Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10181701

State: Alabama Year: 1817

Abstract: Slaveholder William B. Burney was murdered by a slave. He died intestate, and one-half of his property, including seven "Negroes of different ages and sires," escheated to the territory. Mary Burney, the widow, claiming that "the greater part of their Property was obtained and accumulated" by their "joint industry and economy," asks that the government not deprive an "Aged Widow of Property she had laboured with her deceased husband to acquire."

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 11083004

State: Mississippi Year: 1830
Location: Hinds Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Fort seeks remuneration from the state after her slave Henry was executed for stabbing a white man with intent to kill. She is fifty-two years old and owns only two other slaves, a man and a woman, "capable of serving her, & providing a support for her declining years."

PAR Number 11083102

State: Mississippi Year: 1831
Location: Covington Location Type: County

Abstract: Jacob Duckworth seeks compensation for expenses incurred pursuing, apprehending, and prosecuting a "negro man" named Henry, who murdered his slave Peter. Duckworth informs the court that he journeyed into Alabama, through the Choctaw Nation, and as far as Baton Rouge, Louisiana, before catching up with the fugitive. His expenses, "labor and travelling," amounted to $229.25. The court decree reveals that Henry was a slave, but no information is provided regarding his owner.

PAR Number 11278902

State: North Carolina Year: 1789
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: John Walker seeks compensation for his slave Galloway, who was "a Valluable Tradesman" killed in 1780 as an outlawed runaway, "lurking in Swamps, Woods, and other obscure Places, committing Injuries to the Inhabitants of this State."

PAR Number 11280201

State: North Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: Lard Sellars of Chatham County reports that, in March 1802, he "unfortunately kill'd a Negro man named Arthur the property of Edward Jones," whereupon he "was compell'd to pay the sum of Four hundred Dollars greatly to the injury and distress of his family." Sellars "hopes your Honorable body will on mature reflexion and consideration coincide in opinion with him, that if the act was unlawful it was meritorious to rid the world of a daring lawless villain, who by his frequent depridations and menaces struck terror on all Women and Children within the vicinity of his range." He therefore prays that the legislature "will sympathise with him and grant him such relief as you in your great Wisdom shall think mete."

PAR Number 11280202

State: North Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: One hundred and six "inhabitants of Chatham County" support the petition of Lard Sellars, who sought relief in connection with his killing of the slave Arthur, "the property of Edward Jones." The petitioners consider Sellars to be a "honest, industrious well meaning man." They further declare that he considered "it his duty as a military officer to endeavor to apprehend the Said Negro Arthur," who "was run away from his master and going at large reported to have been armed commiting depridations and denouncing threats and menacing the inhabitants to the great terror of Women & Children particularly." Conceiving said shooting "to be a meritorious" act, they pray that a law be passed "impowering the County Court of Chatham to levy a tax on the County sufficient to indemnify Captain Sellars."

PAR Number 11280403

State: North Carolina Year: 1804
Location: Rowan Location Type: County

Abstract: Polly Murrell asks that her husband, James Murrell, be pardoned "for selling a free person of color." She states that said James "was sentenced to suffer death" for said crime but that "a number of respectable Gentlemen" petitioned for mercy and "His Excellency did Grant a reprieve" which deferred “the time of his Execution." Polly reports that she has been to South Carolina "for the purpose of getting back said free person of colour, and finds he is dead." The petitioner therefore "prays the Legislature to grant a pardon to the said James Murrell," who is currently "in Salisbury Gaol under sentence of death."

PAR Number 11280514

State: North Carolina Year: 1805
Location: Sampson Location Type: County

Abstract: Stephen Carrol represents that in January 1805 he pursued an accused murderer by the name of Jonathan Chevers, a free man of color also called John White, "with great labor and pains and at great expence and by continued perseverance at length arrested the body of the said Jonathan Chevers and lodged the same in the district Jail for the District of Fayetteville." He reports that the said Chevers "was tried for said murder and by a verdict of a Jury fully convicted thereof but afterwards as your petitioner ... believes received the pardon of the executive of this State." The petitioner asks that an act be passed allowing "to be made some remuneration for the services rendered to the public and the expence & labor which your petitioner suffered and underwent."

PAR Number 11280515

State: North Carolina Year: 1805
Location: Rowan Location Type: County

Abstract: Christian Limbaugh seeks a divorce from his wife, the former Catharina Hess. He asserts that Catharina, whom he left in 1799, had an "ungovernable temper" and her "immoral & indecent turn of mind led her to be connected with other men." Citing his short marriage as "a state of the most poignant misery," Limbaugh reveals that his wife was later "delivered of one or more mulatto children." He further avers that, in 1804, "at March term of the Salisbury Supr court, the said Catharina was convicted of having barbarously murdered her infant child, which was generally believed in the neighbourhood to have been a mulatto"; the governor, however, pardoned her as she stood "under the gallows." Limbaugh therefore "submits his unhappy situation to be acted upon as you in your wisdom may think fit, firmly believing that a bill of divorce will be passed in his favour."

