Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20979120

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

Abstract: Jenny Boston states that she is 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.

PAR Number 20979121

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

Abstract: Phillip Boston states that he is detained in slavery by Richard Sprigg when "he is entitled to Freedom being descended from a free yellow woman being one of the Portuguese." Boston asks that he be discharged from service to Sprigg.

PAR Number 20979122

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

Abstract: Maria Boston states that "she is entitled to her freedom being descended from a free yellow woman being one of the Portuguese" but that she is "detained in slavery" by Richard Sprigg. Boston asks that she be discharged from the service of Sprigg.

PAR Number 20979123

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

Abstract: Benjamin Boston states that he being held in slavery by Richard Sprigg "when he is entitled to Freedom being descended from a free yellow woman being one of the Portugues whose name ... was Senah Boston." Boston asks that he be discharged from the service of Sprigg.

PAR Number 20979203

State: Maryland Year: 1792
Location: Baltimore Location Type: County

Abstract: In January 1787, John Steel hired a slave named Charles "to be employed by your orator in the business and employment of a Ship Carpenter." Steel states that since Davis did not reside "constantly at any one place," she "authorized your Orator to furnish him the said Charles with reasonable and necessary Clothing and working Utensils and also with occasional payments of money to be carried to her" by Charles. Later, Davis billed Steel for the entire sum of Charles's wages, failing to credit Steel for the clothing, working utensils, or cash payments. In August 1791, Davis sued Steel in the Baltimore County Court, winning a judgment for £40.1.5. The petitioner obtained a stay of judgment, but Davis threatens to have the sheriff execute a levy on his property. John Steel asks the court to issue an injunction to stop all legal proceedings by Davis, the county court, or the county sheriff until the chancellor determines the actual amount due to Sarah Davis.

PAR Number 20979401

State: Maryland Year: 1794
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathaniel Allen states he is unjustly held in slavery by Richard Higgins "when he is entitled to his freedom being descended from a free Woman." Allen requests that Higgins show cause, if any, why he should not be released. Jane Allen, the petitioner's mother, states in a deposition that she "had [Nathaniel] by a Negro Man that She is the Daughter of Hannah Allen a Mulatto and that she always understood and heard from general report that her said Mother was the Daughter of a White Scotch Woman named Hannah Allen and that the said Hannah Allen had the Deponents Mother by a Negro." The court record reveals that in 1772, Jane Allen was prosecuted for and convicted of "Molatto Basterdy." She was sentenced to be "a Servant for and during the Term of seven Years after the expiration of her present Servitude and that she serve her present Master Nine Months for the Trouble of his House." The five-month-old "Bastard Child," then called Natt, was adjudged a "servant untill he Arrive to the Age of Thirty one Years." He was then "immediately sold" to the highest bidder, the defendant Higgins, for "One Hundred and Ten pounds of Tobacco."

PAR Number 20979503

State: Maryland Year: 1795
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: On 10 May 1788, Benjamin Belt mortgaged a tract of land and twelve slaves to Barbara Williams to secure a debt of £1600. Since the death of Barbara Williams, her executor, Thomas Williams, has held the mortgage. In 1791, Belt filed for insolvency, and Thomas Duckett was appointed his trustee. The petitioners claim that prior to the act of insolvency, Belt was indebted to them for "large sums of money and Tobacco on judgments, bonds." In addition, Duckett has declared Belt's property insufficient to satisfy all pending claims. Citing that the land, located "near the rising city of Washington," has greatly increased in value, the petitioners are of the opinion that all the debts could be satisfied if said land along with the slaves so mortgaged were to be sold. They therefore pray that "a sale of said Premises by the Trustee" be ordered.

PAR Number 20979602

State: Maryland Year: 1796
Location: Montgomery Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph Wilson died in November 1790 seized and possessed of a considerable real and personal estate. George and Sarah Riley complain that they have not received a fair accounting from William Worthington, the estate's administrator. The petitioners ask that Worthington be subpoenaed and be compelled to provide them with a full accounting of the estate and their portion of it.

PAR Number 20979801

State: Maryland Year: 1798
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1772, Benjamin Hodges executed his last will and testament, bequeathing the majority of his considerable real and personal property, including several slaves, to his wife Deborah. He stipulated that one slave named Basil should be sold by his executors, with the proceeds divided among his children. Although Benjamin Hodges appointed his wife and his brother, Charles Ramsey Hodges, executors of his estate, his brother "refused to act as executor." Soon after the completion of Benjamin's estate inventory, his widow Deborah married Johnson Michael O'Reily. Elizabeth Hodges now states that Deborah and Johnson O'Reily assessed the value of the property "in the depreciated paper mony of the Times." She also charges that the O'Reilys have kept all the slaves, including Basil and those born since the will was written, for their sole benefit. Elizabeth Hodges asks that Johnson and Deborah O'Reily be subpoenaed for questioning and be compelled to pay the petitioner her portion of the estate.

