He may or may not be the child’s father; she has no right to say.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
State v. Barrow, 7 NC 121 (1819).
A man charged as the putative father of a “bastard child” is entitled to offer evidence that the mother of the child is “of mixed blood” within “the fourth degree” and therefore excluded by law from testifying against him. Case remanded to the county court to hear defendant’s Barrow’s evidence and determine the competency of the witness.
State v. Thomas Long, 31 NC 488 (1849).
This case arose in Martin County. In May 1848, Lucinda Simpson swore before two magistrates that Thomas Long was the father of her unborn child. The magistrates issued a warrant for Long to appear at the next term of court. He moved to dismiss the proceedings “for the reason that Lucinda Simpson was a woman of mixed blood, within the fourth degree, and therefore incompetent to give testimony against a white man.” The case was dismissed, but Simpson swore again in October 1848 (apparently after the child was born) that Long was the father. Long again succeeded in getting the matter quashed. The decision was upheld in Superior Court and appealed to the State Supreme Court. Double jeopardy; judgment affirmed.
“of mixed blood” within “the fourth degree” – are you familar with this
legal term? – what does it mean or refer to exactly?
It’s the source of the name of my blog:
Sec. 74. Who shall be deemed free negroes. All free mulattoes, descended from negro ancestors to the fourth generation inclusive, though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person, shall come within the provisions of this act. Revised Statutes of North Carolina, 1837. In other words, a free person was “colored” if he or she had as few as one black great-great-grandparent among 16. Thanks for your interest! — Lisa