Left Arrow
Right Arrow
Fateful Voyage

PreviousCourt-Martial Norman DefenseHomeCourt MartialsCourt-Martial McIntosh DefenseNext

Revised 2014-09-24

Court-Martial
Thomas Ellison Defense, Mon, Sep 17, 1792

THOMAS ELLISON, being called on for his Defence, delivered a Paper Writing to the Court containing his Defence which was read by the Judge Advocate and is hereto annexed.

Defence of Thomas Ellison.

Honble. Gentlemen.

Apr 28, 1789

On Tuesday Morning the 28 Day of April, 1789, 4 Bs., it Being Mr. Christain's watch, he being officer of the third watch to which I belonged to, It was my trick at the wheel from 4 till six in the morning. I repaird to my post, John Mills, Gunner's Mate, being at the Conn, he acting as quartermaster in the same Watch. About five Chas. Churchill, ship's Corl., came aft to Mr. Christain on the starboard Side of the quarter Deck, she being on the Starbd. tack, he spoke to Mr. Christain in Close Conversation about ten Minutes. I could not hear one word that past between them, They being a breast of the four must [foremost] gun, on the qr. Deck. I had not the least Suspition of anything but Minding my Duty. About three Bells I was surprized to see Mr. Christain and others come aft Armed and went directly down the Companion Lader. In about five Minutes or so Mr. Christain and Party came upon Deck bringing up Captn. Bligh in his shirt with his hands tide be hind him; this Proceeding greatly amaz'd and Terrifyde me; my terror was more Increas'd, at the site of Mr. Christain; he looked like a Madman, is long hair was luse, is shirt Collair open. By this time a number of men was Armd on the quarter Deck around the Captain, Mr. Christain with a Baynet in his hand standing a Long side of him. Captn. Bligh Wanted to talk with him, I believe. I heard Mr. Christain say two or three times "Mammoo, sir," which the meaning of the word is, "Sillance, sir." Then the Captn., looking Round and seeing the Ship Standing of the land, he Disird me to clap the helm down, which I directly obeyed. Mr. Christain orderd the small Cutter to be hoisted Out, and the Main yard was squar'd for that purpose. I then lashde the helm a lee And walking fore and Aft by the wheel the small cutter was hoisted out. I then saw Lawrence Labouge [Lebogue] Standing by the Starbd. Chress-tree; he being my Messmate And old ship mate in the "Britania" west India man the Voyage before this, and Captn. Bligh was the Commander, I thought it proper to ask this man's advice as I was Ignorant of what was Intended. I then spoke to John Mills, Quater master, and told him I wanted to go to the head. He told me I might go and would Mind the helm the wile I was absent. I then went and spoke to Labougue and ask What the People where going to do with the Captn. I oney pretended to go to the head For the Purpose to speke to him and ask his advice, he being an old seaman and had Been many years in His Majtys. Service. He being vex'd, I believe, answerd me in a Sharp surly manner, told me to go to hell and not bother him; this Reception from my old ship mate quite Disheartened me from making an application to any One else. The men that was armd was in seeming great Confusion; Others was Clearing out the large Cutter to be hoisted out. When the Large Cutter was hoisting out John Mills went forward and did not Come near me any more. Mr. Christain Told Messers. Samuel, Hayward and Hallet to get ready to go into the Boat with the Captain. When the two later Gentlemen Rec'd the order they weep't Bitterly and Mr. Hayward begged to know what he had done to be sent out of The Ship. On this Mr. Christain repeated his order and told him to go and get himself Ready, as he was Determindn'd he should go. At the time those things where doing The Captain often attempted to talk with Mr. Christain but to no purpose, for he, with many threats bid him Silance. About a Qr. of an hour after the Large Cutter Was out, Mr. Cole, Boatn., [and] Mr. Hayward Jointly begged of Mr. Christain to let them Have the Longboat, as they said the L Cutter was very leakey and would not Swim long and was likewise to small. After some pause Mr. Christain granted their request and gave orders for the Longboat to be hoisted out, and told Mr. Cole, "Mind and see the Yards well Secured." When the weight of the boat came on the Yards The four yard top'd greatly, on which Mr. Christain threatn'd him and told him if Either of the yards gave way to take care of himself. The boat went out safe. Mr. Christain still kep his Countenace very severe and by Continual threats Keep everyone in fear of him. Some time after the boat was out Isaac Martin, seaman, Lay'd down his Musket And went into the boat, but was sone order'd out again, and if he did not Comply Was threatned to be Shot if the Boat should put of with him in her; then he Came out of the Boat; he did not take up his Musket again as I seen but went foreward. While those things were doing the officers who was Confin'd below was orderd up and was sent into the boat; as they came on Deck and Mr. Christain gave repeated orders to Chas. Churchill not to let the carpenter mates and Armourer go, but to detain them in the ship. When the officers was in the Boat then Mr. Christain orderd the Captain to go in likewise. After some talk with Mr. Christain he went in likewise. Then [a] number of the people followed as fast as they Could and Captn. Bligh, seeing Great many still wanting to come, begged for god sake that no more would come In, for she would be over loaded and sink with them, and at the same time orders The hammocks and other to be thrown over boad, and too prevent more from Coming in orderd the boat to be vore a stern of the ship, saying to the people In the Ship "My lads, I will do you all Justice for I know whos and who." When the Boat was a stern some pork and other things was handed over into her. Captn. asked for some fire arms, but Mr. Christain would not let him have Any. He sent four Cutlasses to him. This, honourable Gentlemen, is the reale Truth of all I know about this unhappy affair and I hop your honours will take my Inexpearence'd Youth into Consideration, as I never did or ment any harm to anyone, much more to my Commander, to whose care I Was recommended by Mr. Camble, a west India Merchant in whose emply Captn. Bligh has saild a Commander in the "Britania" and "Lynx," both is ship. On account of this recomendation Capt. Bligh took great pains with me and spoke too Mr. Samule, his Clark, to teach me Writing and Arithmetick and I believe Would have taught me further had not this happend. I must have been very Ingreatfull if I had in any respect assisted in this Unhappy Affair agains my Commander and Benefactor, so I hope, honorable Gentlemen, yo'll be so Kind as to take my Case into Consideration as I was No more than between Sixteen and Seventeen Years of age when this of done. Honourable Gentlemen, I leave my self at the Clemency and Mercy of this Honourable Court.

I am with great Respect
Hond. Gentlemen Obt. Humble. Sert.

THOMAS ELLISON.

Mr. FRYER called in again.

Examined by THOMAS ELLISON—

Q. Do you not know if I had been armed on the Quarter Deck when you came upon Deck twice or three times that you could not have seen me as you staid talking to the Captain?

A. I was only on Deck once before I came away; I do not recollect seeing him when I came up.

Q. Do you not think if I had been armed with a Musquet and Bayonet fixed at the Larboard Gangway that you must have seen me as you went down the Companion?

A. I don't recollect seeing anybody at the Larboard Gangway when I went up; he possibly might have been there, but from my Attention to other Things, I had not an Opportunity of seeing him.

Q. Do you not think if I had been on the Tafrail jeering anybody, that you must have seen me?

A. He might have been in the Crowd, on the Tafrail, and being a Boy at the Time I had not an Opportunity of seeing him.

Q. What Age do you think I was of, at that Time?

A. About 15 Years of Age.

The Witness withdrew.


PreviousCourt-Martial Norman DefenseHomeCourt MartialsCourt-Martial McIntosh DefenseNext