Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11381506

State: South Carolina Year: 1815
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Thomson recounts that "his Mollato Man Sam absconded himself" in 1811 "after which he was taken and lodged in Newbury Gaol." Thomson, unable to retrieve said slave in a timely fashion, reports that said slave "was by the Sheriff or Jailor of said Gaol ... sold at public or otherwise made sale of." He further recounts that "after Deducting expences of Confinement Commissions & costs Mr R. Boyce [sheriff] paid over the Balance into the Treasury of the state." Thomson therefore "Humbly prays that he may have the said ballance paid unto him."

PAR Number 11382015

State: South Carolina Year: 1820
Location: Laurens Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Garlington states that he purchased "a negro man Tom by trade a House Carpenter" in 1822 for $853 at the "Sale of the Estate of Charles Simmons"; Tom was "at the time between the age of forty and fifty." He further adds that said purchase was made "with a promise and understanding that whenever the said Tom should work and labor for your petitioner by way of accounting & paying" the purchase price, with interest thereon, Garlington would "manumit and Set free the said Tom." Attesting that "said Tom has now fully & amply paid & satisfied" him "in the purchase money and interest," Garlington complains that "the laws of this State at this time prevent your petitioner from putting his promises into execution." The petitioner therefore prays that he be granted "the privilege of manumitting and setting free the said Tom, though it should on imposing the condition of requiring the said Tom to give reasonable Security to be and remain of good character which he has hitherto sustained."

PAR Number 11382811

State: South Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Lancaster Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Sims, sheriff of Lancaster District, seeks compensation of $18.37 for advertising the sale of a runaway slave named Jack. Sims recounts that he sold said Jack "in the year 1826 for the sum of one hundred dollars." He admits, however, that "when he presented his [accounts] ... he had not the Printers Receipt for advertising the said slave" and he was "not allowed that Item." Presenting his receipt, the petitioner prays that "he be allowed the sum of eighteen dollars and thirty seven cents, the amount he paid for advertising the said negro slave."

PAR Number 11383012

State: South Carolina Year: 1830
Location: Greenville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Seventeen Greenville District residents propose actions to address the "persons of colour, who are considered a great nuisance to them the Inhabitants of said District." They therefore suggest "that all free negroes or person or persons of colour residing within the several Districts of this State on incurring debts without property or means to discharge the Same, be subject, to be taken and hired out, for such length of time as may be necessary to repay any such debts so incurred." They believe that the sheriff should be authorized to hire out "such free negro, or person of colour" and that said hiring should take place at "public auction, at the Court House of any of the said Districts in which the said negro or person of persons of colour may reside."

PAR Number 11383905

State: South Carolina Year: 1839
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: H. L. Pinckney, Mayor of Charleston, on behalf of the City Council, reports that "they have recently passed an ordinance establishing a mart for the public sale of slaves within the corporate limits of the City by which it is provided that after the erection of said mart no slaves shall be sold by brokers and others at public auction or outcry except at the mart so established by the City." He points out "this measure has been resorted to as an important act of public policy and convenience" and that "it was very much desired by public opinion and the interests of planters and others having large bodies of Slaves for sale." Pinckney further notes that "it may not be improper to add that the prices of keeping slaves at the said mart and the expenses attending the keeping and sale of slaves there are decidedly cheaper than at any other place in Charleston." Pinckney concludes by asserting that "the object of establishing a mart is not to make money for the City, but to carry out an important measure of public policy, and to accommodate the public respecting the safety and the sale of large gangs of negroes."

PAR Number 11385501

State: South Carolina Year: 1855

Abstract: Dr. Edward Ware, a resident of Athens, Georgia, seeks compensation for a runaway slave, Pressly, who absconded three-and-a-half years ago. He reports that Pressly made his way to South Carolina, "was arrested in the City of Charleston and lodged in the work House as a fugitive, that he assumed the name of Joe Brown and pretended to be free." Ware further relates that "under that name he was duly advertised and sold" and that "in consequence of the assumed name and the pretended and assumed freedom of said slave, no notice whatever ever reached your petitioner as to his arrest and confinement in the work House." Noting that $392.66 (the net proceeds from the sale of said Pressly) has been deposited in the state treasury, Ware prays "that the sum of money now in the Treasury of the state arising from the sale of the slave of your Petitioner be directed by your Honorable Body to be paid over to him."

PAR Number 11385502

State: South Carolina Year: 1855

Abstract: Dr. Edward Ware, a resident of Athens, Georgia, seeks compensation for a runaway slave, Pressly, who absconded three-and-a-half years ago. He reports that Pressly made his way to South Carolina, "was arrested in the City of Charleston and lodged in the work House as a fugitive, that he assumed the name of Joe Brown and pretended to be free." Ware further relates that "under that name he was duly advertised and sold" and that "in consequence of the assumed name and the pretended and assumed freedom of said slave, no notice whatever ever reached your petitioner as to his arrest and confinement in the work House." Noting that $392.66 (the net proceeds from the sale of said Pressly) has been deposited in the state treasury, Ware prays "that the sum of money now in the Treasury of the state arising from the sale of the slave of your Petitioner be directed by your Honorable Body to be paid over to him."

