Court Plea of John Nuckolls


In a Charleston Court of Common Pleas record (filed 15 Jan 1773, plea made 2 Feb 1773), Thomas Fletchall and John Mayfield were jointly sued in a plea of trespass by a certain John Nuckolls.  The plea basically concerned John Mayfield's arrest of Nuckolls, John Mayfield being a constable operating under the orders of the local magistrate (justice of the peace), Thomas Fletchall.  Nuckolls's argument was that he had been apprehended in NC, where a warrant issued by a SC magistrate had no legal standing.

It would appear that Nichols was apprehended in that part of South Carolina which SC historians refer to as the "New Acquisition Territory."  This area had previously been considered part of NC; however, in 1772, the dividing line between NC and SC was finally surveyed as far as the Cherokee Indian Line. The result was that much land previously thought to have been in NC was found to be actually in SC.  In fact, the 300-acre tract of land on Brown's Creek, acquired by John Mayfield from Jacob Brown in 1770, was also in this area, as Brown had obtained title to the land by patent issued by the Province of North Carolina in 1754.  

The Plea

The following is a transcript of pertinent portions of John Nuckolls's plea in the Court of Common Pleas:

South Carolina

Ninety-Six District to wit:

Thomas Fletchall and John Mayfield were attached to answer John Nuckolls in a plea of Trespass ... whereupon the said John Nuckolls by Henry Pendleton his attorney complained that whereas the said John Nuckolls on the 15th day of March in the year of our Lord one Thousand seven Hundred and seventy-two and for a long time theretofore was living and residing within his Majesty's Province of North Carolina and under the Authority, Power and Protection of the Laws, Statutes and Customs of the same province and was always ready to answer and able to acquit himself of all Accusations, Complaints and Prosecutions whatsoever that would be made or promulgated within the said province ... said Thomas and John well knowing the Premises and that the said John Nuckolls do live and reside within the province of North Carolina ... Yet the Thomas, then being a Magistrate or Justice of the Peace for the County of Craven and District of Ninety Six in the said Province of South Carolina ... made out a ... warrant directed to the said John Mayfield then being a Constable of the said County of Craven in the District and Province aforesaid, requiring and commanding the said John Mayfield to take into his safe custody and keeping the said John Nuckolls and to bring him before the said Thomas then and there to answer certain Complaints preferred against him ... the said Thomas who after detaining the said John Nuckolls a long time in Custody and Confinement without any legal reason and Justification for so doing; did oblige and compel the said John Nuckolls to enter into recognizance for his appearance at Charleston at the next Court of General Session of the Peace Oyez and Terminer ... to be held for the said Province of South Carolina at Charleston ... said John was forced to attend at a very great expense and trouble without being Convicted of any offense whatsoever ... The said John Nuckolls saith he is greatly Injured and hath sustained Damages to the amount of Five thousand Pounds Current money of the said Province and there upon he bringth this Suit, etc.

                                    /Signed/  Henry Pendleton, Attorney for Plaintiff

The following is the formal answer to Nuckolls's  plea as filed in court by the attorney of Fletchall and Mayfield, Edward Rutledge:

Fletchall & Mayfield vs Nuckolls

And the said Thomas Fletchall and John Mayfield by Edward Rutledge their attorney came to defend the aforesaid  ... for they say that they are in nothing guilty of the trespasses above laid to them in Charges as the said John Nuckolls above complains against them, and of this they put the motion upon the County.

                                    /Signed/  Edward Rutledge

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