Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11383013

State: South Carolina Year: 1830
Location: York Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Jeremiah Dickey, a free man of color who purchased his freedom, states that during his time as a slave, he had married a mulatto woman, the slave of Robert Manning. Before their marriage, his wife "was delivered of a female child--whose father was a white man." Dickey states that he purchased Jincey from her owner and now seeks to emancipate her. He therefore prays that he be permitted to free his sixteen-year-old step-daughter "under the name Jensey Dickey."

PAR Number 11383603

State: South Carolina Year: 1836
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Moses Irvin, a seventy-five-year-old free person of color emancipated for his "faithful services" during the Revolutionary War, seeks to free his wife Harriet and the "two children, which she has born him." Representing that both he and Harriet, whom he purchased, "are far advanced in years," the petitioner "is rendered very unhappy by the situation of his children, who are the persons that he would leave what little he has to, but who are in danger of being seized after his death as vacant property - and confiscated for the use of the State." He therefore "humbly asks your attention to his appeal to your humanity" and "prays that you would be pleased to sanction his children's freedom by allowing them to follow the condition of their father."

PAR Number 11383805

State: South Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Richland Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: "By a Long life of Care and industry," James Paterson, a free person of color, purchased his wife, Sarah, and his two children, George and Mary. Paterson seeks exemption from the law prohibiting the manumission of slaves and requests permission to free his family, "so that the honest industry, the unwearied pains and untiring efforts of a Father & Husband may not be lossed to him entirely."

PAR Number 11384504

State: South Carolina Year: 1845
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Priscilla Jessup, a free woman of color, "has considerable property -- That she owns among other things, her husband John, a negro man," whom she purchased in 1834; since his purchase, John's condition, "in consequence of the love and affection which she bears to him has been that only of nominal servitude." Averring John to have always been "industrious, honest faithfull and obedient," the petitioner asks that he be emancipated. Jessup fears "in the event of her death, John ... will fall into other hands in the condition of a slave."

PAR Number 11385007

State: South Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Spartanburg Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Fifty-four-year-old free mulatto William Jackson, who had lived in the area his entire life, asks to free his wife Lucinda, "a slave though three degrees removed from the African race," and his six children: Susan, Martha, Mary, Berryman, Margaret, and Hosea.

PAR Number 11385702

State: South Carolina Year: 1857
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William F. Ervin, son of the late Robert Ervin, represents that his father manumitted a slave named Sye "in consideration of his fidelity and good conduct." He further reports that the said Sye, who assumed the name Sye Ervin after his manumission, "accumulated a small property; and with a part of it purchased a female slave with whom he had previously lived as a wife and a female grandchild named Clarissa." Ervin states that Sye died intestate in 1836 or 1837, leaving a small farm in St. John's Parish, where his said wife lived until her death. He notes that when Sye's granddaughter Clarissa died in 1851, she left six slave children, the eldest age eleven, the youngest an infant. The petitioner declares that he was called upon by his neighbors to attend to the family, who "were left wholly destitute and were in danger of starvation." Averring that he "has taken charge of and supported the said slaves ever since, and has been subjected to considerable expense," the petitioner prays "that all right and Title of the State to the said Property, real and personal, may be released to your petitioner."

PAR Number 11385705

State: South Carolina Year: 1857
Location: Clarendon Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: The heirs of the late Dr. Robert W. Ervin represent that he manumitted a slave named Sye in 1817 and that the said Sye later purchased his wife and his granddaughter named Clarissa. They further state that Clarissa died in 1851, leaving six children: Becky, Jane, Betsy, Leny, Sarah, and Isaac. They also report that Sye has died, seized and possessed of his granddaughter, six great grandchildren, a tract of land, and some cattle and hogs; the estate, however, had no legal heirs and escheated to the state. The heirs charge that William Ervin, another son of the said Robert, took possession of Sye's estate in 1850 or 1851, including the slaves, who until this time were "passing as free." The petitioners, "some being in very moderate circumstances, and others in embarrassing circumstances," reveal that they have frequently asked the said William to secure "the benefit of said slaves or their value" to Louisa Ervin, mother of William Ervin, and widow of Robert Ervin. Asserting that they are equally entitled to the slaves, they ask the legislature to vest the title of the slaves to Robert Ervin's heirs at law and that the sheriff sell the slaves to the highest bidder and divide the proceeds equally among said heirs.

