Abram Cox and Peter Williams

The Albion Cooper was a Maine-based brig with a crew of eight men sailing near Cuba in September 1857 when Abram Cox and Peter Williams mutinied.

Williams had been disciplined aboard ship for fighting with the first mate. As retaliation, he convinced Cox to join him in a plan to kill everyone else aboard the ship. Once the rampage began, another crewman, Thomas Fahey, agreed to join them. The three men killed the five others and threw them overboard.

Finding themselves unable to sail the ship they now controlled, the three men plundered the ship, set it ablaze, and boarded a life boat. Picked up after a few days at sea, the men confessed.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier, September 19, 1857

Returned to Maine to stand trial, Cox and Williams were sentenced to death for murder on the high seas. They were hanged in the prison yard in Auburn, Maine, before a crowd in excess of five thousand on August 27, 1858.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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