Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11279304

State: North Carolina Year: 1793
Location: Nash Location Type: County

Abstract: Sheriff Archibald Griffin avows that he did "Execute an Hang'd a certain Negro woman Named Beck the property of Sarah Taylors" and that "the fees have been hitherto Five pounds for Each Execution in Criminal cases." Griffin states that he "is without Redress unless thro this Honorable Assemblys Equitable & Just interposition." Beck was tried and convicted of poisoning Harry Taylor Sr., Harry Taylor Jr., and Samuel Taylor.

PAR Number 11282712

State: North Carolina Year: 1827
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Jonathan Bryan seeks a divorce from his wife Ann Jane Anders, who not only attempted to kill him but also incited "an Insurrection" among his slaves. Bryan reports that the said Ann Jane attempted to poison him more than once; that she failed to nurse him when he “was Confined with the Billious fever So that his life was despaired of"; that she "has laid voiolent hands on his person twice;" that she has "treated with Cruelty the Seven Children he has had by a decent and former wife"; that she "took medicine" to induce a miscarriage when she returned from being absent "for the Space of eleven months dureing which time She got herself with Child;" and that he "has not seen the Said Ann Jane and has been for Som time past and at this time She is aliveing in a Negro house With Negros." He therefore prays that the legislature will "interpose and pass a Law Divorcing him from this wife Ann Jane."

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 11379103

State: South Carolina Year: 1791

Abstract: John Jordan states that "in November 1778 the only slave that your Petitioner possessed was executed pursuant to a Sentence of Two Magistrates and five Freeholders for Poisoning." He further asserts that "said Slave was valued according to Law at ₤1200 -- Old Currency for which he received a Certificate." Jordan claims that he presented said certificate for payment when "the Town was invested by the British Army under General Clinton which induces your Petitioner to believe was the reason that his demand was not paid." Jacob therefore prays that "the Commissioners of the Treasury may be directed to Pay" him for his loss.

PAR Number 11380002

State: South Carolina Year: 1800

Abstract: LeRoy Buford seeks compensation for a slave convicted and executed for poisoning.

PAR Number 11380007

State: South Carolina Year: 1800

Abstract: Leroy Beuford seeks compensation for a slave named John who was convicted and executed for poisoning. Beuford believes that "he has Not Justice Done Him." Related documents contain the testimony of several slaves that detail John's acts of conjuring and suspected poisoning.

PAR Number 11382207

State: South Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Laurens Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Daniel Cook represents that "some time in the month of July in the year 1821, a negro fellow named Phill, the property of your Petitioner, was tried and convicted" of administering poison and was "sentenced to be hanged" the next month. Cook declares, however, "that some days previous to the time appointed for his execution, while he was in the custody of the gaoler ... the said negro put an end to his existence, by hanging himself in the dungeon of the gaol." The petitioner therefore prays that his case be taken into consideration and he be granted relief. Cook attests that said Phill was "appraised by the said Court, at the sum of four hundred dollars."

PAR Number 11382208

State: South Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Laurens Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Daniel Cook represents that "some time in the month of July in the year 1821, a negro fellow named Phill, the property of your Petitioner, was tried and convicted" of administering poison and was "sentenced to be hanged" the next month. Cook declares, however, "that some days previous to the time appointed for his execution, while he was in the custody of the gaoler ... the said negro put an end to his existence, by hanging himself in the dungeon of the gaol." The petitioner therefore prays that his case be taken into consideration and he be granted relief. Cook attests that said Phill was "appraised by the said Court, at the sum of Four hundred Dollars."

PAR Number 11382229

State: South Carolina Year: 1822
Location: Laurens Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Daniel Cook represents that "on the 21st day of July last, a negro fellow, the property of your Petitioner, was convicted of administering to your petitioner's family some poisonous substance, with an intent to destroy their lives, and sentenced to be hanged on the 11th day of August following." Cook declares, however, that "in the interval between the passing of the sentence and time appointed for his execution the said negro, while in gaol, and in the custody of the law, put an end to his own existence." The petitioner therefore prays that his case be taken into consideration and he be granted "such remuneration for the loss of his said slave, as shall be deemed just & equitable."

PAR Number 11382911

State: South Carolina Year: 1829
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Dr. Richard Jones represents that “in November last” a female slave named Eave, "the property of your petitioner," was "convicted of the offence of administering poison, and by a regularly constituted Court of Freeholders was sentenced to suffer death." Noting that said "sentence has been put in execution," Jones "prays payment for the value of the said slave." The court "Appraised and valued the said Negro Woman named Eve at one Hundred Dollars."

PAR Number 11382919

State: South Carolina Year: 1829
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Cain, executor of the estate of Daniel Cain, seeks compensation for the loss of Frank, a slave belonging to the estate who was arrested and "charged with an attempt upon the life of his Master by administering Poison"; the Court of Magistrates and Freeholders found Frank guilty and he "was accordingly executed." The petitioner therefore prays, "in right of the children of his deceased Brother,” that he be allowed "such compensation as in your wisdom & justice you may deem him entitled to."

