Boxley was born about 1780 in Spotsylvania County, the son of a farmer, Thomas Boxley. Very little is known about his family and early life. He farmed for a time, operated a general store, and owned a tannery in Fredericksburg. On March 27, 1805, he married Hannah Jenkins. They had at least seven children, perhaps as many as eleven. He paid taxes on from three to eight slaves between 1801 and 1816, but in the latter year he was described as being in "desperate circumstances."
Boxley served as an ensign in the militia during the War of 1812. By some accounts he was passed over for promotion, and he reportedly also had political ambitions thwarted when he was forced to defer to a member of a more prominent family. During the second half of 1815 Boxley began to conspire against slavery. Few observers agreed about his motivations or even his deeds. Some people assumed that Boxley acted out of resentment for past slights, some that he had become an abolitionist, some that he had become demented, and some that religious delusions motivated him. He allegedly told people that God had spoken to him through a white bird and convinced him of the evils of slavery. Boxley spoke out against slavery and attempted to organize African Americans in Spotsylvania and the neighboring parts of Louisa and Orange counties. He may have been trying either to help slaves flee Virginia or to mount an armed campaign to free them, but before anything took place his activities were exposed by a female slave. Boxley turned himself in on February 27, 1816, and was charged with fomenting an insurrection.
On November 13, 1816, Boxley executed a power of attorney in Washington County, Pennsylvania, that enabled him to sell his two tracts of Spotsylvania County land totaling 460 acres. During the next several years he moved from place to place in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. In 1818 the superior court in Spotsylvania County outlawed Boxley after he again failed to appear for trial, and on several occasions bounty hunters attempted to capture him and return him to Virginia. One took him prisoner, but Boxley's friends rescued and released him.
ca. 1780 - George Boxley is born in Spotsylvania County.
May 27, 1805 - George Boxley and Hannah Jenkins are married.
1815 - George Boxley attempts to organize African Americans in Spotsylvania, Louisa, and Orange counties against slavery.
February 27, 1816 - George Boxley turns himself in on charges of fomenting a slave insurrection. He later escapes jail.
November 13, 1816 - George Boxley executes a power of attorney to sell two tracts of land in Spotsylvania County.
1818 - The superior court in Spotsylvania County outlaws George Boxley after he fails to appear for trial.
1828 - George Boxley builds a cabin north of Indianapolis, Indiana.
October 5, 1865 - George Boxley dies in Hamilton County, Indiana.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Schwarz, P. J., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. George Boxley (ca. 1780–1865). (2017, September 11). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Boxley_George_ca_1780-1865.
- MLA Citation:
Schwarz, Philip J. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "George Boxley (ca. 1780–1865)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 11 Sep. 2017. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: April 3, 2017 | Last modified: September 11, 2017