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Trial of Boson (slave of William Peters)

September 12, 1831 – Sentenced to be executed (escaped)


Boson escaped before the authorities could hang him and was captured in 1835. At that time, numerous court officials of Sussex County petitioned the governor of Virginia to allow Boson’s sentence to be commuted to transportation outside the state rather than death. See petition and other documents in Survivors section.




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 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.




[September 12]


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 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 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’s 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 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.

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