Full Trial Records:

Sussex County Court of Oyer and Terminer

September 1-13, 1831

 

At a Called Court of Oyer and Terminer held for Sussex County at the Courthouse on Thursday the 1st day of September 1831 for the trial of Ned a negro man slave the property of Charles Stuart’s estate charged with using sundry seditious speeches and threats.

 

Present Thomas Hunt, George Blow, James Dillard, Robert Eldridge, and Robert Key, Gent Justices.

 

For reasons appearing to the Court the trial of the said negro slave Ned is adjourned to Monday the twelfth day of the present month.

 

Th. Hinks, J.P.

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At a Called Court of Oyer and Terminer held for Sussex County at the Courthouse on Friday the 2nd day of September 1831 for the trial of Solomon a negro man Slave the property of Nancy Sorrley of the County, Preston and Nicholas negro men slaves the property of Hannah Williamson of the County, Jim and Isaac negro men slaves the property of Samuel Champion of this County, Fed and Shadrack negro men slaves the property of Ann Key of this County, Boson and Frank negro men slaves the property of William Peters of this County, Booker a negro man slave the property of Samuel A. Raines of this County and Squire a negro man slave the property of George Goodwyn of this County charged with having uttered, used and spoken seditious words and threats to conspire and rebel and to assist and aid the blacks to murder the whites of this Commonwealth.

 

Present William Parham, William Thornton, Henry L. Harrison, Robert Eldridge, & Robert Key, Gent. Justis.

 

For reasons appearing to this Court the trials of the aforesaid prisoners are adjourned to Monday the twelfth day of the present month.

 

William Parham, J.P.

 

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The Court met according to adjournment on Monday the 12th day of September 1831. Present Thomas E. King, William Parham Jr., Thomas Hunt, William Parham Sr., William Thornton, James Dillard, Henry L. Harrison, and Robert Eldridge, Gent Justs.

 

Frank, a negro man slave the property of William Peters of this county was led to the bar in custody of the Jailer of this County and having James French Esquire appointed as counsel to defend him in his behalf pleaded not guilty to the charge and for his trial putteth himself upon God and the Court. Whereupon sundry witnesses were charged, sworn and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth, to wit:

 

Beck a negro girl slave the property of Solomon Parker states that at the last May meeting at the Racoon Meeting House there was a party of negroes around the well and the prisoner said he was going to join the black people to murder the white people. She was told by the negroes that if she told the white people about it that they (the white people) would shoot her down like a squirrel and would not bury her. She heard the thing spoken of by a number of negroes for eighteen months but she said not believing they were in earnest. On the Saturday night before and the Monday night of the last Southampton elections it was spoken of more boldly and the threat that the white people would shoot her if she told of it was repeated. She gave the information to her mistress on Wednesday after the insurrection broke out (which was the day she first heard the insurrection had broke out) on hearing her mistress say to Mrs. Godwyn she wondered if any of her negroes were concerned. She had no recollection of ever being told by any person that if the negroes should be convicted on her evidence that she must be set free nor has she ever had an idea that she was ever to be free.

 

Solomon D. Parker says that the evidence given by the witness on this occasion corresponds to the best of his recollection with evidence she has given on a former occasion, and that he had no reason to doubt that she is a person of truth. She has made communication to him on former occasions on other subjects, from which discoveries were made by him.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same and the prisoner heard in his defense by and through his counsel is of opinion that the prisoner Frank is guilty of the offense of which he stands charged and so sentence him to be hanged by the neck until he be dead and it’s ordered that he be remanded to Jail there to be safely held until Friday the 23rd day of the present month and it’s further ordered that the Sheriff of this County so that between the hours of two o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon carry the aforesaid sentence into execution.

 

The Court appraised the value of the said slave Frank to be four hundred and fifty dollars.

 

Ordered that William Peters pay James S. French ten dollars for defending his slave Frank this day condemned to be executed.

 

These minutes signed by Thomas King

               William Parham

               W. Hunt

               William Thornton.

