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Deposition of Oliver Johnson and others



The testimony of Oliver Johnson, John Hall, Seth Johnson, John Gilbert, Abel Willcor, and Elisha Brown, is as follows, viz:

The deponents say that they were upon the military watch, kept by order of the Civil Authority and Selectmen of Middletown, in the night season, in the night next after Saturday last; that when they came to the guard-house, at the town-house, they heard the noise of great merriment at Governour Franklin' s lodgings, at the house of Jacob Sebor, viz: singing loud, hallooing, shouting, &c˙, which seemed to proceed from a large company; and Seth Johnson and John Gilbert, for themselves, say, that as they passed by, about half after eleven o' clock, they heard said company roaring out a catch, which began thus: "King George' s health, and it shall go round," which seemed to be begun by one, and then the whole company joined in the chorus; and said Abel Willcor and Elisha Brown say, that they heard said company sing a song which begins, "Howe' s a brave commander;" and all said deponents declare and say that the noise and uproar of said company continued from


the time said guard was set, at nine o' clock, until half after eleven o' clock in the evening, and might, as they judge, have been heard forty rods from said Sebor' s. And the said Elisha Brown and Abel Willcor declare and say, that they were ordered by the Captain of the watch, between eleven and twelve, to patrol the streets, and that upon their return they met four of the persons who had spent the evening with Governour Franklin, who they are since informed are Mr˙ Walton, Colonel Corsa, Mr˙ Samuel Burling, and Mr˙ Robert Ross Wadelle, four gentlemen from New-York, supposed to be Tories, and confined here upon their parole. That they upon meeting them, thought it their duty to carry men who had made such a disturbance to the guard-house, and accordingly ordered them to stand, and required them to go with them to the guard-house, which they with some reluctance submitted to and went; when they came there they questioned the right of the guard to detain them; upon which they were desired to read the instructions to the guard, which were stuck up in writing against the wall, which some of them did, and thereupon Mr˙ Walton acknowledged the guard had pursued their instructions, and endeavoured to convince the other gentlemen of it; but very soon Mr˙ Burling and Wadelle began to show resentment that they were detained, and Burling pretended an excuse for going into the street; but as it was believed to be a mere excuse, he was not permitted; then a negro boy of Mr˙ Walton' s, who attended them, was permitted to go down, but Elisha Brown suspecting he might intend to escape, opened a window and gave him to understand that if he attempted to escape, he would be within reach of his piece; the boy went and returned, but Mr˙ Wadelle took upon him to resent said Brown' s conduct, and fell into a very violent passion, and threatened said Brown to beat his brains out; and the said Burling also began to abuse and insult said watch. Soon after, Captain Johnson returned, and said Walton and Corsa requesting to be dismissed, and promising to go directly and peaceably to their lodgings, Captain Johnson dismissed them; but said Wadelle and Burling continuing turbulent, and giving the watch abusive language, they were detained, and from this time till they were dismissed by Major Starr, their conduct and language was most outrageous, violent, and wicked, in the course of which said Burling called Captain Johnson a liar, a thief, and a devil, and many other vile and abusive epithets; one or other of them threatened to beat and kill Abel Willcor, John Hall, Elisha Brown and Captain Johnson; Mr˙ Burling damned the Congress repeatedly, cursed this Colony and all authority in it, wished the Hessians here to cut our throats, and said they would be in a fortnight; called our soldiers and Army cowards; and much more of the like nature; they further say that they uttered the most terrible oaths and curses which they ever heard; they swore by the name of God, by Jesus Christ; and with these and the like oaths, introduced almost every sentence. Mr˙ Burling said it was no sin to take God' s name in vain, and also told John Hall he could not go to Heaven, for he had neither piety nor virtue enough, and beside had not money enough to pay the expenses of the journey. Mr˙ Burling damned the Continental currency, and said it was good for nothing; and the said Burling several times attempted to strike said Abel Willcor, and also attempted to wrest a large heavy cane out of the hands of said Wadelle to strike said Willcor with. And the said Oliver Johnson and Abel Willcor further say, that soon after said gentlemen were carried to said guardhouse, Governour Franklin sent for said Johnson, and he and said Willcor went to him to said Sebor' s gate, where he used arguments to show they ought not to be detained; and upon said Willcor replying that they ought to be taken up and detained, the said Governour Franklin replied, (speaking to said Willcor,) "You are a damned villain; I know you; you shall be come up with for this." And these deponents further say said persons were not used with any angry or provoking language, nor had they any insult offered them by any of said watch, neither do they know of any reason for said outrage, insult and provocation, but their being taken up and detained as aforesaid; and further these deponents say not.


Middletown, December 3d, 1776.


Hartford County, ss: Middletown,

December 3d, 1776.

Personally appeared Oliver Johnson, John Hall, Setk Johnson, John Gilbert, Abel Willcor, and Elisha Brown, and made oath that the deposition written in this sheet of paper and by them subscribed, is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Before me,