Although the petition itself is not available, related documents help reconstruct the prayer of the petitioner, who is assumed to be Thomas Reekes of Mecklenburg County, and the events surrounding his filing suit with the legislature. In 1802, Henry Ashton, a magistrate in Mecklenburg County, issued an arrest warrant for three slaves, Dick, Frank, and Billy, charged with committing "felonious offences." A month after the arrest Frank was taken ill and later died; Dick was found guilty and executed. It appears, from the 1805 affidavit of one Richard Apperson, that Frank and Dick had been charged with plotting to poison Dick's owner, John Gregory; and that several other slaves, presumably including Billy, seemed to have had knowledge of the conspiracy. Dick was convicted but, Frank, while on his way from jail to stand trial, "died a very sudden death," the cause of which "was attributed to be, either the confinement in a wagon or his taking poison" before he left the jail. It appears that sometime between 1802 and 1805 Thomas Reekes, Frank's owner, applied for compensation on the death of his slave in the amount of one hundred thirty pounds.
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Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia