Proceedings of the Council of Maryland
The "Real" Tom & Catherine Wheate
From: Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 27th March 1766 [emphasis added]:
- To His Excellency Horatio Sharpe Esqr Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Province of Maryland.
- The Petition of the Subscribing Magistrates of Frederick County.
- Most humbly sheweth That your Petitioners, with great Sorrow and regret find themselves obliged to accuse two of their own Members of a Scandalous Abuse of that Power which your Excellency hath thought proper to intrust them with in joint Commission with your Petitioners.
- That without insising upon other irregularities, your Petitioners will Confine themselves at present to the Information they have received of Capt Evan Shelby, and Mr Joseph Warford, in a case of Fornication, as follows.
- That a certain Catherine Wheate, Daughter of Conrad Wheate, in the Month of September last, Charged Thomas Hynes, on Oath, before Capt Thomas Price, one of his Lordship's Justices of this County, with being the father of her Bastard Child. Whereupon Capt Price took Recognizance for her appearance at November Court, and also for the Man's appearance and made return thereof accordingly.
- That the said Hynes appearing at the said November Court, but the young Woman not appearing, the matter was respited till March Court following.
- That Hynes, in the Interim, apply'd to Capt Evan Shelby for a Warrant to take the Child from the said Catherine its Mother, which was granted in the form of a Search Warrant for Stolen Goods; and in pursuance thereof, on the 2nd December Barnett Johnson Constable of Linton hundred, with five more, went to the House of Conrad wheate, and after calling for Whiskey, and making other pretences, at Length demanded of Conrad Wheate to deliver up his daughter's Child, pretending they had an Order of Court for it: Which Wheate demanding to see the order, and finding the same only to be an Order of Capt Shelby's, refused to comply with, because his Daughter was under Recognizance already. Upon which Refusal a Riot ensued, a Door being broke open, and several of the People of the House severely beaten by the Constable and his followers, who seized the Child, and carried it to the House of Ralph Matson where Capt Shelby was, who received the Child from the Constable, and delivered the same to William Hynes. (pp. 131-2)
- That Joseph Flint and Thomas Brooks being offered on the young Woman's part as her Security for keeping her Child off the Parish, were refused by Capt Shelby, who also threatened that if ever he catched Conrad Wheat in Maryland he would have him cropp'd for disobeying his Orders in not giving up the Child, and declared that if he had gone there in Person he would have burnt Wheate's House over his Head and at the same time took Bond in his Lordship's behalf of William and Thomas Hynes in the penalty of 100 pounds to keep the Child off the Parish.
- That upon Complaint of Conrad Wheate and the others who had been beaten Hynes and the other Rioters were brought before Mr Joseph Warford, where finding the matter more serious than they had imagined, and likely to become a Court Business, Thomas Hynes gets the Girl on his Lap, and (as Mr Warford writes in his narrative) was very Sweet. Whereupon Mr Warford advised the young Man, to a Marriage, which was at Length agreed upon, the Girl's father promising to give the young Couple 30 pounds & a 5 pound Wedding.
- That during these Transactions, Capt Shelby demanded of Joseph Warford a Warrant for the young Woman's fine, which Mr Warford refused to Grant he also refused to sign one drawn up by Capt Shelby, and presented to him for that purpose. Whereupon the Capt Signed it himself, had her immediately taken into Custody, and again discharged her upon receiving a Promissary note from Thomas Hynes for the amount of her fine.
- That Capt Shelby at Length Proceeded to the Marriage Ceremony, which he performed by asking the young Man whether he would take that Woman to his lawful Wedded Wife? and put the same question, mutatis mutandis to the young Woman; after which he pronounced them to be lawful Man & Wife, saying Jump Dog, Leap Bitch, and I'll be damned if all the Men on Earth can unmarry you.
- That the new Couple were put to bed in Mr Warford's own Bed, with the usual Ceremonies of throwing the Stocking &c. Mrs Warford having previously received five Shillings for the use of said Bed. And the whole Proceedings on the Riot quashed at once.
- That some time after the young Couple had been left to themselves, the young Man wanted to leave his Consort: and opening the Door would have come out. But was prevented by Capt Shelby, who opposed him with a fork in his hand, which he threatened to Jobb into his Gutts if he attempted to leave his Wife. Whereupon the young fellow retired peaceably, and was found by the Company early in the Morning fast asleep in Bed with his Consort.
- That a review of the above cited Transaction may be sufficient to show how incapable either of the above mentioned persons are to sustain the dignified Character wherewith they are invested; and how unworthy of that high trust which their ignorance of the Laws, whereby the Community is to be regulated, their assuming to themselves Powers with which they are not invested, and their turning of the Execution of their Office by indirect Means to their own private Emolument and the scandal of Public Justice, have so grossly abused.
- Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that the aforesaid Capt Evan Shelby, and Mr Joseph Warford may be left out of the Commission for the Peace in Frederick County, that the whole Body (otherwise, We hope, respectable) may not be wounded through their Sides or laughed at as their Associates. And, as in Duty bound they will ever pray &c.
- 27th March 1766 (p. 133)