Mutiny and murder…

I have to say that I never expected to find anything truly cringe worthy in the course of researching my ancestors. When I found a few adulteries, bad seeds, ne’er do wells, slave owners, a murder or two, I wasn’t surprised. After all when you have enough ancestors, there are bound to be a few skeletons in the closet, so I was prepared.

But what I found out about one of my 8x great grandfathers did indeed render me speechless (if only for a short while). Capt. John Braddick was a ship’s captain, ship owner, slave owner and slaver. And, if finding out he was a slaver wasn’t enough of an ick moment, how about adding the juicy detail that he was most violently murdered aboard his own ship, by his crew.

Capt. John Braddick is believed to have been born about 1675, probably in England, the son of Capt. John Braddick and his wife, whose name is not known. He also had a sister, Grace Braddick who married John Vail. We descend from both of these siblings. And when Montral Goble Shaw married Charlotte Hatch, in 1909, the line was brought back together again with the birth of my grandmother Lois (and her siblings too, of course).

Braddick’s home was in Southold, Suffolk County, Long Island. His first wife, (my 8xg grandmother) Mary (Dyer) Braddick kept the home fires burning while John was out and about doing his ship business until she passed away sometime before 1715. He sailed out of Boston quite a bit, among other ports in the area, and spent much time in the Caribbean. He had no problem making deals with pirates and trading in illegal goods along with assisting his mother country (that would be England) during times of war.

However, today’s focus is on his death.

In the winter of 1733 sometime after leaving the Island of Madeira, on their way to Barbados in the Caribbean, four crew men aboard the Recovery murdered their Captain, 1st mate, and the cabin boy (who some believe to be John’s son Peter).


Such a gruesome murder did not go unpublished, so I have here a few newspaper items regarding the matter. The first article regards the reporting of the gruesome murder, the second item relates the confessions of Witness and Parker, and the last item is about their punishment.


