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In Their Own Words

March 02, 1739

Death of Prisoner Recorded

William Stephens recorded the very unpleasant death of a prisoner:

“…A German Servant who was committed to the Log-House, was found dead there this Morning; which may need a little Explanation here, of some Circumstances attending it. The Man had once been a Servant under Mr. Causton, with whom he voluntary indented, on Condition of Mr. Causton’s paying for his and his Family’s Passage, rather than make himself liable to be sold by the Captain, to one whom he could not expect so good Usage from. The Fellow nevertheless left Mr. Causton’s Service, without his Leave, or any just Cause, as his Master says (which is not material here) and in several Months could never be persuaded by fair Means to return to Ockstead; but liked better to nest in an old-deserted Hut in the Out-Part of the Town, as some others of his Countrymen did; and these having Arms, were some of the Folks particularly aimed at in the late Order of Court against Servants carrying Arms; by which it was visible these disorderly People lived; and under Pretence of shooting Deer, frequently destroyed other Mens Property in Cattle, &c. neither were any Threats available to deter them from these Practices. This Fellow happened to be espied Yesterday with a Gun on his Shoulder, in the Street openly, by his Master, who was walking at that Time in Company with Mr. Parker, our first Magistrate, and they both called him to come to them; but he walked off, without taking any Notice of one or the other (the certain Index of that incurable
Stubbornness which generally prevails among them.) Mr. Parker, therefore, sent the Constable Mr. Fallowfield, to follow him, and take his Arms away; pursuant to which he went, taking one or two with him to assist; but the Fellow resisting and struggling, and by clubbing his Piece, attempting to knock down any of them who stood most in Opposition, some Blows passed, and he was carried before the Magistrate, who committed him for resisting the Constable, &c. Upon his Death the Coroner’s Inquest sat on the Body, and examined several Witnesses who saw what passed; as also an able Surgeon was called, to give his Opinion touching the Blows he received, which it seems were given by the Constable with the Handle of a small Whip, so that no Sort of Mark appeared, either on the Head or Body, of any Wound which might occasion his Death; and the Posture the Body lay in, when found dead, being flat on his Face, and a great Effusion by Vomiting also appearing, it was judged a Suffocation; and the Jury’s Verdict was Accidental Death.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 292-293.