Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10185702

State: Alabama Year: 1857
Location: Clarke Location Type: County

Abstract: A slave sentenced to be hanged 17 April 1855 escaped from the Clark County jail. While chasing the black man and three white men who broke jail about the same time, the sheriff "sustained a considerable loss in the way of fees and actual expenses." He was able to capture the black man and two of the white men. He seeks compensation for his expenses.

PAR Number 10380701

State: Delaware Year: 1807
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Carey requests compensation for the expenses he incurred capturing and imprisoning George Parker, a black man charged with the rape of Hannah Bramble. Carey states that he searched in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania and Delaware for the accused and traded a horse worth $60 for information about Parker's exact hiding place. He captured Parker near Frederica, Delaware, in Kent County and lodged him in the local jail. Carey "relying on that zeal for the due execution of Justice and prevention of crimes of so wicked a nature" prays that "he may by Law be reimbursed the value of his Said Horse with his costs and charges, and allowed Such compensation for his trouble in bringing the Said Negro George to Justice, as to your Honors may seem equitable and right."

PAR Number 10381806

State: Delaware Year: 1818
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: The Sussex County sheriff seeks reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses of $124 incurred from the apprehension of Eli Harris and Alexander Clarkson, two free men of color, who had been jailed "on the charge of Felony" and who later "made their escape." Sheriff Robinson reports that the two men "were again imprisoned in the said Jail" and were "Indicted tried and convicted" whereby they "were each adjudged by the Court to pay the restitution money and Costs of prosecution." The petitioner further states that, pursuant to an act of the General Assembly, Harris and Clarkson "should be disposed of by the sheriff of the County as Servants for a certain term of years." Robinson relates that Eli Harris sold for $301 and Alexander Clarkson sold for $315.50 at “public sale.”

PAR Number 10381902

State: Delaware Year: 1819
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: James Lackey seeks relief from fines assessed after he and two other men were convicted of assault and battery with intent to kidnap. The charges were brought by Preston Moore, a free man of color, and Lackey's indented servant. Lackey argues that the fines are excessive, that Moore's character is questionable, and that the governor had already remitted the "odious part of the Sentence whereby your petitioner, and the other two Defendants were subject to stand in the Pillory for the space of half an hour." Lackey reveals that he purchased Moore, “with a view to have his Labour on the Farm,” from the New Castle jail, where Moore was imprisoned "for his evil Deeds."

PAR Number 10382302

State: Delaware Year: 1823
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color Martin Dehorty was convicted of a felony and sold by the sheriff of Kent County for a term of three years. The money from the sale went to the state treasury. Before his arrest and trial, Dehorty owed Thomas Simpson debts totaling $46. Simpson seeks repayment of the debt.

PAR Number 10382306

State: Delaware Year: 1823

Abstract: In December 1822 illiterate white bricklayer Richard Millington, "a citizen of Caroline County," Maryland, moved to Delaware “in search of work.” Shortly after his arrival he was "taken at the Suit of Luke Bell a black man" for a debt of $1.75 and placed in the Kent County jail. Unable to pay even this small amount, Millington seeks relief from his "helpless and wretched condition."

PAR Number 10382405

State: Delaware Year: 1824
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color Martin Dehorty was convicted of a felony and sold by the sheriff of Kent County for a term of three years. The money from the sale went to the state treasury. Before his arrest and trial, Dehorty owed Thomas Simpson debts totaling $46. Simpson seeks repayment of the debt.

PAR Number 10382904

State: Delaware Year: 1829
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Elias Naudain seeks permission to sell the time remaining in his apprenticeship of James Rodney, a free person of color. Naudain, a blacksmith, recounts that Rodney "was bound to him" in 1826 and that Rodney shortly thereafter "ran away from me and left my employment on or about the night of the nineteenth or twentieth of February last." He further states that "on the night of the nineteenth my blacksmith shop was burned down" and that Rodney went to Philadelphia where he remained until 23 August, "when he returned to my neighbourhood and remained concealed until the night of the first of September on which night my stable was burnt down and six head of Horses burned in it." Naudain reports that his slave James Lee, along with Rodney, was jailed for the arsons and that each accused the other of putting "fire to the building." Revealing that he has been granted "a permit to sell the said James Lee out of state," the petitioner prays that he may be also allowed to sell "the balance of the time" Rodney may have to serve him."

PAR Number 10382905

State: Delaware Year: 1829

Abstract: Constable William Warnock and John Engles seek the reward posted by the Governor of Delaware "for the apprehension of a certain Samuel Ogg a black man who has escaped from jail in Dover ... where he was confined for robbery and an attempt to murder." The petitioners avow that they "were the only persons concerned in the actual apprehension taking and securing of the Said negro who was a powerful man and had a loaded pistol in his hat at the time of said taking." They therefore pray "that an appropriation of the amount stipulated [$200] to be paid for the apprehension of said fugitive may now be made in favour of your Petitioners the only persons justly and legally entitled to the Same."

