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Trial of Jack (slave of William Reese estate)

September 5, 1831 –  Executed


At a Court of Oyer and Terminer summoned and held for the County of Southampton on the 3d day of September 1831 for the trial of Nat a negro man slave the property of Edwin Turner and Jack a negro man slave the property of William Reese dcsd. both charged for making insurrection.


Present:  Jeremiah Cobb, Benjamin Drewry, William B. Goodwyn, James Trezevant & Ores A. Browne, Gent.


The Court being thus constituted Meriwether B. Brodnax Attorney prosecuting for the Commonwealth filed an Information against the above named Nat and Jack and thereupon the said Jack the negro man slave the property of William Reese dcsd. was set to the bar in the custody of the jailor of this County and the Court doth assign Thomas R. Gray esq. Counsel for the prisoner in his defense and the prisoner being arraigned of the premises pleaded not guilty to the information, and


Moses a slave being sworn and charged as a witness for the Commonwealth doth say that the prisoner came to the house of the witness’s master, Mr. Joseph Travis, on Sunday night preceeding the murder of Mr. Travis & family—complained of being sick and wanted to go home but said Hark would not let him go. Witness did not know exactly when the prisoner came, but saw him first with his head between his hands resting on his knees—Hark had Jack’s sister for a wife—witness says his master Mr. Travis & family went abroad on that day and did not get back until it was dark—The prisoner was in the kitchen when the witness went to sleep—and when the witness awoke a few hours after the prisoner was in the yard sick—the witness says Jack went off with the negroes who came to Mr. Travis’ & murdered him and family—the negroes went from Mr. Travis’ to Salathiel Francis and Mrs. Reese—they made the prisoner go with them.


Thomas C. Jones being sworn as a witness says that when the prisoner was brought here in custody he was delivered to him and made the following voluntary confession—That on Sunday preceeding the insurrection Hark one of the insurgents came to him and asked him if he would go with him—Hark took the prisoner to a place where several other negroes were assembled and a dinner prepared—that they explained to him the witness that they intended to rise and kill all the white people that the prisoner /one of the company/ objected and said their number was too few. Hark replied and said as they went on and killed the whites the blacks would join them—and it appearing to be necessary for the prisoners defense that the witness should be in attendance the Court doth suspend further proceeding in the case.




At a Court of Oyer and Terminer continued by adjournment and held for the County of Southampton on the 5th day of September 1831 for the trial of Jack a negro man the property of the estate of William Reese dcd charged with having on the 22d day of August at this county with force and arms feloniously consulted, advised and conspired with divers other slaves to rebel make insurrection and for making insurrection and for plotting to take the lives of divers free white persons citizens of this Commonwealth.


Present: Jeremiah Cobb, Carr Bowers, Willliam B. Goodwyne, James Trezevant and Ores A. Browne Gent.


The Prisoner Jack was again set to the bar in custody of the Jailor of this County and


Sampson C. Reese of full age being sworn as a witness and confirms the evidence in the case given by Thomas C. Jones and further that the prisoner when arrested had on a pair of shoes and socks which the witness believed to be William Reese’s who had been murdered.


Jordan Barnes being sworn as a witness says that the morning of 22d day of August last he left his home in the morning and went into his field while from the house the witness heard of the murders which had been committed and prisoner who had been absent from home for several days by permission of the witness to see his Master William Reese had returned—the prisoner had informed witness of the murder of Mrs. Whitehead and family and said that he the prisoner had been informed of the murder of Mrs. Whitehead and family by one of Mrs. Whitehead’s negroes.


The Court after hearing the testimony and from 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 him is set forth and it being demanded of the prisoner if anything for himself he had or knew to say why the Court should not proceed to pronounce judgment against him according to law and nothing being offerred 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 confined until Monda the 12th day of September instant, on which day between the hours of ten o’clock in the forenoon and two o’clock in the afternoon that he be taken by the Sheriff to the usual place of execution and there to be hanged by the neck until he be dead and the Court doth value the said slave to the sum of three hundred and fifty dollars. And the Court /by a majority of one/ from all the circumstances of the case doth recommend to the Governor to commute the punishment of the prisoner to transportation.


The Court doth allow to Thomas R. Gray Esq. the sum of ten dollars for his defense of Jack a negro slave belonging to the estate of William Reese.

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