Mass desertion and mutiny - The case of HM Brig Columbine

By Martin Hubley with the assistance of a Nova Scotia Museum research grant

As we have seen in earlier sections, the motivations for desertion were many and varied. Some historians have argued that service in the British navy contributed to building a sense of "Britishness" or British nationality among the multiethnic, multinational and racially disparate crews of the lower decks of the warships of the Royal Navy. This may have been the case in some contexts, but by the latter part of this period, if not earlier, service in North American waters may not have had this effect. Disaffection, mass desertions and even violent mutinies to seize small vessels and sail them to the United States were frequent, and the short-handed lower decks were filled out with American and Irish sailors, many of them conscripted against their will via impressment from merchant vessels and ashore in the British Isles. Some of these men no doubt brought with them their republican and revolutionary ideals, if not more formal revolutionary organisation, like the United Irishmen. 1

A succinct and fairly accurate summary of the events of the Columbinemutiny was published by H.F. Pullen in 1978.2  The account presented here provides a somewhat more detailed and nuanced version of the event than that presented by Pullen, or indeed by Captain George Hills of the Columbinehimself in his reports to Sir John Borlase Warren, the station commander at Halifax, both of which focused primarily on the enticement of British naval seamen to the United States by higher wages aboard merchant vessels there, and the role played by pressed seamen. While financial inducement was a factor, the mutiny was more complex than portrayed in either account. It included an outspoken desire for liberty among several pressed seamen, but there was also an equal reluctance among others to engage in such an attempt. Several impressed seamen, including Americans, were in fact very hesitant in committing to the plan for mutiny, and some refused to even secretly discuss such plans. Among the ship’s company there was also dread of mistreatment and cruel, arbitrary and humiliating summary punishments inflicted by Captain Hills. Such punishments had occurred in the past and were again looming over the immediate futures of many of the men, perhaps over the objections of his more humanitarian first lieutenant, Thomas Robinson. Questions of American, French, British, and black identity were also central to the unfolding mutiny on the mutlinational, multiethnic and multiracial decks of the gun brig. Yet it was fairly senior petty and warrant officers who largely formed the leadership of the revolt.

The Columbine mutiny revisited, July-August 1809

The minutes of the testimony of these men reveal that there had in fact been several half-hearted and ill-planned attempts to seize the brig, kill some of her officers and desert to the American shore prior to the actual, and unsuccessful, mutiny itself. The latter began on 1 August 1809 while that gun brig was at Campobello Island in the Bay of Fundy awaiting merchant vessels to escort to the West Indies, within a mile of the American shore. Yet in the month before that date the Columbine had suffered heavily from desertion while cruising in that region and checking the various rendezvous for merchantmen. Since the independence of the United States, the region around Campobello and Passamaquoddy Bay had been problematic for both the officers of the Halifax squadron and for colonial officials. The boundaries between New Brunswick and Maine were imprecisely defined and disputed, and the customs officers on both sides of the frontier were prone to cooperation with both smugglers and deserters from the British navy and army. In May 1808, the American sloop of war Wasp in company with a squadron of six gun boats had taken possession of Moose Island, near Campobello, which had been adjudged to remain English territory by the peace commissioners, and erected a fort on it. Berkeley immediately sent the Cleopatra to Saint John, New Brunswick, to monitor and report on the American activities and to support the army detachment there.3

This situation led first Berkeley and then John Borlase Warren, to recommend to the Admiralty that the convoy rendezvous for the West Indies be changed to Saint John, New Brunswick or Shelburne, Nova Scotia, to make use of army garrisons and geographic location to prevent such incidents. After the experience of the Columbine, the Admiralty finally agreed, but forwarded the request to the Navy Board for their approval, given that many of the vessels in the convoys were composed of mast ships carrying naval stores.4

Captain George Hills of the Columbine wrote to Warren on 6 July 1809, informing him that due to the very high bounty and wages of $40 per month offered by American merchants in New England to British seamen, he had been losing many of his men to desertion. On 4 July, while at anchor in Harbour de Lute, he had sent a boat with six men and four officers to St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick, where four of the man ran away, while the same day, he had lost two men who had deserted from the jolly boat. 5 That night, a large group of his men, thirteen seamen and three marines, cut away the jolly boat from the stern of the brig and rowed off to the American shore. Hills sent his cutter manned and armed in hot pursuit.6 Hills went on to explain:

I have been fortunate enough to secure the Principal leaders and another who was compelled with many others by the quick discharge of musketry to Jump overboard; but the little distance that we lay off the Shore at this Anchorage favoured the escape of the rest that were not either Killed or drowned. Among the number of Deserters were the Centinels on the Gangway. I have yet only heard of Six of them who were seen on the American Continent.7

At least 30 men of the Columbine had originally planned to desert by hoisting her boats out from alongside at night and running them ashore. One boy had been tasked with letting down the jolly boat, and made ten attempts to do so but had to stop each time as he was at risk of being noticed by the officer of the watch. On the evening of 4 July, the men went aft. Instead of sticking to their plan, the men noticed the pilot boat alongside, and some began to jump into it. Henry Coffee, a black marine sentinel, initially attempted to stop the men from fleeing, but when he saw how many were involved he quickly joined them and jumped in himself.  The men overloaded the pilot boat, which was already in such poor condition that it was at risk of foundering without them on board. Swamping it, they climbed back on board the gun brig. Some then went to the stern and lowered the jolly boat, loaded as many men in it as possible, and rowed ashore. One Private Wilson, another marine sentry, shouted at them that if they did not return for him he would sound the alarm.

A few men were actually in the process of rowing the boat back to theColumbine so that more men could desert when they heard the gunner on deck enquiring into what was going on. They quickly turned the boat around and rowed back to shore, leaving the other would-be deserters stranded on the brig. At this point Coffee realised the danger of his and Wilson’s situation, as in the eyes of the officers they would have at best been seen to have “failed” in preventing the men from running, and at worst to have collaborated with them in intending to desert. Finding himself left behind, the marine ran up the deck and came back with his musket, firing it in the general direction of the fleeing boat and sounding the alarm, while the remaining would-be deserters fled below decks. Both the gunner and sergeant of marines then came on deck with muskets and also began firing, without any success. Coffee would later tell the mutineers he only fired to clear himself, and not with any intention of hurting the deserters. From that night onward the marine was very afraid that Capt. Hills would learn of his role in the desertions at Harbour de Lute, which motivated him to continually press the other men to move their plans forward to take over the gun brig.

