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Trial of Booker (slave of Samuel A. Raines)

September 13, 1831 - Executed


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 the 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.





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 for 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 shot 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 ? 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 know 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 related to the insurrection of this he cannot ? Positively but that 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 they 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 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.

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