PAR Number 11281706

State: North Carolina Year: 1817
Location: Rockingham Location Type: County

Abstract: John Walker seeks mercy after being convicted of murdering a slave and sentenced to death. Walker acknowledges that Governor William Miller "was gracious enough to grant your petitioner a pardon, and respite the time of execution," but he "did not finally extend his clemency." Pleading for his life, Walker entreats "your honorable body to bestow on him" mercy, the "greatest & best gift that a poor unfortunate criminal can be crowned with" and to "grant him his liberty."

PAR Number 11282005

State: North Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Rockingham Location Type: County

Abstract: Eighteen-year-old Alexander Roach reports that his sixteen-year-old female slave "was apprehended upon a charge of murder" and that she was committed to the Rockingham jail; she was later "tried and convicted of said murder, but it being suggested that she might be pregnant her executed was respited until the last day of June at which time she was executed for sd. murder." Roach discloses that he is an orphan and "that the only property which he possess'd was said negro girl and a negro boy about eleven years old." He further states that the jail fees and "costs attending the trial and execution" equal more than $100. He considers "the case an extremely hard one upon him" in that he was deprived of his "likely" negro girl and now faces being "cast into [the] world poor and indebted." He therefore, "thro the medium of this petition," thought it proper "to petition your Honourable body for such relief as you may think proper."

PAR Number 11282205

State: North Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Janet Corn laments that her son Henry "was cruelly, barbarously and inhumanely murdered in the western part of Wake County" and that she has been informed that the murder was committed "by a certain negro man slave named prince the property of a certain George Herndon." Corn charges that delays in the "papers and proceedings of the said Inquest on the said murder" openly violate the law and aid in "the perversion and prevention of Justice." She argues, in fact, that the said Herndon has had ample time “to run the said slave prince out of the state; and to take measures to circumvent or prevent any proceedings being had against himself for any share or participation in the guilt of the said Prince.” She further notes that she is a poor widow "while those she has to contend with in seeking for Justice being done on the murderer, and all implicated, are rich and powerful." Believing "her chance of having Justice done except through the interposition of the legislature is slender indeed," the petitioner prays that the justices of the peace be "impeached or removed for malfeasance."

PAR Number 11282301

State: North Carolina Year: 1823

Abstract: Jarrad Weaver seeks compensation for his slave David who "without any known ill usage or justifiable cause ran away from the services of your petitioner." Weaver reports that David was armed and "remained lurking about in the neighbourhood, doing & committing divers mischief, and depredations" until "a party of young men" discovered his whereabouts and attempted to apprehend him. He states that David resisted their efforts to seize him and that said men "were compelled to use violence and in so doing, the said David was shot dead." Citing the 1741 law wherein compensation is afforded to the owners "of such runaway slaves as may happen to be killed in the attempt to apprehend them," Weaver asks that he be granted such "suitable allowance" as he may be deemed "fairly entitled to."

PAR Number 11282304

State: North Carolina Year: 1823
Location: Tyrrell Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph and Anne Wynn state that their daughter Mary "was murdered by a number of negro slaves” on the day after Christmas in 1822. They further reveal that among said slaves were "Charles and Vina the property of your memorialist Joseph and Jack the property of your memorialist Anne." The petitioners report that said slaves were tried, convicted, and executed for said crime and that they "have cheerfully borne the loss of property incurred by the execution of said slaves to satisfy the demands of public Justice." The Wynns express, however, that paying the expenses incurred from jailing said slaves for nine months and the costs resulting from their prosecution, conviction and execution "will greatly distress them, and as in truth they are not able to pay them without making great sacrifice of the little property that now possess." They therefore humbly pray that they be provided $350 "for the payment of the costs aforesaid."

PAR Number 11282305

State: North Carolina Year: 1823
Location: Lenoir Location Type: County

Abstract: Philip Miller reports that his slave Toney was convicted of murder and executed after "a long imprisonment." Miller, a man of "moderate circumstances," represents that he "has been compelled to pay all the costs incidental to the prosecution of said slave." Feeling "himself little able to bear all these expences -- and as he did every thing in his power to advance the claims of Justice," the petitioner "conceives that it would be an act of Justice & humanity in the Legislature to refund him the amount which he has paid as costs in the above prosecution." The Legislature rejected his prayer, in part because "it would be improper to make him the allowance asked for out of the public monies; by which means, persons, who either from religious scruples, inability or other causes, do not own Slaves would be compelled to pay their proportion, and therefore could never be similarly situated."

PAR Number 11282709

State: North Carolina Year: 1827
Location: Northampton Location Type: County

Abstract: Ransom Cassel, currently "in very indigent circumstances," seeks compensation for a runaway slave named Austin, who was killed in an attempt to apprehend said slave in 1813 or 1814. Cassel avers that he would have petitioned the legislature sooner had he known that a section of the 1741 law dealing with such cases had been repealed prior to Austin's death. The petitioner therefore prays "your Honorable body to make him a suitable allowance for the said slave according to the valuation affixed by the County Court."

