Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: testimony

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]

For the murder of Archibald Beebee.

MATTHEW N. LEARY, jr., a witness for the prosecution, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:

Examined by the Counsel for the prosecution.

Q. What is your name? A. Matthew N. Leary, jr.  Q. Where do you reside? A. In Fayetteville. Q. What is your occupation in Fayetteville? A. Saddle and harness maker was previous to the war. Since the war I have added to that a small grocery in the same building. A. Have you been a free man all your life? A. All my life, sir.  Q. Where did you reside in the beginning of the year 1867? A. In Fayetteville. Q. Did you know one Archy Beebee there? A. I did, sir, by sight. I knew him when I saw him. Q. Where is he now? A. Dead. Q. When was he killed? A. On the 11th of February. … [p. 3]

ROBERT SIMMONS, a witness for the prosecution, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:

What is your name? Robert Simmons. Where do you live? In Fayetteville, sir. What is your occupation there? I keep a grocery there. Was that your occupation at the beginning of the year? Yes, sir. Did you know Archy Beebee? Yes, sir. … [p. 47]

HENRY HAGANS, a witness for the prosecution, having been first duly sworn, testified as follows:

Examined by the Counsel for the prosecution.

Where did you live at the beginning of this year? In Fayetteville. What is your business there? Shoemaker. Whose shop did you work in, the first part of this year? I worked with Mr. Henry Sykes. Is that the one-armed man? Yes, sir. Did you know Archy Beebee? Yes, sir. … [p. 55]

Argument of ED. GRAHAM HAYWOOD:

… Here is Matthew N. Leary, jr., whose character is unassailed, and unassailable, who says – he was standing to the right of the man who fired the pistol, and his rear, about five feet. … Between Leary and the man who fired his pistol, stood Lewis Smith. Square behind [John] Armstrong – almost touching him – and within five feet or six feet of the man who fired the pistol, stood Henry Hagans; a little further to the front than James Douglass, and to his left stood Robert Simmons… [p.347]

Proceedings in the Case of the United States against Duncan G. McRae, William J. Tolar, David Watkins, Samuel Phillips and Thomas Powers, for the Murder of Archibald Beebee at Fayetteville, North Carolina on the 11th Day of February, 1867, together with the Argument of Ed. Graham Haywood, Special Judge Advocate (1867).

In the 1860 census of Fayetteville, Cumberland County: D. Simmons, 40, Robert, 23, Saml., 20, and Mary Simmons, 12.

In the 1860 census of Fayetteville, Cumberland County: Joseph Heggins, 51, laborer, wife Harriett, 31, and children Henry, 13, Duncan, 9, Lavina, 7, Sophia, 5, and Mary, 3.

Examination of the Negroes charged with insurrection.

Memorandum of the examination of the Negroes charged with insurrection — 1831

At the Methodist meeting house in Onslow County in the neighbourhood of the Rich lands Col Daniel M Dulany, Returned to Jesse Sandlin, Wm H Thompson, John B Thompson, Thomas Battle, James Thompson, Lewis T Oliver, James Glenn, and William Humphrey Esq’rs the following negros, whose names will be hereafter mentioned charged with conspiracy or insurrection, Sept 20th 1831

Jacob charged with conspiracy by the testimony of Aron (who pleads not Guilty)

Aron Sworn – so he says that Jacob was talking of the negroes rising on  the whites about 3 weeks ago on Friday night, that if they rose he had a pretty Good sword, that he would be amongst them, that Ben Rhodes had a gun and sword and Dudley’s Ben had a gun, and since that time at Mr. Hawkins he Jacob wished that the Camp Meeting was nearer than it was, so that he might aid in destroying the whites, that he Jacob, Ben Rhodes & Ben Dudley and Charles were to be the head leaders, and that they wishes to get as many to assist them as they could.

Upon the evidence let Jacob be committed

Tony charged with conspiracy and insurrections –

Aron witness swears that he heard Tony say that he expected that at a Camp Meeting to be held at this place the negroes would rise upon the whites, and that he intended to go to Newbern, when he could get guns swords and other armes, as he had none here

Upon the evidence let Tony be committed

Nathan, the Property of Edw’d Williams, who pleads not Guilty, as an insurgent

Aron Sworn – At Mr Hawkins on Sunday he saw Nathan, who spoke of being at a camp meeting, and expected that at that time the negroes would rise, but did not say anything about his joining them Upon the evidence let him be committed

Jim the property of Edw’d Koonce charged with conspiracy & insurrection

Nathan House Swears that in a conversation between him and Jim, who sayd to Nathan that the Negroes might take the whites who replied and said how was that possible when the negroes had no guns or weapons.

Upon the evidence let him have 39 lashes

Abram charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Simon charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Jerry Murray charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

David Tragel charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Bill Trasel charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Anthony Rowe charged with Conspiracy &c, who pleads not Guilty, let him be acquitted.

Mariah charged and acquitted.

Ward Humphrey charged as above, pleads not guilty, let him be acquitted.

Joshua Whitehurst charged as before pleads not guilty, let him be dismissed.

John Phillips Charged as before pleads not guilty, let him be acquitted.

Slaves Records, Onslow County Records, North Carolina State Archives.