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Who was Sandy Flash?
Chester County has its fair share of legends and stories but one of the most intriguing over the years has always been that of "Sandy Flash" who terrorized the countryside during the Revolutionary period until he was finally captured and hanged in 1778. Though the various stories about Sandy Flash vary greatly, there are some features that remain consistent from one story to the next.
His real name was James Fitzpatrick, commonly known as either Fitz or Fitch and he was the son of an Irishman of quite modest means and was indentured as an blacksmithing apprentice to John Passmore of Doe Run. He served the full term of his apprenticeship and became known locally as a good judge of horses. He served in several local establishments as a journeyman until the outbreak of the War, at which time he enlisted in the military service and was attached to the Flying Camp.
Military life, however, was not quite his thing, apparently, as he deserted after being flogged for an indiscretion of some sort. In the middle of the night, he took off, swimming across the Hudson, and then crossing New Jersey and entering Philadelphia, intent on making it back to his Chester County home. His luck ran out in Philadelphia, however, and he was apprehended and imprisoned for a time in the Walnut Street prison. Once again, however, he managed to escape and made his way back to his home. For awhile, he kept a low profile, content to work at his trade quietly.
No doubt the subsequent hatred that Fitzpatrick showed toward the patriot cause and the local Whigs was first bred by his handling in the military, but it was certainly heightened when he was apprehended in the summer of 1777 while working in his late master's fields in Doe Run. Only by shrewdness did he manage to elude his would-be captors. Because he probably believed that the local Whigs had alerted the authorities about him, he extracted his revenge upon any unfortunate Whig that crossed his path.
During the course of the year following, Fitzpatrick and his partner in crime, Mordecai Dougherty, most likely a childhood friend, steadily terrorized the local population, focusing on Whigs and tax collectors but leaving the local Tories alone. In fact, it can be imagined that Fitz escaped capture for quite awhile because of the aid given him by the local Tories.
For a more extensive look at some of the escapades of Sandy Flash, I've included below the full text of Ashmead's article about Sandy Flash:
James Fitzpatrick.—The character of "Sandy Flash," in Bayard Taylor’s "Story of Kennett," is founded on the adventures and the deeds of a sturdy freebooter, who for more than a twelvemonth kept the good people of the county of Chester in constant alarm and dread by his audacious and frequent crimes. The name of James Fitzpatrick in Chester and Delaware Counties is still surrounded with that peculiar glamour of crime which is so often associated with the acts of bold, bad men, and to this day his deeds are recalled by the representatives of the old families of this section with no little local pride, for the subject of their theme was, at least, no ordinary desperado.
James Fitzpatrick was born in Chester County, and when quite a lad was indentured by his father, an Irish emigrant in indigent circumstances, to John Passmore, of Doe Run, as an apprentice to the trade of blacksmithing. His early life was distinguished by no unusual incidents. He worked faithfully at the anvil until he attained his majority and acquired some local prominence as a shoer, and was known the neighborhood round as an excellent judge of horses. His bodily strength is said to have been enormous, his physical endurance noticeable, and he conspicuously excelled all the young men of the locality where he resided in athletic sports. Personally he was handsome; above the average height in stature, he was erect and graceful in carriage, his complexion florid, his features well formed, his eyes a clear bright blue in color, and his hair sandy and luxuriant. On several occasions he had exhibited extraordinary personal courage, circumstances which, subsequently remembered, increased the alarm of the Whigs when Fitzpatrick became an active, unscrupulous partisan of the cause of the king.
After serving the full term of his apprenticeship with Mr. Passmore, he worked as a journeyman at several forges in the county until the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, when he enlisted in the military service of the province. Subsequently, in the shaping of events, he became attached to the Flying Camp, and accompanied that organization to the city of New York. There, for some slight breach of military discipline, he was punished by flogging. The penalty imposed for his dereliction was more than he would bear, and deserting in the night-time, he swam the Hudson River, and made his way across New Jersey to Philadelphia, intending to proceed to his home in Chester County. In the latter city he was recognized, apprehended, and being absent without leave of his commanding officers, was lodged in the old Walnut Street prison, whence he was released on consenting to re-enter the Continental army, for at that time men were eagerly sought for to bear arms. The imprisonment was resented by Fitzpatrick as a wrong that had been done him; therefore, at the first opportunity which presented itself, he again deserted and returned to his home in Chester County, where, for a time, he worked honestly at his trade and in odd jobs at harvesting for the farmers in the neighborhood.
