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Colonial Cases

R. v. Aberdeen, Adam and Preston [1814]

slave court - murder - manslaughter - flogging- burn in hand - imprisonment

Slave Court

6 December 1814

Source: The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), 11 February 1815, issue 4066, from the British Library's 19th Century Newspapers site. See also Trewman's Exeter Flying Post or Plymouth and Cornish Advertiser (Exeter, England), 16 February 1815, issue 2580

A special Slave Court was held at the Alley, in Vere, (Jamaica) on the 6th of Dec. for the trial of the following slaves, viz. - Aberdeen, Adam, and Preston, belonging to Salt Savannah estate, charged with the murder of another slave, named Thomas, the property of John Holmes, Esq. by burying him alive. It appeared from the evidence, that the parties were all Congoes, and had made a play according to the custom of their country, when Thomas dug a grave in which he laid himself down, desiring his companions to cover him up for the space of one hour; but that if he did not rise again in another place in that time, they were to open the grave. Aberdeen and Preston were appointed to close up the grave, and Adam to play on the gombah (African music), all of which was punctually performed. Some other negroes belonging to the estate appeared, however, before the ceremony was completely finished, and had sense enough to open the grave; but it was too late, the unfortunate victim of his own credubility [sic] being dead. His Honour the Custos charged the Jury on the crime, when they found them guilty of Manslaughter; and the following sentence was passed, viz. each to receive 30 lashes on the spot where the catastrophe took place, in the presence of all the estate's negroes, then to be severally burn in the hand, and to suffer one month's solitary confinement in the country gaol.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School