PAR Number 11385912

State: South Carolina Year: 1859
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: The mulatto children of the late Philip Stanislas Noisette, a white botanist who died in 1835, ask to remain in South Carolina as free persons of color. They state that their father freed them in his will and that "the provisions of this will are perfectly legal, and that there is no question about their freedom, but that they might be required to emigrate." Citing that they were born in the state, the petitioners assert that they "are very unwilling to remove." They further point out that "those who have the public interest most at heart would recognize the propriety of an exception in their behalf that would permit them to remain where they are." The petitioners therefore pray that "they and their issue may be permitted to remain in the State in the condition of free persons of color."

PAR Number 11482602

State: Tennessee Year: 1826
Location: Humphreys Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty residents of Humphreys County ask the legislature to grant free people of color Sampson and Nancy the right to use the surname "Black" and "a right of distribution of property." The petitioners state that the said Sampson "acumulated a sum of money sufficient to purchase his own freedom from his [original owner] and also sufficient to purchase his wife a woman of colour from her former owner who was both duly Emancipated in open court." Avowing that the couple has acquired a "sufficient stock of property for their support," the petitioners assert that Sampson and Nancy are "respectable citizens." They therefore pray "that your Honorable body should give the said Sampson the name of Sampson Black and the said Nancy the name of Nancy Black and their two children ... the names of Wilson Black and Nancy Ann Black."

PAR Number 11483205

State: Tennessee Year: 1832
Location: Sullivan Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Rockhold requests permission to emancipate a slave family and legislative approval for them to remain in the state. He reports that he agreed in 1828 to manumit Emley after her husband, free man of color named Edward Cook, paid him $250 as her purchase price. Noting that Emley now has two children, Rockhold seeks permission to present an emancipation petition to the county court to "cause the said Emley and said two Children Thomas & William to be emancipated"; he also asks that he not be "Bound for them to leave the state" and he avows that they are "honest and industrious and respectable." Rockhold further represents that "he is the owner of severel slaves that he is desirous should have ther freedom and that his will has been long since that his slaves should be free at his Decease."

PAR Number 11483304

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-five residents of Greene County represent that William Hendrey gave John McFee, his son-in-law, "a Cartin Calored Gal by the name of Delfe" in 1827 and that said McFee "Sold hur to hur mother a black woman for the Sum of thre hundred Dollars"; McFee "gave hur mother a firm bil of Sail for Delfy and She was to Set hur free." The petitioners point out that said mother cannot emancipate her daughter owing "to an act of the General assembly prohibiting the amancipation of Slaves." The petitioners therefore pray "your Honourable body to pass a law authorising the County Court of Green to emancipate the sd Delfey." They further avow that Delfy "is a garl of good Charactor."

PAR Number 11483319

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Hardeman Location Type: County

Abstract: Joshua Thurman represents that "in the year of 1831 he purchased his sister Harriett a Slave from Washington Edgings who then owned her" and that "when he made the purchase it was with the express promise and understanding that he your petitioner would give the said Harriett her freedom, That M Edings refused to sell her upon any other condition." Thurman relates, however, "that before it was in his power to do so, the Honorable General assembly of this State passed a law prohibiting the emancipation of Slaves." He further avows that "the said Harriett is a discreet and industrious girl and has greatly assisted your petitioner in paying for her; for which reason as well as the ties of brotherly love," he is still "desirous to discharge this moral obligation of seting her free." The petitioner therefore "with great deference would Humbly pray your Honorable Body to pass a law to authorise your petitioner to emancipate the said Harriett."