PAR Number 11483327

State: Tennessee Year: 1833
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: David Shropshire, the Madison County jailer, seeks reimbursement for keeping a runaway slave named Jacob. Shropshire represents that he is owed $148.12 for keeping the said Jacob 395 day at the daily rate of 37 1/2 cents. He further reports that said slave was sold at auction "bringing the sum of $82.51 which deducted from the amount before specified leaves a balance due your Petitioner of $65.62. The petitioner therefore prays that "the deficiency in the sale of said slave of $65.21 will be allowed him."

PAR Number 11681523

State: Virginia Year: 1815
Location: Louisa Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1812, Frederick Harris, Esq. purchased a slave named Billey or Billey Eve from the estate of the late Robert Harris and set him up as "superintendent or overseer for a small farm." According to Frederick Harris, Robert Harris had intended to free Billey, but he had died suddenly and intestate. Billey was then allotted to Robert Harris's widow as part of her dower. While in the widow Harris's possession Billey collected some savings, which at the time of the widow's death amounted to $200. When Robert Harris's estate was auctioned off, after Mrs. Harris's death, Billey offered Frederick Harris his savings of $200 toward the price of his purchase and committed to pay $50 per year until the price was fully paid. This commitment he has now fulfilled and Frederick Harris seeks to free him and obtain permission for him to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11681904

State: Virginia Year: 1819
Location: Nottoway Location Type: County

Abstract: About 1801, free-born black Charles Cousins, a "professor of religion," shoemaker, and plantation manager, "took to himself" a slave wife, Aggy, who in 1810 was put up for sale as part of an estate. Cousins arranged for Thomas Howlett, a white man, to purchase Aggy, and about 1812, he repaid Howlett the full purchase price, receiving a "release or bill of sale" and full title of ownership. At age about sixty, Cousins worries that if he were to die before his wife she would not retain her freedom, nor can he now emancipate her and have her remain in the state more than one year. He asks permission to emancipate his wife and for her to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11682405

State: Virginia Year: 1824
Location: Caroline Location Type: County

Abstract: John T. Rawlins, jailer of Caroline County, represents that he took in a runaway slave, and fed and clothed him, as bound by law to do, during his confinement. As required by law, Sam was eventually advertised and sold some 402 days after being jailed. After the slave had been held in custody for the time set by law, he was advertised and put up for sale at auction. As the slave was "infirm & crippled," Rawlins states, the proceeds of the sale netted him only $78.40, which did not cover his expenses. Rawlins seeks a reimbursement for the cost overrun. It cost 25 cents a day to house the slave, he says. Related documents reveal that the name of the slave was Sam, that he had been jailed for more about a year before being sold, and the he sold for $87.

PAR Number 11682406

State: Virginia Year: 1824
Location: Louisa Location Type: County

Abstract: Martin M. Price, the jailer of Louisa County, represents that he committed to his jail a woman of color named Milly as a runaway slave on 31 January 1823. Milly said she was the property of one Mr. Finlay of Richmond, but after sustained inquiries conducted by Price, no Mr. Finlay acknowledging himself as Milly's owner could be found, nor did any one else claimed her as his or her property. Price believes that Milly, an old person afflicted with several disabilities, also suffered from "severe mental derangement." There was also some speculation that Milly had been set free in Richmond and was trying to go back to Alexandria where she had been a slave. Eventually she "disappeard" and most thought she had "strayed off [and] died." No owner "has ever inquired for her." The jailer wants to be reimbursed for expenses incurred during Milly's confinement in his jail.

PAR Number 11682708

State: Virginia Year: 1827
Location: Accomack Location Type: County

Abstract: Littleton P. Henderson represents that "the overseers of the Poor of the County of Accomack ... proceeded to sell at public auction many of the free negroes residing in the said county, the proceeds arising from which sale have been paid into the public Treasury to the Credit of the Literary Fund." Henderson further asserts that "amongst the number of free negros thus sold by the said overseers of the Poor, there was a certain Jim Outten who at the time of the sale was in the city of Baltimore, & who had never been in [their] custody." The petitioner, "conceiving the sale to be conducted according to law & knowing the character & worth of the said Jim Outten," admits that he "was induced to bid for him and actually bought him at the price of $50." Henderson reports that the said Jim Outten instituted a freedom suit and "at the last August term of the said Court he recovered a judgement against your petitioner and was restored to his former rights and privileges." Believing "that he has a just and equitable demand against the president & directors of the Literary Fund," the petitioner prays that he be refunded "the purchase money paid by him for the said Jim Outten & legal interest thereon (as he never derived any benefit from the services of the said negro)."