After recovering the jolly boat, Hills decided that due to the time lag in getting a response from Halifax, and the likelihood that he would lose more men staying place at Campobello Island, to move to a safer anchorage at St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick. This was a location where all vessels heading to that port must pass, and where a number from Europe were expected shortly. He also noted how he hoped to replenish his ship’s complement:

I hope I shall soon be able to redeem my loss as many of the Columbine’s Men may be soon offer at in the Trade from Boston and it being probable that some of the Halifax cruizers may board a great many of them.8

Hills then enclosed a list of names and descriptions of all the deserters and mutineers so that Warren could distribute them to all ships. The captain obviously was not going to entirely rely on the other ships of the squadron, many of them also short-handed, to recover his men, and then hope that his brother captains or an often micro-managing station commander would kind-heartedly return them to him. Instead, Hills promptly sent all his boats on the Impress Service at St. Andrew’s, pressing fourteen men out of merchant vessels immediately after his arrival there on 13 July.9 Yet this filling out of some of the empty hammocks of his complement was short-lived, as at 4pm on Sunday 16 July, after mustering his men, Hills again observed the jolly boat once again making a run for the American shore, this time with seven men aboard. The cutter was again ordered manned and armed to pursue the deserters, but this time to little or no effect, and the men escaped. On the 17 July, Hills recovered his boat once more, and discharged two pressed men as being unsuitable. He then spent several days sending the jolly boat back ashore in an effort to recover the wages due to the men he had pressed from their merchant masters. On the 31 July yet another man deserted from the boat. 10

While at St. Andrew’s, Hills also wrote to the local American magistrate, John Burgin of East Port, on 30 July 1809. Hills remarked how he had reports of six of his men on Moose Island, three of them working as labourers “…and walking about the Streets nearly naked.” He had received information from a local Dutchman regarding the houses the men were staying in, and desired that one of the magistrate’s officers apprehend the deserters. Hills provided their names and descriptions, and offered a bounty of three pounds for the return of each deserter to the men employed by the magistrate, and noted that two other of his men were reported to be at liberty on Campobello Island.11 Yet the Americans were uncooperative with regard to his request. Burgin’s reply stated that “a Magistrate has no authority to arrest a deserter from any Vessel without the Ship is known in the Waters of the United States” while offering his assistance to find them and indicating that none of the men were now on the island.12 Hill wrote a similar letter to the British consul in Boston, also enclosing a list of seven men who had deserted from the Columbine while it had been in Halifax. For three of these latter he had information showing they had recently sailed from the Bay of Machias for Boston. Hills extemporised to the consul that “It is absolutely necessary that every Energy should be made and exertion used to stop the frequent desertions from our Men of War to the States of America.”13 The consul wrote back to Hill on 15 August, reporting that he was unable to find any trace of the men in Boston, and that the “…present high price of Wages in the United States is a great temptation to desertion and sorry I am to say that neither the Civil or Military Power will lend their aid to detect Deserters.” The diplomat emphasized that there was no possibility of recovering the men, as even in previous cases of mutiny, piracy and attempted murder of an officer, the Americans had consistently refused to allow such action.14This was perhaps unsurprising given the actions of British warships in and around American territorial waters over the last twenty years.

Hills’ plan of moving to a safer anchorage did not proceed entirely as he had hoped. The next day, it was discovered that a plot was underway to kill him and his officers and to take over the brig. In a second letter of 11 August 1809 to Warren he noted that the Columbine did shift anchorage to St. Andrew’s, a move made all the more urgent by the mutinous feeling aboard the brig, noting that there were no more than ten men he would consider unaffected among his ship’s company. After discovering these plans, Hills hoped that he would be able to seek the assistance of the British army detachment at St. Andrew’s, as all of his marines except for three had been implicated in the mutiny. Hills hoped to take soldiers on board to act as sentinels over his unruly crew and prisoners on his passage back to Halifax, but the commander at Saint John could not spare the men for the voyage. An armed party of 27 New Brunswick Fencibles was placed aboard the Columbine on 3 August 1809 at Saint John to act as marines while in port, with another party of 7 Royal Artillerymen coming on board on 5 August for the same purpose. Hills noted he had twenty prisoners confined, with many more implicated whom he was unable to confine “…for the want of Irons and Centinels to guard them …” The embattled captain therefore did not feel it was prudent for the Columbine to sail, as:

...without having either a Superior escort, or some military to act as Marines, being well assured that the whole of the Ships Company with but few exceptions are concerned in the mutiny and would yet if the opportunity offered be rash enough to attempt the rescue of the Prisoners and their own release notwithstanding the Severe example they have had before them in the Death of the Ringleader whose determined refusal to come upon deck when I ordered him left me no room to hesitate in the Propriety of Shooting.15

Hills went on to inform Warren that the boatswain and carpenter, as well as three French black men in the crew, had been the other ringleaders of the mutiny, and that they had the intention of killing all of the officers, then seizing the boats or the brig itself and running to America. He had managed to transfer three of the mutineers to HM Schooner Mullet, which had sailed to Halifax on 12 August 1809, but had only a few army sentries guarding the remainder while he was in port. On 18 August 1809 HM Schooner Bream arrived from Halifax, which apparently allowed Hills to discharge four of the Fencibles. On 24 August 1809 HM Brig Plumper arrived from Annapolis Royal, and finally, on 26 August 1809, HM Sloop Observateur (18) under Commander Richard Smith arrived from Halifax, and discharged 22 marines which it had been carrying for that purpose into the Columbine. This allowed Hills to discharge the remaining army men. He was also able to disperse another thirteen of his prisoners on board the Observateur, with 15 others confined on theColumbine, reducing the chance of another uprising. On 29 August theColumbine and Observateur sailed in company for the squadron headquarters, arriving back at Halifax on 2 September 1809.16

On 28 August 1809, perhaps to the detriment of the Columbinemutineers, Sir Alexander Cochrane once again arrived in Halifax harbour from the Leeward Islands station in his flagship the Pompee to make use of the naval facilities there, making him the second senior officer present and hence holding the duty to convene courts martial on the orders of the station commander, and again giving him the opportunity to preside over a major mutiny trial involving dozens of men. A neutral observer, Samuel Hood George, the Nova Scotia provincial secretary and son of a former North American station commander, Rupert George, wrote to his father, noting the frosty relations between Cochrane and Warren, as “…the two Admirals I believe look very blue at each other.”17

