Lead: After a sensational Virginia trial in the spring of 1793, aristocrats Richard Randolph and his young sister in law, Nancy Randolph, were acquitted of the murder of her newborn baby.

 

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 

                Content: The two were accused of adultery and a brutal act of infanticide to conceal an incestuous affair. Pleading the defense were former Governor Patrick Henry of “Give me liberty or give me death,” fame, and Randolph family cousin John Marshall, who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Randolph family members testified both for and against the defendants. Much of the testimony involved intimations that Nancy and Richard had an intimate relationship, but the most critical evidence was never brought to light. Virginia law prohibited slaves from testifying against whites, and it was plantation slaves who allegedly tended to Nancy while she was in labor and discovered the corpse of a white baby on the woodpile. Since no white person or member of the Randolph family testified they had ever seen a baby’s corpse, the charges were dropped.