The South Carolina Department of Archives and History has a microfilm of the Journals of the County and Intermediate Court 1786- 1790 for Laurens county. “The County Court Act of 1785 established county courts… ‘to hear and determine all causes at the common law’… where the debt or damages did not exceed fifty pounds… all personal actions where the damages did not exceed twenty pounds… and to hear criminal cases where judgment would not call for the loss of life or corporal punishment”.1
The journal is interesting reading, providing insight into how our ancestors sought to govern themselves at the dawning of America as a nation. The Treaty of Paris had formally ended English claims on America just three years before this journal opens. The court cases have a very “English” cast, reflecting a society in transition.
An important item on the court’s agenda for 17 March 1786 was regulating “Publick Taverns”.2
Ordered that the following ammendments be added to the Rates Established for the Regulation of the Publick Tavern Keepers within this county, to wit
Good pasturage for one night for one horse /.6
Stablage and plenty of good fodder for one horse p. n’t. /7
Corn per gallon /9
Ditto per pottle /5
Oates per gallon /7
Ditto per pottle /4
Good West India rum per pint /10
Ditto per gill /6
Roads were an important item as well.
George Berry is appointed overseer of that part of the high road leading from Duncans Creek it being a part of the New Road leading from the Court House of this County to the Enoree River. Ordered that he cause the [several] free male inhabitants & slaves contiguous to and convenient to said road to work thereon and to cause the [former] to be left in good repair for one year from this date as the law directs.
The name “George Berry” is significant in the Pettypool family of Laurens county. George Berry sold Seth Petty Pool land in the earliest transaction by Seth found in Laurens county.4 And Seth is traditionally described as married to Elizabeth Berry.5 The 1806 Laurens County Probate of the estate of George Berry6 seems to confirm that Seth was a son-in-law. And the persistence of “Berry” in family names- Berry Pool, Berry P. Pool, George Berry Pool- does imply some close connection with the Berry family.
The County and Intermediate court was required to deal with issues of child support and paternity, and George Berry came to their attention in this way on 13 June 1786:
State vs Nancy Terry Bastardy
Came into court the said Nancy Terry and submitted herself to the jurisdiction and mercy of the court and sayeth that she is guilty of having a bastard child and that George Berry is the father of the said bastard child, wherefore it is considered by the court that she pay into the said county a fine of three pounds eleven shillings and cost of suit and that she enter into bond with sufficient security in the form of fifty pounds for the maintenance of said bastard child.
State vs George Berry Bastardy
Came into court the said George Berry and submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the court, and sayeth that he is guilty of being the father of a bastard child begotten on the body of Nancy Terry, whereupon it was considered by the court that he pay into the said county a fine of three pounds eleven shillings and cost of suit- and enter into bond with sufficient security in the form of fifty pounds sterling to save himself and indemnify the the said county from the maintenance […] of said bastard child.
George Berry, Nancy Terry, Stephen Potter, and William Terry came into court and acknowledged themselves indebted to the county in the sum of fifty pounds sterling to levied jointly and severally of their goods and chattels land and tenements , yet upon condition that they [show] harmless and indemnified the said county from the maintenance of a certain bastard child begotten on the body of Nancy Terry for the time of ten years – acknowledged in open court- 7
This case introduces another surname associated with the Laurens county Pool family- “Terry”. Elihu Pool, Seth Petty Pool’s grandson, married Lucy Terry.8 And according to Bessie Lamb’s family history, William Pool “married a Terry, his first cousin”.9 She includes this William as a child of Seth Petty Pool, but I have not been able to confirm this, and with the prevalence of the name “William” in the Pettypool family, confirmation will likely remain elusive.
My third great grandfather, Seth P. Pool makes a court appearance in June of 1787:
…met June 1787… John Adair vs Seth P. Pool This day came the parties by their att’ys & after several writings being sworn & examined touching the principles of the case heard on both sides. It is considered by the court that the pl’tf Adair recover against the S. Pool def’t – the sum of two pounds six shillings… 10
1. South Carolina Court Records: an Introduction for Genealogists, Alexia J. Helsey, Michael E. Stauffer, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, 1993, p. 12.
2. Page 64. A pottle is 2 quarts; a gill is a quarter pint.
3. Page 94.
4. Laurens County RMC (Deeds): District Index to Deeds 1774- 1903.
5. See Bessie Poole Lamb, A Genealogical History of the Poole, Langston, Mason Families and Kindred Lines of Upper South Carolina.
6. Laurens County Probate Court, “Laurens County Ordinary/Probate Judge Index to Estate Papers 1800-1939” Box 8, Package 12, 1806.
7. Page 84.
8. An Account of Marriages Solemnized by Tolaver Robertson in South Carolina between October 1842 & February 1867, edited by Joseph R. Gainey A Press, Greenville, SC, 1985.
9. Bessie Poole Lamb, A Genealogical History of the Poole, Langston, Mason Families and Kindred Lines of Upper South Carolina, p. 6.
10. Page 168.