Riot in Old Chester County

Watchers
Article Covers
Places
Old Chester County
Welcome to Old Chester County


__________________________

Maryland State Archives, vol 32, p262 et seq. From: Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1761-1769. 263 et seq. Lib. C. B. No. 20
Their gathering frequently into Clubs and ever going from House to House evilly treating People they disliked searching for certain Persons whose lives they threatened '



__________________________

Philadelphia February 4th 1769.
Sir
By the Papers enclosed you will find that several riots, which I am informed were attended with very aggravating Circumstances, have lately been Committed in the County of Chester, within this Province, by People who are Inhabitants of Maryland. The delinquents are out of the reach of Our Process, and there is no way of bringing them to Justice but by Your Assistance, for which I the more chearfully apply, from a Persuasion of your good Disposition to promote and establish an harmony between the two Provinces, and that you will at once see the Propriety of the Application, and the Necessity there Is that Neighbouring Governments should Concur in their endeavours to Punish the Crimes committed by the borderers on both sides, and I cannot doubt but you will give immediate Orders to the Magistracy of Cecil County, where I am told the Offenders reside, to issue Warrants against them, and when apprehended to Cause them to be de- livered to the Peace Officers of Chester County, or to hold them to Sufficient Securities to appear at that County Court, to Answer the Charges Exhibited against them, at the same time I beg you will be assured, that I shall always think it my Duty, as it is my Inclination, to shew the Utmost respect to any Application, you may at any time have Occasion to make to me.
I am with great Regard, Sir
Your most Obedient humble Servant.
Governor Sharpe. John Penn.
Chester County ss :

The Grand Inquest for Our Sovereign Lord the King who now is for the Body of the County of Chester upon their Oath and Affirmation respectively do present that

  • Robert Porter late of Chester County Miller
  • Stephen Porter late of the same County Attorney at Law
  • Francis Baker late of the same County Yeoman
  • Jeremiah Baker of the same County Yeoman,
  • James Downey late of the same County Yeoman,
  • James Gallaspy late of the same County Yeoman,
  • Nathaniel Gallaspy late of the same County Yeoman
  • David Earl late of the same County Labourer
  • Andrew Porter late of the same County Yeoman
  • James Maccalease late of the same County Labourer
  • James Maccalease late of the same County Yeoman,
  • John Cavenah late of the same County Cooper
  • John McCrackan late of the same County Cooper
  • John Rankin late of the same County Yeoman
  • John McCune late of the same County Yeoman
  • James Wilison late of the same County Collier,
  • John Carnahan late of the same County Labourer
  • Thomas Porter late of the same County Yeoman
  • James Gamuel late of the same County Collar Maker
  • John Carmichael late of the same County Yeoman
  • Robert Brown late of the same County Labourer

and divers other Persons to the Grand Inquest unknown on the Twentieth day of August in the Year of Our Lord One Thousand seven hundred and Sixty eight at Chester County aforesaid and within the Jurisdiction of this Court with Force and Arms &c riotously routously tumultuously and unlawfully themselves did Assemble and gather together with an Intent the Peace of Our said Lord the now King then and there to break and disturb and so then and there being assembled and gathered together the Mansion House of William Reynolds then and there with Force and Arms &c. riotously tumultuously and unlawfully did break and enter and Sixty Panes of Window Glass of him the said William then and there with Force and Arms &c riotously routously tumultuously and unlawfully did break and destroy and then and there with Force and Arms &c. in and upon the said William Reynolds in the Peace of God and of Our said Lord the King then and there being riotously routuously tumultuously and unlawfully an Assault did make and him the said William Reynolds then and there with Force and Arms &c. riotously, routously, tumultuously and unlawfully did Beat Wound and evilly treat so that of his Life it was greatly despaired and other Harms to him the said William then and there did to his great Damage and against the Peace of Our said Lord the King &c. and then and there with Force and Arms in and upon Prudence Reynolds in the Peace of God and of Our said Lord the King then and there being riotously routously tumultuously and unlawfully with Force and Arms &c. did beat wound and evilly treat and other Harms to her the said Prudence then and there did to the great Damage of her the said Prudence and against the Peace of Our said Lord the King his Crown and Dignity &c.
Witness Benjamin Chew Atty Genl
William Reynolds
Affd in Court
Endors'd A true Bill, Richard Downing

Maryland State Archives, vol 32, p316 et seq.

