1774 Hooper Proclamation

Peter Chester, the Governor of the Province of West-Florida, issued a proclamation on 25 July 1774 which was expanded a week or so later.  It appeared in several contemporary newspapers as early as July 1774 and as late as October 1774.  This transcript is from the notice that appeared in several issues of Rivington’s New York Gazetteer1

“By his Excellency PETER CHESTER, Esquire, Captain General and Governor in chief, in and over the province of West-Florida, and the territories depending thereon in America, Chancellor and Vice-Admiral of the same, etc.


Whereas I did think fit to issue a proclamation by and with the advice of his Majesty’s Council, on the twenty-fifth day of July last, setting forth, that Innis Hooper, Charles Holmes, Absalom Hooper, Richard Holloway, and Reason Young, stood then charged on oath with having barbarously murdered a Mr. Corbonneau, two other white persons, and two negroes, on the River Mississippi; and also of having plundered two bateaux, richly laden, said to be the property of the said Mr. Cobonneau and Messrs Jorge and Diard; And whereas the said Innis Hooper and Charles Holmes, at the last Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol-Delivery, have been duly convicted for the robbery of persons unknown on the River Mississippi, being a navigable river, who now remain in prison under sentence of death, and are to be executed on Wednesday the 4th day of May next for the said offense;  And whereas at the the said Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol-Delivery, bills of indictment, both for murder and robbery, have been severally found against the aforesaid Absalom Hooper, Richard Holloway, and Reason Young, who have long since absconded, and hitherto escaped the hands of Justice, not withstanding a reward of two hundred dollars was offered in the proclamation beforementioned for the apprehending of them; to the INTENT THEREFORE that the perpetrators of such horrid and most heinous crimes should be apprehended and brought to condign punishment, I have thought it expedient, by and with the advice of his Majesty’s Council of this province, to issue this my proclamation, and I DO HEREBY PROMISE, that if any person of persons shall apprehend and deliver over to the Gaoler of any of his Majesty’s gaols, the said ABSALOM HOOPER, RICHARD HOLLOWAY, and REASON YOUNG, such person or persons shall thereupon have and receive a reward of ONE HUNDRED POUNDS STERLING, or a proportionate part of the said one hundred pounds, for apprehending and delivering over to the Gaoler of any of his Majesty’s gaols, any or either of them the said Abraham Hooper, Richard Holloway, and Reason Young.  AND, in order that the said Absalom Hooper, Richard Holloway, and Reason Young may be better known, I have thought proper to have a DESCRIPTION of their several persons inserted herein, which is as follows, viz:  The said Absalom Hooper is about five feet eight or nine inches high, stoops much, is of a fair complexion, with long light coloured hair, which he generally wears plaited, and is about twenty-nine or thirty years of age;  the said Richard Holloway is thin in person, about five feet ten inches high, of a fair complexion, thin brown hair tied, and is about thirty years old; and the said Reason Young is about five feet tem or eleven inches high, well made, wears sometimes a silk cap, sometimes a handkerchief upon his head, which he shaves, and is about twenty-seven years old.  AND I do hereby strictly charge and command all Magistrates, Marshals, Bailiffs, and other officers, and all other of his Majesty’s good and faithful subjects of this province, that they do use their utmost diligence in their several places and capacities to find out, discover, and apprehend the said offenders, in order to their being brought to justice.

Given under my hand, and the great seal of the province of West-Florida, at Pensacola, the twentieth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy four, and in the fourteenth year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, defender of the faith, and so forth.

Peter Chester

  1. i transcribed the proclamation from Rivington’s New York Gazetteer issue of 4 August 1774, page 4. []