"I have, for a long time, intended to make known to the world the lamentable fate of the late youth, Mr. John Ridout, and the circumstances relating to his untimely end ;—for ten years, I have waited for a favourable opportunity to bring the matter forward—the hour has now arrived—and I shall not let it pass by—they have laid their own snare and let them be taken in their own coils."
"In a pamphlet lately printed by the King's Printer, entitled a "Statement of Facts," &c. Samuel P. Jarvis, the destroyer of this lamented youth, endeavours to justify his conduct by stating that he "acted under a fatal necessity, which the conditions of human society imposes, and surrendered himself unhesitatingly to the offices of Justice." In the U. E. Loyalist of the 16th inst. himself, or some one of his friends, again alludes to the same unfortunate transaction, under the signature of "A Subscriber," and makes the following assertion :-
"Mr. Jarvis, though unfortunate, is known to have acted an honorable and upright part, and his subsequent conduct in surrendering himself to the offices of Justice, and enduring a long and painful imprisonment, which ended in a public trial, at which he was honorably acquitted by a jury of his country, has reflected that credit upon his character, which such calumniators as the Editors of the Advocate and Freeman can never injure."
"I cannot suffer the foregoing to pass unnoticed, and shall therefore contradict it in every sense of the word, as it is well known here that a great crime was committed, and that a mock trial followed. Thus has the murder of a boy served to be a boast, and to exalt the character of his slayer, and to reflect that "credit" upon him, which (as his friends say) no calumniator can destroy. But truth can destroy it—and therefore, I have undertaken the painful task of submitting the following statement of facts upon this melancholy subject :—
"The following is a narrative of the life of the late John Ridout, and of the circumstances attending his untimely death, at the early age of eighteen years and six months, by a murder committed upon him by Samuel P. Jarvis, on the morning of the 12th July, 1817."
"John Ridout was born in this town, on the 9th January, 1799 ; when nine years old, his father took him to England, and sent him, as an out scholar, to the Blue Coat School, in London—in about six months after his father's return to this country, he begged that he might also return himself—he did so—and went to school at Kingston, under Mr. Whitelaw."
"On the breaking out of the American War, in June, 1912, General Brock having taken much notice of him, appointed him midshipman in the Provincial Navy, and he served that year on Lake Ontario ;—he passed the following winter at home, doing duty here, on the capture of this town, in April, 1813, he was taken prisoner, but was suffered to remain on parole for several months ; in December of that year, one of his brothers was appointed Deputy Assistant Commissary General, and stationed at Cornwall, in the Eastern District of this Province. As soon as he took charge, being desirous to provide better for his brother John, that the prospects in the Provincial Navy afforded, he applied to Commissary General, Sir William Robinson, for a situation for him, and he was appointed a Commissariat Clerk, in February, 1814, at the age of fifteen years, and served with him during the remainder of the War. At that early age, he was so good a boy, and possessed such abilities, that he was placed in charge of a Depot, about 25 miles from Cornwall, where he supplied, in succession as they were [illegible], the 5th, 9th, and 81st Regiments for about three months."
"In June, 1815, the war being ended, and many establishments broken up, they were ordered to Quebec, where he served until August, 1816. At the great reduction of the Army at that time, he was discharged, with a gratuity of six months' pay, and a very kind and handsome letter from the Commissary General. He then once more returned as a student at law to his brother George, and faithfully performed his duty as he had always done, from the commencement of his early public career. But clouds were gathering around his youthful brow, and his beauteous form was soon to feel the murderer's blow. He who never had a quarrel or dispute with any of his companions, was soon to suffer from the malignant vengeance of an implacable enemy."
"In the early part of July, 1817, his brother George was conducting a suit in the Court of King's Bench against Mr. Secretary Jarvis, and in the course of the process, it was necessary that Samuel P. Jarvis should prove the execution of a paper, signed by his father, which he had witnessed; accordingly, after calling several times, on Saturday, the 5th July, John met him at the office of the Secretary of the Province, and requested him to prove the execution of the paper in the Crown Office ; he (Samuel P. Jarvis) became very indignant at this, abused John, and turned him out of the house. Nothing of this was known to his brothers ; but on the Wednesday following, he met Samuel P. Jarvis and Mr. George Markland, walking in the Street opposite where Dr. Widmer's house was then building, and attacked him for his conduct on Saturday, which had been so unprovoked ; struck him, or both struck at the same time, John saying that he was his match in the open street, although he (Jarvis) had taken advantage of him at his father's house, surrounded by his clerks. During the contest, Jarvis seized a large stone, in order to hurl it at John's head, but he caught his arm, and they were separated. This conduct arising from the wounded feelings of a youth of 18, cannot be considered extraordinary, or improper, when his antagonist was 7 years his superior in years, and had given so much provocation."