Cecil County sst On the 24th day of June 1769. William Reynolds of Chester County in the Province of Pennsylvania being Solemnly Sworn on the Holy Evangels Deposeth and Read the following Papers and Depositions relative to a Riot committed, in Chester County Pennsylvania.

Sir We received your Letter by Mr Mitchell and at Our June Court we appointed to meet at the Head of Elk on the Friday of the Week following in order to take such Evidence as on Examination we should think necessary for the Information of his Excellency and the Gentlemen of the Council in the Matters complained of by Governor Penn. We then gave Notice to William Reynolds the Complainant against Francis Baker Jera Baker Stephen Porter and others of the time and place of this Our intended Meeting and desired that he would bring there with him such Persons as could establish the truth of his Complaint. If such he knew to have been present when the foundation of it Arose, We at the same time intimated to Francis Baker, Jerea Baker and Stephen Porter that they might attend and be present at the Examination aforesaid and desired they would give Notice to the other Persons charged by William Reynolds in the same Indictment (of which we found they had a Copy) that they also might attend if they thought proper so to do.

In Consequence of this Appointment and Notice given we did meet at the Head of Elk and take the Sundry Depositions herein inclosed Viz. William Reynolds Prudence Reynolds and Elisha Reynolds. His Excellency and their Honors will observe by those Depositions that Francis Baker Jera Baker Stephen Porter Robert Porter and Sundry other Persons al- ledged to have been concerned with them were present at the taking thereof and that the Deponents were further examined at their request and we also did Administer the Oath annexed to the Depositions unto Patrick Ewing John McCoy and Abra- ham Mitchell at their desire.

We are well assured that neither Robert Scott or Andrew Crauford (the Persons against whom indictments are found on the Evidence of Elisha Price Esqr Samuel Kennedy and others) live in this County and that Mark Alexander one of the Persons complained of in the Deposition of John Jack taken by Mr Allen lives in Baltimore Town. We sent Notice to the said Jack and the others he complained of, but neither he nor they did attend. We hope the Steps we have taken will meet with his Excel- lency and the Gentlemen of the Council's Approbation, and are Sir
Your most humble & Obedt Servants
Cecil County 29th July 1769. G. Milligan
Andw Pearce

Cecil County sst On the 24th day of June 1769. William Reynolds of Chester County in the Province of Pennsylvania being Solemnly Sworn on the Holy Evangels Deposeth and saith that on the Fifteenth day of August last past Francis Baker Jeremiah Baker, Stephen Porter Robert Porter James McCalease, and two other Persons unknown to him came to this the said Reynolds' House and the said Francis Baker Demanded the Estate of Joseph Bass of him the said Reyn- olds upon which the said Reynolds asked him by what Au- thority he did it and he the said Baker Answered him that he had Letters of Administration upon which Reynolds asked him if he had any Letters but what his Father had to which Baker answered he had not on which Reynolds told him he thought the Letters died with his Father but said he would give him the same offer he gave his Father give him two Freeholders in Pennsylvania and two Freeholders in Mary- land and he would give him up the Estate upon which Baker told him he would not give him Security but he would have the Estate upon which said Reynolds told him not to come as Bob Porter did then Baker went out of the House and jump't on his Horse and took his handkerchief out and held it up and said Huzza Boys come and take the Negroes away with that Robert Porter Jeremiah Baker James McCalease and Stephen Porter went into the Kitchen the Door then being Latched on which Reynolds came out of the House and com- manded them to come out that they had no business with any thing there and as he was going to the Kitchen he picked up a Stick and went to the Door in the Kitchen upon which two Persons unknown to him Struck at him on which he the said Reynolds turned about and at the Corner of the House he saw Francis Baker pick up a long handle Hoe and came running towards him upon which Reynolds met him and the said Baker Struck him with said Hoe and Cut him in ten different places and while they were ingaged Stephen Porter went into the Loft and brought down a Negro Child about two years old and carried it off. And that Robert Porter and Jeremiah Baker both came and Struck him divers Strokes and then they, and all the rest went off. And the said Deponent further declareth that on the Nineteenth day of the said Month of August at Night on the said Reynolds hearing a Noise he got up and saw a Man laying upon a Log, sometime after hearing a Noise again he lifted up the sash and saw five Persons, to wit Francis Baker Jeremiah Baker Stephen Porter and Robert Porter and John Cavanah coming out of the Cellar of the said Reynolds' House with four Loaves of Bread the property of said Reynolds and that one had been eat in the Cellar except a small matter and that the said Persons had no Hatts on but all with Handkerchiefs tied round their Heads over the foreheads. After sometime Reynolds opened the Door to see if there were any more than them which came out of the Cellar and the one on the Log upon which he saw a great Number all under Arms then he Shut to the Door and continued in the House till about two Hours before day then he asked his Wife if she was Sleepy and she said not he then asked her what the Reason was and she answered that she could not rest because of the Noise she heard in the Cellar and about the House upon which he and his Wife continued walking about the House until day when he fired a Gun charged with Powder only in order to alarm his Brother John who he had agreed with to do that in case they should come again after the first mentioned time and then he shut to the Door and went to the Window and look'd out and saw Francis Baker Stephen Porter Jeremiah Baker Robert Porter James McCalease and sundry other Persons who cried out there is the Son of a Bitch Shute him Shute him upon which Francis Baker and Stephen Porter both Shot through the Windows into the House and lodged Seventy five Shot in the House and four Shot went through the Shirt that he had on his Back and they and the Company with them fell too and broke Sixty odd Pains of Glass in the Windows and the Window Sashes then broke open the Door and some came in at the Windows and some at the Door and went over all the House opening the Doors of the Rooms and went into the Gar- rett and brought down four Negroes the Property of said Reynolds whose Names are Cesar Pegg Sue and Jack and car- ried them off and also took two Guns with them the Property of said Reynolds and Stephen Porter did Beat Prudence Reyn- olds the Wife of the said William Reynolds And the said Deponent further Declareth that when they took the two Guns out of the House Jeremiah Baker and Robert Porter proceeded to load the Guns the Company swore they would blow his the said Reynolds' Brains out some of the Company then said dont kill him for we have got the Negroes and John Cavanah came up to him with a Cutlass in his hand after they had got the Negroes and swore he would Split his Brains out. And further this Deponent saith not.

