Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11379206

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Christopher Fitzsimons and William Stephens, the "Owners of the Brigantine William," represent that, "in prospect of the prohibition against importing Negroes into this State ceasing on" 1 January 1793, they "fitted out" their vessel "at a very great and heavy Expence" and loaded it with tobacco and rum "in order to proceed to the Windward Coast of Africa for a Cargo of Slaves." They further assert that they "will be materially injured if the Bill now before your Honorable House for further prohibiting the Importation of Negroes should pass into a Law, without any Exceptions." Noting that they "had every reason to suppose they would be permitted to bring them [African slaves] into this State after the first day of January next," the petitioners pray "that, if any Law should pass for further prohibiting the Importation of Slaves into this State, an Exception may be made as to the said Cargo of the said Brigantine William on her present voyage." Fitzsimons submits that his half of the slave cargo is "for his own use and Employment and not for Sale."

PAR Number 11379207

State: South Carolina Year: 1792
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Christopher Fitzsimons and William Stephens, the "Owners of the Brigantine William," represent that, "in prospect of the prohibition against importing Negroes into this State ceasing on" 1 January 1793, they "fitted out" their vessel "at a very great and heavy expence" and loaded it with tobacco and rum "in order to proceed to the Windward Coast of Africa for a Cargo of Slaves." They further assert that they "will be materially Injured if the Bill now before your Honorable House for further prohibiting the Importation of Negroes should pass into a Law, without any Exceptions." Noting that they "had every reason to suppose they would be permitted to bring them [African slaves] into this State after the 1st day of January next," the petitioners pray "that, if any Law should pass for further prohibiting the Importation of Slaves into this State, an Exception may be made as to the said Cargo of the said Brigantine William on her present voyage." Fitzsimons submits that his half of the slave cargo is "for his own Use and Employment and not for Sale."

PAR Number 11684704

State: Virginia Year: 1847
Location: Halifax Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Farmer, the widow of Pleasant Farmer, asks to transport a group of slaves out of the state. When her husband died, she explains, she was left with eight small children, seven slaves, and a tract to land. She now asks to sell the land, and take the slaves "and their increase" to Louisiana, where she has relatives who are "able and willing to afford her any assistance that her circumstances may require." The 1839 last will and testament of the late Pleasant Farmer reveals that he had several other children, supposedly from a previous marriage, to whom he did not leave anything in his will, arguing that he already had given them their share of the inheritance. Another related document reveals that the will was contested by the husband of one of the daughters from the first marriage, but that it was ruled to be valid.

PAR Number 20186432

State: Alabama Year: 1864
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: James E. Slater seeks a reduction in the support payments he is making to his estranged wife as their divorce case moves through the chancery court. He avers that he is unable to pay the $166 per month for many reasons: first, the slaves Bedna and his wife Sallie, "working by day" in Montgomery, ran away when they learned that the sheriff had seized their children, thus depriving Slater of their hiring wages; second, when Bedna later returned, he "was immediately taken down with Typhoid fever and will be unfit for active labor for probably some months to come;" third, the only slave not seized by the sheriff is a seventeen-year-old girl [Sarah] who serves as a nurse to his five-year-old daughter Kate; and lastly, the extraordinarily high cost of travel and the problems caused by the war forced him to abandon his mercantile business and accept a position in Mobile at a modest salary. He asks that his payments be reduced to $75 per month.

PAR Number 20782108

State: Kentucky Year: 1821
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: When Henry Dickerson purchased a slave named Rody from John Butler for $600, he agreed to pay $300 in six months and the balance in twelve months. While he has made the first payment, Dickerson says he will not pay the balance. Butler represented the slave as "industrious & attentive to business" and as "sound healthy active and sensible trusty & honest," Dickerson says. But since the purchase, he has discovered those claims to be "altogether false & fraudulent;" she requires a great deal of looking after and runs away for weeks and months at a time with no provocation. Dickerson alleges that when he tried to have the contract rescinded, Butler responded that "he would not take her back that he got his living by trading & that he would be damed if he did not hold your Orator to the contract & make him pay the balance." Dickerson then sent Rody to New Orleans to be sold, but was unable to get more than $240. Now Butler has won a judgment against him for the balance, but fearing Dickerson's suit for the fraud, has been "shy of the sheriff" and has left for Tennessee. Dickerson asks the court to restrain the defendant from collecting the judgment and to compel him to refund the unrecovered part of the initial $300 with interest.

PAR Number 20782203

State: Kentucky Year: 1822
Location: Todd Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Wright states that her husband of twenty-seven years, William, has treated her "cruelly, inhumanely, and barbarously." He chained her "with an Iron Chain as a fellon with one of his slaves for the greater part of a night." She fears for her life and can live with him no longer. She asks the court to issue an injunction preventing him from disposing of his property, which includes at least 420 acres and thirteen slaves. She also asks the court to grant her "the proper allowance & alimony out of the Estate of said defendant."