During the summer of 1777, Fitzpatrick, with several other men, was mowing in the field of his late master, John Passmore, in West Marlborough township, when he was taken into custody as a deserter by two Continental soldiers, who had been sent from Wilmington to arrest him. Fitzpatrick having been captured by surprise, was compelled to resort to subterfuge to recover his liberty. By a plausible story respecting clothing that he would require, and a request to be permitted to bid good-by to his aged mother, he prevailed upon the soldiers (who were instructed to bring their captive to Wilmington) to accompany him to his mother’s residence, a tenant-house on Mr. Passmore’s land. When they reached the dwelling, Fitzpatrick opened the door and quickly grasped his rifle from behind it, where he was accustomed to keep that firearm, leveled it at the soldiers, and swore that he would kill them if they did not leave immediately. They had learned sufficiently of the determination of character of their prisoner to believe that he would not hesitate an instant to make his threat good; hence, acting upon the better part of valor, they hastily retreated. Fitzpatrick, as soon as the men had fled, returned to the meadow where he had been at work, and renewed his labor as coolly as if no unusual incident had occurred to disturb the placidity of his every-day life.
The implacable hatred to the patriot cause which was engendered in the mind of Fitzpatrick as the result of corporal punishment inflicted on him while with the Continental army in New York soon had the opportunity to vent itself upon the Whigs of Chester County, whom he believed had betrayed his whereabouts to the colonial military authorities. On the 25th of August, 1777, the British forces, eighteen thousand men, under Gen. Howe, landed at the head of the Elk, in the movement against Philadelphia which resulted in the capture of that city. Fitzpatrick promptly repaired to the camp of the British army, was subsequently present at the battle of Brandywine, and accompanied the victorious enemy to Philadelphia, from which city he made many petty plundering excursions into Chester County, in which predatory expeditions he was accompanied by Mordecai Dougherty, a Tory from the same neighborhood whence Fitzpatrick came. The latter had been reared in the family of Nathan Hayes, residing near Doe Run, and, as supposed, the two worthies had known each other in their youth. After Fitzpatrick joined the English forces, he always spoke of himself as captain, and dubbed Dougherty with the title of lieutenant; but whether either of them were ever commissioned as such by Sir William Howe is very doubtful.
In June, 1778, while Fitzpatrick and his associate were engaged in one of these predatory raids, the British army evacuated Philadelphia, and the two men determined to remain in Chester County and carry on the war as an independent, irregular body. To that end they made their headquarters at a point known as Hand’s Pass, near the present town of Coatesville, and had also secluded hiding-places along the Brandywine in Newland and West Bradford townships, one of which, J. Smith Futhey says, "was on the high hill on the west side of the creek, near the present Marshall’s Station, on the Wilmington and Reading Railroad." From these retired places of concealment Fitzpatrick and Dougherty issued to make desperate expeditions, or to undertake daring adventures, which, in a short time, rendered their names a terror to the Whigs of that neighborhood, for, as to the Tories, they regarded them as their friends, and never molested them. The collectors of the public revenue, however, were their especial prey, and oftentimes unfortunate tax-gatherers who fell in their way were made the victims of the utmost brutality. Frequently, after stripping them of all their money, they would tie the unhappy officials to convenient trees and flog them unmercifully. On one occasion, one of these men was not only robbed of a large sum of money by Fitzpatrick and his companion, but he was taken to one of their hidden lurking-places in the woods, where he was, detained for two weeks, to the consternation of his family, who could only account for his absence by the supposition that he had been murdered.
