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Henry Robins "Sentenced to hang"

Petition signed by 444 persons asking for mercy.

1816

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Records of the Bay of Quinte

A very interesting petition
"Petitions of Sundry Persons Inhabitants of the Midland District in behalf of Henry Robins convicted of stealing a sum of Money and Sentenced to be hanged - Kingston Assizes 1816 - committed to Banishment" [14213a]



Three identically worded copies of a petition were made and one each was circulated in Prince Edward County, Hastings County and the Town of Kingston. A surprising 444 persons signed the three petitions. The signatures are in columns and are transcribed in the column and order as written. Signatures can be a challenge to transcribe. Let me know if you think I have misread some and I will double check. © Randy Saylor, transcribed Nov 2011.

Use these links to jump up and down to examine each list of names.
1. Who is Henry Robins?
2. The petition
3. Prince Edward County inhabitants, recorded as "Hallowell"
4. "Inhabitants of the County of Hastings"
5. "Inhabitants of the Town of Kingston and its vicinity"
6. More on Henry Robins

Source: Civil Secretary's Correspondence, Upper Canada Sundries, 1766-1841, RG5 A1, LAC, film also at AO, Vol 30, C-4548, pp. 14210-14213a


1. Who is Henry Robins?
Henry Robins, a 22 year old, husband of Abigail Gilbert who was the daughter of Abel Gilbert, was sentenced to hang and this petition for mercy was signed by a large part of the community.
Some of his family is identified in the Hastings petition. The words "The person he stole the money from" are written further down on the Kingston petition, below the signature of Margaret Simpson, suggesting he stole the money from her. Her signature is different from the signature of the other Margaret Simpson who was the proprietor of Simpson's Hotel in Belleville who signed on the Hastings list. It appears from the "committed to banishment" that Henry was given mercy and banished from Upper Canada.

This is confirmed in the Pioneer Life in the Bay of Quinte where it is recorded that "Abigail Gilbert m. Mr Robins, settled United States" [373]. I have a web page on the Gilbert family and a family Bible shows Abigail was born 1795. This Bible also records "James Robins, their Grandson was Born on the Eighteenth day of Nov, Anno Domini 1816". There is more on Henry at the end of this web page.


2. The petition
To his excellency Francis Gore Esquire, Lieutenant Governor of the province of Upper Canada etc etc
The humble petition of sundry inhabitants of  [left blank and no township written in] and its vicinity
Humbly Sheweth

That your petitioners Truly appreciating the mild government and humane laws under which they live and having at all times had experience of your Excellency’s tenderness humanity wisdom liberality in the administration of the government of Upper Canada are induced humbly to implore Your Excellency’s Mercy towards an unfortunate youth of the name of Henry Robins of the tender age of 22 years who stands convicted at the last assizes for the Midland District of a capital felony and is now under sentence of death.

Your petitioners well knowing your Excellency's clemency and tender heart it becomes unnecessary for them to paint the distress of an aged father beyond the years of 70 who has ever maintained the character of an honest man and from his faithful adherence to his venerable and beloved Sovereign in the American War brought on himself many sufferings and misery. Your petitioners beg leave do represent that this unfortunate young man has a sister and brothers with numerous Cousins and relatives whose feelings they are unable to describe on this occasion to you.

But if the wife might add her prayer for forgiveness for her wretched husband it is offered on her bended knee in the most fervent manner to your Excellency at his awful moment, her only hope as well as that of his father and friends and your petitioners is that your Excellency might be pleased in your wisdom to remit the disgraceful sentence of death on condition that the unfortunate youth banishes himself from the province forever and not leave on his family and friends the ignominious stain that one of them was publicly executed for a crime whose enormity by the law is death.

Your petitioners ever impressed with a sense of mercy for the unfortunate so congenial to the soul of us all while others are in distress. Quality naturally emanating from your Excellency and who is known to possess it in so eminent a degree may on this occasion extend it to a deluded youth and to his unhappy father, wife and friends and that the prayer of your petitioners may have the desired effect and that the purest of all gifts, Mercy, may in this instance be granted to this wretched youth and that he who sheweth mercy like the dew which falls from the heavens may be doubly blessed, blessing him that giveth, and him that receiveth

Is the fervent prayer of your petitioners who as in duty will ever pray

3. Prince Edward County inhabitants, recorded as "Hallowell"
"Hallowell to [be] left with Eyre" is written on the reserse side.
Thomas Eyre's signature is at the bottom of the middle column.
Stephen Conger Esq Thomas Beasley
Silas Hess Nicholas Peterson
Godfrey Mabbee D. Cameron
John C Striker Robert Hubbs
Silas Dyre [Dyer] William Casey
Paul Clark Ira Spafford
Rynard Post John W Terwilligar
John Trumpour Peter Leavens
Isaac Garrett J.S. Hermans
Jacb German Aran Cameron? Carman?
Samuel Pettit William Clark
Gilbert Rodgers Andrew Johnson
Stephen Palmer ? Arthur Germans? Youmans?
Judah Bowerman Abm Barker
John Medcalf Elijah Carley
John Lamb John Johnson
John Bull Soln Spafford
John Cooper Abijah P. Spafford
Arra Ferguson Enos M. Burton
Samuel L Porter John Ellis
O Church William Yourex
Joseph Grooms John Thuressen

