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Parker, William, Jr., Court Proceedings for the Trial of Asa Light, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, 1808 October 1-3

 File — Box: 37

Scope and Contents

Consists of court proceedings for a theft case brought by Samuel Tenney (1748-1816), a white man who was a Federalist member of the United States House of Representatives, against Asa Light, an African American man from Exeter, New Hampshire, under the jurisdiction of justice of the peace William Parker Jr. (1731-1813). Materials include a complaint and warrant for the arrest of Asa Light, who is described in the document as "a boy of colour, labourer...[who] on the twentieth day of September 1808 with force and arms broke and entered your complainants store and with like force did steal and carry away...five dollar bank bill...a half dollar bank bill and three pen knives." There is also a summons for three witnesses, a statement from deputy sheriff F.B. Lathan confirming that Light had been apprehended and the witnesses summoned, an account of costs, Light's guilty plea, and a detailed statement of the sentence delivered by Parker. Light was ordered to pay a fine of three dollars, damages of $13.50 (twice the value of materials stolen, which were returned), and seven dollars in court costs; the documents note that Light was to pay Tenney funds earned from three months service to any individual of Tenney's choice and "to stand committed till this sentence be performed." These court proceedings provide an example of how Black men were treated in the legal system in New England during the early years of the United States.


  • Creation: 1808 October 1-3

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.


1 box

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English