John M. Lloyd

John Minchin Lloyd was a policeman before moving to Surrattsville and in October, 1864, began renting the tavern in the town from Mary Surratt. When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on 14th April, 1865, Mrs. Surratt was arrested and charged with being involved in the conspiracy. So also was Lloyd and he was kept in solitary confinement before he eventually agreed to give evidence against Mrs. Surratt.

At Mrs. Surratt's trial Lloyd told the court that a few weeks before the assassination, John Surratt, George Atzerodt and David Herold had arrived at his tavern and told him to hide "two carbines, with ammunition; also a rope from sixteen to twenty feet in length, and a monkey wrench".

Lloyd also told the court that on the Tuesday before the assassination Mary Surratt and Louis Weichmann visited him. "She told me to have those shooting-irons ready that night, there would be some parties who would call for them. She gave me something wrapped in a piece of paper, which I took up stairs, and found to be a field-glass. She told me to get two bottles of whisky ready, and that these things were to be called for that night."

During the trial Lloyd admitted that he was drunk when he was visited by Surratt and Weichmann and commented that alcohol "makes me forget a great many things". He also agreed that he had not gone to the authorities after John Wilkes Booth had confessed to the killing of Abraham Lincoln.

Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt and David Herold, were found guilty of being involved in the conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln and were hanged at Washington Penitentiary on 7th July, 1865.

After the execution General Thomas Harris wrote that if Mrs. Surratt's fate depended on what Louis Weichmann said, "not a hair of her head would have been harmed. The man who did the mischief was John M. Lloyd."

John Minchin Lloyd died in Washington in 1892.

Primary Sources

(1) Louis Weichmann, testimony before the Military Tribunal (13th May, 1865)

On Friday, the day of the assassination, I went to Howard’s stable, about half-past 2 o’clock, having been sent there by Mrs. Surratt for the purpose of hiring a buggy. I drove her to Surrattsville the same day, arriving there about half-past 4. We stopped at the house of Mr. Lloyd, who keeps a tavern there. Mrs. Surratt went into the parlor. I remained outside a portion of the time, and went into the bar-room a part of the time, until Mrs. Surratt sent for me. We left about half-past 6. Surrattsville is about a two-hour drive to the city, and is about ten miles from the Navy Yard bridge. Just before leaving the city, as I was going to the door, I saw Mr. Booth in the parlor, and Mrs. Surratt was speaking with him. They were alone.

Some time in March last, I think, a man calling himself Wood came to Mrs. Surratt’s and inquired for John H. Surratt. I went to the door and told him Mr. Surratt was not at home; he thereupon expressed a desire to see Mrs. Surratt, and I introduced him, having first asked his name. That is the man (pointing to Lewis Powell). He stopped at the house all night. He had supper served up to him in my room; I took it to him from the kitchen. He brought no baggage; he had a black overcoat on, a black dress-coat, and gray pants. He remained till the next morning, leaving by the earliest train for Baltimore. About three weeks afterward he called again, and I again went to the door. I had forgotten his name, and, asking him, he gave the name of Powell I ushered him into the parlor, where were Mrs. Surratt, Miss Surratt, and Miss Honora Fitzpatrick. He remained three days that time. He represented himself as a Baptist preacher; and said that he had been in prison for about a week; that he had taken the oath of allegiance, and was now going to become and good and loyal citizen. Mrs. Surratt and her family are Catholics. John H. Surratt is a Catholic, and was a student of divinity at the same college as myself. I heard no explanation given why a Baptist preacher should seek hospitality at Mrs. Surratt’s; they only looked upon it as odd, and laughed at it. Mrs. Surratt herself remarked that he was a great looking Baptist preacher.

I met the prisoner, David E. Herold, at Mrs. Surratt’s on one occasion; I also met him when we visited the theater when Booth played Pescara; and I met him at Mrs. Surratt’s, in the country, in the spring of 1863, when I first made Mrs. Surratt’s acquaintance. I met him again in the summer of 1864, at Piscataway Church. These are the only times, to my recollection, I ever met him. I do not know either of the prisoners, Arnold or O’Laughlin.

(2) George Cottingham, testimony before the Military Tribunal (25th May, 1865)

I am special officer on Major O’Beirne’s force, and was engaged in making arrests after the assassination. After the arrest of John M. Lloyd by my partner, he was placed in my charge at Roby’s Post-office, Surrattsville. For the two days after his arrest Mr. Lloyd denied knowing any thing about the assassination. I told him that I was perfectly satisfied he knew about it, and had a heavy load on his mind, and that the sooner he got rid of it the better. He then said to me, "O, my God, if I was to make a confession, they would murder me!" I asked, "Who would murder you?" He replied, "These parties that are in this conspiracy." "Well, said I, "if you are afraid of being murdered, and let these fellows get out of it, that is your business, not mine." He seemed to be very much excited.

Lloyd stated to me that Mrs. Surratt had come down to his place on Friday between 4 and 5 o’clock; that she told him to have the fire-arms ready; that two men would call for them at 12 o’clock, and that two men did call; that Herold dismounted from his horse, went into Lloyd’s tavern, and told him to go up and get those fire-arms. The fire-arms, he stated, were brought down; Herold took one, and Booth’s carbine was carried out to him; but Booth said he could not carry his, it was as much as he could do to carry himself, as his leg was broken. Then Booth told Lloyd, "I have murdered the President;" and Herold said "I have fixed off Seward." He told me this on his way to Washington, with a squad of cavalry; I was in the house when he came in. He commenced crying and hallooing out, "O, Mrs. Surratt, that vile woman, she has ruined me! I am to be shot! I am to be shot!"

I asked Lloyd where Booth’s carbine was; he told me it was up stairs in a little room; where Mrs. Surratt kept some bags. I went up into the room and hunted about, but could not find it. It was at last found behind the plastering of the wall. The carbine was in a bag, and had been suspended by a string tied round the muzzle of the carbine; the string had broken, and the carbine had fallen down.

(3) John M. Lloyd, testimony before the Military Tribunal (13th May, 1865)

I reside at Mrs. Surratt's tavern, Surrattsville, and am engaged in hotel-keeping and farming. Some five or six weeks before the assassination of the President, John H. Surratt, David E. Herold, and G. A. Atzerodt came to my house. All three, when they came into the bar-room, drank, I think. John Surratt then called me into the front parlor, and on the sofa were two carbines, with ammunition; also a rope from sixteen to twenty feet in length, and a monkey wrench. Surratt asked me to take care of these things, and to conceal the carbines. I told him there was no place to conceal them, and I did not wish to keep such things. He then took me to a room I had never been in, immediately above the store-room, in the back part of the building. He showed me where I could put them underneath the joists of the second floor of the main building. I put them in there according to his directions.

I stated to Colonel Wells that Surratt put them there, but I carried the arms up and put them in there myself. There was also one cartridge-box of ammunition. Surratt said he just wanted these articles to stay for a few days, and he would call for them. On the Tuesday before the assassination of the President, I was coming to Washington, and I met Mrs. Surratt, on the road, at Uniontown. When she first broached subject to me about the articles at my place, I did not know what she had reference to. Then she came out plainer, and asked me about the "shooting-irons." I had myself forgotten about them being there. I told her they were hid away far back, and that I was afraid the house might be searched. She told me to get them out ready; that they would be wanted soon. I do not recollect distinctly the first question she put to me. Her language was indistinct, as if she wanted to draw my attention to something, so that no one else would understand. Finally she came out bolder with it, and said they would be wanted soon. I told her that I had an idea of having them buried; that I was very uneasy about having them there.

On the 14th of April I went to Marlboro to attend a trial there; and in the evening, when I got home, which I should judge was about 5 o'clock, I found Mrs. Surratt there. She met me out by the wood-pile as I drove in with some fish and oysters in my buggy. She told me to have those shooting-irons ready that night, there would be some parties who would call for them. She gave me something wrapped in a piece of paper, which I took up stairs, and found to be a field-glass. She told me to get two bottles of whisky ready, and that these things were to be called for that night.

Just about midnight on Friday, Herold came into the house and said, "Lloyd, for God's sake, make haste and get those things." I did not make any reply, but went straight and got the carbines, supposing they were the parties Mrs. Surratt had referred to, though she didn't mention any names. From the way he spoke he must have been apprised that I already knew what I was to give him. Mrs. Surratt told me to give the carbines, whisky, and field-glass. I did not give them the rope and monkey-wrench. Booth didn't come in. I did not know him; he was a stranger to me. He remained on his horse. Herold, I think, drank some out of the glass before he went out.

I do not think they remained over five minutes. They only took one of the carbines. Booth said he could not take his, because his leg was broken. Just as they were about leaving, the man who was with Herold said, "I will tell you some news, if you want to hear it," or something to that effect. I said, "I am not particular; use your own pleasure about telling it." "Well, said he, "I am pretty certain that we have assassinated the President and Secretary Seward."

(4) The New York Sun (21st December, 1892)

Although Lloyd's testimony was most damaging against Mrs. Surratt, and probably condemned her, he himself never believed in Mrs. Surratt's guilt, and said she was a victim of circumstances. Her association with the real conspirators, he always held, was the cause of her conviction.