PETER M’KINLIE, GEORGE GIDLEY, ANDREW ZEKERMAN, AND RICHARD ST. QUINTIN
Executed for Piracy and Murder, December 19th, 1765
Original Newspaper Report
BEFORE we enter upon the bloody deeds of these inhuman monsters, we shall present our readers with an account of the cruel fortune of Captain Glass, who had fought against the enemies of his country; and, after undergoing from them a long series of cruel treatment, at length fell a victim to the abominable cruelty of the pirates above named.
This unfortunate man was the son of the Reverend Mr. John Glass, a minister of the Church of Scotland, who in several publications zealously opposed the practice of religion according to particular forms. The adherents to his religious opinions obtained the appellation of Glassites; and his doctrines being first propagated in England by Mr. Sandeman, his son-in-law, those who adopted them were called Sandemanians. At a very early period young Mr. Glass afforded strong proof of an acute and penetrating understanding, greatly beyond what could be reasonably expected at his tender years. After the fine genius of this promising youth had received some cultivation at a respectable grammar-school, he was removed to the University, where he attained to a great proficiency in the sciences. Having taken up the degree of Master of Arts, he applied himself to the study of physic and surgery, in which he made a rapid progress. He afterwards engaged as a surgeon on board a trading vessel bound to the coast of Guinea; and in that capacity made several voyages to America. His superior qualifications gained him a distinguished place in the esteem of several capital merchants, who intrusted to him the command of a vessel in the Guinea trade; and his conduct proved highly to the advantage of his owners, and equally honourable to himself.
When the war against France was declared, Captain Glass, upon the minute review of his affairs, found himself in possession of a very considerable sum; a great part of which he determined to venture on board a privateer. He caused a vessel to be fitted out with all possible expedition, and took the command on himself. A mutiny happened among the sailors when they had been on board about three days; and news of this disagreeable circumstance being communicated to the captain, he hastened to the vessel, and, going upon deck, dared to single combat any man who should presume to dispute his authority; but his challenge was declined! and, by coolly representing the dangerous consequences that might result from such unjustiflable proceedings, exhorting them to an exact observance of necesssary discipline, and assuring them that his utmost endeav ours should be exerted to procure them satisfaction in every particular, the harmony and good understanding of his crew were restored; and in a short time after the vessel proceeded on her voyage.
In about ten days they made a prize of a ship, richly laden, belonging to France, which they carried into a port in the West Indies. They soon after engaged two ships of war, but, after an obstinate contest, were compel led to submit to the superior power of the enemy. The captain, however, did not strike his flag till he had received a dangerous wound on the shoulder, and the greatest part of his men were slain. He was put into one of the French prisons, where he experienced very severe treatment. An exchange of prisoners taking place, Captain Glass was no sooner restored to freedom than he resolved to make a reserve of two thousand pounds, and to venture the remainder of his fortune on board a privateer. He had sailed in his second vessel but a short time when he was again conquered by the enemy, and conveyed to a French prison. Captain Glass, on his return to England, was esteemed one of the most expert, judicious, and intrepid seamen in the British navy. The war being concluded, he conceived a design of sailing in search of discoveries; and, in pursuance of this plan, he purchased a vessel adapted to his purpose; and, having carefully made every necessary preparation for the prosecution of his design, directed his course towards the coast of Africa.
Between the river Senegal and Cape de Verde he discovered a commodious harbour, from which circumstance he entertained the reasonable expectation that very great commercial advantages would be derived. The captain now returned to England, and communicated his discovery to government, who granted him an exclusive trade to the harbour for the space of twenty years. That he might be enabled to pursue his project with the greater advantage, he engaged in partnership with two or three gentlemen of fortune; and a vessel, furnished with all necessary articles, being prepared, he sailed for the harbour, where he arrived without meeting with any occurrences worthy of recording. He sent one of his men on shore, with orders for offering proposals for a commercial intercourse with the natives; but the messenger had no sooner landed than he was cruelly murdered by the barbarians. The captain now suggested a plan for informing the king of the country that, by opening a trade, his subjects would derive great advantages. The king affected the utmost willingness to comply with his proposals; but, under the appearance of friendship, endeavored to effect his destruction. Having failed in other treacherous schemes, he sent poisoned provisions to Captain Glass, who prudently made experiments upon them, and by that means preserved his life. Being in great distress for the necessaries of life, Captain Glass and three of his men ventured to sea in an open boat, intending to direct their course towards the Canaries, for the purpose of purchasing provisions. The natives, being apprized of their departure, attempted to plunder the ship; but they were effectually repulsed by the remaining part of the crew.
The men who continued in the vessel being extremely distressed, judging that it would be dangerous to remain longer in the harbour, and despairing of their captain’s re turn so early as was expected, they sailed for England, where they arrived, after encountering a variety of dangers, difficulties, and distresses. Captain Glass arrived at one of the Canary Islands, and presented a petition to the governor, supplicating permission to purchase provisions; but the inhuman Spaniard caused him to be apprehended as a spy, and ordered him to be confined in a noisome dungeon, where he was allowed no other sustenance than bread and water; and, to aggravate his distress, the barbarous tyrant denied him the use of pen, ink, and paper. In this unhappy situation the captain remained upwards of six months. At length he climbed up to the iron bars that were across the space for admitting light to the dungeon, and perceived an English vessel in the harbour. The sight of a vessel belonging to his native country inspired him with hopes of regaining his liberty; but his despair was re newed upon considering the apparent impossibility of making his miserable fate known to those who would be inclined to afford him relief. At length he adopted the following experiment:– by means of a piece of charcoal he wrote his name, and some words intimating his distress, upon a biscuit, which he fortunately dropped from the grate of the dungeon at the moment when an English sailor was passing beneath. The man, observing the captain’s name upon the biscuit, carried it to his commander, who immediately made application to the governor for the relief of his countryman. In consequence of this humane intercession, the cruel and tyrannical Spaniard subjected the petitioner to severity of treatment equal to that sustained by Captain Glass. A ship that soon afterwards sailed for England conveyed news to our ministry of the arbitrary and barbarous conduct of the governor; and, speedy application being made to the King of Spain, he issued an order for the release of the two captains. About the time that Captain Glass recovered his freedom, his wife and daughter, a young lady about twelve years old, remarkable for her beauty and fine accomplishments, arrived at the Canaries, on board a ship from London; and their first interview with him afforded a scene truly affecting. Captain Glass now embarked, with his wife and daughter, on board a ship bound to London, under the command of Captain Cockeran.