PAR Number 20980605

State: Maryland Year: 1806
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Cesar Williams, brother of Robert Williams, an insane free person of color, asks that Jerome Plummer be removed as trustee of his brother. Williams states that his brother "is now with your petitioner and is Supported by him, his wife and his two youngest children are also with him and supported by him, the eldest children have turned out for themselves." Williams therefore "prays your honor to take this application into consideration" and to require Plummer "to pay over and deliver to him all monies Tobacco and property of every description belonging to him the said Robert Williams."

PAR Number 20980608

State: Maryland Year: 1806
Location: St. Mary's Location Type: County

Abstract: Henry Anderson states that in 1805 he obtained a judgment against George Greenfield and Charles Edwards for "upwards of two thousand dollars." Anderson alleges that Greenfield attempted to evade paying the debt by conveying to his sister, Susannah Greenfield, a slave named Hero and her infant daughter, for no consideration. Since then, Hero has had other children, resulting in additional profit for Susannah Greenfield. In addition, Charles Nevitt owed George Greenfield a large sum of money. Rather than accept the money himself, George Greenfield had that money assigned to another sister, Dorothy Wailes, for no consideration. Anderson believes both of these actions were done with the intention of defrauding him. George Greenfield has since died, intestate, and Anderson asks the court to order payment of the debt by Greenfield's surviving sisters.

PAR Number 20980704

State: Maryland Year: 1807
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Jerome Plummer asks the court for additional time to prepare his final accounting as former trustee for Robert Williams, an insane free person of color. Plummer claims that a portion of the tobacco in his shed belonged to Williams and that the tobacco was sold by John Chew on credit. Plummer has yet to ascertain the true value of the sale and needs additional time for his accounting.

PAR Number 20980720

State: Maryland Year: 1807
Location: Prince George's Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1806, Thomas Gantt mortgaged slaves and other property to John Duvall as security for a loan of £913.5.7. Duvall now charges that the debt is past due and the slaves have been sold by Thomas Gantt to John Gantt, leaving Duvall "without remedy." He asks the court to subpoena the Gantts and to order them to answer his complaint and repay the loan.

PAR Number 20981009

State: Maryland Year: 1810
Location: Somerset Location Type: County

Abstract: The petitioners want the last will and testament of Alexander Stewart proved and recorded in court. Possessing a copy of the will, they want John Stewart, the administrator of Stewart's estate, and the other heirs to the estate to ascertain whether or not the will in their possession is Stewart's true last will. If it is, then Samuel and Jane Holbrook and Matilda Hyland want the property left to them and the eighty-five slaves once held by Alexander Stewart want their freedom, as provided in the will. The inventory of Stewart's estate includes a detailed listing of the slaves in his estate, along with their ages and assessed values.

PAR Number 20981113

State: Maryland Year: 1811
Location: Dorchester Location Type: County

Abstract: John Colsten and his wife, Alice Orem Colsten, petition the court to subpoena the executors of the estate of Hugh Orem and to order them to return slaves they claim were given to them by Alice's father, Hugh Orem. The Colstens say that he gave a fifteen-year-old slave, Sinah, to Alice as a marriage gift in 1791. When Orem became ill, the Colstens went to live with him bringing with them Sinah and her two children. About six years later, they returned home, leaving Sinah and four children with Hugh Orem to "render him any assistance he might require in his distressed and helpless situation." Now he has died, and his executors, sons Hugh and Speding, "refuse to comply with [the Colstens'] reasonable request" to return the slaves. The Colstens maintain that Orem divided his property among three of his children and cite as proof this excerpt from his will: "I hope my beloved daughter Alse [Alice] Colston ... will be satisfied with what I have already done for her." The petitioners aver this clause refers to Sinah and her children. Her brothers deny knowledge of such a gift and claim Sinah and "her issue" under the provisions of their father's will.

PAR Number 20981210

State: Maryland Year: 1812
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary, a woman of color, avows "that she is entitled to be free and is unjustly held in slavery by a certain Otho Sprigg," the administrator of the estate of the late Thomas Sprigg. The petitioner claims her freedom based on the fact that she was brought into Maryland contrary to the "Laws and Statutes of said State." She requests the opportunity to present her case.

PAR Number 20981311

State: Maryland Year: 1813
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Walter Clagett asks the court to "decree a foreclosure of the mortgaged property" of Stephen Lee. In debt to Clagett for £184, Lee executed a deed of mortgage to the petitioner, transferring to him, "sundry negroes & other property." Clagett reports that "the day of payment has long since elapsed" and Lee has refused the petitioner's "repeated solicitations" for payment. Clagett prays that the court foreclose upon the property and he be granted "further & other relief as may be consistent with equity and the justice of his case."