 

Absent Thomas E. Rives and Thomas Hunt pressent William Parham and Robert Eldridge, Gent. Just.

 

Boson a negro man Slave the property of William Peters of the County was led to the bar in custody of the Jailor of this County and having William H. Brodnax Esquire assigned as Counsel to defend him in this behalf pleaded not guilty to the charge and for his trial putteth himself upon God and the Court. Whereupon sundry witnesses were charged, sworn and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth, to wit:

 

Beck a negro girl slave the property of Solomon D. Parker states that at the last May’s meeting at the Racoon meeting House she heard the prisoner say he would join the negroes to murder the white people. This was in company of several other negroes one of whom Solomon said God damn the white people. They had reigned long enough. She had not seen the prisoner since until he was brought before a magistrate to be examined.

 

Solomon D. Parker stated that he believes the witness disposed to tell the truth.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same and the prison being heard in his defense by and through his Counsel is of opinion that the prisoner Boson is guilty of the offense of which he stands charged and do sentence him to be hanged by the neck until he be dead and it is ordered that he be remanded to Jail there to be safely kept until Friday the 23rd day of the present month and it is further ordered that he Sheriff of this County do then between the hours of ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon carry the aforesaid sentence into execution.

 

Ordered that William Peters pay William H. Brodnax ten dollars for defending the Slave Boson this day condemned to be executed.

 

These minutes signed by

               William Parham

               William Parham S.

               James Dillard

               William Thornton

               Robert Eldridge

 

Absent William Parham Jr., Present Thomas Hunt, Gent. Just.

 

Ned, a negro man slave the property of Charles Stuart’s estate was led to the Bar in Custody of the Jailer of this County and having James S. French Esquire appointed as counsel to defend him in his behalf, pleaded not guilty to the charge and for his trial putteth Himself upon God and the Court and whereupon sundry witnesses were charged, sworn and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth, to wit --

 

Lizzy, the property of Elizabeth Stuart says that on this day three weeks ago his mistress told him that the negroes had risen and said she was compelled to go from home to keep from being killed. Heard the prisoner Ned say that he knew the British was coming a long time ago, that they did not come here fast enough that he wishes God would send them faster every day that he could cut them down as fast as they were brought before him and if they did come he would show them the way to his master Lewis’s house. He expected to be free [illegible] long as much as if he was now free. Witness heard that she could not tell any person. Prisoner should be damned if he could not. Negro man Abram was setting at the door at the time but said he was asleep and did not hear it.

 

Lewis Stuart a witness  for the Commonwealth says that he had the management of the estate of Charles Stuart decd the plantation on which the prisoner lives is about half a mile from his house – he heard of the insurrection on Monday about 2 o’clock and set off for Southampton that night. The insurrection was generally known in the neighborhood and Mrs. Stuart with a number of other females went to his house, that night. Mr. Stuart hired Ned the present year

 

William Parham a witness for the prisoner says that he committed the prisoner and that the evidence of the witness Lizzy now and at that time is about the same. The negro man Abram said he did not hear Ned say any thing about the British nor had he heard any thing of the insurrection and gave as a reason that he was sick.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same and the prisoner being heard in his defense by and through his counsel is of the opinion that the prisoner Ned is guilty of the offenses of which he is charged and do sentence him to be hanged by the neck until he be dead and its agreed that he be remanded to Jail where to be safely kept until Friday the 23rd day of the present month and its further ordered that the Sheriff of this County do then between the house of ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon carry the aforesaid sentence into execution. The Court appraise the value of the said Slave Ned to four hundred twenty-five dollars.

 

Ordered that James Stuart a son of Charles Stuart decd pay James S. French ten dollars for defending his Slave Ned this day condemned to be executed.

 

These minutes signed by Thomas Hunt, William Parham, James Dillard, William Thornton, Robert Eldridge.

 

Absent William Parham. Present Robert Key Gent. Justice.