"When his brother T. G. Ridout heard of the affair and that his brother George had gone to Jarvis, and taken the whole upon himself, as it was in his service poor John met the insult, he considered that with respect to John, it would end there, as he was only a youth, and a student at law, and the other 25 years old, and a barrister of the court. But in this he was mistaken.
On Thursday the 10th July, Samuel P. Jarvis went up Yonge street on pretence of accompanying his Grand Father, Dr. Peters, to Lake Simcoe, but he went only as far as Dye's Tavern, 12 miles from town, and remained there until Friday afternoon, when he came in to a party at Chief Justice Powell's. On the same afternoon, Mr. Henry John Boulton, then 23 years of age and acting Solicitor General, delivered a challenge at Mr. S[illegible]'s to John Ridout who agreed to meet Jarvis, at Elmsley's Farm the next morning, at day light, about which time John, John, accompanied by James E. Small, then a youth of 19 years of age, and a [illegible], and a student at Law, went out to the field. [illegible] being too early, John lay down on a log and slept at intervals until the break of day, at three o'clock, at which time they saw Jarvis and Boulton coming towards them ; they met, the ground was marked at eight paces distance ; by mistaking the second word (owing to a stronger emphasis being placed upon it by H. J. Boulton) for the third, John fired—perceiving his error, he immediately ran up to Jarvis and said, "O Jarvis, I hope I have not hurt you"—his reply was go back to your ground, d——n you. Mr. Small here interfered and wished the matter settled amicably ; but they would not. Mr. Small then insisted that John should not be unarmed, but allowed to reload his pistol—that was over ruled by Henry J. Boulton and Jarvis, and Boulton decided that he must stand his ground and receive a shot without returning it. John took his ground saying "if it must be so it must." He stood unarmed as he was, Jarvis fired, saying "there d——-n you." John fell, crying "oh! You have killed me, it was foul play." At that moment, a clap of thunder rent the skies, and lightning flashed, and the rain came down in torrents. After a few minutes, he spoke, and held out his hand, saying "Jarvis I forgive you." After a little while, John fainted—Henry J. Boulton approached him, and with his foot, stirred his body—yes, put his foot on the sacred body of a gallant boy, and said, let us go, he is dead. The three then fled to town, leaving the dear youth alone in the agonies of death vomiting up blood.
"I believe Mr. Small went or sent out to George Playter, the Deputy Sheriff, and D. Forest, and sent them out to the field. George Playter was the first who arrived ; it was then raining with thunder and lightning; he found John who was then, and had been lying in a pool of blood and water. When he saw Playter, he stretched out his hand and said, "Is that you, Playter, where is Jamie Small? Where is Jarvis and Boulton? ah, it was foul play." D. Forest then came up with a carriage—John was put into it—and expired as they came opposite Dr. Macaulay's house, his last words being, "I forgive him, I forgive him—Tell my own mother not to grieve or lament for my early death, for I am happy, in a few minutes I shall meet my dear sister, Sally, in Heaven, then he said I forgive Sam Jarvis, I forgive him." Thus ended this heartrending scene."
"Now for a moment consider the ages of the parties, and their standing in society, who thus acted in this tragedy, and it will be seen that it was not an affair between boys and giddy youths, as has been industriously represented to all the new inhabitants of this town ;—they stood as follows:
"Samuel P. Jarvis, aged 25 years, a barrister at law and Deputy Secretary of the Province."
"Henry J. Boulton, 23 years, acting Solicitor General."
"James E. Small, 19 and a half years, student at law."
"John Ridout, 19 and a half years, student at law."
"Such was the disparity."
"Samuel P. Jarvis then went home, and the Sheriff that morning took him out of a root cellar, where he had concealed himself. To shew the light in which even his own father viewed this horrible affair, when he saw him he said, "O Sam how could you kill that darling boy the flower of his family?" He was his god-father.!
"The Coroner's Inquest then was held at Dr. Forest's Tavern, during the sitting of which, Henry J. Boulton walked down the main street towards Forest's Hotel, cool and apparently unconcerned, and asked somebody, how all this happened, who the were the parties, &c. as if he knew nothing about it. The jury brought in a verdict of murder as appears by the annexed copy of their inquest."