  1. Transcription of Article from the British Observer regarding confessions of the murders:
Confessions of two of the men who murdered Captain John Braddick and others at sea
[Published in the June 29, 1734 issue of the British Observer, LXX, page 22-24]
      As we have just received the dying sketches of John Wittness and Thomas Parker, who were executed at Barbadoes the 25th of February last, for the murder of their master Captain John Braddock, which we have before taken notice of, we did believe it might be acceptable to our readers to hear that those murderers were punished with death.
The last dying speech and Confession of Ziggey John Witness, so. called after the Indian manner.
I was born in Long Island in the government of New-York, in North-America, 23 years of age come next May, and what little education I had, I took of myself, my mother being poor and not able to bestow any learning upon me. I was unwilling therefore to stay at home, but chose rather to go to sea. I bore a very honest character and was beloved in Long-Island by all that ever knew me, both by sea and land. The last and fatal voyage that I undertook was in the brigantine Recovery, Captain Braddock, with whom I was unwilling to make this trip, but he over-persuaded, and would not part from me, which has proved in the end my utter ruin and destruction, through my own wicked graceless courses, rash, unthinking, and remorseless proceedings; for which I heartily beg of God to be merciful to my poor soul, who alone knows the sincerity of my repentance; and may this prove a dreadful warning to all persons for the future, and more especially to all the spectators here present, whose prayers for mercy for me at the Throne of Grace I fervently implore.
We sailed from Boston in New England in the Recovery, in the month of __ 1733, to the __ from thence to the Island of Madera, where we took in wines, which the vessel’s company, making very free with while we stayed there, regularly got drunk, which occasioned the master to discharge three of them, saying that he would never carry any Irishmen more with him. Afterward, meeting there with John Smith on shore, he shipt him, with a promise of paying his debts; upon which he went on board, but the master not performing his promise to John Smith, he and the chief mate could never agree. But one day having some words more than common, Smith swore that he would have an inch of the chief mate’s liver out before the voyage was at an end. From the Madera we were bound to the island of Salt, and after being out at sea, we all seem’d to agree pretty well together; but as we were obliged to do a great deal of work, and were kept up all day, and were very scanty of provisions and bad withal, it occasioned a general grumbling among us all, and Smith first spoke of it to the master, at which he began to enquire who it was complained of the victuals? Answer was made, it was not one, but all. At which John Main and I being then on the main top, a letting up the top mast shrouds,. I came down, whereupon says the master to me, “In course, you must be one.” “Sir, (says I,) if I must tell you the truth, the chief mate was the first;” which indeed he did not deny. The master therefore reprimanded him very smartly and said, “If he was the first that complained, well might the rest;” and that it might be the means of the men’s knocking his brains out and running away with the vessel; at which says the chief mate, “Sir, do you mind what them damn’d sons of bitches say?” “Yes, (says the master) I do believe it, because it was spoke before your face.” The same day, the master having given John Smith some blows, seemed afterwards to be much concerned for what he had done to him, but towards night Smith declared he would be revenged of the master one way or the other; upon which, says I, “I’ll stand by you as long as I live.” Then replies Smith, “And I’d stand by you.” Upon that says Smith to Thomas Parker, (the lad who suffers with me for the same crime) Are you willing to stand by us?” He replied he would. John Main, then at helm, was asked the same question by us, who resolutely answered, “Damn the sailers,” and the murder must be done this night or not at all. In a short time after we made the island of Salt, upon which the chart was up, and we looked into it to see where the land made, as it was laid down therein, the cabbin boy then going into the cabbin, brought out a can of brandy and some sugar, and went forward with it unknown to the master. John Main seeing it, went forward, and taking a drink, wish’d for the night to come on, not being able to steer through eagerness to be committing the fact. John Smith was then sent to the helm by the master, and about six o’clock in the evening we laid the brigantine to. After supper the master and both mates went to sleep; we four, v/z John Smith, Thomas Parker, John Main, and myself, being forwards, where we drank the rest of the brandy made into punch: About ten o’clock John Main began to grumble at our backwardness and said he believed we had no mind to do it, and that what we had to do, we should do with all expedition, or else we should fall asleep, and neglect it. I myself handed the tools up and took a small hatchet for my weapon. John Smith took an iron maul, and giving Thomas Parker a wood ax, and John Main a caulking mallet, we all went together with an intention to kill the master and chief mate and save the second mate. I entering into the great cabbin went to the master, who was lying in the state room, and took him by the hand, who grasped me with it immediately (otherwise I should not have struck him) and then I let drive at him one or two blows with my hatchet, after which he tumbled out upon me; the noise of this awoke the chief mate, who coming out of his cabbin, John Smith struck him several times with his iron maul and brought him down, which being done, Thomas Parker laid at him with his ax. Supposing now they had effectually made an end of him, they went directly into the state room, in order to assist me, and finding the master not quite dead, Parker and Smith both struck him on the head, and concluding they had dispatched him likewise, they went next to the second mate, whom they found lying in his cabbin, John Main held him down, threatening him at the same time, if he made any manner of resistance, as he would serve him as the other two had been served. John Smith and I coming into the cabbin, hauled him out, and asked him, “Whether or no he would side with us,” or be served as the others were? He answered he would if we would spare his life; then going with us into the cabbin, he told us it would be the best way to read the Burial of the Dead over the captain, and throw him over-board, which being done, we made sail, our design being then for the Spanish Main.
The next morning as soon as I rose from sleep, I altered my resolution, being willing to bring the vessel into Barbadoes, for the good of the poor widow and family, which was agreed to by the rest; some time afterwards, the little boy lying along with the second mate, would be every now and then talking and laughing with him, which John Main observing, seemed much dejected; upon which John Smith asked hem what was the matter with him? Matter, says he, matter enough, why as long as this boy is alive, I never shall be easy for fear he should betray us at the first port we come into; to this it was answered that the first port we came to, he should be put on board of some vessel and sent to his friends. John Main said that it should never be. The next morning early as the little boy was lying in bed with the second mate, I went and took hold of him by the leg, and beat him, and by chance struck him on the eye with a rope, upon which he struggled and got loose, and run down into the hold and hid himself. Then I ordered Thomas Parker and John Smith to bring him up on deck, which being done, John Main left the helm, and coming upon deck, got a boom iron, and having tied it on the boy’s neck, John Smith and he flung him over the side; the boy notwithstanding, finding himself over the side, caught hold of the boom tackle fall and held there till such time as I myself cut him down with a cutlass. These things being all done and over, we then sat down to drinking, and concluded in the journal, that the master had the misfortune to be knocked overboard in gybing; the mate died a natural death; and that the boy fell over-board in handing the fore-top gallant sail.
These are the horrid, barbarous and bloody facts truly set down with every circumstance, for which I am now condemned to die, and whereby it appears that I am not alone guilty, but the others equally involved in the same wicked and inhuman practices; and though Main has saved his Life by becoming an evidence for the king, yet that can surely by no means excuse him before the face of Almighty God, who knows the secrets of all hearts, Once he was as much a principal in the murder as we who are to die for it. His guilt will undoubtedly continually stare him in the face and his conscience be a perpetual fiend, haunting and afrightening him every thinking moment of his life till, like Cain, who slew his brother in the field, he will be forced to cry out, My punishment is greater than I can bear, or (as some translators renders it) Mine iniquity is greater than it can be forgiven; And there shall be no one to pity him.
As for Henry Peck, the second mate of the brigantine, we do declare, in justice to him, that he was no ways aiding, assisting, or abetting in any part of this dismal tragedy.
We think this affair can be no unnecessary lesson to all masters of vessels, not to be so over eager of getting estates as to pinch it out of the poor men’s bellies, but to let them have sufficient allowance of wholesome provisions that they may have no room to complain. The want or neglect of this has been the occasion of this unhappy accident; and I beg that all sea faring men may take warning by us, least by some such hasty and rash mutinous proceedings they may be led to commit such scenes of blood and vengeance as will never go unpunished, either in this world or the next; for one sally of passion in most unthinking sailors brings on another, till at last they never know where to stop, till the measure of their sins is compleat.
I die in charity with all men, and resign my soul into the hands of a merciful Creator and Redeemer.
The last dying Speech and Confession of Thomas Parker.
I was born at a small town called Cannock, in the county of Stafford, in the year 1707, of honest parents; my father is a farmer there in good circumstances, my Uncle William Parker is an attorney at law, living within half a mile of Stafford Town. I had an uncle one John Parker, my father’s elder brother, a Cheesemonger in London, who sent a letter to my father, desiring him to let me come up and live with him, which he consented to, I had not been with him past nine months before he died, my aunt removed from London, and went to my friends, desiring very much that I would accompany her there, which I declined, telling her that my inclinations led me to the sea, she observing me so determined for the sea, gave me five Guineas, with which I went directly to Chatham, and there entered on board the Windsor man of war, where I served upwards of two years, from thence I served on board the Namure, and another man of war for the space of one year. From her I was discharged and going to London, entered on board the brigantine Anne and Elizabeth, John Hurst, master, bound for Lisbon. leaving her I entered on board the ship Albany, William Maxwell, master, bound for Madeira. Being arrived there, his orders were to sell the vessel, upon which he discharged me, and being on shore with him when he fell in company with Captain Braddock, he asked him if he wanted any hands. He answered yes, for he had discharged three; then recommending me to him, occasioned him to ship me, little thinking then that it would be the means of my coming to so untimely an end. And I hope as I sincerely repent of this great and crying sin, that God Almighty will have mercy upon me, through the merits and mediation of our Blessed Saviour and Redeemer Jesus Christ, into whose hands I recommend my Soul.
N. B. As to the particulars of the facts, I can say no more, than that all that John Witness had confessed in his account of the several murders committed on board, and for which we deservedly suffer, is every tittle the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