 

Squire a negro man slave the property of George Goodwyn of this County was led to the bar in custody of the Jailer of this County and having William H. Brodnax Esquire assigned as Counsel to defend him in this behalf pleaded not guilty to the charge and for trial putteth himself upon God and the County. Whereupon sundry witnesses were charged, sworn and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth and on the part of the prisoner to wit.


Beck a negro slave the property of Solomon D. Parker a witness for the Commonwealth says that a conversation took place between the prisoner and herself on the day the Richmond troop came here about the insurrection of the negroes. The prisoner said that when they got here he meant to join them for he did not mean to do George Goodwyn much more good. That the white people need not come here for safety for they were not safe. Prisoner had come into the kitchen to get a blanket for one of the Richmond troop and eat a few mouthfuls and out of a [illegible] and went out.

 

George Goodwyn a witness for the prisoner says the Richmond troops arrived about 4 o’clock on Monday. He had only four servants to attend to the horses including the prisoner and they were much engaged. Prisoner went to the kitchen door late in the evening to get a bag to go to mill. Does not think that he was there at any other time.

 

George a slave the property of Thomas Dillard a witness for the prisoner was on the lot with the Horses with the prisoner; did not miss the prisoner from the Stable lot until he went to mill. None of the servants had time to leave the stable to get dinner. There were different stables for the servants to attend to – prisoner got a piece of Blanket out of the saddle house in the stable yard for use of the troopers. Was never more busy than on that day.

 

Andrew a slave the property of George Goodwyn a witness for the prisoner. Was one of the servants in the lot when the troops arrived. There were the prisoner Jimmy, Andrew himself, and two boys attending to the horses. Prisoner did not leave the lot while witness was there but he (witness) was sent off in the evening to a blacksmith shop with one of the Horses.

 

Jim Parham a free negro – cannot say whether prisoner did or did not go to the kitchen – did not miss him – prisoner went to mill about three quarters of an hour by sun as well as he recollects does not know any thing of the blanket.

 

Patience the property of George Goodwyn a witness for the prisoner was cook in the kitchen – prisoner was not in the kitchen – at any time from the morn when he killed a pig untill [sic] he came to go to mill late in the evening. She is the mother of the prisoner.

 

Cilla The property of George Goodwyn a witness for the prisoner was in the kitchen all day from the time the troops came until night and says that the prisoner during the time till night was not in the Kitchen. She is the sister of the prisoner.

 

John Chappell a witness for the prisoner superintended the Stables the day the troops were here. Prisoner was one of the hands at the stable. Does not know whether prisoner was at any time absent or not. Has no recollection of missing him. Meal was carried to some of the horses sometimes by the troops themselves and sometimes by the servants but he does not know by which of them. There was considerable bustle and confusion on the lot.

 

Thomas Potts a witness for the Commonwealth says prisoner went with him into the kitchen for some meal for the horses. Does not think that he had any conversation while he saw him there – does not know whether prisoner was in the kitchen at any other time or not.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same and the prisoner being heard in his defense by and through his Counsel is of opinion that the prisoner Squire is guilty of the offense of which he was charged and so sentence him to be hanged by the neck until he be dead and its agreed that he be remanded to Jail there to be safely kept until Friday the 23rd day of the present month and its further ordered that the Sheriff of this County do then between the house of ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon carry the aforesaid sentence into execution.

 

The Court appraise the value of the said slave Squire to four hundred and fifty dollars.

 

Ordered that George Goodwyn pay William H. Broadnax ten dollars for defending his Slave Squire this day condemned to be executed.

 

There minutes signed by William Parham, Thomas Hunt, William Thornton, James Dillard, and Robert Key.

 

The trial of the prisoners Preston, Nicholas, Solomon, Shadrack, Jim, Isaac, and Boston for reasons appearing to the Court is continued until tomorrow.

 

Ordered that the Court be adjourned until tomorrow morning 8 o’clock.

 

William Parham.

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The Court met according to adjournment on Tuesday the 13th day of September, 1831.

 

Present Thomas Hunt, William Thornton, Henry S. Harrison, Robert Key, Robert Eldrdige, Gentlemen Justices.

