Tag Archives: gambling

Samuel Pryor Associate of President Andrew Jackson?

Posted on by

Who’d want to run for the President of the United States? All the name calling, all the allegations… well what’s true in 2018 was true in 1827! When General Andrew Jackson was starting to position himself to run for office every allegation imaginable (and some of them true) surfaced in the press. A story from a Virginia newspaper was reprinted in Vermont — it names a Sam. Pryor or Samuel Pryor from Virginia who was a gamester and Jackson “crony”.


From the Richmond Whig of the 22nd ult.

The affair of Honor, in which the general deliberately shot Charles Dickinson, took place in the summer of 1806. The record of that bloody transaction, has for many years been in possession. We heard it also in 1816, at Plattsburg. When we were in company with Dr. J. Ramsey, of Charleston. From the mouths of an officer of the United States Engineer Corps, then at that station, with all its particulars. He stated, that Charles Dickerson threw away his fire, the General Jackson then advanced, and presented the pistol to the man’s head, and with an oath bid him make concessions or die Dickerson refused, Jackson took down his pistol, picked the flint, and presented it a second time, with similar remarks, and with the like effect, and after repeating this several times, finally shot the man dead on the spot. Several gentleman in the city have heard the same story the last winter, with all the circumstances attending it, from to wealthy, intelligent, and respectable gentleman, natives of New Jersey, who now live in Nashville, and have long lived there.

Appalling  as the statement is, we have circumstance to add to it, which made our informants blood run cold, when we heard it, as well it might. Soon after the duel, Jackson wrote a letter to Sam. Pryor, a noted gamester, and a crony of the general, then residing in this state, giving him an account of it. In the letter  HERO expressed himself to this affect: “I reserved my fire, and when I did shoot him, you may be assured I left the damned rascal weltering in his blood.” It is many years since our informant heard the letter read. But the expressions, he says, and we can believe it, made an impression upon his mind which time cannot obliterate while memory indoors.

National Standard, Middlebury Vermont, July 10th 1827 page 2

OH DEAR! Two New Pryors in Tennessee


Just when you think you’ve got all the Pryors in TN at 1850 and earlier two new ones pop up. We now have a JOHN PRIOR and DAVID L. PRIOR in Weakley County. I located two court records that named John on charges of unlawful gaming (gambling). One of the cases has David L. Prior as John’s security (bondsman?).

In trying to figure out who these Prior/Pryor men may be I looked at other Weakley County records. I don’t see neither John nor David on the 1830 Census nor on the 1840 Census. There’s a John L. Prior who married in 1846 to Lucinda Smith, but  he was age 22 and she was 20 on the 1850 Census, so he would have been a toddler in 1830-1831.  If the census is correct, John L. Prior was born about 1828 in Tennessee.

Any ideas to match these Prior/Pryor to their families?

1830 Court Record, Weakley Co.
Page 151 (image 224)
January the 15th 1830
This day the grand jury appeared in open court in a body and returned the following bills of indictment to wit…John Prior (for unlawful gaming)
(FamilySearch.org, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927; pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-195-343301-1-59, Weakley County Minutes 1827-1835)

1831 Court Record, Weakley Co.
Page 270 (image 365)
Wednesday October Sessions 1831
State of Tennessee vs. John PRIOR
For unlawful Gaming
This day came the Attorney General on behalf of the State and the defendant being solemnly called to come into court as he was this day bound to do and answer the State’s charte against him came not but made default. Therefore it is considered by the court that a Judgment Nici be entered up against the John Prior & David L. Prior, his Security, for the sum of two hundred dollars and that a Scire Facias issue direced &c. of the
(FamilySearch.org, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927; pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-195-343301-1-59, Weakley County Minutes 1827-1835)