top of page

Trial of Nat, alias Nat Turner

(slave of Putnam Moore, deceased)

November 5, 1831 –  Executed


At a Court of Oyer and Terminer summoned and held for the county of Southampton on Saturday the fifth day of November 1831 for the trial of Nat alias Nat Turner a negro man slave late the property of Putnam Moore an infant charged with conspiring to rebel and making insurrection—


Present. Jeremiah Cobb, Samuel B. Hines, James D. Massenburg, James W. Parker, Robert Goodwin, James Trezevant & Ores A. Browne—Gent. Carr Bowers, Thomas Preston & Richd. A. Urquhart.


For reasons appearing to the Court it is ordered that the Sheriff summon sufficient additional guard to repel any attempt that may be made to rescue Nat alias Nat Turner from the custody of the Sheriff—


The prisoner Nat alias Nat Turner was set to the bar in custody of the Jailor of this County, and William C. Parker is by the Court assigned Counsel for the Commonwealth filed an Information against the prisoner, who upon his arraignment pleaded not guilty and


Levi Waller being sworn as a witness states that on the morning of the 22nd day of August last between 9 & 10 o’clock he heard that the negroes had risen and were murdering the whites and were coming. Witness sent his son Thos. to the /school/ house he living about a quarter of a mile off to let it be known for his children to come home. Mr. Crocker the /school master came with witnesses children. Witness told him to go to the house, load their guns, but before the guns were loaded Mr. Crocker came to the still where witness was/ and said they were in sight—witness retreated and concealed himself in the corner of the fence /behind the garden/ in the weeds on the opposite side of the house---Several negroes pursued him but he escaped them by falling among the weeds over the fence—one negro rode up and looked over, but did not observe him—the attention of the party he thinks were called off from him by some of the party going in pursuit of another, which he thinks they took for him but who turned out to be his blacksmith. Witness then retreated into the swamp which was not far off—after remaining some time witness again approached the house—before he retreated he saw several of his family murdered by the negroes—Witness crept up near the house to see what they were doing and concealed himself by getting in the plumb orchard behind the garden—the negroes were drinking. Witness saw prisoner whom he knew very well, mounted (he thought on Dr. Musgraves horse). States that the prisoner seemed to command the party—made Peter Edwards negro man Sam who seemed disposed to remain, mount his horse and go with them—prisoner gave command to the party to “go ahead” when they left his house—witness states that he cannot be mistaken in the identity of the prisoner—


James Trezvant being sworn said that Mr. James W. Parker and himself were the Justices before whom the prisoner was examined previous to his commitment—That the prisoner at the time was in confinement but no threats or promises were held out to him to make any disclosures. That he admitted that he was one of the insurgents engaged in the late insurrection and the chief among them—that he gave to his master & mistress Mr. Travis & /his/ wife the first blow before they were dispatched—that he killed Miss Peggy Whitehead—That he was with the insurgents fro their first movement to their dispersion on the Tuesday morning after the insurrection took place—That he gave a long account of the motives which lead [sic] him finally to commence the bloody scenes which took place. That he pretended to have had intimations by signs & omens from God that he should embark in the desperate attempt. That his comrades and even he was impressed with a belief that he could be the impositions of his hands cure diseases. That he related a particular instance in which it was believed that he had in that manner effected a cure upon one of his comrades. And that he went on to detail a medley of incoherent and confused opinions about his communications with God, his command over the clouds &c &c which he had been entertaining as far back as 1826.


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 and form as in the Information against him alleged, and it being demanded of him if anything for himself he had or knew to say why the Court to judgment and /execution/ against him of and upon the premises should not proceede—he said he had nothing but what he had before said. Therefore it is considered by the Court that he be taken hence to the Jail from whence he was taken therein to remain until Friday the 11th day of November instant on which day between the hours of ten o’clock in the forenoon and four o’clock in the afternoon he is to be taken by the Sheriff to the usual place of execution and then and there be hanged by the neck until he be dead. And the Court value the said slave to the sum of three hundred and seventy five dollars.


Ordered that William C. Parker be allowed the sum of ten dollars as a fee for defending Nat alias Nat Turner, late the property of Putnam Moore infant—


bottom of page