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Statement of Benjamin Hough, under oath


City of NEW-YORK, ss.

Benjamin Hough, one of His Majesty' s Justices of the Peace for the County of Charlotte, being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, deposeth and saith: That on or about the 26th day of January last past, about eight o' clock in the morning, this deponent being at some distance from his dwelling-house, but in view thereof, observed three persons stop at his door, and enter his said house, this deponent' s whole family (except a child of about six years of age) being absent; that immediately thereafter this deponent was attacked by about thirty persons, a number of whom were armed with firelocks, swords, and hatchets; that upon their approach this deponent


attempted to get into his house to secure his arms and stand upon his defence; but that this deponent observing that Winthrop Hoyt, of Bennington, one of the three persons this deponent had observed going into his house, stood at the threshold of this deponent' s door, with this deponent' s sword and pistol in his hands, he, this deponent, found it would be to no purpose either to attempt to escape or to make resistance; that thereupon Peleg Sunderland, of the said County of Charlotte, came up to this deponent with a hatchet in his hand, and slapping this deponent on the shoulder, told him he was his prisoner; that he, the said Peleg Sunderland, and the other persons who were with him, forced this deponent into a sleigh, and carried him about fifty miles to the southward of this deponent' s place of residence, to a place by them called Sunderland, where they kept this deponent until the 30th clay of the said month of January in close confinement, part of the time bound, and always tinder a strong guard, with drawn swords. That Sylvanus Brown, James Meed, Samuel Campbell, one Dwinels, one Powers, Stephen Meed, one Booley, and one Lymen, were among the persons who so seized and detained this deponent; and with respect to the rest of them, they were either strangers to this deponent, or he cannot recollect their names at present; that while they had this deponent so in custody at Sunderland, some of the said rioters informed this deponent that he could not have his trial till the Monday following, because they intended to send for Ethan Allen and Seth Warner, who were then at Bennington, and who are two of the principal ringleaders of the Bennington mob. That on the said 30th day of January, the said rioters appointed a Court for the trial of this deponent, which consisted of the following persons, to wit: The said Ethan Allen, Seth Warner, Robert Cochran, Peleg Sunderland, James Meed, Gideon Warren, and Jesse Sawyer, and they being seated, ordered this deponent to be brought before them; that he was accordingly brought before them as a prisoner, guarded by persons with drawn swords; that thereupon the said Ethan Allen laid the three following accusations to the charge of this deponent, to wit:

1st. That this deponent had complained to the Government of New-York of their (the said rioters) mobbing and injuring Benjamin Spencer, Esq˙, and other persons.

2d. That the deponent had dissuaded and discouraged the people from joining the mob in their proceedings; and,

3d. That the deponent had taken a commission of the peace under the Government of New-York, and exercised his office as a Magistrate for the County of Charlotte; alleging that this deponent well knew that they (the mob) did not allow of any Magistrate there.

And that after the said accusations were so made, the said Ethan Allen told the deponent that he was at liberty to plead for himself, if he had any thing to say; that this deponent then demanded of him, the said Ethan Allen, and the rest of his pretended Judges, whether he, this deponent, had ever done injustice to any man in the execution of his office as a Magistrate? To which they answered, that they could not charge him with any injustice in the execution of his office, nor had they any complaint of that kind to make against him; Warner, in particular, declaring that he would as willingly have him for a Magistrate as any man whatever; but that they would not, under their present circumstances, suffer any Magistrate at all. That the deponent then asked the said pretended Judges, whether they could accuse this deponent of busying himself or intermeddling with respect to titles of lands? To which the said Ethan Allen answered in the negative; and that they had not heard, nor did they pretend to charge him with any thing of that kind; that the deponent then added, that with respect to their three charges against him, he admitted them to be true; that he had made such complaint to the Government of New-York of the proceedings of the said rioters against the said Benjamin Spencer and others: that he had used his endeavours to dissuade people from joining the said rioters in their proceedings; and that he has accepted a commission from the said Government for, and exercised the office of, a Magistrate for the said County of Charlotte; and that all this he has a good right to do, and looked upon as his duty. That after some further argumentation, the said pretended Judges withdrew to another house to consider of their judgment, and in


