Sentenced To Be Whipped With The Cat-O-Nine-Tails
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, November 28, 1989
Boys will be boys! This stands not only for our time, but for all ages. The story that I am about to tell you took place in Annapolis at the beginning of 1733. François Raymond, Jr., then 19, son of Francois, Sr., and François Mius, of the same age, son of Joseph, were involved in several mischiefs which were to be of serious consequences. They were apprehended Saturday night, Jan. 24 (1733), and imprisoned, François Raymond being accused of thefts and both of obstructing the public highway with fallen trees, in order "to stop and hinder the passing of any carts or sledges with wood". We learn of this from the account of the trial to which they were brought in Court.
The hearing took place on Monday, Jan. 26. The plaintiff was Nicolas Gauthier, of Annapolis. The first misdemeanor which was presented was one in which François Raymond was involved. Two witnesses, viz., Joseph Landry and Michel Doucet, testified that while they were on board Gauthier’s sloop, which lay at anchor in the Annapolis River, François Raymond broke the door of the cabin, and that, with him, they "Drank a Dram at the Cabin Door out of a flagon."
François Raymond testified that he did not break the lock, but only drew out the staple of the padlock "to take a Dram," as they had told him that "there was no harm in taking a Dram." Being cornered, he thought he might as well admit the other ill behaviors he was accused of, such as having taken from Gauthier’s chest, at Louisbourg, one pistole, which was a Spanish coin of a value of about $4.00, and five pounds at Canard River, now in Kings County.
Another complaint was laid against François Raymond by Joseph Gauthier, son of Nicolas, who testified that he had struck him twice with a stick and pursued him all the way home.
Then was laid a more serious accusation against François Raymond and François Mius, of blocking the public highway. Five witnesses testified that they had found the road blocked, although they did not know who had done it; they said that there was a bout a cart load of wood in the road. François Mius, being asked if he was the one who had done it, said that "he did cut abut two or three small trees, and that he did also pick up about seven or eight other stumps and threw them amongst them". He added that his intention was to stop young Mr. Robicheau, who was on horseback, to go any further. His motive is not given. This young Robicheau must have been Pierre Robicheau, not more than 16 years of age, the son of Charles, of the Cape (Port Royal). François Raymond, for his part, said that he did not cut any trees, that which was corroborated by François Mius.
In the meantime, Lawrence Armstrong, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province, who conducted the investigation, sent a Corporal to investigate on the spot that section of the road. When he came back he testified on that same day, at three o’clock in the afternoon, "that he there found about 40 or 50 trees laid Cross the Road, and some lying by the Road Side" which had been removed from the road.
Accordingly, François Raymond was found guilty of "repeated thefts" and François Mius was found guilty "Of trespass and contempt." The Court was adjourned till next morning at ten o’clock.
At ten o’clock, next morning, the two prisoners were brought again in Court "in order to consider what punishment should be inflicted on them according to the nature of their crimes". Both were asked if they had anything more to say. They "said that they had nothing further to say in their own behalf, but submitted to his Honour’s clemency." Whereupon they were sentenced to be whipped with the cat-o-nine-tails. The cat-o-nine-tails, as I have described it in sketch No. 40, was a whip made of nine cords with knots in them or even small iron scraps. The name comes from the fact that it left on the skin streaks similar to the scratches made by the claws of a cat.
In more detail, François Raymond "should be whipped at the Blockhouse, at the Fort Gate, at the Cape and at Gauthier’s; and at each of these places to receive five strips on his bare back with a cat-o-nine-tails, while "at the Carts tail," that is, with his face in his arms leaning behind a cart. "François Mius should receive 40 stripes at the Fort Gate on his bare back with a cat-o-nine-tails." Furthermore, François Raymond was to "remain in prison after punishment till he pay the constable a pistole for his prison fees; and that François Mius be also committed till he pay to the constable a pistole for his prison fees, and be bound over in a hundred pound, and also to find two good securities in fifty pounds each for his good behaviour for a year and a day. And that both should cause the trees cut down upon the road to be removed from off the same, and brought hither and laid down by the Fort, in such a place as shall be appointed; and that they stand committed till this sentence be performed."
The "inflicting or remitting" of the punishment was submitted to the Lieutenant-Governor. What happened in reality, we are not told. If really such a punishment as "whipping" had taken place, it seems that we should have had echoes of it somewhere in the N.S. Archives, in Halifax, from where I gather this story. But there is no record of such a "whipping".
Punishments of the sort are repulsive to today’s mentality, especially when they were imposed for trifles. Flogging at the time was considered simply as a matter of course. It was abolished abut everywhere before the end of the 19th century, in France, for example, at the beginning of the Revolution. Although it was still in use in prisons.
François Mius was to marry Jeanne Duon, a sister to Abel Duon, the ancestor of the Duons, now d’Eons, of Pubnico. They are the parents of Benjamin Mius, the founder of Muise Point, known as "la Pointe-des-Ben" by the French people, and the ancestors of most of the Muises in Quinan.