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Manuscript Collection Number:  98, F150

Accessioned:  Purchase, 1978.

Extent:  1 item (.2 linear ft.)

Content:  Docket book.

Access:  The collection is open for research.

Processed: February 2005 by Theresa Hessey

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Robert Middleton Black was born in Glasgow, Pencader Hundred, Delaware, on December 28, 1811.  Black was one of nine children born to Dr. Samuel Henry Black and Dorcas Armitage Middleton, prominent Pencader Hundred citizens.  Dorcas Armitage Middleton was a descendant of Thomas Cooch, also of Pencader Hundred.  Raised at LaGrange, a farm of over 200 acres located at the intersection of (modern day) Route 40 and Route 896 in Glasgow, Black assumed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the farm following the death of his father in 1827.  He maintained this responsibility, with the assistance of his younger brother, Samuel Henry Black, for the remainder of his life. 

Black’s older brother, Charles Henry Black, followed his father’s occupation and practiced medicine in New Castle.  Charles married Ann Janvier in 1837 and produced eight children, including John Janvier Black, a prominent New Castle obstetrician during the latter half of the nineteenth century.

In addition to his farming activities, Robert Black served as a Justice of the Peace for Pencader Hundred, beginning around 1860 and continuing through 1872.  In this capacity, Black served as judge for numerous cases brought before him, addressing crimes varying from larceny, bastardry, attempted murder, and disturbing the peace, as well as cases of a more civil nature.  The most prominent cases brought before Justice Black involved delinquent accounts for goods bought and sold and for services performed.

Robert Black married Susan Zane sometime in the 1860s and they had at least one daughter, Mary Roberta Black, born in 1871.  Robert Black died in 1878 and was buried in Pencader Presbyterian Church cemetery. 



Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Delaware: 1609-1888, 2 Vols.  Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Co., 1888.


Cooch, Eleanor Bedford Wilkins.  The Ancestors of Eleanor Bedford Wilkins Cooch and Edward Webb Cooch.  [Wilmington, Del.: s.n.], c1962.

Scope and Contents Note

            The docket book of Justice of the Peace Robert M. Black spans the dates October 1869 until January 1872.  One additional entry is made for May 1887.  The docket book consists of over 250 pages listing 565 cases numbered 5824 to 6386, that came before Black in his capacity of Justice of the Peace for Pencader Hundred, Delaware.  Each case is described with charge, verdict, court cost, and occasionally a receipt for payment of fines.  Primarily, cases involved disputes related to business and employment transactions.  There are instances where more serious crimes are recorded such as attempted murder, larceny, and bastardry.  During the time that Black served in this capacity, William J. Dayett served as constable responsible for serving summons and attending to other court matters.  Many of the cases brought before Black involved members of Dayett’s family in their capacity as flour millers.


Related Collections:

Ms 97 Item 005           Samuel Henry Black Diary

Ms 97 Item 026           Mary J. (Black) Evans Journal

Ms 271            George G. Evans Family Papers

Ms 388            Alexander Wilson Papers

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1          Docket Book, 1869-1887

Contains a listing of 565 civil and criminal cases numbered 5824 to 6386 on 285 pages brought before Robert M. Black, Justice of the Peace, Pencader Hundred.  Each case is described with a charge, verdict, court costs, and other relevant information.  Occasional receipts for fines are attached.

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Last modified: 01/19/11