At a Session of the General Assembly at Hartford
October 8, 1663
This Court doth authorize the Court at Southold to issue the [decision] respecting Pepper, now in durance there, and to send him to Barbadoes or banish him, according as the nature of the offence requires.
Who is Pepper? And what did Pepper do?
This excerpt, from the meeting of the General Court held October 8, 1663, is a "history mystery." We don't know exactly what it means. But there are clues that it may refer to an enslaved man in the Connecticut Colony. "In durance" means "in jail."
Southold is on the eastern end of Long Island. It was settled by English Puritans from New Haven in 1640. It became part of New York in 1664.
Clue #1: Pepper is referred to by only one name. Enslaved African people in the colonies were often not given the respect of a first and last name. Pepper may also have been a Montaukett or Shinnecock Indian who also, in this period, might have been referred to by just one name. English people are referred to in the colonial records by their first and last name or by Mr. before their last name.
Clue #2: For punishment for his offense, the court suggested Pepper be sent to Barbados. By 1663 Barbados was a well-established English colony of sugar cane plantations worked by thousands of enslaved Africans. A Native American person convicted of a crime might also have been banished from the colony or sent into slavery in Barbados. Connecticut’s economy became entwined with Barbados as part of the triangle trade. See Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut, page 21.
Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, Volume 1