 

Solomon a negro man slave the property of Nancy Sorrly of this County, Nicholas a negro man slave the property of Hannah Williamson of this County and Booker a negro man slave the property of Samuel A. Raines of this County were led to the bar in custody of the Jailer of this County and having Meriwether Brodnax Esquire appointed to defend them in this behalf pleaded not guilty to the charge and for trial putteth themselves upon God and the County. Whereupon sundry witnesses were sworn and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth and on the part of the prisoner to wit.

 

Beck a negro slave the property of Solomon D. Parker a witness from the Commonwealth says that at the last May meeting at the Raccoon Meeting House, she heard the prisoners Nicholas and Booker say that they would join the negroes to murder the white people and heard the prisoner Solomon say that he would join too for God damn the white people they had been reigning long enough. Captain Peters’ two negroes Boson and Frank were also present and Mr. Parker’s Bob who told her if she told the white people would shoot her like a squirrel and would not bury her, and she has since been told the same thing by all the others. There were several other negroes present whom she did not know. The Saturday night before and the Monday night of the last Southampton election she heard conversations among the negroes about rising. On both these nights she was called in by her mistress and slept in the house. On Friday night she went out and stayed so late that she was not permitted to go in.

 

William Thornton a witness for the Commonwealth was present at the examination and commitment of the prisoners. The prisoner Solomon denied that he knew the witness Beck but on her telling him that he was her uncle and reminding him of having seen him at the funeral of her father who was his brother he acknowledged it.

 

Solomon D. Parker a witness for the Commonwealth says he had heard of the insurrection of the negroes on Monday and left home for William Barkers and twelve persons got in company, and after going to several places, heard at [illegible] Williams’ that the negroes were at Capt. Harry’s and he immediately came to Sussex to get Col. Hargrave to order out the Cavalry, as he believed the negroes intended to cross the Creek. On his way he found his wife at Mrs. Keys where she had gone for safety – believing the witness Beck disposed to tell the truth, tho he thinks it may be possible in some cases where she might be interested she might not tell the truth. Recollects that on some night he does not recollect at what particular time, the Girl Beck was out so late that he gave order that she should not be admitted into the house and she was not admitted until the next morning.

 

David G. Potts a witness for the Commonwealth was present when the prisoners were examined. They all denied knowing the witness Beck. She said that Solomon was at the May meeting with a horn tumbler with a wood bottom and that she knew them all.

 

John Hargrave a witness for the Commonwealth heard the statement of Beck before the prisoners were taken up – she said that Solomon, Frank, Boson, Nicholas, and Booker made the threats to which she testify [sic] at the May meeting – that Solomon had a bottle and a horn tumbler with a wood bottom in his hand.

 

Samuel L. Raines a witness for the commonwealth owns the prisoner Booker and does not know whether prisoner was at the May Meeting or not. Mrs. Parker with her servant Beck was frequently at his house, on some occasions two or three weeks at a time. There are generally large congregations at the quarterly meetings at the Racoon meeting house, so that it frequently has happened that acquaintances of his have been there without his seeing them.

 

James S. French a witness for the prisoner says that to the best of his recollection Beck stated in Jerusalem upon being examined by him, that no conversation occurred at the May Racoon meeting among the slaves with relations to insurrection that she knew of.

 

Meriwether B. Brodnax a witness for the prisoner states that he prosecuted for the Commonwealth in Sussex several slaves upon the evidence of the witness Beck and that to the best of his recollection she then stated that she heard no conversation at the May meeting by any body relative to the insurrection of this he cannot swear positively but thinks he is not mistaken as he attended particularly to her evidence.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same and the prisoners being heard in their defense by and through their Counsel is of opinion that the prisoners Solomon, Nicholas, and Booker are guilty of the offense of which they stand charged and do sentence them [illegible] be hanged by the neck until they be dead and it is ordered that they be remanded to Jail there to be safely kept until Friday the 23rd day of the present month and its further ordered that the Sheriff of this County do then between the hours of ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon carry the aforesaid sentence into execution.

