Lucy v. Stephen Cooke. Loudoun County Court Records


Virginia Loudoun County Sct

Among the records of proceedings in the County Court of Loudoun are the following to wit

To the worshipful the County Court of Loudoun. Your petitioner Negro Lucy Humbly sheweth that in the year     she was bought into this State by one Joseph Rogers, and has remained in it ever since. By virtue of these circumstances your petitioner presumes she became a free Woman under the Laws of Virginia Nevertheless Stephen Cooke esqr. of said County in whose possession she now is refuses to free her from restraint and to give her the enjoyment of that liberty to which by the operation of law she is so clearly entitled. Your petitioner finds herself constrained therefore to solicit of this worshipful court the privilege of suing in forma pauperis pursuant to the provisions of the act of assembly in that case made and provided

Decr. 5th 1806

Loudoun County vizt

This day came Richd. H. Henderson before me a Justice of the peace for the County aforesaid and made oath that he has conversed with Stephen Cooke Esqr. on the subject of the above petition and that he admitted the substance of the facts contained in said petition but denied the legal inference embraced in the same

Stacy Taylor

Decr. 8th 1806.

1806 December 9th On the petition of Negro Lucy Leave is granted her to Institute a Suit in forma pauperis against Doctr Stephen Cooke. Richard H. Henderson & William Chilton are assigned her counsel.

"Copy report of said Counsel" We having been assigned by the Worshipful Court of Loudoun County Counsel to State the facts of the case of Negro Lucy a petitioner for leave to sue in forma pauperis and to present our opinions upon her claim do report as follows that we have in our possession a deed of manumission given to said Negro by a certain Lyttleton Gale of Cecil County in the State of Maryland dated Decr. 31 1802 by which she was to be on the 1st day of January 1811 This deed seems to be duly authenticated we have likewise a letter from said Gale recognizing the deed above described in substance and averring that he sold said negro to a certain Joseph Rogers who induced him, Gale to believe that he was a settled farmer in Frederick County in the State of Maryland where he assured him said negro would remain. We find by conversation with the Jailor of this county by the concessions of Stephen Cooke Esqr. and by general uncontradicted report that the negro in question was brought into this State by Joseph Rogers mentioned above who designed carrying her with a number of these unhappy beings and subjecting her to the horrors of a Georgia Slavery We find that several humane citizens united to rescue Lucy from Rogers or rather to call in for her relief the arm of Justice. That Rogers who upon being pursued and overtaken by the officer of one or more Magestrates   magistrates who were led to interpose; conscious of the iniquity of his purpose and of its illegality abandoned Lucy who was taken into the custody of the officer and conducted to prison where she remained a considerable time, during which her Jail fees amounted to $45 or $50 The Jailer in order to prevent the County from incurring farther expense and to accommodate the negro permitted her to go into the family of Stephen Cooke esqr upon said Cookes advancing the amount of the Jail fees This sum was advanced under an express agreement between the Jailer and said Cooke that the money should be refunded when the negro was demanded It also appears that said Cooke is fairly entitled to the reimbursement which he claims inasmuch as the maintenance of herself and her young children is more than equivalent to her services We should therefore recommend that said money be refunded if it can be done consistly with law But we respectfully submit this matter to the consideration of this worshipful court. But we are clearly of opinion that the negro whose case has been refered to us ought to be permitted to sue in forma pauperis for the single reason that she was brought into this State and has been suffered to remain here without the observance of legal requisition on the part of those who introduced her. We are however assured that Stephen Cooke Esqr. will set her at liberty so soon as he is secured as we have stated above Given under our hands this 10th day of Decr. 1806.

Richard H. Henderson
Wm Chilton

1807 January 13th. Leave is granted Negro Lucy to bring a Suit against Doctor Stephen Cooke for her freedom.

"Copy Writ" The Commonwealth of Virginia to the Sheriff of Loudoun County Greeting You are hereby commanded to take Stephen Cooke if he be found within your bailiwick and him safely keep so that you his body before the Justices of our said County Court at the Court house of the said County on the second Monday in March next to answer Negro Lucy a pauper of a plea of Trespass Assault & Battery & false imprisonment damage five hundred dollars And have then there this writ Witness Charles Binns Clerk of our said Court at the Court house foresaid the 15th day of January 1807 and in the Year of the Commonwealth the 31st.

C Binns

"endorsement" Trespass Assault & Battery & false imprisonment committed by the Deft. upon the body of the Plf no bail required

Henderson p. q.[?]

"return" Executed January the 29th 1807. Chas Elgin DS.[?] for[?] Hugh Douglas HS.[?]

"copy declaration"

Loudoun County towit

Negro Lucy a pauper complains of Stephen   Stephen Cooke in custody & of a plea for that whereas the said Defendant on the     day of         in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and Six with force and arms at the county aforesaid did make an assault upon the said Plaintiff and her the said Plaintiff did then and there falsely and unlawfully imprison & detain in Slavery and other wrongs and injuries to the said Plaintiff then & there did to the great damage of the said Plaintiff and against the peace & dignity of the Commonwealth wherefore the said Plaintiff saith she is injured and hath sustained damage to the value of Five hundred dollars Therefore she brings suit &c

Henderson p q

John Doe
Rich Roe
Pledges of Prosecution

1807 March Rules Common Order
" April Rules Continued.
' May Rules Common Order Confirmed and Writ of enquiry.

At a Court continued & held for Loudoun County June 11th 1807 Came the parties aforesaid by their Attornies And on motion of the Defts. Attorney who pleaded Not Guilty to which the Plf replied generally, the Writ of Enquiry awarded in this case is Ordered to be set aside. and the cause is continued till the next term

And on this day to writ August 11th in the year aforesaid Came the parties aforesaid by their Attornies and thereupon came also a Jury to wit Robert Campbell, William Marshall, Conrod Licky, Abel Marks, Francis Stone, James Tucker, William Yoe Archibald McVicker Thomas Johnston, Joseph Barson, Joseph Craven and Travis Wren who being elected tried and sworn the truth to speak upon the Issue Joined upon their oaths do say that the Defendant is Not Guilty in manner and form as the Plaintiff against him hath declared It is therefore considered by the court that the Plaintiff take nothing by her bill &c and the Deft go hence without day.

Memorandum on the trial of this cause the Deft filed the following bill of exceptions. Stephen Cooke ads Negro Lucy Memo In this case to support her suit the Plf who was a black person offered Testimony to prove that in the month of October 1802 she has been brought into this commonwealth from the State of Maryland by   by a certain Joseph Rogers who had purchased her in the last mentioned State and after such purchase left that State with said Slave with an intention of carrying her to Georgia & came to Virginia with her in 1802 that whilst in the County of Loudoun and on his way to Georgia and the day after the said Slave had been brought into Virginia Information was given to Joseph Smith one of the Justices of the peace of Loudoun County that the said Slave would be entitled to her freedom on the 1st of January 1811 as he was informed from Littleton Gale of Maryland who had formerly owned her and said the same would appear from the Records of Cecil County and that the said Rogers was carrying her to Georgia as a slave for life on which information the said Joseph Smith issued his warrant to George Hammat a constable of the county of Loudoun directing him to seize the said Plf & bring her before him, That under the warrant the said slave was accordingly taken from the possession of the said Rogers and committed to the Jail of Loudoun County that the said Rogers or his agent at the time of the seizure by the constable as aforesaid was warned to appear before the said Justice and defend his right which he declined doing That the Plf continued in Jail nearly four months under the Magistrates Warrant aforesaid and was then delivered to the Deft on paying her Jail fees and agreeing to restore her when called on and having the said fees refunded to him that the Plf has resided with the Deft in Loudoun County from the delivery aforesaid to the commencement of this Suit on the 15th Jany 1807 from then to this time that the deft claimed her services & detained her against her will, the Plf farther offered evidence to prove that information of the Importation aforesaid & of the proceedings in consequence of the same had been given by the Justice aforesaid to the execution of this Commonwealth, but no communications received by the said Justice or any officer of Loudoun County in answer to the same Whereupon the counsel for the defendant prays the Court to instruct the Jury that if they believed the evidence aforesaid to be true that they should find a verdict for the defendant. But the Court refused to give the instruction from which refusal of the court the Defendant excepts and prays that this his exception may be sealed & which is done accordingly

John Littlejohn (LS)
Armistead Long (LS)
Joseph Carr (LS)
Step C. Roszell (LS)

Virginia Loudoun County towit In Testimony that the foregoing proceedings are truly taken from the records of said county court (likewise certify that no more papers are left than are copied) I hereunto set my hand and affix the seal of the said County Court this 21st day of December 1809 in the 34th year of the Commonwealth
C Binns Clk

I likewise certify that John Littlejohn & Samuel Murrey Jun[?] are Justices of the peace in and for said County of Loudoun duly commissioned & sworn & that to all their Acts as such due faith & credit ought to be given
C Binns Clk