3.Untitled 2.jpg

Needham’s Point where Ziggey John Witness was left after he was hanged for murder, (along with the boy Thomas Parker) on the 23th of February 1734.
This is the newspaper notice of the sale of the Briganteen Recovery, Braddick’s ship on which he was murdered. This ad was placed in May of 1734.


So, apparently being a cheapskate and miser got Captain Braddick killed. I guess that is a lesson to all you penny pinchers out there. Ouch!


December 27, 1942 William Shepard to home…

[Had a week off and decided to vegetate, so no posts. But, vacations over now so here we go again…]



December 27th [1942]

Dear Mother;

You have the wrong idea about those darn insurance policies. The only thing I want to do is arrange it so there won’t be any delay in Lois is getting the insurance if Im knocked off. You see I am having all my legal affairs handled by the Adjutant General’s office, as all officers in the armed forces do. There is no investigations or delays the way they handle it.

You have been the best mother in the world to me. It was not your job to take out and keep up the insurance. It was mine and I never dune[?] it. I want to receive you of the responsibility that you didn’t


have to take on yourself. I never have been worried about the money. Understand?

I am going to the Engineering School here in Sacramento. Up at 600 and athletics and breakfast. Classes from 8:00 till 11:30 then lunch. Classes 1:00 till 4:30. Dinner then classes from 7:00 till 9:00. However I do get off on Sundays. Ever since I have been in the army I have had so much school that I didn’t have time for anything else. If you would have come to visit me I couldn’t get off.

