Edward Clements and Thomas Reid

The Norfolk-based schooner J.B. Lyndsey was sailing from Trinidad to the Turks and Caicos Islands to take on a load of salt for delivery to North Carolina when, on January 27, 1850, when crew members Edward Clements and Thomas Reid attempted to commandeer the ship.

In the process, crews member John Walker and John Heeney were killed and the others, including Captain Solomon S. Riggs, were held captive. Clements and Reid then attempted to scuttle the ship and escape on a smaller boat.

As they did, one of the crew members aboard the J.B. Lyndsey was able to free himself and the surviving crew members and return to port. There, authorities issued an alert for Clements and Reid.

New Orleans Crescent, March 6, 1850

Once apprehended, Clements and Reid were returned to Virginia to stand trial. In the U.S. District Court in Richmond, they were tried and convicted of murder on the high seas in December 1850 and sentenced to death.

With their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court pending, on September 30, 1851, the two men escaped from jail.

Arrested and returned to jail, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected their request for a new trial in February 1852.

Edward Clements and Thomas Reid were hanged together in the Henrico County Jail on April 23, 1852.

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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