THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TRINIDAD
Publication No. 410.
The Report of the Court Martial upon Major Stanhope.
Source:-Public Record Office. State Papers War Office
Published by the courtesy of the Master of the Rolls
and the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records.
19th June 1783.
Report of a Court Martial held at the Horse
Guards on Tuesday 3rd of June 1783 and con-
tinued to Thursday 19th of the same month
by virtue of a Special Warrant from His Maj-
esty bearing date the 30th of April 1783.
Lieutenant General James Grant.President.
Lieutenant General Richard Prescott.
Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson.
Major General Francis Smith.
Major General the Hon Henry St John.
Colonel Albemarle Bertie.
Colonel the Hon John Thomas de Burgh.
Colonel Cavendish Lister.
Colonel Sir Robert Laurie.
Colonel John Brewse.
Colonel Benjamin Stehelin.
Lieutenant Colonel Sir John Tadwell Watson.
Lieutenant Colonel the Hon Henry Phipps.
Major the Hon Stephen Digby Strangeways.
Major John Farnaby.
Major Benjamin Charnock Payne.
Judge Advocate General Sir Charles Gould.
Major the Honourable Henry Fitzroy Stanhope of
the 86th Regiment, came Prisoner before the Court on
the following charges;
"That he did while serving in the Island of Tob-
ago in the West Indies on the 1st day of Jnne 1781, re-
fuse to obey the orders of George Ferguson Esq, then
Lieutenant Governor and Coimmander in Chief, relative
to the defence of the said Island at that time invaded
by a body of French troops, terming the order rash and
*,r, ii'. that he wouldd consult his officers upon it and
that the said Major Stanhope did make terms with the
enemy for the Regular Forces within the said Island
without consulting the said Lieutenant Governor and
Commander in Chief."
As four witnesses of the alleged facts were in To-
bago and not in England, the question arose as to whet-
her the Court could properly proceed. It was decided
to refer the matter to the King. for his instructions.
On the 7th of Jtune His Majesty informed the Court
that he approved of the caution of the Court Martial
in the circumstances but as two years had already el-
apsed and Major Stanhope was ready with his witness-
es and prepared to make his defence,he instructed the
Court to proceed.
George Ferguson, Lieutenant Governor and Com-
mander in Chief at the time in Tobago, deposed that
they were forced to retire from their position at Con-
cordia to that at Caledonia on May 31st 1781. Here
they were making arrangements to retire to the Main
Ridge when he learnt that the French had arrived at
Brothersfield, between Concordia and Caledonia, and
that a detachment had advanced as far as Belmont,on-
ly three miles away and were burning the buildings and
He also learnt that Major Stanhope and Captain
Manners had gone to the Retreat Plantation (between
Caledonia and Belmont) to meet Count Dillon who had
arrived with a Flag of Truce to discuss capitulation.
Meanwhile the Militia (the Planters of the Island)
had signed a petition asking for capitulation as their
estates were being steadily burnt and which would con-
tinue until the Island was capitulated and that they
were unwilling to make any further defence.
Lieutenant Governor Ferguson claimed that he had
ordered Major Stanhope to march with his troops from
Caledonia to the Ridge in the forest, that Major Stan-
hope refused to do so,went to consult his officers who
asked for capitulation and that Major Stanhope then
signed a separate capitulation for his troops.
Evidence in support of these allegations was giv-
en by Kenneth Francis Mackenzie, lately a Member of
the King's Council and Attorney General of Tobago;
Mr Thomas Carry, a practitioner of physic and a plan-
ter in the Island of Tobago; Mr Edward McAllister,As-
sistant Surgeon to the General Hospital in Tobago; Mr
Alexander Gordon, a planter in Tobago; Mr Charles Ash-
well,Treasurer of the Island of Tobago; Mr Duncan For-
bes,Acting Ordnance Storekeeper.
Major Stanhope then gave evidence and denied
that any such order was ever given; he was only told
to have his troops ready to march to the Ridge, which
he did and so replied. He pointed out that he had alto-
gether about 200 men, of whom 45 were convalescents
just turned out of hospital. The troops had marched
twelve miles the first day and for four nights had been
frequently turned out for false alarms by the Lieuten-
ant Governor; that on the night of 31st of May to 1st of
June, they had marched eight miles over an impossible
road on a dark, tropical, rainy night and that 40 had
fallen out on the way and were missing. His troops
were so exhausted that he had but 60 men then capable
of marching to the Main Ridge and that they were then
without proper supplies either of ammunition or prov-
Major Stanhope said that in the presence of the
Lieutenant Governor, he had consulted his officers.
The Lieutenant Governor had addressed them but as
the Militia had expressed themselves as unwilling to
continue the defence, his officers regarded their posi-
tion as desperate.
Major Stanhope denied that he had negotiated a
separate capitulation for the troops but as the Lieut-
enant Governor had agreed to capitulate on the same
terms as those recently granted to Dominica, he mere-
ly accepted this for his troops but as there was no
cartel for the exchange of prisoners in the West Ind-
ies,he had to sign a separate document with Count Dil-
lon adjusting this exception.
These submissions ; ere supported by the following
officers of the 86th Regiment; Richard hiodgson, Surg-
eon; James Wilson, Lieutenant; Christopher Jefferson,
Lieutenant; John Lowry, Quartermaster; Robert Burne,
Ensign; Robert Manners, Captain.
Major Stanhope then addressed the Court and was
followed by Lieutenant Governor Ferguson.
The Court Martial then considered the evidence
brought before it and after due deliberation,the Pres-
ident announced the following judgement.
"The Court Martial having duly weighed the evi-
dence given in support of the accusations preferred
against the Prisoner, Major the Honourable Henry Fitz-
roy Stanhope,with that which has been adduced by him
in his defence, is of opinion that he is not guilty of
the charges nor of any part thereof and doth most hon-
ourably acquit him."