In  a month or so Ill be through schools and be on the job. I want you & Lois to come out then. It would be nice if you could come with her … [rest of letter missing]

December 26, 1942 William Shepard to home…

December 26

Dear Family:

Thanks for the christmas. I went down to Stockton and spent the day. I opened my packages there.

The ring is swell. I like and can use everything that was sent.

I arrived in Stockton about 1:00 PM and stayed until 7:30 PM. Uncle Bert has a nice home, family and business. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Stub came home and we went around to all their friends. I met a lot of peopled they looked alright to me.


I hope that everyone had a good christmas at home. I was able to get your present Lois and will send it right away. I had it ordered through the PX and it was about 30% off on price.

Ill close now to go to class Goodbye all.


Speaking of Brazil…

In going over my family tree recently, I noticed that I had stopped doing any further research regarding the Roosa/Rosa line in New York after succeeding in cementing down, to my satisfaction, the names of the parents of Garret Rosa.

So last weekend I decided to continue in that vain and today I am going to talk about Garret’s mother Lena van Loon’s ancestors.

Lena van Loon was born in either Feb of 1764 or 1767. The reason for the not quite definite date is that her parents, Jurris/Jorge van Loon who married his cousin Helena van Loon, had two daughters with similar names. Helena (baptized 2 Feb 1764), and Lea (born 1767). I am inclined to lean towards the daughter Helena for two reasons: Lena is more appropriate as a diminutive of Helena; and the birth date is closer to the age of her husband Abraham Rosa, (who was born in 1759).

But regardless of which daughter it is – here is the tree I have been able to construct for Lena:


van LOON, Lena - Helena? - 2
The line down is: Lena van Loon, son Garret Rosa, son Abram Rosa, daughter Clarissa/Carrie Rosa, daughter Gertrude Cain, son Clarence John, son Vic.

Lena van Loon, like her husband Abraham Rosa, descends from very Dutch ancestors, with possibly a little German thrown in. (She is also a descendant of the van Loon and Hallenbeck lines twice.) And in pursuing this research I came across something very unexpected and very interesting. Lena’s gg (and ggg) grandfather Willem Hoffmire was born in Brazil.

My first response was “What!?” Of course my second response was to query and search like a crazy person, as I was intensely curious about how this came to be. So in the last week I have been learning about how in the 1600s the Dutch established a colony in Brazil through the Dutch West India Company, and for about 25 year were in conflict with Spain and Portugal while trying to keep control of their interests there. About 1661 they completely abandoned their efforts and ceded over control to the Portuguese.

Profit and greed was the motive for establishing a colony in Brazil, nothing new about that. The goal of establishing a colony in South America was to provide raw materials and import/export items for Holland’s own manufacturing industries. Tobacco, cotton, dye wood, gold, ivory and sugar would bring untold profits to the investors. Let’s not forget the slave trade.

When Johann Moritz arrived as the newly hired governor, he fell in love with the country and people. Admittedly, he actually did a pretty good job of overseeing the colony and trying to keep relations with the Portuguese on good terms. He was not a religious bigot and worked well with the locals as he had great respect for them, even trying to learn their languages.

He invited artisans and scientists, and touted free-trade as an advantage, all in an effort to promote colonization and lure immigrants from Holland.


Time-expired men, (soldiers) were encouraged to stay and settle in the area. Maybe Willem Hoffmire’s father, (whose name we do not know), was one of those soldiers. The soldiers hired by the Dutch West India Company came from many nations: France, Scotland, England, Scandinavia, Germany; and as the Hoffmire name sounds more German than Dutch…who knows. There were two types of people living in Dutch Brazil by this time, those who worked for the DWIC and those who didn’t. Willem’s father’s role is unknown. He could have been a merchant, soldier, artisan or a small land holder from Holland trying his hand at a farm in Brazil.

However, by the time Willem (born abt 1636) was a ‘young lad’ his mother Geertruy Hieronymus was a widow. Whether she was a widow in Brazil is not known. Sometime before 1652, either the whole family, or just herself and her children, made their way to New Amsterdam (present day New York), where she married a local baker by the name of Jochim Wessils (before 1652). Gert and Jochim are a whole other story!

Colonial landscape in the 1650s, Dutch Brazil.


Depiction of slave market of Recife with Dutch and Portuguese merchants.