The fate of the mutineers, particularly the ringleaders, was effectively sealed at their trial when two boatswain’s mates of the Columbine, Richard Lamb, and Edward Milton, along with Thomas Wright, turned King’s evidence and testified against their messmates in return for immunity from prosecution.18 According to their accounts the men, led by William Stock, Henry Lloyd and two black French seamen, Pierre Francoise and Jacques L’Oiseau, met secretively over several days in small groups in various locations including the galley, and the storerooms of the carpenter and boatswain.19 The ringleaders spent this time feeling out the views of various uncommitted seamen and marines towards life on board the Columbine and their willingness to flee to America. Yet they also spent much time and effort on discussing the best way to take over the vessel, who should be assigned to specific tasks (to the extent of drawing up a watch list for the actual mutiny, a perhaps fatal error) and whether the officers (and which of them) should be killed, or be confined and only resisted with violence should they actively resist. There were also concerns over whether the carpenter, Alexander Gilmore, and boatswain, William Coates, would be supportive (or at least non-committal) when the attempt was made, and which other seamen and marines might be untrustworthy or might actively resist when the plan was put into action.20 Over the midsummer weeks of July, several of the men spent time in the carpenter’s cabin drinking with him and “talking about their own Country”, while the plan was repeatedly delayed and re-envisaged as the men argued over its details. Henry Coffee, wary of his earlier involvement in the mass desertion at Harbour de Lute, repeatedly and unsuccessfully pressed the ringleaders to take action, and may have believed the plan was at risk as they expanded the number of men involved in it.

By the end of July a somewhat concrete plan had emerged. Lloyd, L’Oiseau, Francoise and Stock were to go aft between decks, where Edward Kelly, a private marine third class, was guarding prisoners confined after the previous attempts at mass desertion.21 Kelly was to release the prisoners, and then together with the captain’s steward proceed into Hills’ cabin.22 Other men were stationed to go to the after ladder and secure two blunderbusses kept there, while another group led by Milton would go on deck, wielding cutlasses, tomahawks and pistols secretly pilfered from their storerooms and chests over the previous days, to confine the officers on watch.

Lloyd, Francoise, L’Oiseau and Stock were the men most interested in killing Hills, and L’Oiseau also had a vendetta against the brig’s surgeon, indicating that the “doctor” would not be leaving the vessel alive. L’Oiseau also told the men he would be quite willing to “pram pram” the Captain at quarters that evening. When asked by other men what he meant, the Frenchman demonstrated with the aid of some unsuspecting seamen on deck how he would use a large carving knife to run up silently behind Hills on tip toes, and stab him. The gunner, Archibald Wallace, the sergeant of marines John Jones, the surgeon William Cummings, and a favourite marine of the captain, William Painter, a private second class, were all to be killed if they resisted. L’Oiseau and Francoise tried to egg on the wavering seamen by noting “...that although they were Frenchmen they had better hearts than us, and if we stopped until we got to Sea they would discover on every man.” Francoise similarly exclaimed that although he was black, he had more heart and courage than any of the other men for carrying the mutiny forward, with he and Lloyd both remarking that they could “bear hanging” as well as any of the others. After a dispute with the surgeon onshore at St. Andrew’s earlier in the month, L’Oiseau exclaimed that “..he was born a Frenchman and would die one...”

Others, including Milton tried to persuade them to not think of committing murder, and one, Edward Coughlan, a 35-year-old Dubliner, exclaimed that “...he understood there was Murder to be committed, and hoped for the love of God we would not do any such thing...” Coughlan advised the mutineers to wait until the Water Flat came alongside and to use it to confine the officers without hurting them, and to let them go adrift.  After the water flat did not come at the appointed time, the plan was put off until after supper, but after assembling at quarters that night the men continued to quarrel in small groups over the details and the level of violence to be used, and details such as whether the hatch gratings should be nailed in place prior to the attempt to prevent the officers below from reaching the main deck. They again eventually returned to their hammocks without carrying the plan into action.

The motivations of the men behind the mutiny were mixed. Edward Kelly told the men that after the first desertions had occurred, he had seen a list of names on the captain’s table. Hills apparently meant to punish these men as soon as the Columbine went to sea, or was joined by another British man of war. The captain intended to give each man from one to ten dozen lashes, to encourage them to provide the names of those who had been involved in planning the mass desertion attempt at Harbour de Lute. As one man confessed and provided another name, Hills proposed to tie up that man and whip him until another conspirator was given up. Kelly and Lloyd were both on this list and the former believed that Hills planned to place all the suspected conspirators in irons shortly. Kelly, who also was keen on murdering the captain, remarked on several occasions that if Hills got the brig out to sea, he would “...use us worse than ever he did before.” The marine had also overheard a conversation between Hills and Robinson, where the captain asked his first lieutenant if he was not afraid of the men. The lieutenant replied that he believed the men would not hurt him, but Hills indicated that he did indeed fear the ship’s company. The mutineers generally agreed that Robinson had no reason to be afraid.

Captain Hills, on the other hand, had invoked the wrath of his men due to the nature and severity of some of his summary punishments. He apparently believed that humiliating the men was the best way of keeping them in line and on their toes, and his favourite technique of summary punishment was to flog them “on the Breech” while they were tied bent over the cannon in his cabin. Alexander McKinley, a 29-year-old from Newcastle, England who had recently been demoted from able-bodied to ordinary seaman, testified in his own defence that the captain was well known for giving out this punishment for very slight offences. McKinley, who had been involved in the theft of powder and shot for the pistols used by the mutineers, himself had received four dozen lashes in this manner simply for having tar on his hands from working aloft when mustered for inspection. The seaman also testified how he and other men had been “very ill used” on board the Columbine.

Joseph Gasden, a 39-year-old volunteer able-bodied seaman from Northampton, England, with some fifteen years in the service, noted that he had been flogged twice on the backside for “very trivial offences” when he was Captain of the Fore Top. The first punishment had been for not answering the boatswain’s mate’s call immediately, for three dozen lashes. The second offence was for hailing some of the foretop men to come up and assist him with the sails, for which he received four dozen lashes. Gasden testified that he thought at the time of this latter “crime” that he was carrying out his duty, and had been punished without cause.

Edward Kelly also begged the forgiveness of the court on similar grounds. In his defence, he related how Hills had a French cabin boy who waited on him, and that Kelly was obliged by Hills to attend to the orders of the boy. The latter frequently referred to Kelly as “his Slave, and was otherwise Insolent”. Kelly’s patience was sorely tried and one day when provoked beyond the point of reason, lashed out and struck the boy. Hills called the marine into his cabin, and told Kelly that if he did not beg the boy’s pardon, he would be severely punished. Kelly replied that “...he could not think of doing so. Captain Hills then struck him on the Head, and ordered him to be seized to the Gun.” Lieutenant Robinson saw Kelly tied there, and when the marine told the first lieutenant what it was for, stated that Kelly should not be punished if it could be proved that the French boy had been insolent. Robinson, satisfied of this by Kelly, went to the captain to try to have the flogging remitted.  His attempt was unsuccessful, as on returning Robinson informed Kelly, still tied over the breech of the gun, that Hills had ordered that “he should receive three Dozen on the Backside.”