At another time two tax-collectors, armed with muskets, met a man walking alone whom they did not know, and entered into conversation with him. During the interview one of the officials inquired of the stranger whether he had seen Fitzpatrick, or if he could give him any information as to the whereabouts of that individual, remarking at the same time that he rather preferred that he should encounter that person, for if he did, he, Fitzpatrick, should not escape from him so easily as he had done from other collectors who had fallen in with him. The stranger continued the conversation a few minutes longer, when, turning suddenly upon the men, he disarmed them both, then quietly informed them that he was Capt. Fitzpatrick, and that he would be obliged to them for their money. From the boastful Capt. McGowan, one of the collectors, he took his watch, but as the latter said it was a family relic, doubly valuable to him on that account, he returned it promptly. Capt. McGowan wore his hair in a neat queue, of which he was very vain, and as a particular indignity Fitzpatrick cut it off close to his head. He also despoiled the unfortunate military officer of his sword and pistols, and then tied him to a tree and administered a sound flagellation. At its conclusion Fitzpatrick informed the crestfallen man that he had heard him, McGowan, boasting while at an inn a few miles distant, what he would do with him should he encounter him, and he had therefore given him the opportunity to make his boast good. A local writer of the rude verse of the period in commemorating Fitzpatrick’s exploits alludes thus to this incident:
"Some he did rob, then let them go free,
Bold Capt. McGowan he tied to a tree.
Some he did whip and some he did spare,
He caught Capt. McGowan and cut off his hair."
Subsequently, when the outlaw was in chains in his cell in the jail at Chester, Capt. McGowan visited Fitzpatrick to inquire what he had done with the sword and pistols he had taken from him. The prisoner asked him if he remembered the tavern where he had expressed his wish to meet him, and the tree to which he was tied to be flogged by the man he was looking for. These questions were answered in the affirmative. Thereupon Fitzpatrick told him that about three hundred yards to the southwest of that tree he would find his sword and pistols, concealed between the bark and wood of a decayed oak log. It is stated that the arms were found at the place thus designated.
The audacious courage of the man frequently manifested itself in the most reckless acts of bravado on his part. On one occasion fifty or more persons, all well armed, gathered together with the avowed purpose of taking Fitzpatrick, dead or alive, but being unsuccessful in their search they repaired to an inn, where, seated upon the porch, they discussed the recent exploits of the outlaw and the liquors of the tavern at the same time, until the crowd became excited, and many of the men expressed a desire to meet Fitzpatrick, who was well known to almost every one present. Suddenly, during the heat of the conversation, the outlaw, with his rifle in his hands, presented himself before them, called for a glass of liquor, drank it, and after paying for it withdrew as quietly as he had come, excepting, as he backed off, he announced that he would shoot the first man who stirred to molest him. Then walking backward, holding his rifle menacingly toward the body of men, he moved away until he had attained, as he regarded, a sufficient distance from his enemies, when he turned and fled into the woods.
Several weeks before the British army evacuated Philadelphia, Fitzpatrick and Dougherty, in one of their expeditions from that city, repaired to the houses of Joseph Luckey and Peter Burgardine, where they committed acts of the most flagrant lawlessness. The whole neighborhood was aroused by the outrages, and Col. Andrew Boyd, the then lieutenant of the county, wrote to the Executive Council of Pennsylvania that he had caused diligent search to be made for the culprits, but unsuccessfully, as the loyalists of Newlin and adjoining townships aided and secreted the male-factors. Council thereupon declared the two men outlaws, and offered a reward of a thousand dollars for their arrest, or a like sum for that of Fitzpatrick alone. The Whigs of Chester County thereupon made cause against the men, and repeatedly large bands assembled to capture the outlaws, and numerous plans were resorted to to effect that object. Nevertheless the best-laid schemes looking to that end miscarried, the proscribed men eluded every ambushment, and by fresh outrages, in other sections of the county, added to the consternation which their deeds had created among the patriots. It is related that on one occasion a meeting of the Whigs was called at a tavern on the West Chester road to devise plans for the capture of Fitzpatrick and his companion. With amazing effrontery Fitzpatrick presented himself in disguise at the assembly. A militia captain present rendered himself peculiarly conspicuous by his repeated declarations that he wanted to see Fitzpatrick, whom he had never met, and volunteered to capture him and bring him to justice. The outlaw, who had heard these boasts, unperceived took a candlestick from the mantel-shelf, secreted it in his pocket, and then approaching the noisy captain, told him if he would withdraw with him into another room he would inform him how, when, and where he could see the brigand, and have an opportunity to capture him. The latter consented to go with him. Fitzpatrick, after they had entered the room designated, shut and locked the door, then leveled the candlestick at the captain’s head, saying as he did so,
"Young man, you want to see Captain Fritz. I am that person. I’ll trouble you for your watch and the money you may have about you."