about two or three hours returned to the door of the house where the deponent remained, and ordered him to be brought out near a tree, where the said pretended Judges had placed themselves, encircled by a number of armed men, into the midst of which circle this deponent was conducted as a prisoner, by four men with drawn swords; and that thereupon the said Ethan Allen, who all along acted as the chief or principal Judge, pronounced the following sentence against this deponent, which he read from a paper which he held in his hand, to wit: That they had erected a combination of judicious men for his trial, and had accused him in the manner before mentioned, [repeating the accusations,] that the deponent had pleaded self-justification, which they, the said pretended Judges, had found insufficient to excuse him from punishment; and that therefore their judgment was, that the deponent should be tied up to a tree, and receive two hundred lashes on the naked back, and then, as soon as he should be able, should depart the New-Hampshire Grants, and not return again upon pain of receiving five hundred lashes; that upon some persons observing that he, this deponent, ought not to be suffered to return while matters remained in their present condition, the said Allen added, no — not till His Majesty' s pleasure shall be known in the premises. That thereupon this deponent immediately had, his clothes taken off, and be was stripped to the skin, and four persons being, by the said pretended Court, appointed to carry the said sentence into execution, this deponent accordingly received the two hundred lashes upon his naked back, with whips of cords, which lashes were inflicted by each of the said executioners, giving the deponent alternately a number of lashes, though at the close he thinks he received from each of them ten; that the said Robert Cochran, who declared himself to be Adjutant of the rioters, stood, during the whole scene, near this deponent, and frequently urged the said executioners to lay on the blows well and strike harder, and particularly repeated such directions with respect to the last ten inflicted by each of the said executioners; that it was often mentioned by some of the rioters, that if any of this deponent' s friends should intercede, or in any manner favour him, they should share the same fate. That the aforesaid Winthorp Hoyt, of Bennington, who professed himself to be Drum-Major, Abel Benedict, of Arlington, and one John Sawyer, and a person whose name this deponent could not learn, were the four persons who so whipped this deponent; that this deponent was very much wounded, and bled considerably by the said abuse; and the deponent being very faint, was put into the care of Dr˙ Washburn, who conducted him into a house; that the deponent declared to the said rioters, that it was a great hardship that he was not suffered to go home to take care of his interest and child, who was left without father or mother, the deponent' s wife being absent on a distant visit to her parents. That the rioters notwithstanding insisted that the sentence should be put in execution, and the deponent leave the country accordingly. And the deponent further saith, that after he had been so abused, the said Ethan Allen delivered him a paper' in writing, signed by him and Seth Warner, in the words and figures following, to wit:

"Sunderland, 30th of January, 1775.

"This may certify the inhabitants of the New-Hampshire Grants, that Benjamin Hough hath this day received a full punishment for his crimes committed heretofore against this Country, and our inhabitants are ordered to give him, the said Hough, a free and unmolested passport toward the City of New-York, or to the westward of our Grants, he behaving as becometh. Given under our hands the day and date aforesaid.


And he, this deponent, having received his strength, the next day proceeded on foot on his journey toward the City of New-York; that while this deponent was in custody, of the said rioters, he heard the said Ethan Allen say, that he expected that they should be obliged to drive off all the damned Durhamites, [meaning the inhabitants of the Town of Durham, In the County of Charlotte,] that this deponent frequently heard the said rioters declare that they would have little Walker [meaning Daniel Walker,] and Thomas Bratea, (the Constable who served under this


deponent) if they could be found above ground; and that they further threatened, that they would, for the future, be more severe with the damned Yorkers, [meaning persons who would not join with them in their riotous proceedings,] and would whip them within an inch of their lives; that for the future, they would not be at the trouble and expense of giving them a trial, but that the persons, who met with them should punish them immediately; that this deponent, while he was so confined, heard the said rioters further declare, that they were sorry they had not inflicted upon Doctor Adams [who lived in Arlington, and against whom they had taken offence] five hundred lashes, instead of hoisting him up and exposing him upon landlord Fay' s sign-post, where was fixed a dead catamount; and that this deponent also heard the said Ethan Allen declare in the said mob, that he expected shortly to have a fight with the damned Yorkers, for that they would hear how the mob had abused their Magistrates; but that he believed them to be damned cowards, or that they would have come out against them long before; that this deponent, on his way to New-York, called at the house of Bliss Willoughby and Ebenezer Cole, Esquires, two of His Majesty' s Justices of the Peace for the County of Albany, residing near Bennington; that he found them armed, in great distress and clanger, and having people in their houses ready to take arms for their defence in case they should be attacked by the rioters, which, as they assured this deponent, they hourly expected; that this deponent, on his way to New-York, also called at Pownall Town, part of which lies within the Manor of Rensselaerwyck, (as this deponent has been informed by the inhabitants of the said Town,) that he found the said inhabitants in great commotion and uneasiness on account of the said rioters; that he understood from some of the said inhabitants, that they had agreed to take leases for their possessions under the proprietors of the said Manor, but that they dared not for fear of the said rioters, who had threatened them severely; and one of the said inhabitants in particular, told this deponent that he had taken a lease for his farm of the said proprietor, but should, on that account, be obliged to give it up; that when this deponent left the said Pownall Town, he met George Gardiner, Esquire, of Pownall Town aforesaid, also one of His Majesty' s Justices of the Peace for the said County of Albany, who told the deponent that the state of the said Town was very dangerous and difficult; that he expected every day to be prevented by the rioters from exercising his office; that he was apprehensive that unless Government should give them some protection, many of the inhabitants of the said Town would join the said rioters, and earnestly entreated this deponent to exert his utmost endeavours to procure such protection; that this deponent, on his way to New-York, conversed with James Clark, [who was in his employ,] and who informed this deponent (and which this deponent verily believes to be true) that since this deponent was so seized by the said mob, John Lord, Joseph Handel, and Clark, three of this deponent' s neighbours, had been very much abused and insulted by the said mob, and that the said John Law was turned out of his possession and obliged to fly the Country. And the deponent further says, that the said mob robbed him of his arms, to wit: a hanger and pistol, which he has not been able since to procure; and the deponent further saith that he hath frequently been informed, and believes it to be true, that the said rioters have a design to put an end to law and justice in the County of Cumberland, and that they went so far as to appoint a day upon which to make the attempt, but it did not then take place; and further this deponent saith not.


Sworn before me, the 7th day of March, 1775.