PAR Number 20782210

State: Kentucky Year: 1822
Location: Todd Location Type: County

Abstract: William Thompson claims he borrowed $500 from Reuben Grady; as security for the loan, Thompson delivered a slave named Jim to Grady. Grady was to have Jim's labor in lieu of interest, but was to return him when Thompson repaid the debt. If Thompson failed to repay the loan by the agreed upon date, Grady had the option of giving Thompson $200 worth of tobacco and getting title to the slave. When Thompson tried to repay the $500 and redeem Jim, Grady refused to accept his money because it was "paper or notes on the bank of Commonwealth of Kentucky" and not specie. Thompson asserts that while the type of currency was not stipulated in their contract, he was repaying the money with the same currency that he borrowed, and that Grady should accept it. He asks the court to compel Grady to "restore said negro to your orator & pay him a reasonable hire for him from the time your orator tendered to return said money until said negro shall be returned."

PAR Number 20783903

State: Kentucky Year: 1839
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioner states that she hired her slave Ben to the owners of the steamboat Mediator for the year 1838 "to be used as a hand or fireman in running said Boat, to be treated with humanity, care and attention & at the end of the year to return said negro to your Oratrix." She claims they "gave him large quantities of intoxicating liquors" and "caused the violent and sudden death of said negro Ben by wilfully causing and permitting a hogshead of tobacco to be rolled over his body." She asks the court to "seize and attach so much of said Boat" as will pay for her losses.

PAR Number 20784108

State: Kentucky Year: 1841
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: On 1 January 1840, Edmund Bishop hired a slave named William for $60 from James Jameson. Bishop now argues that William was ill on two occasions and unable to work throughout much of the year. Bishop suggests that Jameson knew William was ill, yet swore to his sound condition. Jameson has sued Bishop for payment of the debt, and Bishop asks that he be released from the full obligation of agreement.

PAR Number 20784119

State: Kentucky Year: 1841
Location: Barren Location Type: County

Abstract: John Lamberth argues that he and Robert Dougherty entered into a business partnership, shipping tobacco down the river to New Orleans. Lamberth claims that Dougherty owes him money from various transactions during the trip to New Orleans, including one hundred dollars that the latter took as reimbursement for wages paid to Sampson Jones, a hired "hand" on said flat-bottomed boat.

PAR Number 20977901

State: Maryland Year: 1779
Location: St. Mary's Location Type: County

Abstract: Jack states that "he is entitled by the Laws of the Land to be Free" but Hugh Hopewell holds him in slavery. Jack asks for relief.

PAR Number 20977902

State: Maryland Year: 1779
Location: St. Mary's Location Type: County

Abstract: Frank, George and Isaac state that they are entitled to their freedom, but James Hopewell holds them in bondage. The petitioners pray for relief.

PAR Number 20977903

State: Maryland Year: 1779
Location: St. Mary's Location Type: County

Abstract: The six petitioners, Minta, Roger, Juda, Astin, Grace and Jack, state that "though they are entitled, by the Laws of the Land to be free," Thomas Hopewell holds them in slavery. The petitioners ask for relief from bondage.

PAR Number 20977904

State: Maryland Year: 1779
Location: St. Mary's Location Type: County

Abstract: Nan, Jane, Caleb, Frank, Abram, Peter and Job are "held in Slavery by a certain Elizabeth Hopewell" even though "they are entitled by the Laws of the Land to be Free." They ask for relief from slavery.

PAR Number 20978001

State: Maryland Year: 1780
Location: St. Mary's Location Type: County

Abstract: Edward and Ann Fenwick seek a portion of William Hobb's estate, plus interest since 1 July 1758. On 22 December 1757, Ann's father, William Hobb, executed his last will and testament, bequeathing a group of twelve slaves to his son, the defendant, Vernon Hobb. William Hobb devised the plantation and use of the slaves bequeathed to Vernon Hobb to his wife, Hopewell Hobb, for her use during her natural life; he equally divided the remainder of his property among his children. Vernon Hobb was not to receive any additional slaves. On 1 July 1758, William Hobb died. Before her death in 1773, Hopewell Hobb renounced the will "and took her third of the negroes left by the deceased ... out of the negroes which were intended for and left by the said Testator to your oratrix and her other sisters." The said widow did not select "any of the negroes devised to her during her life and afterwards to Vernon Hobb." The petitioners seek relief.

PAR Number 20978201

State: Maryland Year: 1782
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Eleanor Toogood states that she "is unjustly and illegally deprived of her Liberty and detained in Slavery by Doctor Upton Scott" as she is descended from "a Free white woman and well entitled to her freedom." Toogood requests that Scott be made to answer this petition.

