Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 20884750

State: Louisiana Year: 1847
Location: Madison Location Type: Parish

Abstract: David Cox seeks the court’s assistance in collecting $307 owed him by John Myers, a temporary resident of the parish. Cox represents that Myers owes him money for the rent of eighty-one acres of land, the construction of "two negro cabins" on the land, the use of his cattle to feed his family and the use of a horse to cultivate his crop. Cox claims that he has demanded payment from Myers, but has been refused. He therefore seeks an order of the court directing Meyers to pay the debt. Furthermore, he seeks a writ of “provisional” seizure of Meyers’s property and, in due course of law, an order for the sale of the property.

PAR Number 20981409

State: Maryland Year: 1814
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: John Weeks, guardian of Susannah, Dorothy and Henry Darnall, asks the court's permission to sell property belonging to his wards. He further asks that the court appoint appraisers to value the estate which formerly belonged to Francis Darnall and/or Richard Darnall. Weeks states that "the personal estate of his wards being Composed of negroes will be entirely useless when the sale of their land takes place" and therefore prays that the slave property also be sold.

PAR Number 20982403

State: Maryland Year: 1824
Location: Anne Arundel Location Type: County

Abstract: Nicholas Worthington, trustee of Anne Worthington, "who has been found Lunatic," states that his ward received five slaves from the estate of Thomas Worthington, deceased. The petitioner states that since Anne Worthington possesses no real estate, the slaves are a "useless incumbrance and the maintenance and care of them will be attended with considerable trouble and expense." He therefore asks the court's permission to sell the slaves.

PAR Number 21085209

State: Mississippi Year: 1852
Location: Hinds Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph B. Greaves, administrator of Mary A. Thomas's estate, states that Thomas owned nineteen slaves at her death, but no real estate, and "that there is none now belonging to the distributees of said Estate upon which said negro slaves could be worked." Noting that said slaves must either be sold or hired out, Greaves believes that "the best disposition that could be made of them at present would be to hire them out." The petitioner therefore prays that he "be authorized and directed to hire for the present year (1852), at public auction to the highest bidder" the said slaves held by the estate.

PAR Number 21085313

State: Mississippi Year: 1853
Location: Adams Location Type: County

Abstract: Alzonuth M. Whitehead charges her husband, James H. Whitehead, with being "habitually intemperate" and claims that he has purchased a slave named Emily and lives with her in "open & notorious adultery." She also states that James "has given to said Emily precedence over your oratrix in the management of his household affairs." On one occasion "your oratrix while moderately correcting her servants in the presence of said James H. Whitehead and the said negro woman Emily, received a blow from the said Emily, inflicted by her in a fit of anger." When Alzonuth attempted to punish her "in a manner suitable to her offense," James intervened and threatened to kill his wife if she "attempted to punish or correct the said Emily." Although the petitioner persuaded James to leave Emily and stop drinking for a time, he soon resumed his "adulterous intercourse" with the slave. Alzonuth states that the defendant "has become so infatuated by his passion for the said Emily that he has neither the power nor the desire to conceal the nature of his intercourse with her" and that "his undisguised fondness and caresses" for Emily have alienated his children. Fearing that James, who owns no land, will move with the slaves he owns beyond the jurisdiction of the court, the petitioner prays that she be granted a divorce, custody of the children, the return of her separate slave property, and maintenance and that the defendant be required to post bond.

PAR Number 21085340

State: Mississippi Year: 1853
Location: Yazoo Location Type: County

Abstract: Alexander Smith, administrator of the William Mills estate, asks the court for permission to work the slaves in the estate on land belonging to Mills's widow. The petitioner states that at the time of his death, Mills owned no land; therefore the slaves are now in a state of "unprofitable idleness." Furthermore, he states that "hiring them among strangers would probably result very injuriously to the value of the slaves, and as the season is now somewhat advanced, they would not bring such an amount as to make that course desirable." He therefore asks the court to allow the slaves to be worked on the land previously cultivated by Mills, land that belongs to his widow. The estate will pay her for rent of the land, and she will pay for the hire of the slaves. The proceeds from the cotton crop will be divided among the heirs.