Luther Winslow Joseph Ellis
Henry Harris Gilbert Miller
Aaron Carnahan Anthony Badgley
Jesse Henderson Gilbert D Clapp
Ferdinand Legg David C Young
Benj. Loop Elijah Y Cunningham
Norman L. Harvey Barrett Dyre
George Welbank Benjamin Shaw
John Carter A Bram Peterson
John Lane Patrick Campbell
Jacob Lister John Darling
Rich. O. Clute Elijah W Carley
John Walters James Moss
James R. Armstrong Cornelius White
Corey Spencer Thomas Garrat
Wm. Insley David Pratts
James Dougall John Stinson
William Cunningham David Stinson
Charles Cunningham Thomas Eyre
William Sutherd Isaac J Austin

Henry Johnson
Martin Fosburg?
John Morgan
Henry Spafford
Samuel Williams
James Platt
Wm Young
John Ogden
Wm Grooms
Wm Spafford
Wm Dyre
James D? Spencer
William Ogden
John P Williams
Daniel McDonald
Jas Crandle?
John Darling
Eli Leavens
Caleb Williams
Nancy Crye ?
Archibald Mill [er?]
Elijha Miller
John Young
Coleby Lane
James Lamson
Samuel McArlen
George Young
Ezra Adams
Samuel William
Tunis Eckert
Dannel Pettit
Abraham Coal
Peter Eckert
William Pettit
Nicholas Williams

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4. "Inhabitants of the County of Hastings"
Note the early spelling of Bellville without the extra "e". Also note the absence of Capt John W Meyers and his sons as signees of this petition. In 1816 Capt Meyers and James and Simon McNabb were rivals in changing the name from Meyers Creek to Bellville. Perhaps that tension is reflected in this petition. See Belleville, A Popular History by Gerry Boyce, Dundurn Press, 2008, 39 for an account of the name change story. See also the 1816 petition initiated by James McNab accusing John Meyers of "disloyal conduct."

James McNabb J.P.   of Thurlow
Robert Smith of Thurlow merchant
Simon McNabb Bellville merchant
John Hubbard ditto, ditto
John Reynolds ditto, his brother in law
Abel Gilbert of Sydney, His father in law
Abigail Robins ditto, “His wife”
John Garritt ditto
Harry Watkins  
James Harris Thurlow
Daniel Everitt Thurlow
Henry H Ansley Thurlow
Conrad Joseph Wetz? Thurlow
Wm Johnson Thurlow
Margaret Simpson Belville
William H. Walbridge Belville
Roswell Leavens Ditto
Gilbert Harris Township of Sydney
Spencer Patrick Thurlow
John Taylor Ditto
Charles Nelson Bellville
John Latta Thurlow
Wm Zwick Bellville
Philip Zwick Senr Thurlow
James Young JP Ameliasburgh
Adam Henry Meyers Murray
David Henery Ameliasburgh
David Sager Ditto
Joseph Wessels Murray
Peter Maybee Ditto
Asa Smith Ameliasburgh
George Cunningham  Ditto
James Henesey Ditto
Cornelius Benson  Ditto
Henry Weast  Ditto
Henry Tice  Ditto
Benj Gerow  Ditto
Philo Noble  Ditto
John Howsen  Ditto
Daniel Grow  Ditto
Phillip Redick Sr  Ditto
David Lonen?  Ditto
Robert Cunningham Ditto
SB Glover  Ditto
John Bonter Ditto
Martha McIntosh Ditto
John Simpson  Ditto
Asa E Walbrige  Ameliasburgh
William Bell JP Thurlow
Thos Nelson  Belleville
Jacob Stimers  Thurlow
Allan Taylor  Thurlow
Wm McMullen  Ditto
Abm? B Ives DM Ditto
Abner Wright Ditto
James Bradshaw Ditto
Abraham Stimers  Belleville
John Canniff  Thurlow
Zacharih Simmons  Sydney
Abraham Canniff Thurlow
Morgan Morton  Thurlow
Caleb Garrison  Thurlow
John Boyce Thurlow
William Sharrand  Thurlow
Edmund Telfangh? Sidney
Saml Parsons  Ameliasburgh
Jacob Morse  Cramahe
Clark Hatten  Sidney
William Alley Sidney
David Price  Sidney
John Weaver  Sidney
Abraham Simons
Sidney
John Smith  Sydney
George Smith  Sidney
Henry Bonesteel   
Philo Haylay?  
John Hutchinson  Sidney
Jacob Rose  Sidney
Charles Simmon  Sidney
Nicholas Simmons  Sidney
George Westfall  Do
Rueben Potter  Do
David White Do
Isaac Wightman  Do
James McMasters  Do
Joshua Chrysdale  Sidney
Israel Barnum   
Daniel Ostrom  Sidney
Joseph Morden  
Alexander Chisholm  of Sidney
James Farley of Sidney
Solomon Hazelton  of Sidney
Ezekiel Lawrence  Sydney
William Hall  Thurlow
Jacob Lawrence Sydney
Joseph Sparrow   

