Author: General Court

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“8th daie of Aprill Ao Dmi 1629” (April 8, 1629)

In these minutes from April 8, 1629, the General Court assesses the gender of Thomas/in Hall during its convening at the statehouse at Jamestown. It is unclear why the colony’s leadership became involved in this matter. The court reviews the sworn testimony of Warrosquyoake residents Thomas/in Hall, Francis England, and John Atkins, who wanted to acquire Hall’s indenture contract from John Tyos and Robert Eyres. In keeping with Hall’s own description, they ruled that Hall was a man and a woman.  Some spelling has been modernized.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Punishment for the Enslaved Man Sam (1688)

On April 26, 1688, the General Court found Sam, the slave of Richard Metcalfe of Westmoreland County, guilty in James City County of promoting a slave rebellion. His conviction came just six months or so after a suspected plot was discovered in Westmoreland County. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

General Court Hears Case on Witchcraft (1626)

The following is a transcript of the proceedings of the General Court, meeting in Jamestown on September 11, 1626. The court heard evidence against Joan Wright of Surry County, who was accused by her neighbors of practicing witchcraft. She was acquitted in, perhaps, the earliest allegation of witchcraft on record against an English settler in North America. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

A Black Indentured Servant Sues for His Freedom (1675)

This letter serves as a petition to Virginia governor Sir William Berkeley and members of the General Court on behalf of Phillip Corven, a black indentured servant who claims to have had his rights violated by his master. Following the petition is an excerpt from the proceedings of the General Court, dated June 16, 1675, in which the judges order that the servant be freed. From the first document to the second, the servant’s name changes from Corven to Gowen, and his master’s from Charles Lucas to Jonathan Lucas. Some spelling has been modernized and contractions expanded.