Captain Holland’s survey and military justice
A harsh sentence but mercy prevails
Editor’s note: This is one of a series by Earle Lockerby recounting the details of Capt. Holland’s Survey in 1764/1765. This submission is for the week ending July 18.
Samuel Holland was a soldier, almost all of his survey team members were soldiers and military discipline and regimen prevailed. We have seen military punishment in action with the whipping of seamen of the Canceaux for insubordination, drunkenness and theft. We have seen the periodic reading of the articles of war to the men. July 16 was witness to a court martial ordered by Samuel Holland, Captain in His Majesty's 60th Regiment of Foot.
The prisoner was John Haddock, whose name was sometimes spelled Haddox and, at other times, Attocks. He was a soldier in the 60th Regiment who had been recruited at Quebec by Holland before coming to the Island in October 1764. He was a member of Thomas Wright's survey crew and perhaps was a troublesome worker. According to a record of the court martial, Holland had ordered Haddock “confined ... for disobedience of orders.”
Presiding over the court was Lieut. George Burns of the 45th Regiment of Foot who had fought with Holland at Louisbourg and later served with the garrison at Forth Amherst. He seems to have retired from the army in 1763 or 1764, settling on the Island near St. Peters. Also sitting on the court were Lieut. John Pringle, one of Holland's deputy surveyors, and Ensign Merriweather, apparently an officer from the garrison at Fort Amherst.
Thomas Wright informed the court that he had given Haddock “charge of his Instruments that he might have them in proper order whenever he had occasion for them; that he ordered the Prisoner to go about a mile for some part of them, upon which he the prisoner replied ‘ Damn his blood if he would,' or words to that purpose.”
The record continues: “the prisoner being put upon his defence, acknowledged the crime laid to his charge. The Court are of opinion, that the prisoner is guilty, therefore sentence him to receive four hundred lashes with a cat of Nine Tails.” The record is signed by Burns and initialed by Holland, showing his approval.
However, an annotation indicates that “on application of Mr. Wright in favour of the Prisoner the sentence is reprieved.” Haddock remained with the survey party for a time but appears to have left it about halfway through 1766 while Cape Breton was being surveyed.
Holland wrote that Burns had “conveyed his family and Servants on the Island, [and has] been at considerable expense in building a House and Barn, also stocking a tract of land.” Owing to his military service Burns received a one-third share of Lot 40 in the land lottery of 1767. He was a member of the Island's first Grand Jury in 1771 and in 1773 was elected to the Island's first assembly, serving for two to three years; he was again elected in 1787. He seems to have resumed his military career during the American Revolution. Burns died in Ireland in 1801 at the age of 63 and has descendants on Prince Edward Island.