The Trial of Francis Hopkins

Started by Private User on Saturday, March 20, 2010


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3/20/2010 at 12:48 AM

•** From: ANNALS OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, 1769-1800 VOLUME ll, BY: Lewis
Preston Summers

At the court held at the Court House of Washington county the fourth Day of May 1778 for the examination of FRANCIS HOPKINS on suspicion of his feloniously counterfeiting or erasing & altering sundry Treasury Notes the Currency of this Commonwealth knowing the same to be bad.

Present Daniel Smith, William Edmondson, James Montgomery & Robert Craig Gentlemen.
The prisoner being set at the Bar and it being demanded of him whether he was guilty of the felony aforresaid or not he said he was in no wise guilty.
Whereupon _______ ______ were sworn & examined against him touching the said felonys and the prisoner being heard in his defence. On consideration whereof it is the opinion of the Court that the said FRANCIS HOPKINS was guilty of passing Treasury Notes known the same to be bad and that the said FRANCIS HOPKINS shall appear at the next Grand Jury Court to be held on the third Tuesday in this month then and there to answer the aforesaid charge.

Be it remembered that Samuel Vanhook, Patrick Dowell, Andrew Linam, & Archelaus Wood this Day in Court Severally acknowledged themselves indebted to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the sum of fifty pounds each current money of their respective lands and tenements goods & chattles to be levied and to the said Commonwealth rendered yet upon this condition that if they sHall personally appear at the next Grand Jury Court to be held the third Tuesday in this month to give evidence in the Charge depending the Commonwealth of Virginia & FRANCIS HOPKINS then this recognizance to be void else to remain in full force and Virtue.

Page #991
The Grand Jury returned to the Bar & presented as followeth Viz. FRANCIS HOPKINS for knowingly passing two bad ten dollar bills & buying bad money at an under rate.

Page #994
Ordered that FRANCIS HOPKINS remain in custody of the Sheriff until he gives sufficient Security before a Magistrate for his apppearance at the August Court of his Good behavior until then.

Page #1000
Ordered that FRANCIS HOPKINS be fined 50 pounds lawful money of Virginia & six months imprisonment for passing counterfeit money.

Page #1002
Ordered that FRANCIS HOPKINS be imprisoned within the walls of the fort at Wm. Cocke's place on Renfroes Creek alias Spring Creek until the County Goal is completed except on some extraordinary emergency and then only by the permission of a magistrate if there is one within five Miles of said Fort.
Be it remembered that Zakbariah WOLSEY, Frathias Wall, William HOPKINS & GEORGE WOLSEY this Day in court severally acknowledge themselves indebted to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Sum of two Hundred pounds each lawful money of Virginia of their respective goods and chattles lands & tenements to be levied and to the said Commonwealth rendered yet upon this condition that if FRANCIS HOPKINS sHall continue within the walls of the Fort to which hie is committed by order of this Court for the term of six months from the 19th Day of August 1778 unless removed upon some extraordinary emergency by the order of a magistrate if within five or six Miles or unless sooner removed to the County Goal then this recognizance to be void otherwise to remain in full force & Virtue.
Ordered that FRANCIS HOPKINS be removed to the place of his confinement tomorrow by his Securities.

From: HISTORY OF SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA, 1746-1786, Washington , Co, 1777-1870, pages #275-277. By Lewis Preston Summers. Published in Baltimore in 1966 by the GeNealogical Publishing Company. Found GeNealogical Forum Library-Portland, Clackamas county, Oregon. January 1997.

At this time there lived in Washington county two men by the names of Francis Hopkins and William Hopkins. Francis Hopkins was a counterfeiter and, at the May term of the County Court in the year 1778, he was tried by the court on suspicion of his having counterfeited, erased and altered sundry treasury notes; the currency of this Commonwealth, knowing the same to be bad. He was found guilty, fined fifty dollars lawful money of Virginia, sentenced to six months in prison, and was ordered to be confined within the walls of the Fort at William Cocke's (Now C.L. Clyce's), on Renfro's Creek, alias Spring Creek, until the county goal was completed. He was conveyed to Cocke's Fort, but within a Short time thereafter, made his escape and began a series of very bold and daring depredations upon the Whig settlers of the county. He organized a band of Tories, whose occupation was to steal horses of the settlers and intimidate the citizens whenever possible. He went so far as to post notices at and near the home of Colonel William Campbell, warning him that if he did not desist from his prosecution of the Loyal adherents of George III, a terrible calamity would befall him, either in the loss of his property or his life.

On a quiet and beautiful Sabbath in the spring time of the year 1780, General Campbell accompanied by his wife (who was a sister of Patrick Henry), and several of their neighbors, attended a religious service at a Presbyterian House of worship known as Ebbing Spring CHurch in the upper end of this county. As they were returning to their homes they happened to be conversing about the audacity of the Tory who had been so bold and defiant in his declarations and was suspected of having posted these notices above referred to. Just as they arrived at he top of a hill, a Short distance west of the present residence of Colonel Hiram A. Greever, they observed a man on horseback on the opposite hill, coming towards them.

General Campbell was riding beside his wife, with an infant on before him. One of them remarked that the individual meeting them was the Tory of whom they had been speaking probably now on a horse-stealing expedition, as he was observed to be carring a rope halter in his hand. Hearing this, General Campbell, without halting, handed the infant over to its mother and dashed out in front. Seeing the movement and recognizing the man who he so much feared and hated, the Tory wheeled his horse and started back at quite a rapid gait, pursued at full speed by Colonel Campbell and one of the gentlement of the company, whose name was Thompson. Never, it may be presumed, either before or since, has such a dashing and exciting race been witnessed upon that Long level between the residences of Colonel Greever and Beattie. As they reached the Branch at the base of the hill a Little west of Colonel Beattie's, Colonel Campbell dashed up alongside the fleeing Tory, who, seeing that he would be caught, turned Short to the right down the bank and plunged into the river. As he struck the water, Colonel Campbell, who had left his companion in the rear, leaped in beside him, grasped the Tory's holsters and threw them into the stream, and then dragged him from his horse into the water.

At this moment Mr. Thompson rode up. They took the prisoner out on the bank and held what may be termed a drum-head court. The Tory, who, bad as he was, had the virtue to being a brave, candid man, at once acknowledged the truth of the charge preferred against hime and boldly declared his defiance and determination to take horses wherever he could find them. But he was mistaken in his man, for in less than ten minutes he was dangling from the limb of a large sycamore that stood upon the bank of the river, the stump of which was to be seen a few years ago, and maybe there yet for aught the writer knows. *
Charles B. Coale.

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