Nancy Randolph – III

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.

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Nancy Randolph – II

Lead: In spring 1793, a sensational trial packed the Cumberland County courthouse. The accused were first family Virginians – Randolphs – Nancy and her brother-in-law Richard. They were accused of adultery and murder.

 

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 

                Content: Richard and Nancy Randoph were first cousins, descendants of the same family of wealthy Virginia tobacco planters. Nancy lost her mother as a young girl and settled with her older sister Judith and Judith’s husband Richard at “Bizarre,” one of the Randolph family plantations on the Appomattox River near Farmville.

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Nancy Randolph – I

Lead: In 1790s Virginia was scandalized by the sensational trial following a story of alleged adultery, murder, and deception involving one of the oldest aristocratic families in the Commonwealth. 

 

                Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 

                Content: Beginning in the 1650s, a group of planters, emigrants from England began to dominate the Virginia tidewater. Among the earliest of the Virginia gentry were the Byrds, Beverleys, Carters, Masons and Randolphs. These protestant, so-called first families of Virginia, obtained huge tracts of land on navigable rivers in the Chesapeake region. They built plantations and successfully cultivated tobacco for a growing world market. Many of the same planter families continued to exercise social and political power well into the twentieth century, but their dominance was not universal, particularly as the fulcrum of power shifted to Richmond and as the back-country filled up with those no longer beholden to these clans and their allies and resentful of first family status.

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