Colonial Williamsburg Continued...Tried and Convicted

Well,  here we are at the courthouse in Colonial Williamsburg.
"Here were heard the debtor's dispute with his creditor, the complaints against the pig stealer, and the apprentice's pleas for protection from an abusive master. Punishment was quick; the whipping post and the public stocks stood just outside, a few steps from the prisoner's dock. Serious cases involving free subjects (ones for which the penalty touched life or limb) were the province of the General Court, which met each April and October in the Capitol. Slaves were tried for felonies by county courts under commissions of oyer and terminer." Quote from Colonial Williamsburg official site.
We entered the courthouse....There were benches that lined up where folks were seated facing the front of the courthouse.  We were told that in colonial times there were no benches because people were there to "stand trial".  The courthouse had a serious feel to it.  See the rather stern looking gentleman on the right?  He stayed in character and kept that expression 99% of the time.  I did see him turn and smile at one point during an unexpected moment in the proceedings. He had a very nice smile:-)

 I am the one in blue second from the right.  I know any defendant would be terrified to see me up there, knowing that I would be one of those deciding their fate:-)

After serious debate over two dangerous criminals a verdict has been reached....
Now off to the jail....
"The word gaol is pronounced "jail." It comes from an Old North French word, "gaole," which in turn comes from "caveola," a diminutive form of the Latin term "cavea," which means "cage." Debtors, runaway slaves – and occasionally the mentally ill – were sometimes confined in the Gaol. During the Revolution, tories, spies, military prisoners, deserters, and traitors were included in the prisoner inventory." Quote from their official site
"Most occupants, however, were men and women awaiting trial in the General Court and the Court of Oyer and Terminer or convicts waiting to be branded, whipped, or hanged, according to their sentences. Though sentences were harsh by modern standards, first offenders might expect mercy, and some miscreants were merely fined. In any event, the Gaol was not intended for long-term imprisonment." Quote

Quote.."The infamous Henry "Hair Buyer" Hamilton, lieutenant governor of British Detroit, captured in 1779. Suspected of buying pioneer scalps from Indians, Hamilton was held in a straw-strewn 10-foot by 10-foot cell with six other inmates. "In one corner of this snug mansion," he wrote, "was fixed a kind of Throne which had been of use to such miscreants as us for 60 years past and in certain points of wind renderd the air truly Mephytic. Opposite the door and nearly adjoining the throne was a little Skuttle 5 or 6 inches wide, thro which our Victual was thrust to us."From Hamilton's description, it is not surprising that the Public Gaol was a place of discomfort and pestilence. Gaol fever – probably typhus – broke out from time to time, and the unheated cells often were overcrowded. Hamilton was kept in handcuffs his first night, and was fitted in leg irons the next day. Manacles and chains were familiar parts of gaol life."
Well I had second thoughts about our judgement of the two  "miscreants", (my new word:-), we had sentenced  earlier, so I staged a prison break and sent them on their way knowing they would go on to be good citizens.....
Here is the trail they took to freedom.
Get out and explore!
Enjoy Your World:-)


  1. Loved your inside shots, we didn't get many inside pictures when we went.


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