In an incident more like a lynching than a legal procedure, New Yorker David Redding was the first person to be tried and hanged in the state of Vermont. Redding had been a Loyalist with Burgoyne's army at Saratoga, stolen horses, shot and powder in New York, and eluded arrest there by riding into Vermont, where he was caught and tried in Bennington for theft and treason and convicted. When it appeared that Redding would go free because of an improperly empaneled jury, Ethan Allen, back in Vermont only a few days after nearly three years as a British prisoner, arranged with Governor Thomas Chittenden to serve as prosecutor in a new trial on June 6, 1778. Allen ignored the threshold issue of jurisdiction, which the Bennington court lacked for crimes committed in New York. Moreover, as Vermont was independent of the thirteen states, the United States' cause against Redding was also not in the court's jurisdiction. Nonetheless, Allen's impassioned anti-Loyalist rhetoric swung the jury away from the legal question to the patriotic requirement of hanging a loyalist, and Redding was hanged in the afternoon of the trial before a large crowd on Bennington green. -- The Vermont Encyclopedia, John J. Duffy, et. al.My thanks and a tip of the boonie hat to Amish Tom for sending me the image above of David Redding's tombstone in Bennington.
The Catamount Tavern, Bennington, Vermont, in a photo taken a few years before it burned in 1871.
Redding was tried in the Catamount Tavern (originally known as Fay's House) in Old Bennington. Built in 1769 and burned in 1871, the tavern was the site of many important events in Vermont's colonial and revolutionary history. The name Catamount Tavern came about when grantees from New Hampshire posted a stuffed catamount on the tavern's signpost to scare away New Yorkers who claimed their land. The Catamount served as headquarters for the Green Mountain Boys. Ethan Allen planned the capture of Fort Ticonderoga there and Johnny Stark used it as a headquarters while helping defeat General Burgoyne. It was also the meeting place of Vermont's only form of government, the Vermont Council of Safety.
Thus it was to The Catamount Tavern that David Redding, a member of the Queen's Loyal Rangers and a Loyalist spy, was brought when re-arrested after escaping while being transported to Albany, New York on the charge of horse thievery.
At Redding's first trial, he was quickly found guilty and sentenced to be hanged in a field next to the tavern, but John Burnham, a local merchant and loyalist sympathizer, delayed the execution by pointing out that Redding had been tried by six rather than twelve men. This caused an uproar among local Rebels and Redding would have been hung immediately had not Ethan Allen promised "you shall see somebody hung, for if Redding is not hung, I will be hung myself."
After the second trial and execution, his body was not buried but rather his bones were kept in a drawer and used for medical research. They were not finally interred until 200 years later in the Old First Church Cemetery, in Bennington. The image at the top marks this belated burial.
Food for thought for present-day "loyalists" of the regime.