PAR Number 11483320

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color Stephen Lytle requests permission for himself and for his family to remain in Tennessee. Lytle purchased himself for four hundred dollars from his owner, William Lytle of Nashville; he then purchased his wife, Charity. The couple had a daughter, Mary Shepherd Lytle, and acquired two city lots. On 17 April 1832, Stephen Lytle discovered that he was not by law a free man and that his wife and child were slaves of his master. "He is informed that the second section of the act of 1831, Session acts, page 121.2 prohibits his emancipation & that of his wife & child, 'except on the express Condition,' that he & they shall immediately remove from the state of Tennessee, and unless his master & the master of his wife & child, shall before their 'emancipation enter into bond with good and sufficient security, in a sum equal to their respective values, Conditioned that they' ... shall forthwith remove from the State of Tennessee." Having enough money to post bond for himself but not enough for his wife and four-year-old daughter, Lytle states that he faces the dilemma of leaving them behind or remaining in Tennessee and facing possible re-enslavement. He asks for relief.

PAR Number 11483325

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Davidson Location Type: County

Abstract: Seventy-two residents of Davidson County praise Loo, "a man of colour formerly the property of W B Lewis." They "certify that he is a person of correct deportment" and that "he is of humble and respectful manners and has sustained a good character as a slave and having purchased his own freedom as well as that of his wife and child." They therefore "hope he may be liberated without being compelled to leave the State."

PAR Number 11485303

State: Tennessee Year: 1853
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry McKenzie represents that he purchased a town lot in Nashville in 1849 from Delilah Sumner, a free woman of color. He states that said lot "was devised from the estate of William B. Downs decd, who died in the town of Nashville in March 1846 intestate;" Downs, a free man of color, "left no children or issue" and "his nearest relatives were slaves, & of course incapable of inheriting." McKenzie reports that Sumner claimed to be entitled to said lot since she was Downs's "nearest of kin capable of inheriting" and that she traded said lot for her husband whom he held as a slave for life. Fearing said property will escheat to the state, the petitioner "asks your Hon. body to pass a law, relinquishing on the part of the state all claim to the property above mentioned."

PAR Number 11678001

State: Virginia Year: 1780
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Benjamin Bilberry, a free person of color, traded land for his wife Kate, a slave held by Abraham Cowley. Bilberry laments, however, that "this purchase instead of liberating his said wife & freeing her perpetually from the Shackles of Bondage has only changed her master." He acknowledges that to even "his uncultivated Mind it is irksome to know that he himself, by the Laws of this, now independant Common Wealth, is forced to hold his own Wife in a Slavish Bondage without the power of making her as free as himself." The petitioner therefore prays that "no policy may restrict your Honor from suffering him to enjoy the sweet reflection of having spent the whole labours of his Life in bestowing freedom on one equal by nature ... to himself & whom he has chosen to be the partner of his worldly Cares."

PAR Number 11680923

State: Virginia Year: 1809
Location: Amelia Location Type: County

Abstract: Amelia County residents seek to emancipate the family of Frank Gowen, an industrious free black man who purchased his wife and children, with whom he then lived "in peace and quietude." Gowen has recently died and although "no individual claim whatever has been or can be made to his family— Patience and the children Philemon, Elizabeth and Henry—the four slaves are nevertheless liable to be sold by the Overseers of the Poor. Patience and the children are honest, peaceful, and respectable, and deserve special consideration, the petitioners assure the legislative body.

PAR Number 11681007

State: Virginia Year: 1810
Location: Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Free black Henry Birch purchased his two slave sons, John and Bond, from William Dandridge Claiborne Esq., of King William County, and asks that they be emancipated and allowed to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11681110

State: Virginia Year: 1811
Location: Accomack Location Type: County

Abstract: Robin Justice, who purchased himself from his owner, William Justice, around 1801, purchased his wife, Eve, three years later, from Henry Parker, for the sum of 68 pounds. He purchased Even with the objective of emancipating her. As he did not have the full amount for the purchase, he applied to two white citizens to be his securities; the two men agreed to loan him the money, but on the condition that Eve would be conveyed to her husband as a slave, acting as collateral on the debt. During the next few years, the couple had two children. Eve and the children have remained in bondage pending repayment of the purchase price to Robin Justice's securities. He has now recently fully paid the debt and wishes to emancipate his family. Unfortunately, he explains, they are subject to the law passed 25 January 1806, requiring emancipated blacks to leave the state within one year, or be sold by overseers of the poor. He asks that his family be emancipated and allowed to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11681119

