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Trial of Ben (slave of Benjamin Blunt estate)

November 21, 1831 – Executed


At a Quarterly Session held for Southampton at the Courthouse the 21st day of November 1831.


Present: Benjamin Griffin, Jacob Barnes, Joseph T. Claud & A.P. Peete Gent.


Ben a negro man slave belonging to the Estate of Benj. Blunt decd. who stands committed to the jail of this County upon the charge of conspiracy to rebel and make insurrection was this day set to the bar in custody of the Jailor of this County (the Court summoned for his trial having failed to meet). And Merewether B. Brodnax Attorney for the Commonwealth filed an information against the p risoner and the prisoner upon his arraignment pleaded not guilty, and


Sam a negro man slave being charged & sworn as a witness says that the prisoner came to his masters Drew Bittle, Monday morning August /last the/ 22d about two hours by sun. Witness did not know where from and said there was going to be a war and that witness would see—About an hour fater the prisoner made these remarks Mr. Barnes came by and said the negroes are behind killing the white people. Ben (the prisoner as soon as Mr. Barnes had passed) said ah: did not I tell you there would be war—how did I know:--


Drewry Bittle was sworn & examined as a witness and says that he is the owner of the slave /Sam/ that he /the witness/ was from home when the insurrection broke out—he went home—hid his family, left his negroes to guard them—he went off—returned & carried his family off and left his negroes at home and directed them not to go off on any account unless to run from the negroes.


Luke a negro man slave was charged & sworn as a witness. States that on Tuesday morning /August 23d 1831/ Billy Artist /a leader of the insurgents/ & his wife came by – witness asked Artist the news & Artist asked witness to go with him—but witness refused. Artist said nothing to prisoner but prisoner went off with him. Artist returned about 3 or 4 o’clock in the evening with the prisoner, and Thomas Hathcock & 3 boys with him, & said he would cut this way, he would kill & cripple as he went. They were so far off that witness did not hear them except when they spoke loud, and Artist flourished his hat [or hatchet] when he spoke of killing. &c.


Charlotte a negro woman slave – being charged & sworn, says that about three hours by sun in the morning of Tuesday Nathan / who has been convicted as an Insurgent/ the brother of the prisoner came to her master’s Peter Edwards’s and told prisoner his, Nathans, money was in the field—Ben made no reply and in a short time, Nathan, Billy Artist & his wife & Ben the prisoner & two boys went off together.


Cherry a negro woman slave was charged & sworn—& states that she lives at Mr. Francis’s, that about 12 o’clock Tuesday 23d August last the prisoner & /Billy Artist & his wife/ Nathan & the two boys came to the house of Mr. Francis; Ben the prisoner staid in the yard but the others went into the house they brought out a bundle of clothes and asked the prisoner to carry some of them and he said he would.


The evidence being closed and the prisoner being fully heard in his defence by Robert Birchett esq: his Counsel. The Court after hearing the testimony and from all the circumstances of the case are unanimously of opinion that the prisoner is guilty in manner & form as in the Information against him is alleged and it being demanded of him if any thing for himself he had or knew to say why the Court should not proceede to pronounce judgment against him according to Law, he said he had nothing but what he had before said. Therefore it is considered by the Court that he be taken from hence to the Jail from whence he came, and that on Tuesday the 20th day of December next between the horus of ten o’clock in the forenoon & four o’clock in the afternoon of the same day, he be taken by the sheriff of this County to the usual place of execution and then and there be hanged by the neck until he be dead.


Memo: the Court vaue the said slave Ben to the sum of four hundred dollars.

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