New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Hanged at St. John for the Theft of 25 Cents

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A Hanging at Market Square, Saint John

This picture and story are from Footprints; or, Incidents in the Early History of New Brunswick [1783-1883] by Joseph Wilson Lawrence, published in Saint John for the Centennial in 1883. It is presented here, separate from the other post entitled Nice Pictures From an Old Book, because of its special content, quoted directly from Footprints.


The Old City Hall, Saint John

“From 1797, for nearly one third of a century, the building on the Market Square was called the City Hall; the basement at first was a general store; the first flat, with entrance from King Street, was occupied as the City market; the upper story, with a platform the length of the building, was used for the Courts and the Council Chamber, to their removal to new Court House, King Square, 1830. In 1837 it was taken down to give place to the brick building burnt in the fire of 1841. In this the Civic offices were in the second story; the lower portions being occupied by butchers and as a Country market, with a section of the basement as a Lock-up.”

“The last trial for a capital offence in the old Court House was at the January Term, 1828, Hon. Judge Chipman presiding:

“Patrick Burgen, a boy of 18 years, was placed at the Bar, charged with entering the dwelling, in the night, of his master, John B. Smith, manufacturer of ginger beer, corner of Union Street and Drury Lane, and robbing the till of one quarter of a dollar. He was arrested the day after, by John McArthur, constable.”

“The prosecuting officer, Clerk of the Crown, John Thomas Murray, Esq. The Court assigned William B. Kinnear Counsel for the prisoner, as to questions of law, not being allowed then to refer to questions of fact, or address the Jury.”

“PETIT JURY: John Cunningham (Foreman), Gilbert T. Ray, Isaac Flewelling, William Cormick, M. J. Lowrey, Nehemiah Vail, Amos Robertson, Wm. Stout, George Hutchinson, David Schurman, James Rankin, and William B. Cox.”

“As the evidence of guilt was clear, no other course was open to the Jury than a verdict of Guilty, – with this was a recommendation to mercy. Yet, the Judge, in sentencing the prisoner to be executed, told him there was no hope for mercy, and he should lose no time in preparing for death.”

“A petition was sent to the Lieut. Governor, Sir Howard Douglas, asking the interposition of the Prerogative in behalf of the prisoner. Yet, notwithstanding the recommendation of the Jury, and the Coronation oath of the Sovereign, requiring “His Majesty to cause Law and Justice in Mercy to be executed in all his judgments,” the law was allowed to take its course, and Patrick Burgen, the 21st of February, 1828, was executed from the second story window of the “Old Gaol” The executioner was Blizard Baine, an Englishman, undergoing sentence of two years for robbery. In addition to release from prison, he received from Sheriff White Ten Pounds. Baine lost no time in leaving the city. –  From Manuscript: The Early Lawyers and Old Judges of New Brunswick, and their Times.”


Written by johnwood1946

January 9, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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