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Edward Willett, Sen., Edward Willett, Jun., and Thomas Hicks Examined and Discharged


The Convention was informed that Thomas Hicks, Esq˙, Edward Willett, Sen˙, and Edward Willett, Jun˙, brought in custody by a guard of the Troopers of Queen' s County, were attending:


Edward Willett, Sen˙, being brought in and examined, says, that he (the examinant) delivered to Edward Willett a letter for the Sheriff of Queen' s County, but does not know whether it was from Governour Tryon; that he got said letter at Jamaica, from Nathaniel Mills; thinks Mills


said he got it from Livingston or Depeyster, but does not know exactly; that Mills said he had received that letter the same morning he had delivered it to the examinant, but declared he did not know the contents; that he never conversed with the Sheriff since he received the said letter.

The Examination of the said Edward Willett, Sen˙, by him subscribed, is on file.

Edward Willett, Jr˙, brother of Thomas Willett, examined, says, that he did deliver to his brother (Sheriff Willett) a letter from Governour Tryon, enclosing a Proclamation from Lord Howe and General Howe; that Mr˙ Edward Willett, of Flushing, give said letter to the examinant; that he did not ask Edward Willett where he got it, nor did said Edward tell him; that he hath never read said letter; that he heard his brother say it was from Governour Tryon, and saw the Proclamation contained in the said letter; that he does not know whether his brother intended to publish the said letter upon the receipt thereof; that no conversation passed between them relating to the said Proclamation; that he hath had no conversation upon the Declaration of Independence with his said brother: that the Declaration of Independence was read off at the head of the Companies in Queen' s County, nearly about the time the said letter was received; that he had heard of the Declaration of Independence frequently before the said publication thereof.

The Examination of the said Edward Willett, Jun˙, by him subscribed, is on file.

State of New-York vs˙ Thomas Hicks, Esq.

Examined before the Convention, &c˙, August 8, 1776.

Believes he saw a letter from Governour Tryon, enclosing a Declaration of Lord Howe and General Howe, which was sent to Sheriff Willett; does not remember that the Sheriff asked him how far he would or would not be safe in publishing that Declaration. That examinant, upon conversing with the said Sheriff, did at first consider the publishing of the said Declaration as trifling; but upon adverting to a resolution of the Convention, did tell him "that examinant did not know how far the said publication might, under that resolution, be considered as adhering to the enemy, and consequently treason, wherefore examinant was of opinion that the publishing said Declaration was dangerous." That said Sheriff declared to examinant that he was determined to publish the same, for that he would do his duty let the consequences be what they would, or something to that effect; which declaration was made, as examinant thinks, posterior to the delivery of his opinion as aforesaid, but is not certain. Does not remember that the Sheriff gave as a reason for publishing said Declaration that the Congress had published it themselves, although he may have given the same as a reason; and does not think, from the general tenor of the conversation, that the Sheriff meant to ask his advice or to be guided by it, but that it was a mere matter of chat or news between them. That examinant does not believe he should have had any conversation with the said Sheriff upon the subject, had he not asked to see the said Declaration, being curious to know what terms were offered, and having heard from Doctor Johnson that the Sheriff had received it. Examinant may have told the Sheriff during the course of the conversation, that as the Congress had published it there could be no harm for him to do it, but does not recollect that he did. Does not recollect whether he had any conversation with the Sheriff upon the subject of the Declaration of Independence: they possibly might have had.


Resolved, That Thomas Hicks, Esq˙, Edward Willett, and Edward Willett the younger, be discharged, the evidence which had been given against them not appearing sufficient for their detention.