Thomas Newton to Governor James Monroe, 24 September 1800.
Norfolk Septr. 24, 1800
The bearers hereof Obadiah Gunn & Robt Wilson brings with them Negro Gabriel taken from on board the three masted Schn. Mary Richd. Taylor master belonging to Richmond, Mr. Hooper is part owner of the schooner from whom the Character of Taylor may be known;- It appears that ht left Richmond on Saturday night week, & run on ground on the bar in Wards reach 4 miles below Richmond, on Sunday morning Gabriel hailed the Schr. & was brought on board by one of the negroes belonging to her, he was arm'd with a bayonet fixed on a stick which he threw into the river, Capt. Taylor says he was unwell & in his cabbin when Gabriel was brought on board, negro Billy, says he was asleep & when he awakned & found him on board he questiond him, conceiving him to be Gabriel that he said he was Called Gabriel but his name was Daniel; Isham & Billy two negro hands informed me, they told the Capt. Taylor it was their opinion he was the person the reward was offerd for. Capt. Taylor says that he came on board as a freeman, that he asked him for his papers but he did not shew any, saying he had left them; Capt. Taylor is an Old inhabitant been an overseer & must have known that neither free blacks or Slaves could travel in this Country without papers & he certainly Must have had many oppertunities of securing Gabriel, in eleven days, even if he had suspected his hands would not assist him but they declared a willingness to me, to have done it, in hopes of obtaining a reward; he passed Osbornes Bermuda Hundred, City Point & I suppose many vessels, where he could have obtained force to have secured him. his conduct after his arrival here is also blameable, he was boarded by a Capt. Inchman below this place, to whom he never mentioned a Circumstance of Gabriel, whom he could then have secured, After he came up to Town, he went along side a ship with 29 men on board, at ten OClock, he still never mentioned the matter, one of his men negro Billy, was sent on shore & he sent no information, he wrote to Capt. Ashley, but gave him none also, Billy being acquainted with a young man by name of Norris, a blacksmith told him when he was on shore, of his suspicions that Gabriel was on board, a Mr Woodward happend to be in the Shop when Norris told him of the circumstance, he immediately took such steps, which was about two OClock that Obd. Gunn & Robt Wilson two constables, proceeded on board the Scr Mary & took him, he was at liberty on board & might have made his escape, Taylor says he had just begun to write a letter to Capt. Tucker of this place, to know what he was to do with him, the part he wrote is inclosed & I confess I think Mr. Taylor knew much better than he acted, what to do in such a case, having Long had the management of negroes. he forewarnd the constables from taking him after they had done it claiming him as his prisoner, when he never shewed the least disposition before of Confining him; on his gitting on board the ship where he lay 4 hours he had an opty. of securing him, but never did it. but many opportunities must have offered On his way, if he intended to have taken him, his conduct appears extradinary to me & I think deserves punishment, instead of a reward, I have bound him over to Appear before the Mayor of Richmond which recognizance I inclose, to answer for his conduct & I hope Mr. Hooper & those who are acquainted with him may give him a character that will wipe off in some measure the opinion that is entertained of him here. I conceive that some reward should be given to negro Billy who shewed a disposition to take him by informing of him. & I beleive was the means of his being secured; the Constables I hope will get the reward, they have been very active and constantly looking out for him. Taylor told me that he had emancipated his negro Isham, but on exa[mining]. Isham he told me that he had never given him any papers but promised him to do it, when he was a methodist, but as he was now turn'd again he was afraid he would not give him his freedom- both Billy & Isham say they saw the negroes hung before they left Richmond. Mr. Taylor must have known that circumstance & undoubtedly have heard of Gabriel before he left it. Doctr Foushee I am told probably is well acquainted with Taylor, as he lived at Rich-Neck with Mr. Hylton, I hope for the sake of his family, he may be able to clear himself of the opinion entertaind of him here. Gabriel says he will give your Excy. a full information, he will confess to no one else. he says a negro Gilbert belongg. to a Billy Young, now with his master at the Springs was a chief in the consperation. Billy one of Taylors men has a wife at a Mr Norris's on Shockoe hill she may probably know whether Gabriel had concerted any measure, to get on board this vessel with the hands- Billy belongs to Miles King of Hampton & had been confined in Richmond on suspicion, his brother Ned is in goal at Hampton now, on suspicion, from some words I have heard he had dropped approvg. of the measure. the arms have not yet arived; our militia are very badly arm'd. the fever which prev[ailed] here, among strangers mostly, decreases & I believe the Town as to the settled inhabitants, is as heal[thy] as common at this season. Gabriel will set off this day under a guard, in a vessel & probably will reach Osborns by Friday or Saturday, should your Excy think proper, a guard may be sent Down the River & take him from Osborns by land, but they will proceed by water as fast as possible & I believe there will be no danger of a rescue- I am with the greatest respect
Yr. Excys Obt Servt.
Governor's Office, Letters Received, James Monroe, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia.