Daniel Horsemanden

Daniel Horsemanden was born on 4 June 1694 to Rev Daniel Horsemanden and Susanna Boyer.

Daniel father had become vicar of Purleigh in 1780 and was to remain there until 1826.

Daniel did not follow his father into the Church but became a lawyer training at the Middle Temple in London.

Daniels grandfather, Warham Horsmanden, had emigrated to James City in the county of Virginia in the new American colony and Daniels father was born there so it was no surprise that Daniel left London for America in 1731.

A mixture of his political contacts, family influence and his experience at the bar led to his appointment in 1737 to the Supreme Court in New York which was led to his downfall in 1747 when his politics fell out of favour and he lost his seat.

By 1753 he regained the seat and became Chief Justice in 1763 until his retirement due to ill health in 1778.

Daniel died on 23 September 1778 and is buried in Trinity Churchyard, New York City.

Daniel married twice - On 8 May 1748 to wealthy widow Mary Reade Vesey and in 1763, 3 years after Mary's death, he married Anne Jevon.

There were no children from either marriage.

Daniel was involved in several notable cases as a judge although the best known was the slaves revolt.

horsemanden book

In 1741 there was a degree of public hysteria about a serious of burglaries and inexplicable fires in New York for which slaves were the main suspects.

Information was given by a 16 year old female servant of a drinking den frequented by slaves that the people responsible were a group of slaves and their white friends.

The authorities were swift to act due partly to public concern and partly due to fears that this may be part of a slave uprising which would be difficult to contain.

On the word of just one witness who gave implausible evidence over 100 people were imprisoned , 20 were hanged and 18 burnt at the stake.

Daniel presided over most of the trials and  in 1744 wrote an account, Journal of the proceedings in the detection of the conspiracy, justifying the actions.

He claimed that there was a conspiracy of white men who plotted with the slaves to overthrow the Government at which point the white men would take power and the slaves would be freed.