrap of paper, with some scratches on it, the Deponent further says the Prisoner was there three Days backwards and forewards in this Parish, and that he appeared to him the whole Time very much in his Senses, in the same manner he does now, and further that he ordered a Canoe to carry him back to St. Famille.

The Deponent being asked upon what pretense the Prisoner demanded the Money, says, he informed him, it was the Generals order he should have five Dollars of each Captain for his Expenses, produced five, or six Papers, which he said were these orders, and threatened to send him to Quebec, if he did not comply.

Deposition of Captain Francis Raneour
Francis Raneour Captain of the Militia of St. Joachim being sworn deposes, he was sent for by the Prisoner to a Publick House, about ¾ of a League from his, that after some Time he told him he must Quarter 48 Men, and some Officers; to the amount of Sixty, and demands four Dollars, which the Deponent protested he could not comply with, after pressing, the Man of the Publick House lent the Man four Dollars, which he gave the Prisoner, who returned him a Shilling, that he did not give a Receipt, but took his name down upon a Piece of Paper.

The Deponent being asked upon what Pretence he demanded the four Dollars, says by the Generals Order, and it would be repaid by his Secretary.

Deposition of Captain Eustache Bacon
Eustache Bacon Captain of the Militia of Chateau Richer being sworn deposes that he was sent for by the Prisoner to a House where he was told to assemble the Company next morning at Six Oclock, that representing this was a little too early he put it till eight o'clock, that he afterwards demanded four dollars of him, by order of the Governor, and after making some Difficulty, he borrowed two French Crowns, and two Dollars, which he gave the Prisoner who returned one Shilling.

The Deponent being asked if the Prisoner appeared at all wrong in the head, answers on the Contrary appeared very Sensible.

Deposition of Corporal Angus McDonald
The Prisoner in his Defence says he was out of his Senses at that Time, that he is subject to the falling Sickness, for which he was marked down by Doctor Russel to be discharged, and that he is generally out of his Senses three Days after he comes out of a Fitt, one of which he had before he left the Island of Orleans.

Deposition of Ensign Gregarson
Ensign Gregarson of the 2d Battalion of the Royal American Regiment being sworn Deposes, that he was in the 78th Regt. and heard that the Prisoner had Fitts, but never heard that he was Mad; being asked if he ever saw him in Fitts, or Mad, says not.

Deposition of Ensign Robert McPherson
Ensign Robert McPherson of said Battalion being sworn, Deposes, that he remembers the Prisoner, in the Regiment in which he was Volunteer, and never heard of his having Fitts, till this day.

Deposition of Serjeant James Robinson
Serjeant James Robinson of the 78th Regiment being Sworn, Deposes, that he heard a Serjeant who kept the Hospital say the Prisoner had the falling Sickness. 

The Court having heard and examined the Allegations against the Prisoner, together with what he has to offer in his Defence Is of opinion that Angus McDonald Soldier of the 78th Regiment is Guilty of the Charge brought against him, and doth adjudge him to receive two thousand Lashes, To repay the Captains of Militia the Money said McDonald extorted from them, if there is so much owing to him by his Captain, or be put under Stoppages, not exceeding one half of his Pay till the whole is repaid.

Sentencing confirmation
I do hereby confirm the foregoing Sentence, that Angus McDonald Soldier in the 78th Regiment shall receive two thousand Lashes and repay the Money extorted from the Captains of Militia.

Given under my Hand at
Quebec this 26th Sept. 1761
Ja: Murray

Note: Corporal Angus McDonald does not appear on any known muster rolls after this date and is presumed to have been discharged prior to the official disbandment of the regiment in December 1763.

General Courts Martial records, Quebec, 25 September 1761, TNA WO 71/71.

Stewart, Sketches of the Highlanders, I, 235-6.

Brumwell, Stephen, Redcoats: The British Soldier and War in the Americas, 1755-1763, pp. 280-1. Cambridge University Press, 2002.

©  Jeffrey Campbell, The 78th Regiment of Foot, 2018.


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