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Edward Vernon to Wm. Cockbourn at Jamaica —29 Nov 1721

Letters – Edward Vernon to Wm. Cockbourn—29 Nov 1721

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London, November 29, 1721

In mine to you in Septembr last I informed you wt the Admiralty then intended to do. What the preserving the Honor of ye Administration intrusted to their care required possession? and wt all the World think they Ought to have done and wt I believe may now ???? they did not do, and Probably will soon do so more than they do now, our for that time to say no more their Indolence Prevailed over all other Consideration. Till by giving ?? to the Habeus Corpus takeing Place aboard his Majesty's ships, The first instance in wch it has been allowed from the Creation of the World to that time, But like a Breach made in a Sea Wall no one Can tell how farr the Mischief may be Spread & I ??? will give Such a handle to the Knavish Practices of Wapping Solicitor Supported by the Perjury of the Common Sailors a Hainous Offence they are duly drawn into and the Law allowing an Equal Credit To every Mans Testimony Untill a Correction and Standing in the Pillory has br?nited them, I fear from it that a Design of Perjury will destroy the Discipline of the Navy and render every Sea Officer in Executing his Duty Impracticable.

After this Preamble, I shall Acquaint you, That as soon as Tookerman & Wills were released that Actions taken out against me to the Damage of £12000 for Assault & Battery upon them in the Parrish of St. Mary Le Bow in the Ward of Cheaps with the usual Preamble of Swords, Staves, and knives, and their Lives being thereby put in Great Danger, so that by that & three Months Illegal Imprisonment, they Suffered ye Damages above mentioned previous to this Action. I have just reason to think the knave of an Attorney had gott the Pannel of the Jurey he intended for my Tryal altered to his mind before he took out the Actions, which I did not being Apprized of at first, was on the Confidence of my Innocence, and Good intentions in Bringing home Such a Villain pushing On the Tryal as fast as I Could, and On the 17th, the Cause was Called at Guildhall, before my Lord Chief Justice King, But their being so Great a Crowd there that there Could be no possibility of Getting the Evidence up to be Examined, his Lordship put off the Tryal till after the term, and then I got full information what a Vile Corrupt J___y I was to come to my Tryal before some of Whom had declared before that time that my Cause was already tryed and determined, which was from the prejudices infused into them by Russell the Attor: whose Neighbors they were: and who for Six Weeks before had every at Taverns or Coffee houses been Harranging them, who were all high 'Pinach' Men, into a Party Rage against me, for having brought him away on no other accot. then his fireing Guns on the Pretenders birth day, which was to be look upon as a Comon Cause, and I to be Roasted for an Example to deterr any officers from Dareing to Suppress and Toal? on Such an Occasion, and the Jury being men of Mean Circumstances & so lyable to Corruption, that together with their Other prejudices, Either as agst a Gentleman or More Perticularly as agst an Officer, made my friends Advise me to accept of an accomodation offerred, rather than to stand a Tryall in which I should not have been ??? my Evidence for my Deffence, as they would have objected against all that related to a fellony on account of its not haveing been Cognizable by the Act of Parliament for if Exec.? of which I was appointed a Comm: and it is thought they would have Opposed my Vestry's? nite the Piracy either, as they would have said it was Unheard off, to Suffer a Mare or be Charged w. Crimes affsotnig [assaulting?] his Life without Giving him time to prepare for his Deffence so that my part would have been to have been Called to the Judgemts of Twelve _____ and not to have been tryed by them for having no Informations to produce taken on Oath at Port Royale, as the Act Directed nor no Warrants of Commitments mad to my self wch they say according to the Letter of the Law must have had ??justified me then wait for want of that would have determined the Commitment was not according to the Direction of the Act and so of Course an Illegal Commitment for wch a Verdict would have passed agst me and then for the Damage, the Jury are the only Judges, m? wch Jinust? have been as their Money, which it was believed would have allowed them to have Given the whole Damage Laid in the Actions. To prevent which I accepted the time allowed by the two Tianpys the Attorney Russell and Anto [Anthony] Chamberlaine, the Scomtorell [Scoundrel] haywards [Col. James Heywood? Peter’s son] Factor, who Carried on the Prosecution at his Expence, and by his Orders, who being now as they pretended touched with Remorse for wt. they had done in favor of Tookerman, whom they were now Convinced was a Worse fellon and a Rogue than Even I had represented then, but being Ty'd by duty to the Orders of their Employer, they could not avoid the part they had hitherto Acted, but in Consideration of 800 Pounds to be paid them to Reemburse them the Expence they had been at, and to Convey him abroad, which they have done with all Privacy, all Actions should be withdrawn: And these Terms from those two Excorious? Crocodiles I was obliged to Conforme to for Purchasing my Place, having been Dropt into that Extromith? by the Admiralty not beginning with prosecuting of him Criminaly as hand; Reason of Justice required of them.

I send you inclosed my Case Stated, and ye Proofs of ye Facts agst him, which and it has not been Sufficient to Save me from being Robbe? in of Midle of ye City of Londn of near 1200£, for my Goals for Suppression of Piracy may yet remain as a Monument for my Justification and Little [Title?] to ye home: of what Other have Acted in this Affair and as a Warning to Officers not to Trust to the Jnnowney? of their Jnterstion? nor the Protection of their Superiors, who Ought in Justice to take Care of it.

I shall only Add I believe you will not have ye D: of Portland for yor Governor after all that has been say'd of it for I hear his Creditors have Agreed to Allow him Three Thousand pound a Year out of his Estate rather than risque his Life there, Upon which S-ing? to be onnure?, they can only keep the intailed part of ye Estate and if he does not Consent Willingly to this proposall, I understand they will openly Oppose his Going by representing to the King the injustice of his being Conveyed from his Creditors.

To Wm Cockbourn at Jamaica


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1721 Nov. 29

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