The entrapped hero hastily complied with the request, whereupon Fitzpatrick tied his hands behind him with his own handkerchief.
"Now, sir," he said, as he unlocked the door, "you may go back to your friends and tell them that you wanted to see Captain Fritz and you have seen him."
The prominence given to Fitzpatrick by the Executive Committee in proscribing him and offering a large reward for his capture was accepted by the latter as a flattering recognition of his abilities, and the alarm with which his deeds were regarded by the Whigs. He was repeatedly shot at by concealed marksmen, but always escaped unscathed, until the notion became prevalent that his was a charmed life; his shrewdness in avoiding snares to entrap him, his ability, courage, and readiness in eluding pursuit, together with his apparent recklessness in thrusting himself almost within the clutches of his enemies merely to disappoint them afresh, served to deepen the general impression heretofore mentioned. A short time after a price was set upon his life, to manifest his contempt of the proclamation and his mean opinion of the bravery of his foemen, in broad daylight, armed only with a pair of pistols and a dagger, he entered the hamlet of Kennett Square, deliberately walked through its streets, the people whom he met making way for him to pass, and repaired to the "Unicorn," the ancient and most noted hostelry in the village, destroyed by fire in January, 1875.
He unhesitatingly entered the bar-room, in which a crowd of twoscore men were assembled, talking of the outlaw—for he was the constant topic of conversation—and making copious draughts upon the good cheer of "mine host," the jolly, jovial Maj. John Bell, until they had become boisterously intoxicated. In that condition many of the men—as seems to have been customary on those occasions—expressed the desire to meet Fitzpatrick, whose personal peculiarities were well known to almost every one present. The reckless man, apparently as if an accustomed frequenter of the inn, called for a glass of liquor, drank it, and quietly walked away, without the least molestation by word or sign from any one. The insolent intrepidity of the act so utterly astonished the crowd that they did not recover their amazement until Fitzpatrick was out of range of their firearms.
His robberies were bold and to the sheer effrontery of many of his deeds was he indebted for his immunity from arrest. On one occasion, when a number of men were harvesting in a field on the farm of James Shields, Fitzpatrick and Dougherty presented themselves, and the former informed Mr. Shields that he had called at his house and borrowed his watch, his silver shoe-buckles, and his shoes. Shields said, promptly,
"You must return them."
"That will depend altogether upon your behavior towards us," was the reply of the outlaw, with a laugh.
Archibald Hambleton, a young man who was reaping in the field at the time, was taken into custody by Fitzpatrick and his companion, who compelled him to go with them to his parents’ home. There the outlaws appropriated to their own use a rifle, powder-horn, and shot-pouch, and Fitzpatrick forced Hambleton to swear on a Bible that he would not follow, betray, disturb, or molest any of his (Hambleton’s) neighbors, many of whom were Tories, in retaliation for the theft. He also told Hambleton if he violated his oath in any respect he and Dougherty would return there and burn not only his parents’ house, but the houses of every rebel in the neighborhood.
