In an extremely rare instance of British law acting in favor of the enslaved, Arthur William Hodge was the first slave owner executed for murdering of one of his slaves. The incident leading to Hodge’s trial was one of many grisly deaths in the history of slavery. It would also be one of many attributed to the Tortola-based planter alone.
Arthur William Hodge
Prior to his execution, Hodge was born in the British Virgin Islands in 1763 and attended studied at Oxford. Following his father’s death, he headed back to the British Virgin Islands in order to take over the Hodge family plantation.
Prosper’s Torture and Murder
On October 2, 1807 he tortured a slave by the name of Prosper. A free Black woman named Perreen Georges, was the witness to the incident. She stated that Prosper was “laid down and flogged for a mango which dropt off a tree, and which Mr. Hodge said he should pay six shillings for.” Georges said that Prosper asked her for the money but she was short.
Upon telling Arthur William Hodge he only had three shillings, Prosper was forced down by other slaves face down and flogged for an hour. He was carried to a hill later that day where his beating resumed on October 3. On October 15, Prosper died on the wounds inflicted. As a result, Hodge would flee from Tortola to avoid the law.
In part two we will look at the legal process that led to Arthur William Hodge being captured.