 

The Court appraise the value of the said Slaves to be as follows. Solomon three hundred dollars. Nicholas three hundred fifty dollars and Booker three hundred fifty dollars.

 

Ordered that Nancy Sorly, Hannah Williamson and Saumuel L. Raines pay Meriwether B. Brodnax ten dollars each for defending their Slaves Solomon, Nicholas, and Booker respectively.

 

These minutes signed by

               Thomas Hunt, William Thornton, H.J. Harrison, Robert Eldridge.

               Absent Thomas Hunt, present William C. Chambliss, Gent. Just.

 

James and Isaac negro men slaves the property of Samuel Champion of this County the bar in custody of the Jailer of this County and having William H. Brodnax Esquire assigned as counsel to defend him on this behalf. Pleaded not guilty to the charge and for their trial putteth themselves upon God and this Court.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence being divided in opinions as to which of the prisoners were guilty of the offense of which they stand charged in this County and unanimously of opinion that the said offence was committed in the County of Southampton they do therefore remand the said prisoners to Jail to be carried from thence before some Justices of the Peace for the County of Southampton.

 

These minutes signed by William Thornton.

Absent Robert Key, present James Dillard Gent. Just.

 

Preston the property of Hannah Williamson of this County was led to the bar in custody of the Jailer of this County. The Court being of opinion that the offense of which he stands charged was committed in the County of Southampton they do therefore remand the said Preston to jail to be carried from thence before some Justice of the Peace for the County of Southampton.

 

Fed, a negro man slave the property of Ann Keys of the County was led to the bar in custody of the Jailer of the County and having James S. French Esquire assigned as Counsel to defend him in his behalf pleaded not guilty to the charge and for his trial putteth himself upon God and the Court. Whereupon sundry witnesses were sworn, charged and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth and on the part of the prisoner.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same are of opinion that the prisoner is not guilty of the offence which he stands charged and direct that he be discharged.

 

Shadrack a negro man slave the property of Ann Key of this County was led to the bar in custody of the Jailer of this County and having James S. French Esquire assigned as counsel to defend him in his behalf pleaded not guilty to the offence for his trial putteth himself upon God and this Court. Whereupon sundry members were charged and examined on behalf of the Commonwealth to wit.

 

Beck a negro slave the property of Solomon D. Parker says that on Tuesday morning Ann Keys Jenney told the prisoner in her presence that her mistress had said that if the negroes came she knew that Fed would join them. The prisoner said he would join them too.

 

Robert Key says on Monday evening he had walked out and on his return his mother asked him if he had seen Mr. [illegible] who had been there and told her that the negroes were in insurrection – heard it soon afterwards from another person. His mother said to him that if there was any insurrection she had no doubt but what Fed would join. [I]n the evening the two Mr. Parhams came there for protection. On Tuesday morning his mother made the same observation about Fed that she had done the evening before.

 

The Court after hearing the evidence and maturely considering the same and the prisoner being heard in his defense by and through his counsel is of opinion that the prisoner is guilty of the offence of which he stands charged and do sentence him to be hanged by the neck until he is dead and it is ordered that he be remanded to Jail there to be safely kept until Friday the 23rd day of the present month. And its further ordered that the Sheriff of the County do then between the hours of ten o’clock in the morning and two o’clock in the afternoon carry the aforesaid sentence into execution.

 

The Court assess the value of the said Slave Shadrack to be four hundred fifty dollars.

 

Ordered that Ann Key pay James S. French twenty dollars for defending her slaves Fed and Shadrack the former acquitted and the later condemned to be executed.

 

Ordered that Samuel Champion pay William H. Brodnax twenty dollars for defending his slaves Jim and Isaac tried this day.

 

Ordered that the clerks of this Court send by Express to the Governor a record of the proceeding in the trials of the Slaves condemned for execution and that Crooker Graves be appointed to carry the same.

 

These minutes signed by William Thornton, James Dillard, H.J. Harrison, William Chambliss, and Robert Eldridge.