PAR Number 11683413

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Accomack Location Type: County

Abstract: John G. Joynes represents that "at a meeting of the Overseers of the Poor ... held on the 6th day of June, 1825, an order was made by the said Overseers of the Poor that they would apprehend and sell one of those free negroes within their county who had been emancipated since the first day of May 1806 and had remained within this Commonwealth more than twelve months after their right to freedom had accrued." Joynes states that "in obedience to this order the said overseers of the poor actually made sale of eight of those free negroes residing in different parts of the said county of Accomack" and that "amongst these was a certain Jim Outten alias James Outten, who was purchased by a certain Littleton P. Henderson at the price of Fifty Dollars." He further recounts that said Outten sued and recovered his freedom and that said Henderson "instituted a suit ... against your petitioner for the purchase money of the said Jim Outten." Noting that "a judgment was thereupon rendered by the said court in favour of the plaintiff against your petitioner," Joynes therefore "believes that he has a well founded claim upon the justice of this Commonwealth for full and complete remuneration for the damages which he has sustained."

PAR Number 11683519

State: Virginia Year: 1835
Location: Prince William Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1834, deputy sheriff Basil Brawner sold William Hyden, who had been jailed as a runaway slave, to one Robert Lipscomb acting as the agent of an unnamed slave trader. When the unnamed trader finally came to town to take a look at Hdyden, he refused to pay. Brawner then asked Colonel James Fewell, a slave trader on his way to Fredericksburg and Richmond, to sell Hyden. Fewell offered Hyden for sale in both locations but to no avail, all interested buyers refusing "to purchase him at any price, on account of his colour all alledging that he was too white." Hyden was returned to Brawner, who later tried to sell him on a court day in Brentsville, but again the several traders present refused "to make any offer for him, alledging that his colour was too light and that he could by reason thereof too easily escape from slavery and pass himself for a free man." As it happened, Hyden did escape, and Brawner now seeks compensation for the "expense that arose from aprehension, confinement, advertising &c." Robert Lipscomb is unable to pay the $452 he bid for Hyden, Brawner argues, and former sheriff Michael Cleary "now stands charged on the books of the Auditor of Public accounts with a large sum of Money which your petitioner will be compelled to pay unless your Honorable body will release him from it, although he has not received nor has he any hope of receiving one cent of the same." Several related documents offer the opinions of individuals who express their conviction that, from what they had learned of Hyden's background and from what they saw and heard of him, he was a native of New York, born of a white woman, and an educated man.

PAR Number 11684004

State: Virginia Year: 1840
Location: Accomack Location Type: County

Abstract: The slave William was emancipated in 1819 by his then owner Charles Ewell. He did not leave the state of Virginia, as required by law of emancipated slaves, and was taken into custody in 18e8, tried and sentenced back into slavery. He was purchased at auction in 1839 for $530 by the petitioner, Richard S. Rice, but shortly thereafter ran away. Rice believes he is in New York. Rice argues that he understands the purpose of the law requiring emancipated slaves to emigrate or face being sold back into slavery, which is the removal of the free black population, but he contends that his observation and personal experience in this case is that citizens who attempt to recover slaves that have absconded after having acquired freedom encounter great difficulties and expenses. Since William was now removed, the petitioner argues, the objective of the state to remove free people of color from the commonwealth has been achieved and he should be compensated for his loss?

PAR Number 11684310

State: Virginia Year: 1843
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: Sussex County jailer William Briggs asks to be compensated for expenses incurred in keeping for several months in his jail a runaway slave named Major Henry. Briggs incarcerated Major Henry on 3 November 1841, at which time the slave was appraised at $75; he sold him at auction, the following August, for only $25. Briggs says this did not cover his expenses.

PAR Number 11684508

State: Virginia Year: 1845
Location: Accomack Location Type: County

Abstract: Richard Rew represents that "by virtue of a Judgement of the Court of Accomack, pronounced on the fourth day of April 1938 a certain William a freed negro was sold by the Sheriff of said County at publick auction" in consequence of his having remained "in the said County more than twelve months after his right to freedom had accrued." Rew reports that he purchased William for $526 "not on speculation but because the Boy desired him to do so, as his wife was a slave and he did not want to part from her." He further relates that in 1839 "the said William ran off from your Petitioner and has gone to the State of New York and has thus proved a total loss to your Petitioner." Rew therefore prays "your honourable body to refund to him the note amount thus paid into the Treasury from the proceeds of said sale and leave him and the said negro where the humanity of the Laws would seem to suggest they should be left."