PAR Number 10383501

State: Delaware Year: 1835
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Elijah Gordy states that he purchased Isaac Tyre, "an Excellent Black Smith," for $331 in 1832. He cites that the said Tyre had been convicted of kidnapping and had been sentenced "to be publickly whipped with sixty lashes on his bare back well laid on" after which he was then to be committed to three years solitary confinement in the public jail of Sussex County; "at the expiration of the time of his imprisonment he [was to] be disposed of as a Servant for the term of seven years." Gordy notes that the governor "remitted the imprisonment of three years." The petitioner charges the "said Isaac Tyre, made his escape from the Public Jail of this County of Sussex, within a few days after your petitioner purchased him and he has not been heard of since." Contending that "the weakness and insecurity of the Public Jail gave afforded the said Isaac the opportunity to escape,” Gordy prays "the passing a Law for his relief."

PAR Number 10383601

State: Delaware Year: 1836
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Appointed by Delaware Governor Caleb P. Bennett to retrieve Robert Harris, a fugitive charged with kidnapping, Robert Ritchie went to Chestertown, Maryland, secured Harris, and brought him back to the town of New Castle. Attesting that the journey was "attended with loss of time, considerable expense, and great hazard," Ritchie asks to be compensated.

PAR Number 10383702

State: Delaware Year: 1837

Abstract: In 1809, Delaware resident John Cooper manumitted several slaves, including a woman named Lydia. By 1826, Lydia had married John Hawkins, a free man of color, and the couple had three children (Charity, Sally, and John) and were living in Caroline County, Maryland. However, John Cooper's son-in-law, John Willoughby, convinced Cooper that the Delaware manumissions were not valid in Maryland and that Cooper faced prosecution for allowing his former slaves to move there. Willoughby thus "seduced" Cooper to sign a deed conveying Lydia and her children to Willoughby, to Cooper's son, Richard, and to other relatives. Soon after, Willoughby and Richard Cooper took Lydia and her children to the Sussex County jail with "the intention to selling them to southern traders." John Cooper and another of his sons learned of this and demanded the former slaves be released, which they were. The freed slaves were never bothered again during John Cooper's life, the petitioner states. In April 1836, however, Willoughby and a gang of armed men kidnapped Hawkins' three children and the children of others freed by John Cooper and carried them to the jail in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Willoughby's objective was to sell them to "foreign traders, or carry them to the south himself." The case of their freedom is still pending in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Hawkins seeks an act that would affirm the legality of the manumission of his wife and children.

PAR Number 10383902

State: Delaware Year: 1839
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: John Green, "free negro," reveals that “he is confined in the public Gaol of Kent County, on execution process." Green laments that "he is entirely unable to pay his debts and has a family entirely dependent upon his exertions for support, which may become paupers on the County if his imprisonment be much longer procrastinated." He therefore prays that an act be passed "for his relief."

PAR Number 10383904

State: Delaware Year: 1839
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Former Kent County Sheriff Nehemiah Clark denies that he owes the state $136.04, as claimed in the state auditor's report. In 1828 Clark reports that Absalom Davis, a "negro man," was convicted of a crime and "sentenced by the said Court to be sold as a servant for a certain term of years, for the payment of the fine &c." Clark therefore "did proceed to dispose of said negro, by way of public sale" and sold Davis to a certain Abel Harris. When it was discovered that the Davis suffered from a life-threatening "disorder," Harris refused to pay. Supporting Harris's decision, he neither demanded the money nor took legal action, leaving a delinquency in the accounts. Clark asks the legislature for relief.

PAR Number 10384309

State: Delaware Year: 1843
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Gray states that his twenty-one-year-old slave Charles was arrested and jailed for theft in 1809. He further reveals that said Charles "after he was arrested and committed, did with other prisoners break gaol and escape, and has never since been heard of." The petitioner, thirty-four years later, now seeks compensation for the loss of the slave Charles, "for which he has not yet been indemnified."

PAR Number 10384310

State: Delaware Year: 1843
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Gray asks the legislature to reconsider its decision to reject his original petition of January 1843, and he asks again for compensation for his slave Charles, who was arrested and escaped from jail in 1809. Gray suggests that said rejection may stem from "a latent objection in the minds of some to passing it because of the unpopularity attached to the name of a slaveholder at this day. To them, if any there be, I would say, that although a slaveholder, I am both a professed and practiced abolitionist." Gray asserts that he "inherited a family of young slaves, two of whom only were above the age of twenty one and the whole have been long since liberated." Estimating the value of the freed male slaves to be $400 at the time, he deems it "was a sacrifice which abolitionists who never owned a negro have not incurred and consequently have not given the proof of their zeal in the cause of emancipation."

