top of page

Trial of Curtis (slave of Thomas Ridley)

September 2, 1831 - Executed


[p. 72] At a court of Oyer and Terminer summoned and held for the County of Southampton at the Courthouse on the 31st day of August 1831 for the trial of Daniel, a negro man slave the property of Richard Porter, Jack, the property of Everett Bryant, Moses, the property of Thomas Barrow, Tom, late the property of Caty Whitehead, Jack, late the property of Caty Whitehead, Andrew, late the property of Caty Whitehead, Davy, late the property of Elizabeth Turner, Stephen, the property of Thomas Ridley, and Curtis, the property of Thomas Ridley, charged with feloniously consulting, advising & conspiring with each other and divers other slaves to rebel and make insurrection and making insurrection and taking the lives of divers free white persons of this Commonwealth—


Present: Jeremiah Cobb, James D. Massenburg, Alexander P. Peete, James Trezvant and Orris A. Browne. Gent. Justices.


Meriwether B. Broadnax, attorney for the Commonwealth filed an information against the prisoners above mentioned [struck through: and the court doth appoint William C. Parker, Esq., Att. at Law to defend the prisoners.]





Jack the property of Everitt Bryant, Davy late the property of Elizabeth Turner & Stephen & Curtis the property of Thomas Ridley who stand committed to the Jail of this county upon a charge of conspiring to rebel and make insurrection were this day brought into Court and for reasons appearing to the Court the trial of the said prisoners is adjourned till tomorrow—Ordered that this Court be adjourned till tomorrow morning nine o’clock.





At a Court of Oyer and Terminer continued by adjournment and held for the County of Southampton on the 2d day of September 1831 for the trial of Davy late the property of Elizabeth Turner, Stephen the property of Thomas Ridley, Curtis the property of Thomas Ridley, & Jack the property of Everitt Bryant charged with having feloniously on the 22d day of August 1831 at this County consulted, advised and conspired with each other and with Divers other slaves to rebel and make insurrection and for making insurrection and taking the lives of divers free white persons of this Commonwealth.


Present Thomas Pretlow, Samuel B. Hines, James W. Parker, James Trezvant & Alexander P. Peete. Gent.





Curtis a slave the property of Thomas Ridley was set to the bar in the custody of the Jailor of this County and the Court doth [appoint] Willilam C. Parker Esq. Counsel for the prisoner in his defence, and the said Curtis being arraigned of the premises pleaded not guilty to the information--and


John C. Turner a witness for the Commonwealth was sworn and examined says that at 8 or 9 o’clock Tuesday morning 23d August 1831 he met the prisoner and another near Dick Dardens mounted on mules—prisoner admitted that he lived at Major Ridley quarter that he was with the insurgents at that place Monday night—that he had been with the party that visited Capt Harris’ the second time—that he was on his way home—witness states that the place where he met prisoner was in the opposite direction from his home—that he the witness took him to the Cross Keys where the prisoner admitted that the leader of the insurgents told him to go to Newsoms and Allens quarter to get other negroes to join them and that he was on the way for that purpose—that the prisoner seemed to have been drinking and he told the witness that the insurgents gave him drink—that the prisoner and the other negro gave the same confession—that no promises or threats were made to them—that the prisoner made no effort to escape and that if they had they could easily have been shot as witness and his party were well mounted & armed—witness asked the prisoner how he expected to get to Mr. Newsom’s prisoner answered that Nat (the head of the insurgents) had told him the white people were too much alarmed to interrupt them.


Scipio a slave sworn on behalf of the prisoner--says that he was at home when the insurgents came up—they took Curtis with them and he did not appear to go willingly—that Curtis the prisoner could not have escaped because the insurgents surrounded him.


The Court after hearing the testimony and all the circumstances of the case are unanimously of the opinion that the prisoner is guilty in manner and form as in the information against them is set forth and it being demanded of the prisoner if anything for himself he had or knew to say why the Court here should not proceed to pronounce judgment against him according to law. And nothing being offered or alleged in delay of judgment it is considered by the Court that the prisoner be taken hence to the place from whence he came there to be safely and securely kept until Monday the twelfth day of September Instant on which day between the hours of ten o’clock in the forenoon & two o’clock in the afternoon the prisoner is to be taken by the [p. 82] Sheriff to the usual place of execution and there be hanged by the neck until he be dead and the Court values the said slave Curtis to the sum of four hundred dollars.





Ordered that William C. Parker be allowed the sum of twenty dollars as a fee for defending two negroes belonging to Thomas Ridley named Stephen & Curtis charged with insurrection and murder.



Court Minute Book, Southampton County, Virginia, 1830-1835:

bottom of page