On 25 September 1821, Dr. Mansfield W. Bowen, a Magistrate in the Settlement, was brought to trial for the cruel treatment of his slave Peggy, who was suspected of stealing a dozen handkerchiefs. Peggy’s punishment included being “tied and severely flogged, then handcuffed and chained in a rat-infested shed for five days and nights.” She was released after the common- law husband offered to pay a handsome sum for the missing handkerchiefs.
The following day, Peggy filed a
complaint against Dr. Bowen. When he heard of this, she was again severely beaten under Bowen’s supervision. The case was heard by three magistrates (close friends of Bowen) and twelve jurors, all white male slave owners. The testimonies provided by eight witnesses supported the claim of inhumane treatment. Nonetheless, the jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY. Peggy continued as a slave of Dr. Bowen.
History byte #06 – courtesy of the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, NICH, and ISCR.