PAR Number 20978302

State: Maryland Year: 1783
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Butler states that she "is descended from a free white woman and is entitled to Liberty," but that Adam Craig holds her in bondage "and will not suffer her to go free." Butler asks that Craig be required to answer these charges. In 1770, the petitioner's parents filed the following petition: "The Humble Petition of William Butler and Mary Butler sheweth that they are justly entitled to Freedom but are detained in a State of Perpetual Slavery by Richard Boarman of St. Mary's County planter your petitioners thereof desire your Honours to consider their case and set them at liberty and otherwise releive them in the premises~ And as in duty bound they will ever pray &c."

PAR Number 20978602

State: Maryland Year: 1786
Location: Charles Location Type: County

Abstract: William Wilkinson died in 1754, leaving a will that divided his estate among his wife, his four daughters and his son, William Mackall Wilkinson. Benjamin Mackall became William's appointed guardian in 1757 when the boy was six years old and served as trustee of his estate for fourteen years. At the end of the term, Mackall paid over to Wilkinson £209, an amount far less than what Wilkinson estimates his share of the estate to be. The petitioner requests a "particular account of the produce and profits" from his trust estate for the years it was controlled by Mackall as well as just compensation.

PAR Number 20978904

State: Maryland Year: 1789
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1785 William Lyles obtained a judgment for £55.10.2 against Richard William Wells. Wells only paid a portion of the sum and authorities were sent to Wells's home to collect the money. Zadoc Duvall, a deputy sheriff, seized two slaves. At the time of the sale of the slaves, Zadoc Duvall told Wells that Alexander Duvall would purchase the slaves on Zadoc's behalf and that he would return the slaves to Wells upon payment of the judgment and an additional 20 shillings for his trouble. Wells states that Zadoc agreed in writing that if Wells paid the debt by 7 April 1788, Zadoc would return the slaves. Wells paid the debt on 30 May 1788, but Zadoc refused to return the slaves. Zadoc claims that the slaves are his, that Wells has not satisfied the debt, and that the two slaves were sold for less than their worth. In consequence, Zadoc is asking Wells to pay an additional £14.18.6. Wells believes that the loss of his slaves will result in "ruinous consequences." Wells asks that the slaves be returned to him and that he receive any profits accruing from the slaves, in either money or tobacco.

PAR Number 20979105

State: Maryland Year: 1791
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1771, Charles Reynolds purchased a tract of land from Joseph Smith and issued a bond to Smith, with Jeremiah Orme acting as security. Subsequently, Smith assigned the bond to Cunningham Finley & Co. Reynolds paid Cunningham Finley & Co. "one hogshead of old crop Tobacco in part Satisfaction of the Debt due." Cunningham Finley & Co. began a suit against Reynolds and Orme for the remaining sum, but Reynolds claims that he believed the suit was struck off the docket because he did not hear anything else about the case. In 1788, Orme informed Reynolds that he was being sued for the debt. Reynolds, to prevent injury or loss from befalling Orme, sold five slaves to Orme so that Orme could satisfy the debt. Reynolds later applied to the Chancellor of Maryland under the act for "insolvent Debtors." Elly Orme was appointed as his trustee, but when Reynolds attempted to assign all his property to Elly Orme as the act directed, the trustee would not accept the property. Reynolds, believing that he had complied with the law, did not proceed any further. In addition, he explains, he failed to include a slave boy in his list of property because he thought he sold him to Jeremiah Orme. Reynolds now charges that Jeremiah Orme sold the slaves for less than their worth and that he has not applied the money to the bond. Reynolds asks that Jeremiah Orme be subpoenaed and compelled to pay the full value of the slaves.

PAR Number 20979115

State: Maryland Year: 1791
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles Mahoney states that "although he is entitled to his Freedom, being descended from a free Woman named Anne Joice [Joyce]," he is held in slavery by the Reverend John Ashton. Mahoney requests that he be discharged from further custody.

PAR Number 20979116

State: Maryland Year: 1791
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: John Boston states that he is held in slavery by John Francis Mercer when "he is entitled to Freedom being descended from a free yellow woman being one of the Portugues." Boston asks that he be discharged from service to Mercer.

PAR Number 20979117

State: Maryland Year: 1791
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Fanny Boston is held in slavery by John Francis Mercer "when she is entitled to Freedom being descended from a yellow woman being one of the Portugues." Boston asks that she be discharged from service to Mercer.

PAR Number 20979118

State: Maryland Year: 1791
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Henny Boston states that she is being held in slavery by John Francis Mercer when in fact "she is entitled to Freedom being descended from a free yellow woman being one of the portuguese." Boston asks that she be discharged from service to Mercer.

PAR Number 20979119

State: Maryland Year: 1791
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Anne Boston states that she is being held in slavery by John Francis Mercer "when she is entitled to Freedom being descended from a free yellow woman being one of the Portuguese." Boston asks that she be discharged from the service of Mercer.

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