The brutal punishment of flogging,—then a part of the military law of every nation,—which had caused Fitzpatrick to desert the cause of the colonies and sustain that of the loyalists, seemed, after his personal experience in the Continental army, to have become his favorite mode of punishment. On all occasions he employed castigation as a remedy for every wrong, suppositious or actual, which he had sustained. It is related that on one occasion a man from Nottingham township, when in pursuit of Fitzpatrick, went to the house of the latter’s mother, where he behaved in an insolent manner, hoping thereby to compel her to tell him the whereabouts of her son. Among other things, to show his authority when dealing with a proscribed outlaw, he broke her spinning-wheel. Fitzpatrick, when informed of the indignities which had been shown his parent, vowed that he would be revenged, and contrived to have a message delivered to the offender, in which he apprised him that he might expect a visit from him shortly, and could, if so disposed, make whatever arrangements he deemed necessary to receive his guest in a proper form. The man laughed at the threat, said he would be glad to see Fitzpatrick (they all said that), and if he came he would not, in all probabilities, have occasion to ask the hospitality of any other person after he had gotten through with him. Nevertheless, Fitzpatrick kept his promise. One morning he suddenly confronted the man who had ill-treated his mother at the door of his own house, and commanded him, in a peremptory manner, to immediately follow him to the woods. He who had been so prolific in defiances when the danger was remote had not the courage to resist when Fitzpatrick presented himself in person, but cowardly obeyed his orders. The outlaw tied him to a tree and administered a castigation, which was laid on with a strong arm, and, perhaps, with more good will on the part of the whipper than in any case when Fitzpatrick punished his enemy by flagellation.
Despite his many crimes, there was a rough chivalry in the character of the man which exhibited itself in his marked gallantry towards women, in his open, generous disposition to aid them on when ill fortune bore heavily; indeed, he was never known to rob a poor man or ill-treat a female. Many are the instances related when he bestowed upon the destitute that which he had taken from those in good circumstances, and the weak or defenseless never suffered at his hands. On one occasion an old woman, who made a meagre living by peddling from house to house odds and ends of female apparel, encountered Fitzpatrick in the neighborhood of Caln Friends’ meeting-house. She was at the time on her way to Philadelphia to buy goods, and all the money she possessed was on her person. She had never seen Capt. Fitzpatrick, and she informed, the tall, handsome stranger that she was told that the outlaw had made some demonstrations in that neighborhood a short time before, and she was afraid that she might fall in with him and be robbed of all her money. Fitzpatrick, by a few questions, drew from her the particulars of her business, and her difficulty in winning an honest livelihood. He then good naturedly told her she need be under no apprehension, Fitzpatrick never warred upon the weak or defenseless, that she was talking to that personage; and taking a purse from his pocket containing several gold pieces, he gave it to her to aid her in increasing her scanty stock of goods. Then, wishing her a safe journey, he turned into the woods and disappeared.
The short but eventful career of the outlaw was rapidly drawing to an end. On Saturday afternoon, the 22d day of August, 1778, shortly after five o’clock, Fitzpatrick went to the house of William McAffee, a well-to-do farmer, who resided in Edgmont township, in the present county of Delaware, near Castle Rock, a cluster of peculiar rocks, bowlder upon bowlder in picturesque confusion, a place often visited by tourists as a natural curiosity, not far from Crum Creek, where that stream is crossed by the West Chester road, and about ten miles from old Chester, on the Delaware. The house stood on a plantation known as the Castle Rock Farm, now owned by Mr. William Taylor, whose present dwelling stands on the site where McAffee’s house was then located. It seems that Fitzpatrick had visited the family, who were ardent Whigs, on a former occasion, and had taken from them some articles of value. On the afternoon above mentioned, Mr. and Mrs. McAffee and their son, Robert, a captain of a military company, were at tea, when the latter glancing out of the door saw a man armed with a rifle, a pair of pistols in his belt, and a sword at his side approaching on horseback. As he came from the direction of the American camp, the captain supposed the horseman was a soldier in the Continental service. The latter rode to the door, dismounted, and asked whether William McAffee lived there. An affirmative response was made to this interrogatory, whereupon the stranger entered the room and inquired,
"Are you Capt. Robert McAffee?"
"I am Robert McAffee," was the rejoinder of the son.
"And I am Capt. Fitzpatrick."
"If that be so," quietly said the young man, "sit down and take a cup of tea with us; you are welcome to it."
