The Saga of Phebe Cole and Hugh MacLeod


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Submitted by Fredda Cole - freddac@aol.com

While in search of our ancestors, we came upon a very interesting occurrence, which happened in the summer of 1847 in French River or New London. It seems that one Phebe Cole, a direct forebear of ours, was involved a very serious altercation with one Hugh MacLeod. According to the documents quoted below, she got angry enough to shoot him on 19 August, 1847. This clearly was not normal nor acceptable behaviour . What is even more interesting is that, upon conviction, she received only a six month jail term for this crime, at a time when stealing a few pounds was enough to get one hanged. We know that Coles and MacLeods were neighbors, and that at least one Cole married one MacLeod around 1850.

Can anybody help us uncover the real story? Please send any responses to me by e-mail via the email link above!


The Saga of Phebe Cole and Hugh MacLeod

Phebe Cole, nee Phebe Adams born 1808, daughter of John Adams and Mary Cole, was the wife of William Cole. We think that William had died by the time that this incident had taken place. Phebe Cole lived in the French River area until her death in 1896.

 

Examiner 15 January 1848

Below is the account of the trial from the Examiner of 15 January 1848, page 2. Most of the paper was taken up with an account of the aftermath of a rather wild celebration of the election victory of George Coles (no relation that we can discern).

Supreme Court Friday January 7, 1848

The Queen vs. Phebe Cole

Indictment for firing a loaded gun at Hugh MacLeod, with an intent to kill, maim, disfigure or do some serious bodily injury. There was no real defence in this case. Mr. Young for the prisoner addressed the jury who acquitted her on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd counts of the indictment and found her guilty on the 4th -- that of shooting with intent to do some bodily injury.

 

Court Record of Conviction and Sentencing

Below is the text of the handwritten court record which we found at the Public Archives Records Office in Charlottetown. The original was unfortunately marred by someone who substituted other names for the perpetrator and victim in pencil. But the document was still readable. Some of the words may be incorrect -- we are reading someone's handwriting, and the language is a bit arcane. I apologize in advance if we have mis-spelled anyone's name.

 

In the Supreme Court of Judicature Pilary Term 11 Victoria A. D. 1848

Record of Conviction of Maliciously Shooting

The Queen vs. Phebe Cole

Prince Edward Island

Queens County

Please before Our Lady the Queen the Supreme Court of Judicature at Charlotte Town within and for Queens County in Prince Edward Island of Pilary Term thereof in the Eleventh Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith and in the year of our Lord one-thousand-eight-hundred and forty-eight

Be it remembered that at Her Majesty's Supreme Court of Judicature board of assize and general good delivery begun and holden at Charlotte Town within and for Queen's County in Prince Edward Island on the first Tuesday in January in the eleventh year of the reign of our Sovereign Lady Victoria by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith before the Honorable Edward James Jarvis Chief Justice for said Lady the Queen under the great Seal of Prince Edward Island to hold hear try and determine all pleas whatever civil Criminal and Mixed according to the laws and statutes of that part of our United Kingdom called England and the laws and usages of Prince Edward Island not being repugnant thereto, upon the oaths of

William Randall

William Inman

William Bagnall

James Miller

Alexander Laird

Nicholas Brown

Jeremiah Simpson

Paul Malley

John Gainsford

Robert Hutchinson

Stacy Longworth

Peter MacGowan

Thomas Pothut

Dennis Kidder

Ralph Bruten

Charles Dempsey

Benjamin Davis

Cornelius Higgins

John Cambridge Sims

Alan MacDonald

James MacLellan

Good and lawful of the county aforesaid than and there sworn and charged to enquire for our said Lady the Queen for the Body of the said county this presented in manner and form following that is to say the Jurors for our Lady the Queen upon their oath present that Phebe Cole Wife of William Cole late of the Parish of Granville in the County of Queens being an evil designing and disorderly person and of a wicked and malicious mind and disposition and not regarding the Laws and Statutes of this Realm nor fearing the pains and penalties therein contained on the Nineteenth day of August in the eleventh year of the Reign of Her Sovereign Lady Victoria by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith with force and arms at the Parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid and upon one Hugh MacLeod in the peace of God and our said Lady the Queen then and there being and then and there feloniously willfully unlawfully and maliciously did make an assault and that the same Phebe Cole with force and arms at the Parish aforesaid and the County aforesaid with a certain gun then and there loaded with gun powder and divers leaden shot which she the said Phebe Cole in both her hands then and there laid and held at end against the said Hugh MacLeod then and there feloniously willfully unlawfully and maliciously did shoot with intent then and there and thereby feloniously unlawfully willfully and of her malice of forethought the said Hugh MacLean to hit and murder against the form of the Statute in such case made and provided and against the peace of our said lady the Queen her crown and dignity.

And the jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present that the said Phebe Cole being an evil designing and disorderly person and of a wicked and malicious mind and disposition and not regarding the laws and Statutes of this Realm nor fearing the pains and penalties therein contained on the said day Nineteenth day of August in the year aforesaid with force and arms at the Parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid in and upon the said Hugh MacLeod in the peace of God and our Said Lady the Queen then and there being and then and there feloniously unlawfully and maliciously did make an assault and that the said Phebe Cole with force and arms at the parish aforesaid in the county aforesaid with a certain Gun then and there loaded with gun powder and divers leaden shot which she the said Phebe Cole in both her hands then and there laid and held at end against the said Hugh MacLeod then and there feloniously unlawfully and maliciously did shoot with intent then and there and thereby feloniously unlawfully willfully and of her malice of forethought the said Hugh MacLeod to maim against the form of the Statute in such case made and provide and against the peace of our said Lady the Queen her crown and dignity.

