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Brentsville Courthouse and Jail

The Prince William County Courthouse and Jail in Brentsville, VA, are associated with the Underground Railroad because they served as sites of arrest and lodging of runaway bondsmen and abolitionists from 1820 until 1862. Bondsmen were tried, lodged, punished (including execution) and sold all on the courthouse lot. Relevant cases are: runaway named Billy documented because of treatment at the jail on 3 succeeding days by a local physician; free black William Hyden unjustly imprisoned in the Brentsville Jail and almost sold into slavery in 1833; Landon a runaway held in the jail, charged with arson, tried, and found guilty, and sentenced to be hung in 1839. Period newspapers provide evidence of antislavery sentiment in the county. Vocal abolitionist John Underwood was brought to trial and found guilty of "uttering and maintaining that owners have no rights of property in their slaves." This and other cases show how the county courts tried to repress opposition to slavery within the county. The courthouse and jail are part of the Brentsville Courthouse Historic Centre, administered by Prince William County's Historic Preservation Division. The courthouse is open for tours and the jail is under restoration.

Visitor Information: Currently open to public.

Location: 12229 Bristow Rd., Bristow, Prince William, 20136

National Register/National Historic Landmark Status: Brentsville Courthouse and Jail

National Park Unit: No

Ownership: Site Manager

Location Type: Site

Freedom Seekers: Billy (VA, 1833),Landon (VA, 1839),William Hyden