PAR Number 20182101

State: Alabama Year: 1821
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Hopkins states that when he lived in Warren County, Tennessee, he owned a "Negroe Woman of dark complection aged about 45 years & of the value of about four hundred dollars named Molly" and a "mulatto girl named ayes of light complection aged about sixteen years of the value of about one thousand dollars." Hopkins asserts that the women "were feloniously taken" by John Hammons and transported to Alabama where they were sold by one John McGowan to George W. Thompson, despite knowledge of his (Hopkins's) claim to ownership. Fearing the slaves will be sold, Hopkins asks the court to order Thompson to offer security for them pending the outcome of his suit of recovery.

PAR Number 20183706

State: Alabama Year: 1837
Location: Tuscaloosa Location Type: County

Abstract: Isaac Humphries seeks to settle a dispute with William T. Terrell involving the slave Nelly and her children. Humphries states that a $132.50 debt resulted in a levy being placed upon his two slaves, "a negro woman [Nelly] and her infant son named Moses of great value." Humphries claims that he enlisted the aid of Terrell, proposing that Terrell attend the sheriff's sale and bid for his levied slaves. Humphries would then repay Terrell the amount advanced for the sale, along with the profits made from the labor of "a negro man a Tolerable Blacksmith," and regain possession of the slaves. Terrell agreed and purchased the slaves. But after the sale, a dispute over the slaves developed and when Terrell moved to Montgomery County, he took Nelly and her three children with him. Humphries charges Terrell with fraud, and asks that he be made to produce a bill of sale, honor the terms of the agreement, and relinquish possession of the slaves.

PAR Number 20184203

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Berry claims that Amos J. Persons gave him a promissory note for $3800, secured by a mortgage on ten slaves. Now Berry reports that Mark A. Cooper, a resident of Columbus, Georgia, has successfully obtained a $7000-judgment against Persons, resulting in a levy being placed on the mortgaged slaves. Berry fears that Cooper will disregard his lien on the slaves and sell them beyond the jurisdiction of the court and state. He asks that Cooper be prevented "from all further proceeding upon said judgement & execution as regards said negroes, till said mortgage and note have been paid off & discharged." A related document reveals that the slaves were sold at auction in 1842, for $2826.25, in order to satisfy Thomas Berry's claim.

PAR Number 20184204

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: James T. Persons states that Amos J. Persons gave him a promissory note in the amount of $5100, secured by a mortgage on three adult slaves and their six children, as well as on other property. Persons claims that Mark A. Cooper, a resident of Columbus, Georgia, has successfully obtained a $7000-judgment against Amos Persons, resulting in a levy being placed on the mortgaged slaves. James Persons fears that Cooper "proposes to sell the same notwithstanding the mortgage lien which your Orator has on said negroes." He asks that Cooper be prevented "from all further proceeding upon said judgement & execution as regards said mortgaged property, till said mortgage and note have been paid off & satisfied." A related document reveals that the slaves were sold at auction in 1842, for $2141.75, to satisfy James Persons's claim.

PAR Number 20184210

State: Alabama Year: 1842
Location: Barbour Location Type: County

Abstract: Mark Jackson petitions to foreclose on a mortgage extended by him to Samuel Gamble. Jackson claims the mortgage deed granted unto him, his heirs and assignees certain slaves "to have & to hold" unless Gamble paid him $1603, the amount of a promissory note on its due date. Jackson testifies that Gamble "has not well and truly paid" the debt and asks the court to order him to pay "what is now due on the said mortgage deed together with your Orator's costs of suit ... and in default of such payment ... that the said Samuel D. Gamble ... be barred and foreclosed of and from all right and equity of redemption in said mortgaged property." In addition, Jackson requests that the mortgaged slave property be sold for the payment of what may appear to be "due to your Orator on said promissory note and mortgage deed."

PAR Number 20184414

State: Alabama Year: 1844
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: George J. S. Walker, executor of Uriah G. Mitchell's will, states that Billups Gayle and William Bower, merchants in Mobile, owe Mitchell's estate $35,000. Bower secured the debt with a deed of mortgage to Mitchell for over seventy slaves and several tracts of land. Walker states that "default was made in the payments thereof whereby the legal estate and interests of the said Uriah G. Mitchell of and in the said mortgaged premises and slaves and their increase became absolute in law." He therefore asks the court to foreclose on the mortgage and order a full accounting of the slaves and their increase in order to sell them and the other property.

PAR Number 20184516

State: Alabama Year: 1845
Location: Mobile Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1842, Louisa S. Owen borrowed $28,172 from the Branch of the Bank of the State of Alabama, using as collateral twenty-eight slaves, mostly children. Louisa defaulted, so the bank is foreclosing on the loan, naming as defendants Louisa Owen, as administratrix of the estate of George W. Owen, deceased, Alexander Hollinger, Adam C. Hollinger, the Planters and Merchants Bank of Mobile, and the Presidents and Directors of the Bank of Mobile.

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