The Grant Tragedy in New Kent-
Trial and Conviction of the Murderers.
correspondence of the Richmond Daily Dispatch
New Kent C.H. Va., Feb 16, 1858
A court of Oyer and Terminor for the trial of three slaves, implicated in the murder of James C. Grant, has been sitting four day. Owing to a very large number of witnesses sworn and examined in this case, the Court has been unable to try more than two up to the time of my writing, namely major Morris and Henry Bradley, who have convicted and sentenced to be executed of Friday, the 19th day of March next. I deem it only requisite your readers the most material facts which lead to the conviction of the unhappy culprits.
I appears from all the evidence that I have been able to glean, that a most infernal conspiracy had been concocted by this hellish trio to destroy the life of Grant. Henry, not wishing to be the assassin of the young master, for fear of being detected, agreed to give Major Morris who lived in Henrico, twenty five dollars to perpetrate this atrocious deed. On the night of the murder, Major Morris met Dick Bradley on some obscene and remote part of Grant's farm and after arranging all the preliminaries, proceeded in the direction of G.'s house they halted and Dick Bradley assisted Major Morris in pulling off his boots and left them in the house where he discovered G. sitting at the supper table near a window. Major took unerring and deliberate aim at the back of G.'s ear, which was toward the window: the whole load of trooper's pistol took effect in his head and neck, which terminated the existence of Grant before he could say one word to his mother and sister, who were in the same room at the time of the commission of this bloody deed. Major then returned to the spot where he had left Dick Bradley, and informed him of the triumph of his mission. Here they separated, each going to his respective wife's house. Henry Bradley, at the time this tragedy was committed was removed two miles off at a neighbor's where his wife lived. When the intelligence of the death of his master reached him, he took the precaution to call the attention of his friends to the fact that he (Henry Bradley) was then at this neighbors house, his object being, no doubt, to prove an alibi. The chief evidence adduced in the trial of each of those unfortunate men, was from negroes, and of the strongest and most corroborative character, and established the guilt of the parties convicted beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Dick Bradley, after he had been arrested and incarcerated in the county jail, in order to escape the legal punishment he justly merited, endeavored to erase from the minds of the jailor and others, everything that was calculated to arouse the least degree of suspicion against him. He told them that Major Morris was the perpetrator of the crime, and was to receive twenty-five dollars from Henry Bradley after the commission of the murder. Dick Bradley sore to this in the trial of Major Morris and a portion of his evidence was substantiated by other witnesses several of whom deposed that they saw Major Morris in the neighborhood of the murder a few hours prior to its being committed. Dick Bradley also swore that Henry(his brother) had threatened to kill his master more than once.
After hearing all the evidence, Mr. Telemachus Taylor appeared as counsel for the prisoners and Mr. Richmond T. Lacy for the commonwealth- Mr. Lacy commenced his remarks by reviewing the many flagrant violations of the law which had occurred within the limits of the county in the last twelve months, and particularly the one that had resulted in the death of Grant which he portrayed in the most vivid colors arguing that nothing would go so far in restoring order and tranquility as bringing the offenders of the law before a tribunal, and there inflicting the severest penalty of the law upon them.
Mr. Taylor, in behalf of the prisoners, spoke at some length upon the testimony introduced, and closed his remarks by making a very pathetic appeal to the Court.
The Court after hearing all the evidence and argument pronounced them guilty, and valued them. They were then conducted to jail to await their execution.
Convicts having escaped from our jail heretofore the Court deemed it insecure appointed a guard consisting of four men to watch it until the 9th day of next March.
New Kent C.H. Va, Feb. 17 1858
Since writing to you yesterday, Dick Bradley has also been condemned and will be executed on the 19th day of March next.
The attorney for the Commonwealth is the Richmond T. Lacy who owned Eltham plantation and who is mentioned as such here.
And this is a milestone of sorts. This is my 200th post since this site was founded in March 2011.