Samuel Reeler v. Matthew Robinson. Circuit Court Report


Negro Samuel Reeler v. Matthew Robinson.

The lapse of nine years since the plaintiff arrived at the age of twenty-one years, does not create a presumption that the oath was taken by the person who brought the plaintiff into Virginia.

This was a suit in Alexandria for freedom, grounded upon an importation, twenty-four years ago, from Maryland without the importer's taking the oath required by the Virginia law.

Mr. Taylor, for the defendant, contended that from the lapse of time, a presumption arises that the oath was taken. The law   did not require that the oath should be reduced to writing, nor certified, nor recorded.

Mr. Hewitt, for the plaintiff, contrà.

The plaintiff was only six years old when imported. No presumption could begin to arise against him until he was of full age, and able to sue in his own name and right. Deduct fifteen years from the twenty-four, and there remain only nine years, in which he has been competent to sue for his freedom. This neglect or forbearance to assert his right is no bar to his title.

Mr Taylor, in reply. The Act of Virginia authorizes infants to sue by justice of the peace, who, upon complaint made, is bound to sue. There has been no actual disability since he came to years of discretion.

The Court, (Thruston J., absent,) decided that the presumption did not arise under those circumstances.