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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Deposition of Alexander Gaston concerning the actions of James Davis
Gaston, Alexander, ca. 1735-1781
June 05, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 429-430


5 June 1778.

State of North Carolina, Craven County,

This day personally appeared before me William Tisdale, Esq., one of the Justices for Craven County, Alexander Gaston, Esq., being sworn on the holy Evangelist of Almighty God deposeth on oath, that on the twenty eighty day of May last, James, Davis Esq., of the town and county aforesaid, with his sons James & John & Mr. Visson, the last armed with a Gun & John with a musket & screwed (?) Bayonet, followed by a large mob of sailors and others, some armed with Guns & others with Clubs, came to the Piazza of the said Alexander Gaston, where four of the town Justices were convened, and complained, that he the said James Davis, having gone to Col. Chariol's Barracks, with the Constable, to serve a precept on one of the soldiers, who, he said, was his son's apprentice, had been insulted by the Sergeant, who had refused to deliver up the boy; and demanded that the militia should be immediately raised, to take him by force. This being objected to, by the Justices, as unnecessary, he & his sons swore that if justice was not done him, they would take it themselves,

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& spend the last drop of their Blood. He said the Liberty we had been fighting for so long was about to be taken from us by the damned French, desired the mob in the street to stand by him, & there would be Blood spilt before night, or words to that purpose; said he had been ill used, a long time, & when he applied to the Congress for redress, they threw cold water on it, when Col. Chariol (who had been sent for) came on the Piazza the said James Davis' sons slapt him on the shoulder & ordered him to Gaol for twenty four hours. This he said he would do by his own authority, & was advancing to slap him again, or to seize him when Col. Leech interposed, telling him, that certainly he could not mean to pass sentence as Judge, & be the officer himself to execute it, and by the persuasion of Abner Nash, Esq., he was prevailed upon to desist from imprisoning him. He often brandished his cudgel before the Colonel, as with an intention to provoke him, to say or do something that might exasperate the mob against him. After the Colonel had agreed to his requisitions, of delivering up the Sergeant & boy, the mob was dispersed, the said James Davis' son came to the corner of the street, near Mr. Ellis's where several prisoners were present & said the man was gone meaning the Sergeant & he could not get justice done him, & swore that he would raise a posse that night, and drive all the French out of town, & every one who favored them should share the same fate. The latter part he seemed to direct to the deponent upon which he desired they would take notice what he said. He afterwards had a warrant served on Colonel Chariol for absenting himself, who being brought before Joseph Leech & William Tisdale, Esqrs., he agreed to drop it on the Colonel's promising to advertise the Sergeant as a Deserter if he did not return.


June 5th 1778 Sworn to before Mr. William Tisdale, J. P.