But Fitzpatrick, who seemed to have entertained personal enmity against the McAffees, rudely refused the invitation, declaring, with an oath, that he would neither eat nor drink, nor would he leave the house until he had stripped its inmates of all the money they had; that he was levying contributions from the rebels, and that he had fixed upon one hundred and fifty pounds as the sum to be paid him by the McAffees. Thereupon presenting his pistol at Capt. McAffee, he ordered the members of the family to deliver to him all articles of jewelry and money they had upon their persons. A pair of well-made low shoes, or pumps, with silver buckles, worn by the son, particularly pleased Fitzpatrick’s fancy, and, kicking off those he wore, he immediately appropriated those articles to his own use. The shoes, however, were rather small for the outlaw, and when he put them on his heels pressed the counters down. During a moment when Fitzpatrick’s attention was drawn elsewhere, Capt. McAffee threw the keys of his chest, together with some Continental bills which he had had in his pockets, behind the door. His mother obtaining possession of the keys went up-stairs, and unlocking the chest in which a large sum of money was, secreted it under a quantity of wheat which was stored in the garret. Fitzpatrick, as soon as he became aware that Mrs. McAffee had left the room, threatened to kill her son if he did not immediately cause her to descend. In response to the call the mother promptly appeared, accompanied by Rachel Walker, the hired woman. Fitzpatrick having ransacked every place in the lower rooms where he supposed money or plate could be secreted, ordered all the inmates of the dwelling to ascend to the upper apartments. In the passage the outlaw observed Capt. McAffee’s rifle, which he discharged and threw out of the door, remarking that it could lie there until it was wanted. At the foot of the stairs William McAffee endeavored to dissuade Fitzpatrick from ascending, promising him immunity from punishment for what he had already done to them; but the latter, believing that there was a large sum of money in the house, adhered to his purpose, and drawing his sword, placed the point of it at the breast of the old man, threatening to run him through if he did not immediately proceed.
When in the upper rooms, Fitzpatrick commanded Capt. McAffee to unlock his chest and produce the one hundred and fifty pounds already demanded. The latter, in a tone of well-assumed astonishment, exclaimed,
"How can you expect that so young a man as I am would have so large a sum of money in my possession?"
However, he promptly opened the chest, the keys of which his mother had returned to him, and told Fitzpatrick to search it. The outlaw complied with this invitation, but not finding the money, which, it is supposed, he had learned was in the possession of Robert McAffee, his disappointment was great, and, turning to the captain, said that in lieu of the money he would compel him, as he was his prisoner, to take part in his next campaign, and to that end he must provide himself with a horse and clothing, for it would be a long and severe expedition. The threat was not to be misunderstood, and Capt. McAffee was convinced that his only hope for liberty, possibly life itself, was in the capture of the outlaw.
Fitzpatrick ordered Capt. McAffee, his father and mother, in the order given, to stand in a row on his right hand, while Rachel Walker stood a short distance from and in front of him. The pumps which the outlaw had appropriated to his own use, being down at the heels, seemed to have annoyed him. He laid his arms, except a pistol which he kept in his hand, on the bed, and placing one of his feet on the side of the bedstead, he strove to force, with both hands, the shoe on his foot. Capt. McAffee, who was a large and muscular man, saw that the opportunity to put his resolution into effect was now presented, and, springing suddenly, he seized Fitzpatrick from behind in such a way as to prevent the latter the full use of his arms, and then, after some struggling, managed to throw him to the floor. The outlaw strove desperately to free his hand in which he still clutched the pistol. Rachel Walker thereupon caught the weapon, and, although in the scuffle her hand was badly hurt by the lock, she stoutly maintained her hold until she wrested the firearm from his grasp. As the men were still struggling, Rachel threw a double woolen coverlid over the head and face of Fitzpatrick, holding it in that position, which partially smothered him, and gave McAffee complete mastery over the prostrated man.
David Cunningham, a hired man on the farm, who had entered the house, hearing the noise of the scuffling, came up-stairs. He was immediately ordered by Capt. McAffee to get a rope and secure Fitzpatrick. While Mrs. McAffee was striving to bind his feet, he kicked her so violently in the side that she fell against the partition at the other end of the room. After the unhappy man was firmly bound, he begged earnestly of his captor that he would blow out his brains and make an end of his misery. Capt. McAffee told him that he would deliver him to the proper authorities, and to that end he sent David Cunningham to inform the nearest Whig neighbors of the capture, with a request that they would aid in guarding the prisoner from any attempted rescue. This being done, Cunningham was instructed to proceed to the American camp, and ask that a guard be sent to take Fitzpatrick to a place of safety.