If one is interested in learning more about Dutch Brazil, there is a pretty interesting book The Dutch in Brazil, by C.R. Boxer, that is an easy read and gives a good account of this time in Dutch history. Many folks don’t realize how incredibly powerful the Dutch nation was at one time. So powerful and rich they had more ships on the oceans than England, Spain, and France put together.

I guess now I will check out the summer olympics with a little more interest!


December 20, 1942 William Shepard to home…


Dec. 20, 1942.

Dear Mother & Father,

Ive never been away from home on Xmas, until now. Yet you have my best there, Kenny and Lois. Please try and make them happy without me this Christmas. It makes me feel pretty bad to think Im not there but Id feel worse if I wasn’t in the Army.

You have been wonderful parents to me and I know it. I was so relieved and happy when Lois wrote & said that she was at home. I want you to want her to stay there until you & she can come out. Don’t come alone Mother, bring Lois with you.


I will probably be at H B Hatch’s on Xmas. They invited me down, so I won’t be alone.

Have a merry Xmas with a lot of love from

Your son

Attempted murder…

Sophia (Rosa) (Cross) Mattice was, I believe, the oldest (and possibly only) daughter of Garret and Clarissa (Cross) Rosa. Her age is iffy because either she, or other household members, never really seemed to remember how old she was when census time came around. It is believed that she was born sometime around 1815 in New York.

In 1838 after the Rosas and Crosses had moved to Michigan, she married a gentleman by the name of Mandrick Amandor Cross – believed to be her uncle. He was 10 years older than her. These two had seven known children together, of whom we know quite a bit about Daniel Wellington and Benjamin Franklin (aka Frank). Daniel had been arrested several times for theft and spent some time in prison. Frank was a cop in Kalamazoo County for several years. However, it appears that he was probably a very bad cop and most likely on the take – both types of behavior would contributed to his eventually being fired. After his stint as a cop Frank tried his hand at a little larceny himself, nothing to get himself in prison, but enough to get fined. There is not much nice to say Untitled4about Cousin Frank. He was married and divorced twice. During the first marriage he went to court asking for a divorce; he was tired of his wife always accusing him of being with other women. Which she did. A lot. The judge said, “Sure you can have a divorce.” The second time he was in court was because his second wife was asking for the divorce, she was tired of him always being with other women. Which he did. A lot. He was a popular customer at the local brothel, and he had an African American mistress. A very renaissance man. The judge told Frank’s wife, “Sure you can have a divorce.”

But all this excitement happened in the later part of the 1800s. Before his attempts at marriage, Frank was living with his mother Sophia and her second husband, David Mattice. Mind you Frank was almost 30 at this time. The two boys did not get along, but as neither one of them were very nice people they probably rubbed each other the wrong way all the time. Sophia also might have spoiled Frank, which wouldn’t have helped the situation. So eventually things came to a head, resulting in this article appearing in the newspaper:


This incident happened in September of 1877. Frank survived the assault and lived on to be a scion of society, an example of shining knighthood for all young men, the epitome of virtue … yeah … not so much. Apparently that knock on the head, or dare I say, near death experience, didn’t shake any sense into him.

I don’t know if Sophia left David after this incident. Battered women don’t tend to do that. But, I am still working on finding more out about Frank, I can’t resist. He is such a little sh*t.

December 17, 1942 William Shepard to home…



Dear Mom:

In order to put my personal affairs in order I want you to do this for me.

  1. Get all my insurance policies out and send me the following details for each policy
    1. Name of Company
    2. Number of Policy
    3. Amount of Policy
    4. War clauses if any in policy
    5. Double indemnity or not
    6. Who is designated as beneficiary?

It would clear matters up if you could & would transfer the policies to me. Then I could arrange for the government to pay the premiums for me. Lois could then be assured of getting prompt payment. As it is matters will be mixed up.

Louis should be my first beneficiary
Kenny ” ” ” second ”

They are my family mother, and as I cant get any more insilian[?] life insurance I want them


to be my direct beneficiaries. I have money enough and am capable of taking care of it now. The government arranges for premium payment.

I want to arrange all my personal affairs so that If I am killed there won’t be any delay or trouble in settling my estate. This is war and there is a chance of me not coming back so I would thank you forever if you could arrange for this.

Write me right away because I have to have all my personal affairs cleaned up in as soon a time as I can. It is one thing that the US demands of all officers.

Everything is fine here Im getting along swell. The weather is foggy now but It’s still better than Miami Beach. Tell everyone hello for me. Ill be seeing you.

Your son