State: Virginia Year: 1811
Location: Southampton Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1805, Jemima Hunt, a free woman of color, contracted with Benjamin Barrett to purchase her husband Stephen, promising to pay ten pounds each year for ten years. She has now paid the full amount and holds the title to her husband; she wishes to emancipate him. However, if she attempts to set Stephen free, she faces the prospect of being separated from him by the law that requires that all slaves freed after a certain date leave the state. She explains to the legislature that she and Stephen have a large number of children that they must support by their joint labor, and "without the assistance of her husband" the children will "suffer or become burdensome." She asks the legislature to take her case into consideration and grant Stephen permission to reside in the state after emancipation "& to enjoy all the priviledges that other free people of colour are entitled to."

PAR Number 11681211

State: Virginia Year: 1812
Location: Prince William Location Type: County

Abstract: Fifty-eight-year-old Daniel Webster, "a freeman of Colour now in the decline of life," represents that "while a Slave he connected himself with a mulatto woman as his wife by whom he has several children." Webster reports that he "lately purchased his said wife (whose name is Lucy) and being unwilling to hold in bondage one thus connected with him, and the mother of his children ... he is exceedingly solicitous to emancipate her." The petitioner fears, however, that the "Consequence of his wifes Emancipation" would result in being "turned out into another and Strange State where they are unknown" unless "your Honorable body will under the peculiar Circumstances of the Case relax the rigor of the law and permit his wife after her liberation to remain in her native Country." For this “indulgence, your Petitioner humbly prays.”

PAR Number 11681213

State: Virginia Year: 1812

Abstract: Elly, a free woman of color, represents that she "has been married many years to and has several children by a slave by the name of Nelson." She further recounts that "the father of the said Nelson who is a white person has been lately enabled to purchase him with design to have emancipated him." Elly declares that her husband refuses to be freed if it means "eternal seperation from his family." Noting that Nelson's father "has had the conveyance for him made to your petitioner and her children," Elly prays that she be allowed to free her husband and that he be permitted to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11681311

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: Surry Location Type: County

Abstract: In December 1812, Jenny Parker's owner, Josiah Wilson, died, bequeathing Jenny her freedom. One of her children had long since been emancipated, Jenny explains, and owns real estate, personal property, and two of her other children. Now "advanced in years," Jenny Parker asks for permission to remain in Virginia, with her children and friends.

PAR Number 11681407

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Hembro and Dilsy Gallego represent that Joseph Gallego executed deeds of manumission for Hembro on 15 December 1807 and for Dilsy on 7 July 1801. They recount that they have "possessed themselves of some valuable real and personal property which has been acquired by honest Industry." The couple further represents that they have a son named Phil, who "was born in Bondage," and that they "purchased him of his owner." They therefore "look with anxiety to Your Honourable Bodies to sustain their Petitioners, and that their Prayer may be granted, which is, that Phil their only Son, and only Child, may be emancipated from the Shackles of his Parents Successors, and that he may be enabled to inherit, at the Death of Your Petitioners, the property they may possess, and hold the same to all interests and purposes, as tho he had been born originally free."

PAR Number 11681408

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Philip Hembro Gallego, a free person of color, asks to remain in Virginia to provide "the fostering care and attention ... and the comfort and affection" to his parents, who are "now growing old." He states that Joseph Gallego freed his parents, Hembro and Dilsey Gallego, many years ago and that they purchased and emancipated him in hopes that he might "inherit, possess and enjoy at their death all the property which they now hold or may hereafter acquire." Noting that he is a mechanic, Gallego prays that a law be passed "authorising your Petitioner to remain in the state of Virginia."

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