In October 1846, Louis Napoleon (the same petitioner as in the Lemmon Slave Case) sued out a writ of habeas corpus asserting that “a colored boy whose name was unknown, [later identified as 22-year-old George Kirk] was bound in chains on board the brig Mobile, lying at the foot of Maiden Lane in Manhattan.”
Kirk, a runaway slave, had secreted himself aboard and was beaten after being discovered and chained by the ship’s captain. John Jay, grandson of Founding Father John Jay, took on the case for Kirk’s release. Judge John Worth Edmonds granted the writ on technical grounds, but Kirk was again charged as a fugitive and, after trying unsuccessfully to escape in a carton to be mailed to Vermont, Judge Edmonds signed another writ, again freeing Kirk.
In December 1848, a similar case came before Judge Edmonds. Two slavecatchers seized James Belt in New York while walking on Duane Street in broad daylight. Again, John Jay, aided by John McKeon, the District Attorney of New York County in his official capacity, appeared before Judge Edmonds, who ordered Belt’s release.
 See Lemmon v. New York, 20 N.Y. 582 (1860); In the Matter of George Kirk, a fugitive slave, 4 N.Y. Leg. Obs. 456, 1 Parker Crim. Rep. 67, 1 Edm. Sel. Cas. 315, 9 Month. L. Rep. 355 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1846); In the Matter of Joseph Belt, an alleged fugitive from service, in the State of Maryland, 7 N.Y. Leg. Obs. 80, 1 Parker Crim. Rep. 169, 2 Edm. Sel. Cas. 93 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1848); The Slave Free, New-York Tribune, October 28, 1846, at 4; A Slave Case in the United States, The Guardian, December 26, 1846, at 5; The Slave Case, New-York Tribune, December 26, 1848, at 2; The Abduction Case, The Evening Post, December 27, 1848, at 2; Decision of the Slave Case by Judge Edmonds, The Evening Post, December 29, 1848, at 2.
Portrait of Hon. John Worth Edmonds. Published in The American Portrait Gallery by Lillian C. Buttre
Title page of Supplement to the New-York Legal Observer, Containing the Report of the Case in The Matter of George Kirk, a Fugitive Slave. Library of Congress, 98104378
View of fugitive slave Thomas M. Jones, escaping on a raft from the brig ship Bell offshore from New York City, 1871. General Research Division, The New York Public Library