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5. "Inhabitants of the Town of Kingston and its vicinity"
Thomas Markland JP Allan MacLean 
Peter Smith JP John Kirby
James McNabb JP Rodk MacKay
John Cumming JP Charles Stewart 
JJG Green Daley? John Ferguson
Ja Pray George H Markland 
E. Doyle Lawce Herchmer 
Ormen McDougal Chas Anderson 
Andrew Deacon George Corbett 
John Tuttle  W Mitchell 
HC Thurman  Danl Grant 
Jerry Whitehead  Jno Macaulay 
John Strange James Cumming
DMG Rogers  J Nickalls 
Robert Walker  Chris A Hagerman
John Butterworth  N Hagerman 
J Morrison D Hagerman 
J B Fairfield  Jas Bethune 
Henerey Cassedey H W Wilkinson
Geo Smith  Saml Shaw 
Smith Bartlet  Thomas Graham 
G Douglas  W Bayard Smith 
Wm Powell  George Finkle 
Francis Carhill D McDonell 
John Fisk  Allan McDonell 
Charles Aykroyd A R  MacDonell 
A Macdonald?  Robt Richardson 
Col P Edward White? Anthony Marshall 
John Darby  Robert Stanton 
Thomas Smith  Wm McLean 
Samuel Merrill  A Macpherson
John Dawson  John Simson
Thomas Hardie? Thomas Deacon 
James Stoughton  R [or P] Smyth 
Thos Mather Peter McDonald 
Hervey Murney  Thomas Parker 
Philip Pember
John Size 
Daniel Brown  Chas Short 
C. O'Clairy D Markburn 
L Morton  James Richardson 
E. Dalmas  Wm Stoughton
A Norton  James Russell Senr
James Deacon  Hugh Earl
Donald McLellan  Margaret Simpson
Tho Whitaker  The person from whom}
John Dean  the money was taken} 
A Henderson  James Baymon
H McDonald  Duncan McKenzie 
Benjamin Sturney Walter McCaniffe 
Sidney Smith  Edward Starnes 
William Driscoll  Antoine Lafrenière 
William Tackeberry  Robert McNabb 
James Torrance  Edwd Jones
H McLeod  Francis Rouchelau
Cyrus Smith  W Wetsel
James Tripp  Robert Talbert
Robert Macaulay Jeremiah Covert
John Corry  Thos Turpin
Wm Morrison  Archd Richmond
Elijah Tenny James Russell Jun 
Bn Conger Spencer John Graham 
James Cunningham  PCorbett 
James Bryant J Major
Robt Ireland  Joseph B Churman 
Henry Baker  David Smith 
Wm Ashley Sr William Macaulay 
Wm Ashley Jr David John Smith
Joseph Dorré  W Grant 
Andrew Stark Francis Pember 

Edwd J Henderson 

John Monyeau 

Hyacinth St. Germain



6. More on Henry Robins
Mark Davenport, a long time Gilbert researcher, wrote that Henry Robins was the son of James Robbins and Jane O'Neil and "after his scrape" moved down to Cape Vincent. Mark also found this piece on the web written in 1890 about the family.
James Robbins was a native of England, whence he emigrated to Kingston, Canada, where he died aged 90 years. He married Jane O'Neil and their children were Henry, Jane and Redford. Henry Robbins, born in Kingston, Ont. was one of the early settler of Cape Vincent, and here died in 1867 aged 76 years. He married Abigail, daughter of Abel and Dencey (Hagerman) Gilbert, of Belleville, Canada, and their children were Gilbert, Sarah, Margaret, Dencey and John. The latter was born in Cape Vincent, where he married Sarahette, daughter of James and Elizabeth (Mattis) Shepard, by whom he has three children, viz.: Jennie, Harry J., and Frederick. He now occupies a farm on road 70, where he has resided for 12 years. Gilbert, son of Henry, was born in this town and died here in 1880 aged 56 years. He married Catherine E., daughter of James and Margaret (Argersinger) Shepard, of Cape Vincent, and they had five children, viz.: Charles R., Caleb G., Maggie A., Addie A., and Nellie E. John Robbins married Sarah E. Shepard, and their children are Harry, Jennie, and Fred, and he now resides on the homestead farm.

Source: Child's Gazetteer of Jefferson County, Town of Cape Vincent (Hamilton Child's "Gazetteer of Jefferson County, N.Y.", published in 1890)

In 1816, Cape Vincent was about the closest location one could live in the States and have quick access to visitors from Canada. It was a busy place to cross the St Lawrence from the US to Kingston. Today one can take a ferry from Kingston to Wolfe Island and drive across the island and then take a short ferry hop over to Cape Vincent, NY. It is a charming excursion and one that covers a trail well worn by the early settlers.

Guylaine Petrin brought to my attention an edited transcription of a journal relating to the Cape Vincent area and rich in stories of the time. It is titled The Bedford Journal 1810 - 1844, John Wiley Bedford, edited by Phyllus Putnam, pub. Lyme Heritage Center, Cahumont, NY, 1998.
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