George Brown (given name William Tinsdale) served aboard the schooner Retrieve on its voyage from Cadiz, on the south coast of Spain, to New Orleans.
En route, Brown, Nicholas Palermo, and several other sailors mutineed, robbing and killing Captain Lewis and taking control of the ship. They sailed into Omoa, on the Spanish Main (present-day Honduras). While there, one of the crew members reported the crime, leading to their arrest.
The mutineers were transported to New York City aboard the USS Enterprise. While awaiting trial, one unidentified defendant died in jail.
Palermo agreed to testify against Brown. After a four-hour trial, Brown was convicted of murder on the high seas on September 6, 1819, and sentenced to death.
George Brown was hanged onboard the Retrieve anchored amidst numerous boats carrying onlookers in the East River on October 22, 1819.