Richard Lippincott (Loyalist)

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Captain Richard Lippincott, U.E. (January 2, 1745 – May 14, 1826) was an American-born Loyalist who served in the British Army during the American War of Independence. He is best known for his part in the Asgill Affair in which he hanged an enemy officer, Joshua Huddy, in revenge for similar murders of Loyalists, provoking an international incident.

Personal life[edit]

Lippincott was born in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. He was descended from an old colonial family, and served during the revolution as a captain in the New Jersey volunteers. He was married on March 4, 1770, to Esther Borden, daughter of Jeremiah and Esther Borden, of Bordentown, New Jersey.

Incident[edit]

On the outbreak of the revolution he warmly espoused the side of the Crown, and was captured early in the war and confined in the jail at Burlington, New Jersey, from which he escaped in 1776, making his way to the British Army at Staten Island.[citation needed]

He fought with the New Jersey Volunteers, which David Gagan described as an irregular group, who fought guerilla warfare behind American lines.[1]

In 1782 Lippincott's brother-in-law Philip White was seized from his home, by Americans, who made him run a gauntlet.[1] When his body was found, he appeared to have been subjected to further torture, and his body mutilated. His legs had been broken, one of his eyes had been gouged out, and one of his arms was missing.

Lippincott was assigned to exchange three captured Americans for some British prisoners, but he hung one, Captain Joshua Huddy, pinning a note to his body stating the hanging was in retaliation for White's death.[1] Captain Huddy was a partisan officer of some repute in New Jersey.[citation needed]

His connection with the execution of Captain Joshua Huddy, of the rebel service, attracted a great deal of attention both in Europe and America.[1] American Commander in Chief George Washington demanded British commander Sir Henry Clinton court martial Lippincott. Lippincott's defence successfully argued that, as an irregular, he was technically a civilian, subject to civilian, not military law. Chief Justice William Smith ruled that he did not have jurisdiction to try Lippincott, since the incident occurred in an area outside effective British control. Lippincott was not convicted, but, according to Gagan: "Clinton was forced to hold Lippincott in custody for the duration of the war to prevent Washington from exacting his revenge on an officer in Lord Cornwallis' captive army."

Even though Lippincott was tried by a court-martial for the offense, the Loyalists interposed and refused to return him.[citation needed] After conferring with his officers, Washington determined a course of retaliation was called for and accordingly Captain Charles Asgill, who had been taken prisoner at the surrender at Yorktown was selected by lot, to atone for the death of Huddy.[2]

At the Evacuation of New York at the end of the war, Captain Lippincott removed first to Nova Scotia and later to Upper Canada.[1] Lippincott received a grant of 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) in Vaughn Township. In 1806 he went to live with his newly married daughter, Esther, and his son-in-law George Taylor Denison, in York (now Toronto). Lippincott Street, in Toronto's Harbord Village, is named after him. Lippincott is buried in Weston, Ontario.[3]

Sources[edit]

  • Humphreys, David (1859). The conduct of General Washington : respecting the confinement of Capt. Asgill, placed in its true point of light. New York: Printed for the Holland Club; Collection Library_of_Congress.
  • "Memorial Tiles: Capt. Richard Lippincott". The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada. Retrieved June 5, 2019.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

This book incorporates text taken directly from The Loyalists of America and Their Times: from 1620 to 1816, a text in public domain.