Robert Porter Francis Baker Jeremiah Baker James Gil- laspy and John Cavanah being present at the time of the taking the aforegoing Deposition Francis Baker asked of the said Reynolds if James Gillaspy one of the Persons mentioned in an Indictment in Chester County was present answered that to the best of his Knowledge he was present at one of the times mentioned in the said Reynolds' Deposition but does not certainly recollect which of the times And the said De- ponent being asked if he knew certainly the Persons mentioned in the Indictment in Chester County answered that he cer- tainly knew and that there was present Robert Porter Francis Baker Jeremiah Baker James McCalease James Gillaspy John Cavanah John McCrackin and James Wilson and that he was informed and had reason to believe that James MoCalease Nathaniel Gillaspy Andrew Porter and Thomas Porter was present but he does not positively know them and upon three Men being produced to him and asked if they was any of the Persons answered that one of them was Thomas Porter the other Nathaniel Gillaspy and the other he thinks is Andrew Porter and that he knew the said Andrew Porter when he was a Boy and since and he thinks.he knew when the Riot was and he thinks he was present And being further asked by the Parties concerned what kind of Night it was they was at his House answered and said that the Moon shone in the fore part of the Night and that it was Starr light in the latter part and being asked where the Cellar Door was that he saw the Men come out of answered and said that he saw them come out of the Door in the Stone part of his House and on the back side and being likewise asked if either of the two Guns men- tioned in this Deposition was returned to him answers and saith that it was not returned to him and being asked if he could tell whether Francis Baker or Stephen Porter Shot in at the Window at which he stood answered and said that Stephen Porter Shot in at the Window at which he Stood. Sworn before Wm Reynolds.
G. Milligan
Andw Pearce
Cecil County sst
On the 24th day of June 1769. came Prudence Reynolds before us the Subscribers and being one of the People com- monly called Quakers did solemnly sincerely and truly affirm and declare that on the twentieth day of August last past she heard some Persons at the Door of William Reynolds call out Dam him Shute him Shute him and Shot in at both the Win- dows and immediately after all the Windows in the House ex- cept one was broke and the People came in but that she did not then know them but one of them Struck her and beat her and pulled the Skin off her Arms and that four or five Persons had hold of her until one of them released her which was James Gamble which she knew by his Voice soon after she went out of the House into the Porch and there Stephen Porter came up to her with a Pistol in one hand and a Club in the other and she told him she knew him and he answered he knew that and if she Spoke one Word he would Murder her that Minute and then pulled her about Struck her on the Head and tore her Cloaths and then left her after which the Person which first Struck her and Robert Porter came to her and the Man who came first Struck her and called her a Dam Bitch and Robert Porter also struck her and then called out to the others to break all the Windows and broke the one that was before left un- broke and broke the Sash and Stephen Porter afterwards kicked her over a Stump and run her up againt the Banisters then her Brothers came and the People called out Shute them. And further saith not. And being asked by one of the Parties concerned if any of the Windows was broke before Answers and saith that there was not above two Pains of Glass broke in the lower Windows, and being further asked by Stephen Porter if she was much hurt by the Blow on her Head answered and said she was much Bruised and remained so for a Week or more.

