Charles Gibbs and Thomas J. Wansley

Charles Gibbs, born into a seafaring family in Rhode Island, began his career as a privateer as a young man. Working primarily out of the Bahamas, according to his later confessions, he engaged in mutinies and murders across the Caribbean throughout the 1820s.

His murderous career came to an end after he, fellow crewman Thomas J. Wansley, who was Black, and others, mutineed aboard the Vineyard off the coast of Long Island, killing the captain and first mate, on November 23, 1830. While fleeing into harbor, several of the mutineers were killed and much of their stolen cargo of silver was lost.

Gibbs and Wansley survived, only to be captured and sent to New York City to stand trial. Prosecuted by United States Attorneys, James Alexander Hamilton and Philip Hamilton, sons of Andrew Hamilton, Gibbs and Wansley were convicted of murder on the high seas and sentenced to death.

Wyoming Herald (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.), April 29, 1831

Charles Gibbs and Thomas Wansley were hanged together on Ellis Island on April 22, 1831.

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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