After the first twenty-four blows, Kelly was in such dangerous shape that Robinson sent for the brig’s surgeon, who ordered Kelly to be taken down.  The lieutenant told William Cumming, the “doctor”, that the captain must be informed before this could occur. Despite the intervention of the surgeon, Hills ordered the entire punishment to be inflicted. In his court martial defence, Kelly “...begged the Court would for a moment reflect how degrading a thing it must have been to the feelings of a Man to be punished for so trivial an Offence and in a manner in which generally none but the worst of Characters are treated.”

At the trial, Captain Hills himself questioned Robinson with regard to Kelly’s punishment. Robinson noted that Kelly could have deserted at Halifax because of this incident, but did not, and that Hills had in fact forgiven him for being absent without leave at that port. While testifying that it was not Hills’ “general mode” of punishment to flog men in such fashion, peculiarly the first lieutenant could not recollect how many men had received such treatment. Prompted by Hills, Lieutenant Robinson also told the court that with regard to the ship’s complement,  their “...indulgences were greater than at the time Captain Bradshaw commanded the Ship, by their Breakfast and Dinner hours being prolong’d and the Punishments less frequent.” Robinson had nearly twelve years experience in the service, and had never seen more comforts for the men or less frequent punishment than on the Columbine under Hills. The lieutenant also remarked that the characters of the men who had been punished at the gun were generally bad.

Lieutenant Robinson, despite his apparent humanitarian intervention on behalf of Kelly, and the testimony given under King’s evidence that he was not at risk from the ship’s company, had provoked the ire of several of the men. A few days before the mutiny, he had ordered the men to sling clean hammocks. While carrying out the work in the July heat, McKinley remarked to his brother seamen that it was a damn shame to be doing such tasks. The Geordie seaman thought the Columbines could have gone forward with the mutiny instead, and expressed the desire to shoot Robinson, if only he had a pistol to do so.

The lure of America also motivated several of the Columbines. Richard Norris, the pilot, had been publicly humiliated by Hills and previously ordered off the quarterdeck. Hills had wrongly accused Norris of mistaking the land and putting the brig at risk. Since that time the pilot had made subtle references to the high wages of forty or fifty dollars per month available to seamen in the United States. Norris also implied he had connections ashore able to move men across the frontier undetected.  At the time of the first mass desertion at Harbour de Lute, one of the men had cried out that “...this was the land of Liberty before them and now was the time to get rid of Slavery.” The main ringleaders, in their discussions with other seamen, took up this same discourse, and often pointed to the shore during their conversations so the uncommitted men could see how close the “land of Liberty” was.  Some pressed foreigners were also in favour of the effort. It was recorded in the minutes that Marinius Brooks, a 30-year-old German able-bodied seaman born in Emden,  had frequently told the men that they were being treated like slaves, and that he himself did not belong in the British service, as he had not been pressed out of a British ship. Brooks also noted that in his defence that if he had wished to leave for America, he could have as he had a wife there and a protection against impressments, which Hills had refused to even examine, let alone honour.

Motivations for not participating in the mutiny were equally diverse.  These were centred primarily around the risk involved – personal, as well as to career, family, and status. The delay in deciding upon a plan and then putting it into action was also a major obstacle, as it greatly heightened the risk of discovery. Lamb, one of the turncoat mutineers who presented King’s evidence, testified that he had put the names of several men who had been newly pressed on the mutineer’s station list without their knowledge, as he assumed they would automatically want to participate. When these men learned of this, some began to ask him to have their names removed. One, Richard Shippard, a Londoner who had been pressed at St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick on 13 July 1809, told Lamb that “‘a still Tongue kept a wise head.’” Shippard had to support a wife and family ashore, and desired Lamb not to discuss any such plans with him. On the morning of 1 August, Lloyd and Francoise told Milton they would tolerate no further delay, and that if Milton was unwilling to participate as they had discussed, Lloyd’s “ Boys would soon do the business.” Milton approached several of the other men, some of whom refused to talk to him or remained non-committal, including John Solmes, the Captain of the Foretop, who listened to Milton’s outline of the plan and then turned away from him, as “... he did not think he should have anything more to say.” Several newly pressed men also asked that Milton not speak to them, as they were unsure of the gravity of the potential offence and whether they would come to harm should their discussion come to light in any future trial.

Coffee, meanwhile was trying to lure Lieutenant Robinson, the officer of the morning watch, forward, by pretending to quarrel with some other seamen in the hopes of waylaying him, but the lieutenant took no notice. After breakfast, several men were detailed to clear some stores from the gunner’s storeroom, and McKinley used this opportunity to acquire some ammunition and cutlasses. Meanwhile, the number of men concerned over the delay and the near-open disputes over planning grew, with several indicating that if an attempt was not made immediately, they would take no further part in any effort.  Prompted by L’Oiseau, the men agreed to mutiny while at quarters that evening. Milton, very uneasy at the thought of a deck strewn with the corpses of officers, now went to the quartermaster James Stewart, and informed his superior of what was about to occur. Stewart testified that Milton had been afraid of going to the captain, for fear of what punishment might be meted out for having been involved in the plans. Even then, Milton only came to Stewart when he was convinced of the mutineers’ intention to murder some of the officers. Stewart reassured Milton of his safety, and immediately reported the information to the captain. Unfortunately the minutes do not reveal the actions taken by Hills in light of Milton’s information. It seems likely he would have armed his officers and marines, yet no overt action was taken until after the men had been mustered and dismissed from quarters that evening.

