Unusual Fate for Noted Jurist

Samuel Spencer Highway MarkerOn March 20, 1793, Samuel Spencer died.

Spencer was a member of North Carolina’s colonial assembly, a trustee of the University of North Carolina, a colonel in the militia and a superior court judge. He voted against the new federal constitution because it did not yet have a Bill of Rights. He also played a major role in the landmark legal case of Bayard v. Singleton, the first instance in which a court declared an act of the post-revolutionary North Carolina General Assembly unconstitutional.

Spencer also had a most unusual death, by turkey. At age 60, Spencer was napping outside on his porch, wearing a red cap. Spencer’s bobbing head was then taken for a challenge by a turkey, which attacked the judge with such violence he was thrown from his chair. The judge died a few days later from either from injuries sustained in the fall, or from an infection from the scratches.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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