Rachel Walker, after the capture had been made, armed with the pistol she had wrested from the outlaw, stood sentinel at the door of the apartment, but when David Cunningham rode away on his errand, she remembered that Dougherty and other companions of the outlaw might be lurking in the neighborhood, and she immediately started to bring Miss Jane McAffee home from the house of a friend near by before night came on. As the two women were returning they met a young man and woman walking together. The news the former had was too momentous to be kept, and they therefore imparted to the latter the fact that Fitzpatrick had been taken and was then a prisoner at McAffee’s. This information aroused the latter’s curiosity, and together the four repaired to the house. When they came into the room the young woman seated herself on the bed on which Fitzpatrick was lying, and apparently deeply moved with pity at the sight of the handsome man pinioned, her womanly sympathies exhibited themselves in an effort to comfort him. She smoothed his hair with her hand, and when he complained of being chilly, she threw a covering over him.
The immediate neighbors of the McAffees were loyalists, and the nearest Whigs were about two miles distant, hence it was between eight and nine o’clock before any assistance was had to prevent a rescue. Capt. McAffee then, exhausted by the struggle and the excitement which he had been under, repaired to an adjoining apartment to rest himself. Some time after he had retired it was discovered that Fitzpatrick, whose body was covered by the quilt, had freed his arm from the rope, and it was suspected that the young woman had been mainly instrumental in loosing the bonds. He was speedily rebound, and the rope was drawn so tightly that he complained that it hurt him. No attention was paid by the men present to the remonstrance of the prisoner, and he appealed to Miss Jane McAffee, who called her brother. The latter declared that Fitzpatrick should not be ill used, and although he must be bound, the ropes should not be drawn unnecessarily tight to cause him pain. About eleven o’clock one of men who were guarding Fitzpatrick sat near the window, when he was immediately fired at, the ball lodging in the weather-boarding of the house beneath the sill. A number of the men present made search for the assailant, whom they believed to have been Dougherty, but failed to apprehend him. They merely found a sword, which was recognized as one that Fitzpatrick had taken from a patriot officer. Two hours after midnight the guard dispatched from the American camp to escort Fitzpatrick to a place of safe detention arrived, and taking him in charge, conveyed him to Old Chester, where he was lodged in jail early the following morning. Dougherty, after the capture of his superior, passed entirely out of public notice, and nothing is known of his subsequent career. He may have taken part in the series of annoyances to which Capt. McAffee and family were subjected after the capture of Fitzpatrick. Two stacks of oats were burned, the spring house opened, all the milk-pans therein ruined, and the manes and tails of the horses on their farm cut off, and other outrages perpetrated.
On the 15th of September Fitzpatrick was tried and convicted of burglary and robbery, and sentenced to be hanged. The Executive Council of the State approved the sentence, and designated the 26th day of the same month as the time when the execution should take place. While confined in the old jail in Chester, after conviction, Fitzpatrick made an effort to escape. He filed his chains and would have succeeded in his attempt had it not been that iron bars, imbedded in the masonry of the flue of the chimney, prevented his egress in that way, and the noise made in striving to break them out aroused his keepers. He was, therefore, removed by order of Council to the then recently-erected prison on Walnut Street, Philadelphia, as a place of greater security. There he twice broke his handcuffs off in one night, but was prevented from effecting his escape by the vigilance of the guards. The day previous to his execution he was conveyed to Chester.
On the morning of the 26th day of September, 1778, at the intersection of Providence and Edgmont Avenues, in North Ward, Chester, James Fitzpatrick met his fate. Tradition hath it that after the rope was adjusted about his neck and the cart drawn from beneath the gallows he fell to the earth on his feet, and that by standing on his toes the strain on his neck was removed. This the hangman saw, and springing upon the shoulders of the doomed man, the increased weight forced the body down until James Fitzpatrick was actually strangled to death.
Ashmead's History of Delaware County