At quarters, all seemed ready for the mutiny, but no man was now willing to take the lead. Milton was told by a newly pressed man that the other mutineers had learnt that one of Lloyd’s messmates (Milton was one and Stewart the other) had informed the officers of the plan. The captain now knew that eight or ten of the mutineers were armed and intending to cut down any man who resisted, and by inference were taking measures to prevent a mutiny.  Sometime shortly thereafter, once the men had again returned to their hammocks without taking any action, the captain ordered Archibald Wallace, the brig’s gunner, to bring Lloyd up on deck.  Wallace went below, where Lloyd “...swore by the Holy Ghost he would not go up on Deck alive...” and immediately called out for assistance to his fellow mutineers by name, calling them “cowardly Buggers” when they made no effort to assist him or rise up. Wallace’s testimony provides the full account of the struggle that eventually resulted in Lloyd’s death:

...Stock moved as I thought to get out of his Hammock, I presented a Pistol at Stocks and told him if he stirred, I would blow his Brains out, he laid down immediately; at the same time Lloyd laying hold of the Pistol I had in my hand, with an intention of taking it from me, which I prevented by dragging him out of his Hammock; in the Scuffle we got into the Carpenter’s Cabin, I told him to go on Deck immediately to the Captain, his answer was ‘no, I will have your life and the Captain’s first’ at the same time taking knife from the Carpenters Cabin he cut me on the back of the hand which was over the Guard of the Pistol, singing out for the same Men he had called before, and saying he had got the Pistol. I said that the first man that came before the Coppers I would blow his Brain out...Captain Hills sang out to me not to shoot him; I dragged him out as far as the Flags in the Galley still holding the Pistol...

The captain himself then climbed down the ladder, calling out to Lloyd that he did not wish to hurt him. Lloyd again replied that  “‘ shall never get me on Deck alive’” After several repeated exchanges of this nature and with Lloyd and Wallace still violently grappling for the loaded weapon, Hills raised his own pistol over the gunner’s shoulder and fired, hitting Lloyd in his left shoulder, and apparently ending any attempt at mutiny by the ship’s company. Lloyd, who would later succomb to his wounds, fell to the deck, again “...calling the People, cowardly Buggers”.

Admiral Warren reported the incident to London on 14 September 1809, noting that after the Observateur had escorted the Columbine back to Halifax, some 23 seamen and marines were court-martialled, 19 for mutinous assemblies, and four others at a separate trial for attempting to desert earlier at Harbour de Lute. In addition, the carpenter and boatswain were also court-martialled separately. The boatswain, William Coates, as well as Jacques L’Oiseau, Alexander McKinley, William Stock, Edward Kelly and Henry Coffee were all sentenced to be executed by hanging immediately for making mutinous assemblies. The bodies of L’Oiseau, Mckinley and Stock, and Kelly were to be hung in Chains “in such conspicuous place as the Commander in Chief shall think fit”, which in the case of Halifax was Maugher’s Beach on McNab’s Island in the harbour approaches. Pierre Francoise, being a “most miserable and ignorant wretch” in Warren’s view, would be confined pending views on royal mercy from London.  James Jackson, Edward Coughlan, Thomas Herne, John Sheridan and Joseph Gasden were all to be transported to some part of his Majesty’s foreign dominions, in irons as convicts, for seven years, after being flogged through the fleet for good measure. They were to be kept in irons and used as convict labour in any place desired by the commander in chief until their ultimate destination was made known. 23. Four others were also flogged through the squadron.24.

The charges of participating in mutinous assemblies were not proved against the carpenter, Alexander Gilmore, but the charge of “concealing mutinous designs” was fully proved, which resulted in his being dismissed his position and transported as a convict in irons for fourteen years. The four men who had attempted to desert at Harbour de Lute and who had been recaptured were also to be flogged through the fleet at Halifax.25. Finally, the three seamen who had given King’s evidence were considered by Warren to be “…improper people to be kept upon this station…”, so he had them sent them home to England in HMS Squirrel, while also forwarding copies of Hills’ correspondence with the various American authorities relating to the problem of desertion and recovering deserters in the Bay of Fundy.26.

On 29 September 1809, Samuel Hood George informed his father of the proceedings of the court martial, remarking that it was now:

Ten days since some unfortunate seamen were executed for mutiny onboard the Columbine, a Brig of War, you will of course hear of it in England, and of course as in every other instance of a similar nature the Captn will be very much blamed, which he does not deserve, for had he not shot the Ringleader at the instant he discovered the insurrection, he and his Officers would all have been murdered, and it is universally acknowledged that there never was a ship worse manned than Capt. Hills’. Our worthy Admiral is by some supposed to have been rather too hard-hearted in… [pardoning?] …one out of the six, two would undoubtedly have been quite sufficient for example. However he knows best. Four of them are hanged in chains on Majors beach, which is very disagreeable as it is hardly possible to sail anywhere below George’s Island without being offended at the sight of those unfortunate sufferers.27

In effect six of the seven men condemned to death were executed. What effect the four gibbeted bodies had on the seamen and marines of the squadron is unknown, but they certainly took away from the provincial secretary’s boat trips.

Alexander Cochrane, meanwhile, took the opportunity of being in Nova Scotia to extend his stay there. Seemingly neglecting his duties in the Leeward Islands, as reports had been received in Halifax of four French frigates at Guadeloupe on 8 October 1809, he sailed to Pictou, Nova Scotia with his flagship the Pompee and perhaps inspected his recent land grant on Pictou Island - where several of his boat’s crew took the opportunity to desert.28Cochrane and the Pompee were back in Halifax by 17 October 1809, throwing a ball onboard the flagship for local high society, and accepting the invitation of the local merchants to dine at a formal supper later the same week. The Leeward Islands station commander finally sailed from Halifax in early November.29

There is another postscript to the Columbine mutiny, which involves her First Lieutenant and Captain George Hills. On 26 February 1810, another court martial sat onboard the Thisbe at Greenwich in the River Thames, to examine charges brought against William Robinson by his captain for disobedience of orders, unofficerlike conduct, disrespect and insolence.30 The charges stemmed from three separate occasions in October 1809, while the brig was at Halifax and later while cruising between Halifax and Cape North in the Gulf of St Lawrence. On the first occasion, Robinson apparently violated a standing written order Hills had established in the brig’s order book, forbidding any boat to come alongside after the firing of the gun marking the setting of the sun.31On 5 October 1809, Robinson came alongside fifteen minutes after gunfire, returning after having been delayed while on some unspecified duty ashore. The brig’s new master, Nathaniel Prynn, who had the watch, asked Hills if he should allow the first lieutenant to board, and Hills denied permission. Robinson returned ashore and did not return to the Columbine for two or three days after this incident. Robinson’s absence resulted in him missing the flogging around the fleet of six of the men who had been court-martialled, as the next morning the Columbine sent her boat manned and armed to attend their initial punishment alongside of the Penelope frigate.32

The second incident occurred on 19 October 1809, while on a cruise. Robinson was relieving Prynn to take over the evening watch, and Hills was also on the quarterdeck. The captain called Robinson to him, and remarked that the ship seemed to be losing her headway and was no longer in the wind. Hills then accused the lieutenant of not finding out the state of the ship when he took over his watch, and not correcting this problem immediately when Hills had pointed it out to him. Hills also believed Robinson had been insolent, had replied in “unofficerlike” manner, had disobeyed orders in attempting to speak after Hills had ordered him to be silent, and had not touched his hat in salute when he came onto the quarterdeck and was first called over to speak with the captain. It is unclear from the testimony what their conversation actually entailed, and whether any of this occurred. The main witnesses, the master and the seaman at the helm, both seemed to suffer from severe memory loss at the trial, and bad hearing at the moment of the incident. After a short discussion, Hills ordered Robinson to be confined below in his cabin, and informed him he would be facing a court martial for his behaviour. According to Hills, the lieutenant petulantly threw his speaking trumpet onto the deck towards the master when storming from the deck, while the witnesses implied that Robinson calmly left the deck after setting it on the capstan by the master and properly handing the watch over to him.