Affirmed before Prudence Reynolds.
G: Milligan
Andw Pearce
Cecil County ss'

On the 24th day of June 1769. Prudence Reynolds Daughter of William Reynolds did Solemnly sincerely and truly Affirm and Declare that some time after Harvest in the last year Robert Porter Jeremiah Baker Stephen Porter John Cavanah and sundry other Persons whom she did not know was at her Father's House and she heard them fireing Guns and saw them break the Windows of said House and she went out of the House to go into another House Stephen Porter came to her and held her until he saw her Sister on which she went into the Orchard and then four or five came after her and brought her back and she then saw Jeremiah Baker and John Cavanah coming out of the Cellar and Cavanah came to her and held a Sword over her head and said Dam her if she said one Word he would Split her Brains out after which she went away and went out of the House at another Door and then one of the Company whose Name she does not know came to her and Damd her for a Bitch and told her to get into the House. And further saith not. her Affirmed before Prudence P Reynolds G. Milligan Mark Andw Pearce Cecil County sst On the 24th day of June 1769. Elisha Reynolds being one of the People called Quakers did solemnly sincerely and truly affirm and declare that on the Twentieth day of August last past he was called up by his Father in the Morning and told by him that he heard a firing of Guns and was afraid there was bad Work going on at William Reynolds' on which this Depo- nent got up and immediately went down to his Brother's Wil- liam Reynolds and when he came to the Garden he saw a great Number of People before the House and John Cavanah had a Cutlass holding over William Reynolds' Head and Darning him saying he would Split out his Brains and he then saw Stephen Porter have hold of William Reynolds' Wife by the Arms pushing her against the Porch and then throw'd her over a Stump and left her and he likewise saw John Reynolds have a Gun in his hand which he set down and some other Person came and took away the Gun and Stephen Porter and many others run after John Reynolds and cried Shoot him Shoot him and then they went away. And further saith not. And being asked by one of the Parties concerned if he had ever seen the Gun since that was taken away answers and saith that there was a Man whose Name he does not know some time after the Gun was taken away brought a Gun to his Father's and set her down at the Cart House and said he believed it belonged to some of the Reynolds' but that he does not know what became of her for he never has seen her since.
Affirmed before Elisha Reynolds
G. Milligan
<b Andw Pearce

Cecil County ss' On the 24th day of June 1769 came Patrick Ewing John Mc- Coy and Abraham Mitchell and made Oath on the Holy Evan- gils that the Person called by William Reynolds Nathaniel Gillaspy is Nathaniel Breading son of James Breading and the Person by him called Andrew Porter is Nathaniel Ewing son of Joshua Ewing and the Person called Thomas Porter is Andrew Porter son of Andrew Porter.
Sworn before G. Milligan
Andw Pearce

To all Persons whom these may Concern We the Subscrib- ers do Certify that the general Character of William Reynolds and his Family and the Family of Henry Reynolds Senior are such as are in part underneath set forth.
Their laying down John Carmichael's Wheat Field Fence and driving upwards of thirty Cattle into the same at the same time standing in the Breach and throwing Stones at the Children of said Carmichael upon their attempting to drive out said Cattle until they had left off Eating there then driving said Cattle or a Number of them into Carmichael's Barn among a quantity of Thrashed Wheat there keeping them until they could Eat no more then driving said Cattle carefully to Water Immediately afterward going into said Carmichael's Cellar after breaking the Door of the same there drinking at pleasure Cyder and Brandy and leaving the same running at their off going their destroying said Carmichael's Hogs by Ripping up the Belly of Sows heavy with young and other means whereby they have Injured said Carmichael in the destroying Cattle of various kinds. Then breaking the Low Meeting House Stealing a Tankard and Wine just after the Celebration of the Sacrament in Fall last. Witness the Tank- ard is now in the hands of Mr Johnston Esqr and Arthur Wisely and his Wife who see them do the Action and to whom after they drank the Wine they gave it and ordered it to be run down into Spoons. They broke up Mr Beard's Meeting House at several times and with other mischiefs Bedaubed the Pulpit and Christening Bason with Human Dung. Wit- ness Mr Beard and the whole Congregation as to the Fact and that they did it Witness Joseph Coleson &c this at last Spring Sacrament and the year before.

