Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: court testimony

The prisoner escaped; the question is moot.

The State v. George, a free negro1 NC 62 (1794).

The issue: Whether a slave could testify as a witness against a free negro.

The decision of the Superior Court of Law and Equity: “Mr. Solicitor General Jones had drawn a bill of indictment for burglary against the defendant: and at the moment it was about to be sent to the grand jury, and the book was handed to the witnesses:

Martin called the attention of the Court to the table: observing that one of the witnesses about to be sworn, was a negro slave; that although the defendant was a negro, yet, he being a free man, it was perhaps improper that a slave should testify against him.

McCoy, J. [Ashe, J., tacente.]

If there be anything in the objection, the Court will attend to it at the trial.

The slave was sworn, and the bill was found. The prisoner being arraigned, pleaded not guilty; but made his escape before the day assigned for his trial.”

Chapter 111. An Act Concerning Slaves and Free People of Color.

Section 50.  All negroes, Indians, mulattoes, and all persons of mixed blood, descended from negro and Indian ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive, (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person) whether bond or free, shall be deemed and taken to be incapable in law to be witnesses in any case whatsoever, except against each other.  In all pleas of the State, except where the defendant may be a negro, Indian or mulatto, or person of mixed blood, descended from negro or Indian ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive, (though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person,) whether such defendant be bond or free, the evidence of a negro or negroes, Indian or Indians, mulatto or mulattoes, and of all persons of mixed blood, descended from negro or Indian ancestors, to the fourth generation inclusive,) though one ancestor of each generation may have been a white person,) whether the person or persons, whose evidence is offered be bond or free, shall be admissible and the witnesses competent, subject nevertheless to be excluded upon any other grounds of incompetency which may exist.