Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: slave

A slave is not a competent witness against a free negro?

Cox v. Dove, a Free Negro, 1 NC 72 (1796) .

1. A slave can not be a witness against a free negro.

2. In trespass quare clausum fregit, the defendant under the general issue may give in evidence a license.

Trespass quare clausum fregit and non culpabilis pleaded.

To prove the entry a negro slave was called and offered to be sworn.

But the Court (WILLIAMS, J., saying he never heard such a thing asked: HAYWOOD, J., tacente,) refused to admit the witness, although the defendant was stated to be a negro. 2, 1777, 2, 42, 307.

The case of State v. George, ante, p. 40, was cited: but much argument was not offered by the plaintiff’s counsel; there being other witnesses, attending to prove the fact intended to have been proved by the slave. He having been offered only to come at the opinion of the judges.

Slade, for the defendant, offered to read in evidence, a letter from the plaintiff to the defendant, authorizing him to tend turpentine trees on the premises.

Martin, for the plaintiff, objected to this: on the ground that if the defendant meant to avail himself of the plaintiff’s license, he ought not to have denied the entry, which he had done by pleading non culpabilis; at all events he ought to have pleaded justification. He cited Co. Litt., 282.

The Court, HAYWOOD, J., and STONE, J., nevertheless permitted the letter to be read: on the authority of a case cited out of Buller’s Nisi Prius, 90. Hatton & Neale, per Jones, C. J., 1683.

The plaintiff proved a trespass committed by cutting timber, and had a verdict.

NOTE.–Upon the first point see State v. George, ante, and 1 Rev. Stat., ch. 31, sec. 81. The law was later clearly settled that a slave is a competent witness against a free negro.

[Sidenote: Though I have a law degree, I’m not completely confident about my interpretation of this bizarrely fashioned decision. Thus, I present it in its entirety.  — LYH]


Lost or Mislaid, sundry Notes and Bonds.

1 Bond that I hold against Adam Winn for one boy, Woodward Winn.

1 Note against J.A. Brady for $200.

2 Notes against W.L. Jenkins, one $20 and one $10.

My Accounts and Receipts payable to me.

1 Note against W.B. Field; Land Deeds, and my free papers.

I forewarn all persons from trading for said notes and accounts as I have not got value received for them.                         HENRY SIMMONS. Nov. 12.

Fayetteville Observer, 19 November 1860.

[Sidenote: Woodward Winn was Adam Winn’s son, and a slave. — LYH]

Born in Guinea, carried to France, landed at Beaufort.


ON the 29th day of October last, came to the house of the subscriber, a negroman who says his name is BRANDY, and that he is a free-man that he was born in Guinea and carried to France, and afterwards to this country by Calu a Frenchman, about 12 or 18 months past, who landed at Beaufort.  He is about 30 years of age, of a black complexion, about 5 feet 8 or 10 inches high, has the marks in the face of a guinea negro, I believe he speaks French pretty well. If any person has any lawful claim to the above mentioned negro I earnestly request that they will give me private notice of it, and upon information of his being a slave I will do my earnest endeavours to confine the said negro, as I shall be by his owner directed, as he is at this time at my house and says that he will stay there.  NATHAN ARCHBELL.  Beaufort county, Nov. 1st, 1800.

Edenton Gazette, 19 Nov 1800.

He has a wife, a free woman.

$50 REWARD.  ABSCONDED about the last of October, from the subscriber, at that time residing in Stokes County, N. Carolina, my Negro man COLEMAN, about 27 and 28 years of age, and of a very bright complexion.  He is a Shoemaker by trade, has a very bushy head of hair, a thin visage, is spare built and weighs from 135 to 140 pounds.  He has a very large scar on one of his legs near the ankle, believed to be on the right leg, also a scar on each arm just below the elbow occasioned by a burn.  His heels have been frosted, which injury has left scars upon them.  Coleman has a wife (a free woman) near Blakeley, N. Carolina, and it is probable that he may be in that direction, although many persons believe that he was decoyed off by a white man, named Joshua Young, who left the neighborhood about the same time for Indiana.  I will give a reward of Fifty Dollars to any one who will deliver Coleman to me near Brook Neal in Campbell County Va. or will confine him in jail, so that I get him in my possession.   RICHARD OVERSTREET.  Brook Neal, Campbell cty, Va. December 21, 1838

Carolina Watchman, Salisbury, 24 January 1840. NC Newspaper Digitization Project, North Carolina State Archives Historic Newspaper Archive.