The third, and final, contretemps between the two men occurred on 30 October 1809, while on the same cruise. Hills at some point apparently realised that he did in fact need Robinson to help him navigate and run the brig, so ordered him to return to his duty via the mediation of a third party, Lieutenant Thomas Jackson. Robinson, however, noting that he had been removed from his duties by the captain and was under sentence of an upcoming court martial, politely indicated that he believed the only possible manner in which he could return to them would be once said court martial had fully acquitted him of all charges. This, of course only infuriated Hills further, and despite cajolment, threats and probably the appeals of others aboard, Robinson held his ground and refused to come on deck. Hills at this point took away the previous privilege the lieutenant had of being able to come up on deck for exercise and fresh air, and restricted his movements, placing an armed marine sentry over Robinson at all times.  The only occasion the first lieutenant was allowed to leave the gun room or his cabin was to go to the “Round House”, or head, and even then he was escorted by his marine guard.

The court quickly dismissed the first two charges, but found that the third charge of disobedience was fully proved, and ordered William Robinson dismissed from the service, and to be made incapable of serving the king again. Unfortunately, as with other trials, the court only concerned itself with the specific circumstances of the event. It ignored other possible background or context such as the previous events of the mutiny or Robinson’s possible humanitarian tendency to try to moderate Hills’ tyrannical behaviour. Yet it seems obvious that both played a role in the deteriorating personal relationship between the two men, and that Hills’ authority as captain, even if sometimes exerted in a tyrannical and arbitrary fashion, ultimately won out over Robinson, and was seemingly not of any concern to the other officers deciding the case. The fact that Hills waited until the Columbine was in the Thames under Admiral Stanhope to apply for court martial on 17 February 1810 was perhaps a sign that he wished to avoid the chance of other officers being on the court from the North American station. These might have had knowledge of the testimony from the mutiny courts martial, or personal experience of Hills’ character, behaviour, or past performance. The entire incident may have been due to Robinson’s testimony at the mutiny courts martial, which Hills may have seen as denigrating to both his authority and his personal honour.

The incidents also highlight the critical importance of small acts of theatre and deference in maintaining, or threatening, such authority. The supposed failure of Robinson to touch his hat to his captain on the sacrosanct territory of the quarterdeck, in the presence of other seamen, and the discarding of the speaking trumpet, a symbol of an officer’s authority on board ship, all threatened Hills’ personal authority and hence his ability to maintain order on board ship. The conditions which had led to such a situation were unfortunately considered irrelevant by the court, and it was simply the maintenance of the captain’s authority, symbolic of that of the monarch himself, which had to be maintained at all costs.

Pullen’s conclusion that no court martial for mutiny or desertion occurred at Halifax after the Columbine trials until 17 September 181033 is, sadly, incorrect. It also seems to imply that all trials for such crimes on the station would occur at Halifax, which is also inaccurate, and that the executions of the Columbines were such a deterrent that no serious offences, or perhaps even any desertion at all, occurred for more than a year following that event. Immediately after the Columbine trial, a marine of the Squirrel was tried onboard the Milan at Halifax on 15 and 16 September 1809 for desertion and theft,34 and at least one other man was subsequently court-martialled for being absent without leave,35 a crime which was treated almost as seriously as desertion when it was brought to court martial in North America. Furthermore, courts martial on North American squadron seamen and marines sometimes occurred at Bermuda, at other ports in North America, or even on other stations depending upon the availability of ships and captains to form the minimum required court of five captains and a president. In March 1810 a deserter from Halifax was tried at Bermuda for a repeat offence.36 In June 1810 a man from the Bermuda sloop, stationed in North America, was tried for attempting to desert, with his court martial occurring at the Downs, on board the former North American station flagship, the Bellona.37 It is also possible that other courts martial minutes and sentences may not have survived. Finally, the numbers of courts martial, particularly for desertion, although an important indicator of the scope and breadth of the problem in the squadron, may not be the best gauge of the phenomena. The vast majority of the seamen and marines who deserted in North America were never recovered to be punished, either summarily or capitally, and those unfortunate few who were recaptured would usually be punished summarily by the captain of the vessel.38 It was only a few unfortunates who would face court martial and the fate of the men of theColumbine.39

The mixed motivations of the men who chose to participate, or not to participate, in the attempt to seize the brig demonstrates the ever-changing nature of negotiated and renegotiated authority in a face-to-face social world where the experience of authority, identities, and the agency of individuals were central. There were elements of racial and national identity and “Othering” on board the Columbine similar to what had occurred in the official reporting concerning the earlier Vesta mutiny, where that schooner's complement led by American and Irish seamen had conspired to run that schooner ashore in the Cheasapeake in June 1807. Yet the testimony of the Columbine trials reveals that such "Othering" could be used in reverse by seamen and marines themselves, to motivate British seamen to participate with “Others” in resistance against authority, by challenging their courage or identity as Britons, whites, or both. The lack of clear leadership among the mutineers, which was often weak and disputed, led to delays, which, combined with the unwillingness of men to commit fully to the enterprise unless it was clear it was going to succeed, ultimately led to the failure of the effort.

1. The major work regarding the debate on Britishness is: Linda Colley,Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837 (London, 1992). Conway's views on military service as a means of building a sense of being British are outlined in Stephen Conway, The British Isles and the War of American Independence(Oxford, 2000), pp.166-8ff and pp. 186-8, and expanded in idem, War, State and Society in Mid-Eighteenth-Century Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 2006), pp.193-207. For a broader theoretical examination of the types of disaffection and resistance possible in eighteenth-century armed services, leading to mutiny as an extreme, see Craig Leslie Mantle, ed. The Unwilling and the Reluctant: Theoretical Perspectives on Disobedience in the Military(Kingston, ON:CDA Press 2007).