PAR Number 10384501

State: Delaware Year: 1845
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Andrew Gray states that his twenty-one-year-old slave Charles was arrested and jailed for theft in 1809. He further reveals that said Charles "after he was arrested and committed did with other prisoners break gaol and escape, and has never since been heard of." The petitioner, thirty-six years later, now seeks compensation for the loss of the slave Charles, as he "has, as he thinks a claim on the state for indemnification." Gray offers certain "observations in support of my petition to allow me a compensation for the loss of my negro slave Charles," in which he states that he is "and always have been friendly to the gradual liberation of negro slaves, and the colonization of them after their liberation." He goes on to recount that he "inherited a family of slaves, all of whom have been long since liberated," estimating the value of the freed male slaves to be $400 at the time. This, he proclaims, "was a sacrifice which abolitionists, who never owned a negro, have not incurred, and consequently have not given the proof of their zeal in the cause of emancipation."

PAR Number 10384507

State: Delaware Year: 1845
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, John Anderson was shot in the neck by his servant, Thomas Brown, who was tried and convicted of attempted murder. Brown was sentenced to seven years of servitude and was sold to Elijah McDowell of Maryland for $200. After paying costs, the sheriff of Kent County still had $130.19, which he turned over to the State Treasury. Anderson asks the legislature to pass an act authorizing the state to pay him the surplus.

PAR Number 10384708

State: Delaware Year: 1847
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: James Wilds recounts that his "indented servant ... was convicted on an indictment for burglary" and was sold for $280. Averring that a balance of $125.78 remains "after the fine and costs were all paid," Wilds therefore asks that an act be passed “granting to him the aforesaid clear balance of $125.78 as some compensation for the loss of the services of said negro."

PAR Number 10384901

State: Delaware Year: 1849

Abstract: Twenty-nine free black inhabitants of Delaware seek to repeal the law requiring them to produce passes or freedom papers when traveling from one area to another. They affirm that they are civil citizens who have "no intent to hurt or Injure any of the human family but wish well to all yet we are liable to be arrested when Traveling on our lawful buisness to be put in prison pervided we do not exhibit a certificate or Pass signed by a white man which appears to be sufficient thogh his charecter be mutch blacker then our Skins." They also oppose other laws "equilly oppressive to us as freeman" that forbid them "to own or have a gunn in our possession Without a permit from a Justice of The peace" and prohibit them from assembling "togather for Religious worship in our own churches and remain There beyound the Hours of ten oclock at night with out having the presence of three white men amongst us." They therefore "pray you will take into consideration and expung these laws from your books so as to give us right to Travel as men and not as bruts."

PAR Number 10385201

State: Delaware Year: 1852
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Jonathan Bewley, with five additional petitioners, represents that in 1850 "some evil disposed person or persons in one of the most public streets of Smyrna kidnapped and took into the State of Maryland a Small black boy the property of M James Bewley." They state that the slaveholder offered a reward for the return of his property and that one of the kidnappers was arrested and jailed in Dover; the second, following a request from the governor of Delaware, was arrested in Maryland but broke out of jail and later died. The petitioners "now ask the Legislature to remunerate Mr Bewley for the expense he has incurred."

PAR Number 10583301

State: Florida Year: 1833

Abstract: In 1832, Stephen, a slave belonging to the estate of Duncan McRae of Tomoka, East Florida, killed three oxen, two cows, and three calves while wounding seven oxen and two cows. The owner of the livestock, Douglas Dummett, asks that the captured and convicted Stephen be released from jail and released from a $300 fine imposed by a jury when a representative of the McRae estate pays him for damages.

PAR Number 11000020

State: Mississippi
Location: Monroe Location Type: County

Abstract: Bartlet Sims, former sheriff of Monroe County, requests payment of $30 from the legislature for advertising two runaway slaves, Peter and John. Sims had put the slaves in the Monroe County jail, but it was "wholly insufficient to answer the ends of public justice." The jail was so inadequate that the two men "got out and made their escape so that they could not be got."

PAR Number 11080601

State: Mississippi Year: 1806
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1804 Israel Leonard purchased a slave named Samuel for $600. A few months later, however, Samuel sued for his freedom. The sheriff took the slave into custody, but Samuel escaped. Leonard sued the sheriff but the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the sheriff, alleging that the poor conditions of the jail for safekeeping were not the responsibility of the sheriff but the county. They advised that Leonard should seek compensation from the county. Leonard asks the legislature to force the county to pay him for the loss of his slave.

PAR Number 11080901

State: Mississippi Year: 1809
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: Michael Bruner, jailer of Adams County, complains about the cost of maintaining prisoners. The state law concerning runaway slaves, for example, required that absentee slaves be reported as lost by their masters or overseers. When absconders were taken up but not so reported, the master was not responsible for paying jail fees. Consequently, some slave owners knowingly left their slaves in jail for months at the county's expense. He asks for relief.

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