PAR Number 11382921

State: South Carolina Year: 1829
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: William Cain, executor of the estate of Daniel Cain, seeks compensation for the loss of Frank, a slave belonging to the estate who was arrested and "charged with making an attempt upon the life of his Master by administering poison"; the Court of Magistrates and Freeholders found Frank guilty and he "was accordingly executed." The petitioner therefore prays, "in right of the children of his deceased Brother," that he be allowed "such compensation as in your wisdom & justice you may think him entitled to."

PAR Number 11383108

State: South Carolina Year: 1831
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: G. S. McLane seeks compensation for his slave Glascow, who was "convicted of an attempt to poison your petitioner, and by the sentence of the said Court his said negro slave Glascow has been executed, whereupon your petitioner prays he may [be] allowed that compensation which is by Law authorised."

PAR Number 11384702

State: South Carolina Year: 1847
Location: Colleton Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Perry seeks compensation for a slave, Prince, who was convicted and hanged "for poisoning with intent to kill." Perry asserts that "the slave being a prime and valuable fellow, your Petitioner has consequently experienced great loss." Prince was appraised at five hundred dollars. Prince's nephew, Thomas, testified that his said uncle gave him "3 lumps large as the end of his finger" and that Prince told him "to put it in the coffee & let nobody know."

PAR Number 11479902

State: Tennessee Year: 1798
Location: Sullivan Location Type: County

Abstract: William Evans requests compensation for his slave, Tom, who was tried, convicted, and executed in Washington County in 1786 ("acting under the authority of the Government of Franklin") for poisoning John Fuller Lain, a white man. Evans avers that the "Court absolutely refused to hear Council" in Tom's behalf, which rendered said proceedings "not legal." Of the opinion that Tom was worth "one hundred pounds Virginia currency, in as much as he was a faithful, industrious, healthy slave, and in the prime of Life," the petitioner seeks "such relief in the premises, as may seem meet."

PAR Number 11677805

State: Virginia Year: 1778
Location: Goochland Location Type: County

Abstract: Archer Payne represents that his slave Sambo was arrested "on suspicion of prepar'g poisonous medicines and did [actually] administer part thereof to a negroe man Slave the property of Thoms F. Bates." Payne reports that Sambo escaped from jail "with another negroe man" and did "assemble themselves in Rebellion together in a thick part of Woods" and did "then & thereabouts commit many Hostilitys, Break'g open Houses, kill'g Hoggs &c." After an extensive search, the two men were "routed at or near their cave in the Ground [where] they the sd. Slaves to all appearance had used for their place of residence & safety for some time" and one of the pursuers "did shoot the Sd. Petitioners negroe Sambo dead on the spott." Payne therefore prays for "such relief in the premises as you in yr. great wisdom shall think most just & reasonable."

PAR Number 11680508

State: Virginia Year: 1805
Location: Mecklenburg Location Type: County

Abstract: Although the petition itself is not available, related documents help reconstruct the prayer of the petitioner, who is assumed to be Thomas Reekes of Mecklenburg County, and the events surrounding his filing suit with the legislature. In 1802, Henry Ashton, a magistrate in Mecklenburg County, issued an arrest warrant for three slaves, Dick, Frank, and Billy, charged with committing "felonious offences." A month after the arrest Frank was taken ill and later died; Dick was found guilty and executed. It appears, from the 1805 affidavit of one Richard Apperson, that Frank and Dick had been charged with plotting to poison Dick's owner, John Gregory; and that several other slaves, presumably including Billy, seemed to have had knowledge of the conspiracy. Dick was convicted but, Frank, while on his way from jail to stand trial, "died a very sudden death," the cause of which "was attributed to be, either the confinement in a wagon or his taking poison" before he left the jail. It appears that sometime between 1802 and 1805 Thomas Reekes, Frank's owner, applied for compensation on the death of his slave in the amount of one hundred thirty pounds.

PAR Number 11682408

State: Virginia Year: 1824
Location: King William Location Type: County

Abstract: Evelina Gregory Roane, "a Daughter of affluence," seeks a divorce and custody of her infant son. Evelina represents that her marriage to Newman B. Roane has been wrought with "hardship and cruelty." She confides that "she was quickly reduced to the situation of a Slave who for some unpardonable offense, was constantly under the frowns of its master." Evelina further discloses that the said Newman admitted that "he had two mulatto children then at his Brothers who were much more comely and hansome than any she would ever bear" and shortly thereafter "this negroe woman and two mulatto children were brought upon the plantation." She confesses that "her husband adopted this woman as the more eligible companion & wife," and she reveals that her husband boasted that "if he had not expected a fortune he would never have married her." Having endured and survived multiple violent assaults, she asserts that she "obtained the restraining power of the civil magistrate" to force her husband "to keep the peace toward your Petitioner for the space of twelve months." She therefore prays that "a law may pass this honorable Body Divorcing your Petitioner from her husband ... and provide in the said act of Divorce that your Petitioner may be allowed to keep the said Junius B Roane in her possession until he comes to an age proper for being put to school."

