UK, House of Lords, “Canada—Colonel Prince”, vol 47, cols 1057-1058 (28 May 1839)
By: UK (House of Lords)
Citation: UK, HL, “Canada—Colonel Prince“, vol 47 (1839), cols 1057-1058.
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Lord Brougham wished to know whether it would not be convenient to the House, that he should postpone his motion relative to the correspondence that had taken place with respect to the affair of Colonel Prince until Monday next.
Lord Ellenborough said, the charge against Colonel Prince was of so gross a nature, that he did not think it ought to be delayed. He observed, that Colonel Prince had made a statement in his own defence already, and he should take the liberty of reading parts of that statement. He should have done so to-night if he could have expected that so many noble Lords would have been in their places.
The Marquess of Normanby should be ready, on Thursday, to enter into everything that he was aware of relating to Colonel Prince’s conduct.
Lord Ellenborough knew nothing of Colonel Prince himself, he had only read his defence.
The Duke of Wellington was of opinion that it would be absolutely impossible to consider this question in reference to this gentleman, without considering the whole question out of which the war had sprung. He knew nothing of it, except from what he heard in the House last night, but he thought he should be able to show, that the act complained of was owing to the system of warfare which had been carried on, and that that system was to be traced to some other quarter.
Lord Brougham had no doubt that the noble Duke might be able to show that: but whoever might be responsible for this wild outbreak, his observations should be strictly confined to the conduct of Colonel Prince.
Lord Ellenborough said, it ought to be remembered, that when his noble and
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learned Friend was bringing this charge of murder against Colonel Prince, he at the same time brought a strong charge against the officers who had sat on the Committee of Inquiry.
Lord Brougham said, that the sentence of the Court of Inquiry had been printed in the Gazette, by Sir George Arthur, which he bad seen, and the sentence did not acquit Colonel Prince of having killed four or five men (the noble and learned Lord believed the question was between four and five), after the battle was over; but it stated, the charges brought against Mr. Elliott, and confirmed by Mr. Charles Elliott, were very much exaggerated, therefore those persons were reprimanded, and one of them had been dismissed. But Sir G. Arthur stated (and upon his, the noble and learned Lord’s statement was founded) that he severely reproved Colonel Prince for having put to death the four or five men who had surrendered, without any trial or legal proceeding whatever. That was the charge brought by Sir George Arthur against Colonel Prince; and he added, that his conduct could only be palliated by a reference to the excited state of his feelings at the moment.
Lord Ellenborough said, that Colonel Prince’s statement was, that the five men (for there were five) were put to death after the action was over, but while they were yet in momentary expectation of an attack.
Lord Brougham said, that Colonel Arthur’s statement was, that they were put to death without any legal proceeding.
The Marquess of Normanby believed the explanation of Colonel Prince was, that they were put to death immediately after, or at the conclusion of the action; and that they were shot upon the spot.
Lord Brougham said, it was very true that it appeared they were shot upon the spot, and that they were fired upon one after the other, upon the spot, and killed dead upon the spot, but that was after they had been surrendered up by the Indians, and to whom it had been said, in answer to an inquiry if the men were safe—can’t you trust a British officer?