2. H.F. Pullen, "The Attempted Mutiny onboard HM Sloop Columbine on 1 August 1809." The Nova Scotia Historical Quarterly 8, no. 4 (1978): 309-18. Pullen’s account, while objective, accurate, engaging, and sympathetic to both the officers and the men of the Columbine, is in some ways too succinct. It appears to rely primarily on the captain’s logs and sentences of the courts martial related to the events, rather than the minutes themselves, some of which are over 100 copperplate manuscript folios in length. Because of this Pullen missed the significance of other motivations behind the mutiny, the behaviour of Hills, and the fact that once again, the president of the court in Halifax for the main trials of both the deserters and the mutineers, which sentenced several men to death, was Sir Alexander Cochrane, with Captain George Cockburn, his flag captain, sitting on it as well. Pullen also did not discuss the overall ethnicity of the ship’s company despite his use of theColumbine’s muster books, beyond the backgrounds of the individual mutineers themselves. The account herein of the events leading up to the mutiny and of the takeover attempt itself are, unless noted otherwise, are drawn from: TNA:PRO ADM 1/5399 Courts martial papers, August to September 1809,  court martial of Alexander Gilmore, Pompee in Halifax Harbour, 5 and 6 Sept 1809; idem, court martial of  William Coates, Pompeein Halifax Harbour 5 Sept 1809; idem, court martial of John Hitch et al,Pompee at Halifax, 12 and 13 Sept 1809; idem, court martial of Richard Norris et alPompee at Halifax 6 to 12 Sept 1809.  Details of the backgrounds of the seamen and marines are drawn from the musters and paybooks of the brig: TNA:PRO ADM 37/1096,Columbine muster table, 19 Aug 1806 to 31 Oct 1806; TNA:PRO ADM 37/1097, Columbine muster table 11 May 1809 to 30 Jun 1809;  and TNA:PRO ADM 35/2706, Columbine paybooks, 9 Aug 1806 to 16 Mar 1810.

3. NSARM, George papers, Letter No. 191 Sam. Hood George to R. George, Halifax, 29 May 1808.

4. TNA:PRO ADM1/497, Berkeley to Marsden, Halifax, 14 Aug 1807, ff. 256-7; TNA:PRO ADM1/499, J.B. Warren to Pole, 18 Aug 1809, ff.160-1. The area had long been problematic since the start of the French Revolutionary wars: see Malcolm Lester, "Anglo-American Diplomatic Problems Arising from British Naval Operations in American Waters, 1793-1802." Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1954.

5. TNA:PRO ADM 51/2227, Captain’s log of HM Brig Columbine, Capt. George Hills, entry for 4 Jul 1809.

6. Ibid., entry for 5 Jul 1809.

7. TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Hills to Warren, Columbine, Harbour de Lute, 6 July 1809, ff. 210-211.

8. Ibid.

9. TNA:PRO ADM 51/2227, Captain’s log of HM Brig Columbine, Capt. George Hills, entry for 13 Jul 1809.

10. Ibid., entries for 16 to 31 Jul 1809.

11. TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Hills to Burgin, St. Andrews, 30 Jul 1809, f.220; TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Treacher to Hills, HM Schooner Holly, 30 Jul 1809, f. 221.

12. TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Burgin to Hills, East Port, 5 Jul 1809, f. 218. It should be noted that the Americans perhaps were more cooperative with the British army, as the provincial secretary of Nova Scotia noted in June 1808 that the American commanding officer of Moose Island “…is very friendly and peaceable, he has taken up two deserters from the 101st Regt and sent them to Genl Hunter at New Brunswick.” NSARM, George Papers, Letter No. 191, Sam. Hood George, to R. George, Halifax, 19 Jun 1808.

13. TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Hills to Skinner, St. Andrew’s, 6 Jul 1809, f. 219.

14. TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Skinner to Hills, Boston, 15 Aug 1809, f. 222.

15. TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Hills to Warren, Columbine, St Johns [Saint John, NB], 11 Aug 1809, ff. 212-3; TNA:PRO ADM 51/2227, Captain’s log of HM Brig Columbine, Capt. George Hills, entries for 3-5 Aug 1809. There were 103 men borne for pay on the Columbine in July 1809, and it had an official complement of 121. Well over half of the ship’s company, some 57 of the men, were pressed, and seven were born in the United States. Pullen, op. cit., p. 310.

16. TNA:PRO ADM 51/2227, Captain’s log of HM Brig Columbine, Capt. George Hills, entries for 12 Aug to 2 Sept 1809; Pullen, op. cit., p. 312.

17.  Or as neutral as government officials came at a time where factional politics and patronage were still rife in government and in the navy – Rupert George and Cochrane were friends, and the younger George spent much of the summer of 1808 lamenting in his letters to his parents his failure to be appointed Colonial Secretary in Castlereagh’s ministry. This had made his position as provincial secretary in Nova Scotia almost untenable, given that every major family in Halifax had someone competing for what they thought was the soon-to-be-available position of provincial secretary, all of whom now turned against the younger George when his extension was announced. NSARM, MG1, Rupert George Papers, Vol. 2160 Box 1 (hereafter George papers)  Letter No. 231, Sam. Hood George to R. George, Halifax, 31 Aug 1809; idem, Letter No. 199 Sam. Hood George to R. George, Halifax, 1 Aug 1808; idem, Letter No. 203, Sam. Hood George, [to Mother], Halifax,  24 Aug 1808.

18. Lamb was a 24-year-old Londoner who had entered the brig at Port Royal, Jamaica on 8 Jan 1808. He had been promoted to coxswain on 20 Feb 1809, then to boatswain’s mate on 1 May 1809. Milton, also from London, had entered on 22 Oct 1807 as an able-bodied seaman, before being promoted to Captain of the Foretop on 1 Feb 1809. Wright was a 21-year-old ordinary seaman from Manchester who had volunteered and entered the Columbine at Port Royal on 4 Jan 1808. Immediately after the mutiny on 1 Aug 1809 Milton and Lamb were demoted to able-bodied seamen.