Their going in an Insolent manner to their Uncle Jacob Reynolds' House and there in the presence of Close by their Aunt Shooting and killing his tame Deer at the same time much affrighting their Aunt as well by their threatnings as the noise of the Gun and then Immediately Cutting down five or six Acres of their Uncle's Corn being about the middle of July. Witness their Uncle and Aunt.
Their afterwards attempting to take away said Uncle's Life without any Provocation by Stabbing him with a Flesh Fork in presence of the Sheriffs of Chester County, at which time and place old Henry the Father of William Reynolds inter- posed in order to make Peace but was obliged to Escape pre- cipitately after being severely Struck by his said Son William. Witness the above Sheriff and Hezekiah Rolls. Their making and passing bad Dollars. Witness Thomas Slicer Widow Cummins William Rook Richard Ellis &c.
Their gathering frequently into Clubs and ever going from House to House evilly treating People they disliked searching for certain Persons whose lives they threatened, as Witness Samuel Scott (at whose House they Cutt a Webb out of the Loom) Thomas Scott Widow Edmiston Robert Morrison James Steel and Archibald Johnston. Their appearing at almost all Public Places Vandues &c. and their insulting threatening abusing People Cutting Bridles &c and Breeding Quarrels. Their depriving of People of Property in lesser Matters frequently. Their Number together with their Actions and then succeeded by hard Swearing in many Instances too tedious to mention render them a common Nuisance and a terror to the Neighbourhood.

Talbot County Maryland June 7th 1769. We have been acquainted with Francis Baker several years during most of the Time he has resided in this County and can truly say we have never heard of his having been Guilty of any dishonest or Riotous practices or doings.
Mat: Tilghman
James Dickinson
Henry Hollyday

Cecil County. This is to Certify that I have known Francis and Jeremiah Baker from their Youth to this Time I never have known them Guilty of any Misbehaviour, which this is given under my hand 29th day of May 1769 Nichs Hyland
31st May 1769. I hereby Certify that I have been acquainted with Messrs Francis and Jeremiah Baker from their Infancy and that I never knew or heard of their being given to Drinking or any Vice whatever but behaved Justly and Honestly in all their dealing and much Esteemed for their Industry, Edwd Mitchell
31st May 1769. I hereby Certify that I have known Mr Francis Baker and Mr Jeremiah Baker Six or Seven Years during which time they have Supported fair and Good Characters and never have heard of any kind of Vice Immorality or Species of Debauchery they have been Guilty of but as far as I have known them or heard of them they have behaved themselves honestly soberly and justly and have never heard any Complaints of either of them save or late one made by William Reynolds. Benjamin Rumsey.
Queen Anns County Maryland June 5th 1769. I have been acquainted with Mr Francis Baker at least ten Years last past during which time he has resided chiefly in my Neighbourhood and I have not known or heard of his being concerned in or adicted to Rioting or vitious Practices of any kind whatsoever. E. Tilghman.
Talbot County 7th June 1769. I have been personally acquainted with Francis Baker these Nine or Ten years and as he lives on the Borders of my Parish had frequent Opportunities of conversing with him. I esteemed him an honest Man myself and I believe he was esteemed such by others nor did I ever know or hear of his being Guilty of any Dishonest or Riotous Practices. John Gordon Rector of St. Michael's Parish.
Talbot County 7th June 1769. I have been acquainted with Mr. Francis Baker above seven years and by what I know or ever heard of him I never understood that he was Guilty of any Dishonest Practices but was always esteemed an honest obliging inofensive Person
John Barclay Rector of St. Peters, Talbot. Queen Anns County Maryland June 7th 1769. I hereby Certify whom it may concern that Mr Francis Baker has lived a Neighbour and Acquaintance near me for fifteen years past and has supported the Character of a Sober Honest and diligent Man in his Business. Robt Lloyd.
Queen Anns County Maryland June 15th 1769. These are to Certify whom it may concern that Mr Francis Baker has been a Parishioner of mine since I came into this Parish which will be three years next January and that during the said time he has to the best of my knowledge maintained a good Character free from Rioting Drunkenness, or Dishonesty. As Witness my hand the day above Written. Hugh Neill Rector of St Pauls.

Ordered that the Consideration of the aforegoing Papers and Depositions be Postponed.