While the ship lay at the Canaries, a plot was concerted between Peter M’Kinlie, the boatswain, a native of Ireland; George Gidley, the cook, born in the west of Yorkshire; Richard St. Quintin, a native of the same country; and Andrew Zekerman, a Dutchman — for murdering all the other persons on hoard, and seizing the treasure, which, including what Captain Glass had shipped in behalf of him self and his partners, amounted to a hundred thousand pounds in dollars. The villains made three attempts on different nights to carry their horrid plan into execution, but were prevented through the circumspection of their commander. The conspirators were appointed to the night-watch on the 13th of November, when the ship had reached the British Channel; and, about midnight, the captain going upon the quarter deck to see that all things were disposed in proper order, he, upon his return, was seized by the boatswain, who held him while Gidley struck him with an iron bar, and fractured his skull, after which they threw him into the sea. Two of the seamen, who were not concerned in the conspiracy, hearing the captain’s groans, came upon deck, and were immediately murdered and thrown overboard.
Captain Glass, being alarmed, went up the gangway, and judging that a mutiny had happened, returned to fetch his sword. M’Kinlie, guessing his design, followed him down the steps leading to the cabin, and waited in the dark till the captain returned with a drawn sword in his hand, when, getting unperceived behind him, he seized both his arms, and then called to his accomplices to murder him. Captain Glass, being a very powerful man, had nearly disengaged himself from the ruffian, when Zekerman came up, whom the captain wounded in the arm; but before he could recover his sword he was overpowered, the other villains soon joining their associates. The unhappy man was no sooner disarmed than he was many times run through the body; after which he was thrown overboard.
Mrs. Glass and her daughter now came on deck, and, falling on their knees, supplicated for mercy; but they found the villains utterly destitute of the tender feelings of humanity; and Zekerman telling them to prepare for death, they embraced each other in a most affectionate manner, and were then forced from each other’s arms and thrown into the sea. Having put all the crew to death, excepting a boy who had attended Captain Glass, and another boy who was an apprentice on board the ship, the murderers steered towards the Irish coast, and on the 3rd of December found them selves within ten leagues of the harbour of Ross. They hoisted out the long-boat, and put into it dollars to the amount of two tons; and, after knocking out the windows of the ballast ports, rowed towards shore, leaving the two boys to sink with the vessel. Captain Glass’s boy could not swim, and he therefore soon drowned; but the other lad swam to the boat, when Zekerman struck him a violent blow on the breast, which occasioned him immediately to sink.
Having thus massacred eight innocent persons, the villains proceeded to the mouth of the river Ross; but, thinking it would be dangerous to go up the river with so much riches, they buried two hundred and fifty bags of dollars in the sand, and conveyed as much treasure as they could possibly bear about their persons to a village called Fishertown, where they stopped for refreshment; and, during their regale, an Irishman privately robbed them of a bag containing twelve hundred dollars. On the following day they went to Ross, and there sold twelve hundred dollars. Having purchased each a pair of pistols, and hired horses for themselves and two guides, they rode to Dublin, and took up their residence at the Black Bull, in Thomas Street.
The wreck of the ship was driven on shore on the day of their leaving Ross; and the manner in which the villains had lived at Fishertown and Ross, their general behaviour, and other circumstances, being understood as grounds for suspicion of their being pirates, an express was dispatched by two gentlemen to the lords of the regency at Dublin, exhibiting the several causes of suspicion, and giving a particular description of the supposed delinquents. On board the wreck was found a sampler worked by Miss Glass, from which it appeared that a part of the work was done on her birthday, which afterwards proved to be the day preceding on which the murders were perpetrated; and this sampler proved a principal means of leading to a discovery of the guilt of these abominable villains.
The gentlemen who were commissioned to attend the lords of the regency had no sooner communicated their business than the lord-mayor and sheriffs were sent for; and proper instructions being given them, they on the same night caused M’Kinlie and Zekerman to be taken into custody. The prisoners were separately examined, and they both confessed the particulars of their guilt, and that their accomeplices had that morning hired a post-chaise for Cork, where they meant to embark on a vessel bound for England. Gidley and St. Quintin were the next day taken into custody at an inn on the road to Cork; and they followed the example of their accomplices, in acknowledging themselves guilty. The sheriff of Ross took possession of the effects found in the wreck, and the bags of dollars that the villains had buried in the sand, and deposited the whole in the treasury of Dublin, for the benefit of the proprietors.
The prisoners being brought to trial, they confessed them selves guilty of the charges alleged in the indictment, and they were condemned, and suffered death, December the 19th, 1765, after which their bodies were hung in chains in the neighbourhood of Dublin.