At a Court of Oyer & Terminer held for the County of Brunswick
on Saturday, the 31st day of October, 1789, for the trial of Robin a Negro
man Slave, the property of Hunphrey Traylor of Dinwiddie County, charged
with Feloniously Robbing Bottom Steagall of a Gun, & wounding him with
Present; William Thornton, Benjamin Blick, James Harrison,
John Stith, & Edward Birchell, Gentl.
The prisoner was led to the bar, & being arraigned,
&c.&c., Plead Guilty, and for trial put himself upon God and Court.
And on examining the the witnesses and considering the circumstance
of the case, the Court are of the opinion that the said Negro Man Slave,
Robin, is guilty of the said offence, and do accordingly pronounce Judgement
that he be hanged by the Neck till he be Dead, Dead, Dead. And ordered
that the Sheriff of this County cause Execution of this Sentence to be
done on the Fifth day of December next, between the Hours of 12 and 2 of
the Clock, of the same day; and thereupon the Court having taken into consideration
the Value of the said Negro Man, Slave, Robin, do accordingly value him
to Sixty Pounds Current Money.
The minutes of these proceedings were signed,
Chas. B. Jones, D.C.B.C.
On the trial of Robin, a Negro Man Slave, the property
of Humphrey Traylor, at a court held for that purpose on the 31st day of
October, 1789, Bottom Steagall of Lawful age, being sworn, Deposed &
said that on the 4th day of August last, as he was Walking round and off
Corn field of his, he discovered the said Robin in his field gathering
& eating peaches, and on going up to him & questioning him, he
said that he belonged to Col. Allen, but not being able to tell his overseer's
name gave him reason to suspect he was a runaway, & ordered him to
go before him to his house; the said Robin had a knife in his hand pealing
& eating of the Peaches, and fter going about One hundred & fifty
yards, they came near a thickett of Bushes, when all of a sudden the said
Robin turned about upon this Deponent and seized the gun which he had in
his hand, and fell to cutting him with the knife till he had stabbed and
cut him in about 12 places, and dispossed [sic] him of his Gun, and this
Deponent further said that finding his gun was gone, he retreated back
some distance, and that the said Robin pursued him and continued to stab
him untill he had cut him in several other places, which last cuts occasioned
the blood that had settled from the first wounds in the Lower part of his
Bosom to gush out in a large stream, when the said Robin dissisted and
walked off with this deponent's gun; and this deponent further said that
he supposed that the said Robin expected he had killed him or he would
not have left him.
Whereupon the said gun being produced in Court, this Deponent
further said that it was the Gun which the said Robin took from him and
that it was his property, and that it had been Robed [sic] of many of the
Ornaments and very much disfigured since it was taken from him by the said
And further this deponent said not.
I do hereby certify that the above appears to be a true state
of the Evidence and facts which were produced in the triall of Robin a
Negro, Man Slave, the property of Humphrey Traylor, when he was condemned
by the Court of Brunswick, Bottom Steagall being the only witness.
Chas. B. Jones, D.C.B.C.
Brunswick County, October 31st, 1789.
We, whose Names are hereunto annexed, sat on the thial [sic]
of Robin, a Negro Man Slave, the property of Humphrey Traylor, when he
was condemned for Feloniously Robbing and Stabing Bottom Steagall of the
county of Brunswick of, and carrying away his Gun, and from principles
of Humanity, do recommend him to his Excellency Beverly Randolph, Esquire,
Governor of this State, as an object of Mercy.
[Endorsement on back of the last written paper signed by Thornton &
Blick: "Negro reprieved Nov. 12, '89."]
Wm. Barksdale to Wm. Fontain, Petersburg, December 1st, 1789.
I have your favor the 29th ulto., accompanying a letter to my
Care, sent by Mr. E. Harrison, directed to the Sherriff Brunswick, for
Robin's reprieve; I accordingly hired an express & sent up for fear
of the letters miscarrying; the man has return'd, & brought the Sherriff's
ret'n, & reports that its impossible the fellow can survive untill
the time in which he is suspended for, say 1st Friday in next month. I
did not suspect it was a Partial reprieve at the time I hired a man to
carry it out; he says the fellow is Iron'd up against a wall, standing,
bear of clothes, exposed to the cold, without fire, in a mancholy [sic]
situation, as well as in very greate pain. There are holds boore threw
the Loggs, & Iron bolts threw fastining the outside with a key. From
this information you may judge the situation he must be in. He is almost
reduced to a skelleton from the cruel treatment he gets from the gard.
Humanity has taken its flite from the people if that county that are privy
to the circumstances. Mr. Traylor is now here present, & says unless
a reprieve can be Immediately got, the fellow had better be hanged at once,
as it will be easing him of a very tedious & lingering pain, which
is more terrible than death. He says the fellow has perfully made his peace,
as he was constantly praying while he was present, & desires to be
hanged sooner than undergo the Torture of his present fate. Should the
fellow be kept untill the time of his suspension, & should not dy within
the time, Mr. Traylor says he cannot be worth within Twenty pounds of the
prise he was to give. The fellow must be inevitably frost bitt, should
nothing else befall him. These things considered, there had better be something
done decisive. Traylor has agreed either to pay the money which he was
to give, or take the certificate if the fate of the fellow can be determined
in the course of a few days, before he recieves further injury. Steagall,
the man that took the boy up, swears he will put him to death on his being
relieved, being determined he shall lose his life.
I am Yr. Mt. Hl. Sr.
[reprinted in W.P. Palmer, and Sherman McRae, eds., Calendar
of Virginia State Papers, (Richmond, 1885), vol. V, pp. 47-50.]
an earlier runaway ad placed by Traylor .