PAR Number 11283807

State: North Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Rockingham Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty-two citizens of Rockingham County seek compensation for Abner Webster, the owner of three slaves who were "convicted of the murder of Wm G. Comer which said Negroes were executed." They argue that "when the publick good requires the property of any Individual it is justice that the publick Should pay to such individuals a fair price for the property so used by the publick." They therefore pray that a law be passed "that the owner of slaves shall receive pay for such slaves as may be executed." The petitioners point out that it was Webster himself who "used every exertion after the murder had been commited to arest and bring his said negroes to justice and that without his aid so nobly manifested it would have bin difficult to have arested them the said negroes and as such we your petitioners respectfully request your body to remunerate him."

PAR Number 11284806

State: North Carolina Year: 1848
Location: Bertie Location Type: County

Abstract: Nineteen residents of Bertie County seek compensation for Andrew Northcoatt, whose slave was attacked and killed by two other slaves. They assert that the sheriff of Bertie County retained a security bond of $250 on said slaves Hany and Isaac when they failed to appear in court. The petitioners therefore "pray your Honorable body to pay the Two hundred & fifty dollars (collected by the Sheriff of Bertie as aforesaid) to the said Andrew Northcoatt to indemnify him for the loss he has sustained in the death of his negro man under the circumstances as aforesaid."

PAR Number 11378503

State: South Carolina Year: 1785
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Warnock seeks compensation for two slaves who were tried, convicted and executed for having poisoned his family. Warnock relates that, "after the Establishment of Peace," he "had hope to have rested from the toil of war, by returning from camp to his family & to have shared in domestic happiness with a wife & Six Children." He laments, however, "that in the midst of these pleasing prospects your petitioner & his whole family were most wantonly & Cruelly poisoned" by two of his slaves, whereby two of his children died. Warnock, "highly distressed," prays "Such relief as in your wisdom your honorable house shall think meet."

PAR Number 11378505

State: South Carolina Year: 1785
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Joseph Warnock seeks compensation for two slaves who were tried, convicted and executed for having poisoned his family. Warnock relates that, "after the Establishment of Peace," he "had hope to have rested from the toil of war, by returning from camp to his family & to have shared in domestic happiness with a wife & Six Children." He laments, however, "that in the midst of these pleasing prospects your petitioner & his whole family were most wantonly & Cruelly poisoned" by two of his slaves, whereby two of his children died. Warnock, "highly distressed," prays "Such relief as in your wisdom your honorable house shall think meet."

PAR Number 11379301

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Susanna St. John of St. James Parish seeks compensation for the slave Titus. She recounts that her husband, Dr. Stephen St. John, purchased Titus in 1785, “for which he gave his Bond for ₤67 ... with Interest.” Susanna laments, however, that Stephen was "killed by runaway Negroes in April last" and that the said Titus "has since, been convicted of being accessory to his Death, and executed agreeable to Sentence passed the 1st of May." St. John further reveals that Titus was valued at "the Sum of Seventy Pounds" and that a certificate has been delivered to the State Treasurer directing that said sum be paid. The petitioner therefore prays "the valuation of the said Negro may be received by the Treasurer as a payment of the Bond and Interest."

PAR Number 11379310

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Susanna St. John of St. James Parish seeks compensation for the slave Titus. She recounts that her husband, Dr. Stephen St. John, purchased Titus in 1785, “for which he gave his Bond for ₤67 ... with Interest.” Susanna laments, however, that Stephen was "killed by runaway Negroes in April last" and that the said Titus "has since, been convicted of being accessory to his Death, and executed agreeable to Sentence passed the 1st of May." St. John further reveals that Titus was valued at "the Sum of Seventy Pounds" and that a certificate has been delivered to the State Treasurer directing that said sum be paid. The petitioner therefore prays "the valuation of the said Negro may be received by the Treasurer as a payment of the Bond and Interest."

PAR Number 11379313

State: South Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Washington Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Alexander Chavis asserts that "a valuable negroe wench the Property of your Petitioner, was said to be taken by Orders of Genl Pickens for public Use, and given in payment to Capt. John Norwood as a Reward for having Killed a certain John Masterson a notorious & mischievous Enemy of the Country." Chavis reports, however, that Pickens informed him that he had never issued such an order, whereupon Chavis sued the man who had possession of said slave but he lost said suit. Being too late to make a restitution claim to the claims commission, Chavis submits his case for restitution for "said Wench and her issue" as well as the "heavy Expences incurred in prosecuting the Suit" and "solicits such Relief in the Premises as may be deemed proper & just."

PAR Number 11379408

State: South Carolina Year: 1794
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: David Kain acknowledges that, in "the heat of Passion," he had "the misfortune to wound a negro man of the Estate of John Deas Esquire in such a manner as to prove mortal." He further reports that he was sentenced "to pay a Fine of Fifty Pounds Sterling to the State & to be confined in the Common Gaol untill it should be discharged." Revealing that he "sincerely laments & is truly penitent for" said incident, Kain claims that he possesses "no Property wherewith to pay the said Fine." Without the intervention of the legislature, he explains, he faces the grim prospect "of ending his days in confinement." He therefore "humbly craves the humane interposition of your honorable House."

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