PAR Number 20981511

State: Maryland Year: 1815
Location: Calvert Location Type: County

Abstract: David Carcaud seeks to settle the estate of the late William M. Carcaud. The petitioner explains that William Carcaud "became bona fide indebted" to a merchant named Samuel Whittington "for goods wares and merchandise properly chargeable in account." To secure this debt, William Carcaud executed a deed of mortgage for certain slaves. After Samuel Whittington's death, the administrator of his estate, William Whittington, "assigned all the right title and interest to the said deed of mortgage to this complainant." The petitioner asks that the mortgaged property "may be sold, to satisfy the said debt."

PAR Number 20981516

State: Maryland Year: 1815
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Before leaving for a two-year stay in Europe, John Mercer, guardian to Henry and Nicholas Darnall (the minor heirs of the late slave owner Bennett [Bennitt] Darnall), gave his father, John Frances Mercer, power-of-attorney "to act for him, as well in his private capacity, as also in his character of Guardian." Mercer later gave similar power-of-attorney to George Stewart. Stewart has petitioned the court to revoke Mercer's guardianship and require an account of the trust estate. John Frances Mercer objects to Stewart's actions on the grounds that they are illegal and unnecessary because he expects his son to return soon. Mercer also says that Stewart is "utterly ignorant" of the estate's condition and "cannot be presumed to be able to State it correctly." Mercer asks the court to reject Stewart's petition and rescind any orders passed "in consequence of Such application."

PAR Number 20981615

State: Maryland Year: 1816
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: In an earlier case, the court removed John Mercer as guardian of Henry and Nicholas Darnall, free persons of color and the minor heirs of Bennett [Bennitt] Darnall. The court appointed Thomas Sellman as the new guardian and ordered Mercer to account for the estate. Here, Mercer protests the amount charged to him, saying that "he is entitled to have deductions made" due to accounting mistakes, use of materials to maintain the property, death of stock, and crop revaluation. The report filed by Mercer's father says that a male slave named Jarvis "never was in John Mercer possession but has continued in Doctr Shaaffs he being so unwilling to return as to render it prudent not to force him." Jarvis was valued at $300.

PAR Number 20981714

State: Maryland Year: 1817
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: John Mercer, former guardian of Henry and Nicholas Darnall, free persons of color and minor heirs of slave owner Bennett [Bennitt] Darnall, wishes to settle his account with the new guardian Thomas Sellman. Rezin Estep received a judgment against Mercer for "a considerable deficiency in the estimated quantity" of tobacco he bought from Bennett Darnall's estate. Mercer seeks credit for $514.48, "the difference between the Sum with which he was charged and that which has been recovered & assigned to Thomas Sellman." He also wishes to pass a final account of the estate with the court.

PAR Number 20981814

State: Maryland Year: 1818
Location: Queen Anne's Location Type: County

Abstract: Alexander Walkup states that "he is descended lineally in the female line from a free woman and he is unjustly deprived of his freedom" by Edwin Pratt. He asks that process be issued against Pratt and he receive further "redress as to your Honours may seem right."

PAR Number 20981917

State: Maryland Year: 1819
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Patrick H. O'Reilly, on behalf of himself and other heirs of Johnson M. O'Reilly, petitions the court to have John O'Reilly appear and account for his administration of Johnson M. O'Reilly's estate. Patrick charges that John did not record all of the credits due the estate and that his report failed to mention that he "sold to a Southern Slave Dealer for three hundred and fifty Dollars a negro lad included in his Inventory named Jack."

PAR Number 20982214

State: Maryland Year: 1822
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary, Lydia, and Eleanor Warfield ask to receive, respectively, one-fourth parts of the profits from a sale of tobacco from the estate of their father, the late William Warfield. The sisters explain that they "for mutual convenience and family arrangement cultivated the Lands Jointly with their negroes." They ask the court to authorize their father's administrator, Jonathan Duvall, to distribute the proceeds from a recent tobacco sale in Baltimore, which they characterize as a "fair Just and honest claim and the product of the labour of their negroes."

PAR Number 20982305

State: Maryland Year: 1823
Location: Baltimore Location Type: County

Abstract: John Hillen and Susan H. Johns, administrators of the estate of Stephen S. Johns, ask permission to sell the "upwards of twenty Negroes most of them women and children" belonging to Johns's estate in order to pay debts owed by the estate. They state that the slaves were mostly hired out by the deceased, many of them, outside of Baltimore County.

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