PAR Number 11683007

State: Virginia Year: 1830
Location: Henry Location Type: County

Abstract: William Potter and his wife seek relief from paying jail fees. They inform the legislature that their slave Martin was arrested and jailed on suspicion of planning to poison the family of John C. Taylor, his wife's owner. According to the petitioners, Martin became jealous when he suspected his wife to be too intimate with a slave owned by Taylor. When Taylor took sides with his own slave and forbade Martin to come near his house, Martin, while drunk, supposedly threatened Taylor. A warrant for Martin was issued and he was thrown in jail. The Potters are poor and can not afford to pay the fees required to get their slave out of jail.

PAR Number 11683509

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Rockbridge Location Type: County

Abstract: John Moffett writes that some eight or nine years prior to the filing of his petition his slave Lucinda, a then fifteen-year-old girl, set fire to his barn. When a black woman named Peggy was asked to testify, "many persons became convinced that the said Peggy had instigated" Lucinda to "commit the incendiary act." At that time, Moffett contends, he did not believe that Peggy was implicated. However, after Lucinda "had been sent out of the country," some of his cattle were poisoned. He became "satisfied" that Peggy, whom he describes as an "intelligent, artful and vindictive" woman, was behind the poisoning. Moffett, who left the county for a while, has now returned and bought property. He has discovered to his great surprise that Peggy and her husband Scipio, both free people of color, have recently been granted permission to remain in Virginia. He asks the legislature to rescind its act granting such permission and to send the couple into exile. He claims that he "cannot feel secure in the possession of his property while the said Peggy is permitted to remain in the country."

PAR Number 11683703

State: Virginia Year: 1837
Location: King William Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Pannell seeks a divorce from her husband, Edmund Pannell. Married at age sixteen, Elizabeth Pannell, who claims to be from "an ancient and respectable family," lost her entire estate when her husband squandered it "in all manner of dissipation." Accused of having committed a felony, Edmund Pannell was acquitted due to "irregularity in the proceedings" and fled from the county, leaving his wife destitute. In addition to being profligate, Pannell exhibited a cruel and abusive behavior toward his wife and engaged in "adultery and fornication" with black and white women, a fact known by all in the neighborhood. He even encouraged a slave named Grace, hired from Mrs. Louisa Deffarges and with whom he was conducting an adulterous affair, to be insolent toward his wife.

PAR Number 20184103

State: Alabama Year: 1841
Location: Talladega Location Type: County

Abstract: John Farley asks the court for a divorce from his wife, Mary. Anxious to derive happiness and contentment from his marriage, John says that, since their marriage in 1812, he has treated his wife with the utmost kindness and affection, providing for her "comfort & maintenance in sickness & in health." He states that for more than twenty years his wife was kind obedient and affectionate." But in the last three years her behavior toward has changed. She is now repaying his affection and good behavior with "cold and repulsive treatment," telling him that she desires "to get rid of your orator so that she might find some person more competent to the discharge of libidinous duties." Indeed, he says, when he became ill, Mary refused to call the family physician and laced his medicine with laudanum, fully aware of "the dangerous effects of over portions" of the drug. When they agreed to separate in 1839, John gave Mary a settlement of the property, including an improved lot in the town of Lafayette and a negro man named Lewis. By the next year, he states, Mary, "being wholly lost of her matrimonial obligations," engaged in adulterous affairs and "was in the habits of daily prostituting herself." He seeks the return of property and slave that he put into trust for her support.

PAR Number 20186605

State: Alabama Year: 1866
Location: Pike Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Taylor, described as having a "weak mind," accuses her husband W. Giles Taylor of being "cruel and inhumane," threatening to have her arrested for allegedly trying to poison him and forcing her to abandon her home and their six-year-old daughter. Giles's brother, Charles Taylor, took Elizabeth to New Orleans and abandoned her with only eight dollars in her purse. She made her way by boat back to Montgomery, and then walked many miles back to Pike County. Upon her arrival, she learns that her husband is unjustly accusing her of "illicit intercourse & cohabitation with a negro, one Wade, a freedman formerly owned by Mrs. Owins." She prays that the court will grant her a divorce, custody of her child, and alimony.

PAR Number 20379202

State: Delaware Year: 1792
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Joshua Clarke seeks permission to export and sell his 20-year-old slave Simon, who doth "Refuse to Render Reasonable Service," to "any of The Southern States." Not only has Simon failed to conduct himself as "a Good and faithfull Servant," but Clarke also fears that he and his family are "in Danger of being poisoned or other extraordinary harms."

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