19. Stock, a 27-year-old ordinary seaman born in Timsbury, England (it is not known which Timsbury he hailed from, the village in Hampshire or the one in Somerset), had volunteered to join the brig at Port Royal on 8 Jan 1808, and had received a bounty of £2.10.0. Lloyd, a 44-year-old born in Philadelphia, had been on the brig almost since she was last commissioned, entering her as an ordinary seaman on 9 Sept 1806 from the army depot at Cowes Rendezvous on the Isle of Wight, before being reassigned as a member of the carpenter’s crew four days later. It is unclear if he was a volunteer, or pressed. Francoise, a 19-year-old born in Guadeloupe, entered under the same circumstances with the same quality, but was demoted to landsman two days later. L’Oiseau, a 24-year-old also from that island, entered on 12 Sept 1806 under the same circumstances but was skilled enough to retain his rating of ordinary seaman.

20. Gilmore had joined the brig on 25 Jun 1808, while Coates had been turned over from the Leopard into the Columbine on 30 Oct 1807.

21. Kelly had joined the Columbine as part of her initial complement of marines on 30 Aug 1806 at Portsmouth, and belonged to the 151st Company of that division.

22. The identity of the captain’s steward is unclear. In the court martial minutes the man is never named, but different men seem to imply that Kelly may have been fulfilling that role, and Kelly’s testimony and access to the Captain’s cabin imply likewise. There is no man with the quality of captain’s steward on the musters or paybooks, and the sole clerk had been discharged months prior to the mutiny.

23. TNA:PRO ADM 1/499 Warren to Pole, Halifax, 14 Sep 1809, f. 208. Prior to being transported, Jackson and Herne were sentenced to receive 400 lashes, and Coughlan and Sheridan 300 lashes, all with a halter around their necks. Gasden was allowed to be flogged for 300 lashes without a halter.

24. William McGrath  and Thomas Kelly for 300 lashes each, while charges were partly proved against Marinius Brookes, who received via the negative discretion of the court, for circumstances unknown, the harsher sentence of 500 lashes, and William Selburne, who was flogged for 200. Charges were not fully proved against Richard Shippard and Nicholas Corisco, but as they had some knowledge of the mutiny going forward, and because of unspecified favourable circumstances, were sentenced only to be admonished.

25. The charge of enticing others to desert was not proved against John Hitch, but for attempting to desert he received 150 lashes, a reduced sentence due to his previous good character. For attempting to desert James Kennedy was to receive 300 blows of the cat, Jacob Smith and James Gray 200 each.

26.TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Warren to Pole, Halifax, 30 Sep 1809, f. 214; TNA:PRO ADM1/499, Warren to Pole, Halifax, 7 Oct 1809, ff. 216-19.

27. NSARM, George Papers , Letter No. 235, Sam. Hood George to R. George Halifax, 29 Sept 1809.

28. NSARM, George Papers, Letter No. 237, Sam. Hood George to R. George, Halifax, 8 Oct 1809. Pictou Island had originally been granted to Cochrane in 1809, and in 1814 he had sent his agent, William Cumming, to settle the area. In 1833 Cochrane sold the island to W.A. Hartshorne for £750.  Cochrane may also have been taking advantage of being in Nova Scotia to raise men via impressment before returning to the Leeward Islands, as Pictou was a frequent destination for the schooners of the North American squadron sent out on that duty, as it was a centre of activity related to Scottish emigration to northern Nova Scotia in this period. See Chapter XIV of George Patterson,A history of the county of Pictou, Nova Scotia, (Pictou, NS: J. M'Lean, 1877).

29. Ibid., and NSARM, George Papers, Letter No. 243 Sam. Hood George, to [Brother], Halifax, 17 Oct 1809. George noted the arrival of the Cochranes had “…put a little life into the Halifaxonians, who are the most lethargic sett of people in existence, and now they are gone, have returned to their former state of apathy. Capt Dilke’s, Sir Alexander’s Captain, was a very particular friend of mine, and a most complete Gentleman, combining the opposite qualities of a very good seaman and a Man of the World...” The provincial secretary was less lavish with his praise of the actual station commander, noting in the same letter that “Sir John and Lady Warren leave this [place] for Bermuda on the 18th, their absence will not be much regretted.” NSARM, George Papers, Letter No. 244 Sam. Hood George, to [Brother], 10 Nov 1809.

30. Unless noted otherwise, the account which follows is drawn from TNA:PRO ADM1/5402 Courts martial papers, February to March 1810, Court martial of Lieutenant Thomas Robinson, Thisbe at Greenwich, 26 Feb 1810.

31. The order book was produced at the court martial, but unfortunately, like most of its kind,  it does not seem to have survived.

32. At 6:45am a launch came alongside with John Hitch, Jacob Smith, and J. Gray who were punished with 35 lashes each. Forty-five minutes later, another launch drew up beside the brig, and Thomas Kelly, James Kennedy, and William McGraw were punished with 30 lashes each. TNA:PRO ADM 51/2227, Captain’s log of HM Brig Columbine, Capt. George Hills, 6 Oct 1809.

33. On four men from the Chub schooner on board of the squadron flagshipSwiftsure, for running with the schooner’s boat: TNA:PRO ADM1/5409 Courts martial papers, Sept to Oct 1810, 17 Sept 1810.

34. TNA:PRO ADM1/5399, Courts martial papers August  to September 1809 Court martial of James Burton, Milan at Halifax 15-16 Sept 1809.

35. Ibid., Court martial of Alan Baker, Milan at Halifax 18 Sept 1809;

36. TNA:PRO ADM1/5403 Courts martial papers, March  1810,  Court martial of William Davis, Melampus at Murray’s Anchorage, Bermuda, 29 Mar 1810.

37. TNA:PRO ADM 1/5406, TNA:PRO ADM 1/5406, Court martial papers, June 1810, Court martial of William Gatreath, Bellona at the Downes, 15 June 1810.

38. For example, within weeks of the Columbine executions men from theAeolus frigate were deserting. NMM WAR/42, J.B. Warren, to Stowe Wood, Esq., Bermuda, 16 Dec 1809. Men continued to desert from the Columbinebrig itself while at Halifax in September and December of that year.

39. There were several mass desertion mutinies which did not come to trial and more may yet to come to light. In addition to the Cambrian mutiny mentioned above, unrest of some sort may have occurred on board theEurydice at Saint John, New Brunswick as well. Warren twice wrote to her captain immediately following the Columbine mutiny, demanding to know why he had delayed sailing with the Bay of Fundy convoy for England, and had returned to Saint John to provision despite fair weather and winds. NMM WAR/42, J.B. Warren to James Bradshaw, Halifax, 30 Aug and 3 Sept 1809. There was also a mass desertion mutiny on board the Bream schooner while pressing men off Pictou, Nova Scotia for which no men were brought to trial. The Bream also experienced a mass desertion mutiny while off Hampton Roads, Virginia in February 1808. Both are discussed in the author's thesis.