And the jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present that the said Phebe Cole being an evil designing and disorderly person and of a wicked mind and disposition and not regarding the Laws and Statutes of the Realm nor fearing the pains and penalties therein contained on the Nineteenth day of August in the year aforesaid with force and arms in the Parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid on and upon the said Hugh MacLeod in the peace of God and our Said Lady the Queen then and there being and then and there feloniously unlawfully and maliciously did make an assault and that the same Phebe Cole with force and arms at the Parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid and with a certain gun then and there loaded with gun powder and divers leaden shot which the same Phebe Cole in both her hands then and there laid and held at end against the same Hugh MacLeod then and there feloniously unlawfully and maliciously did shoot with intent then and there and thereby feloniously unlawfully willfully and of her malice of forethought the said Hugh MacLeod to disable against the form of the Statute in such case peace of our said Queen her crown and dignity.

And the jurors aforesaid after their oath aforesaid do further present that the said Phebe Cole being and evil designing and disorderly person and of a wicked and malicious mind and disposition and not regarding the Laws and Statutes of this Realm nor fearing the pains and penalties therein contained in the Nineteenth day of August in the year aforesaid with force and arms at the parish aforesaid in the county aforesaid in and upon the said Hugh MacLeod in the peace of God and our Said Lady the Queen then and there being feloniously unlawfully and maliciously did make an assault and that the said Phebe Cole with force of arms at the parish aforesaid in the county aforesaid with a certain gun then and there loaded with gun powder and divers leaden shot which she the said Phebe Cole in both her hands then and there laid and held at end against the said Hugh MacLeod then and there feloniously unlawfully and maliciously did shoot with intent then and thereby feloniously unlawfully and of her malice aforethought the said Hugh MacLeod do some grievous bodily harm against the form of the statute in such cases made and provided and against the peace of our Lady the Queen her crown and dignity.

And the jurors aforesaid upon their oath aforesaid do further present that the said Phebe Cole on the said Nineteenth day of August in the year aforesaid with force and arms at the Parish aforesaid in the County aforesaid in and upon the said Hugh MacLeod in the peace of God and our Said Lady the Queen then and there being did make an assault upon him the said Hugh MacLeod then and there did beat wound and illtreat and other wrongs to the said Hugh MacLeod then and there did to the great damage of the said Hugh MacLeod and against the peace of Said Lady the Queen her Crown and Dignity.

And thereupon at the same delivery of the Jail of our said Lady the Queen at Charlotte Town in the county aforesaid in the year aforesaid on the first Tuesday in January in the year aforesaid before the said Chief Justice of our said Lady the Queen cometh the said Phebe Cole under the custody of Charles Stewart Esquire the Sheriff of the county aforesaid in whose custody the said jail of Charlotte Town for the Cause aforesaid she was before committed who being brought to the bar here in her proper person is committed to the same sheriff and forthwith concerning the premises in the said instrument above specified and charged on her as above being asked in what manner she would be acquitted thereof she the said Phebe Cole says that she is not guilty thereof and concerning this for good and ill she puts herself upon the county and Robert Grayson Esquire Attorney General of Her Majesty the Queen aforesaid who prosecutes for the Queen in this behalf doth the like

Therefore let a jury thereupon immediately come before the said Chief Justice of our said Lady the Queen last above named by whom it and who are of no affinity to the said Phebe Cole to assignize upon their oaths whether she the said Phebe Cole be guilty of the felony aforesaid or not and the Jurors of the said Jury by the said Sheriff in this matter responded and returned to sit

Roderick MacDonald

Roderick McLean

Alfred LePage

Daniel Carrol

Alexander MacBeth

John Tarry

Thomas Dollar

John Miller

William Orr

Alexander Miller

James Morpath

Came and are sworn upon the jury and because the other term of the said jury did not appear therefore one of the bystanders by the Sheriff of the county aforesaid being chosen at the request of the same Robert Stangood Esquire Attorney General of the said Lady of the Queen and by command of the said Chief Justice is newly appointed according to the form of the statute in such case made and provided which said juror so newly appointed to sit Charles Hatch likewise came and is sworn upon the jury with the jurors aforesaid empanneled say upon their oath that the said Phebe Cole is not guilty on the first second and third counts of the said Instrument, but that she is guilty in the fouth count of the said instrument for assaulting the said Hugh MacLeod with intent in so doing to do harm to said Hugh MacLeod some grievous bodily harm which is specified in said fourth Count of said Instrument and hereupon the said Phebe Cole is asked by the Court here if she has or knows of anything to say for herself why the Court ought not to proceed to Judgement thereof upon the said Verdict against her who says nothing further besides what at first she had said.

Whereupon all and singular the premises been seen and fully understood by the Court here it is considered that the said Phebe Cole be imprisoned in the Common Jail of Charlotte Town for Six Calendar Months and then discharged.

Daniel Hodgson

Clerk of the Crown


Dave Hunter and The Island Register: Source Code and Graphics© 1999

Last Updated: 12/19/1999 1:42:23 PM
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