PAR Number 21379401

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

Abstract: Mary Woodberry, joined by her "natural guardian," Jonah Woodberry, seeks the court's intervention in John Buchanan's settlement of her grandfather's estate. Jonah Collins's will bequeathed to his granddaughter seven slaves and "one thousand pounds" and appointed several "friends" as his executors; of these friends, only John Buchanan "took upon himself the Execution." Woodberry complains of Buchanan's mismanagement of her grandfather's lands, which she claims are "among the most valuable and least hazardous in the State." She charges Buchanan with putting his own slaves to work on her grandfather's plantation and appropriating to his own advantage the proceeds of the rice and timber cultivation thereon. She proposes that Buchanan "vest the crops in the purchase of negroes" and "place the said one Thousand pounds at Interest."

PAR Number 21379601

State: South Carolina Year: 1796
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Daniel Flud prays for permission to sell "a Plantation containing about fourteen hundred acres & Situate on Johns Island." The property is part of a trust estate brought to the marriage by his wife, the former Elizabeth Stanyerne Mathews. The petitioner reports that he is "possessed of other Lands more valuable, and not Negroes enough to cultivate them." He proposes that the proceeds from the sale be invested in "the purchase of Negroes."

PAR Number 21380105

State: South Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Kershaw Location Type: District

Abstract: The heirs at law of the late John Marple ask that the executors of the late Thomas Marple "set forth a particular Schedule of all the negroes, Cattle, horses, stock, household furniture and other personal Estate of the said John Marple deceased which was in the hands and possession of the said Thomas Marple at the time of his death and which came into their hands and possession ... since the death of the said Thomas." The petitioners report that said John died in 1776, leaving his brothers and nieces as his sole heirs. They further reveal that said Thomas "possessed himself" of all his brother's real and personal estates and kept the same for twelve years "without any manner of lawfull authority." The heirs assert that, upon Thomas's death, his executors took possession of his said estate as well as "all and singular the goods and chattels rights and credits of John Marple deceased which were unadministered by Thomas Marples also deceased" and that they have refused "to come to any account with your Orators and Oratrixes or to deliver to your orator Northup Marple the negroes and other personal Estate of John Marples deceased remaining in their hands or to pay or dispose of the monies due to your Orators and Oratrixes." They therefore pray that the defendants be summoned to answer their charges and that they "may be compelled to come to a fair account and honest settlement with your Orators and Oratrixes."

PAR Number 21380202

State: South Carolina Year: 1802
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: John Drayton, "Esquire Governor of the State" of South Carolina, joins his wife, Hester Rose, in seeking permission from the court to sell real estate belonging to Hester Rose's trust estate. The real estate, derived from the estate of Hester Rose's father, the late Philip Tidyman, is subject to conditions in the couple's marriage agreement. Hugh Rose, Hester's trustee, refuses to consent to the sale "without the sanction of this Honorable Court." The petitioners propose to use the proceeds generated by the sale to purchase slaves.

PAR Number 21380405

State: South Carolina Year: 1804
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Jacob Sass, a creditor of the late Richard and Ann Beresford, seeks payment of a debt. He relates that Ann "was entitled to a considerable real and personal estate" at the time she married Richard and that said property was held in trust for the Beresfords during their "joint lives." Sass recounts that both Beresfords "had contracted considerable debts" and that they found "themselves unable ... fully to pay and discharge all the Said debts." He states that they proposed "to the principal creditors" a conveyance of 130 slaves and several tracts of land to the trustees as a means "to discharge the debts aforesaid;" Ann retained "to herself her domestic Servants, gardeners and one hundred negroes." The petitioner further reports that, upon Ann's death, Richard "was entitled to a very large estate in Negroes and other property" and that he conveyed the same to the defendants "for the benefit of his Creditors;" Richard retained a life estate in seventeen slaves "and after his death the said negroes ... should be delivered up to" the said defendants, as trustees and as agents for the other creditors. Charging that "he hath often applied" to the defendants "to pay him what was due to him," Sass submits that they have refused. He therefore asks that "a sufficiency of the before mentioned property ... be sold to satisfy your Orator's demand, and be paid to him within a reasonable time."

PAR Number 21381001

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Columbia Location Type: District

Abstract: Laurence Rambo sues his sons, Daniel and Samuel, in order to recover the family business, land, and slaves. Intending to move to the "Western Country," the elder Rambo arranged his business affairs in the event that he might perish while in transit. Having given his bond to purchase five slaves from James Turnbull before the journey, he transferred title of these slaves, as well as five more, to his son Daniel. Not content upon his arrival in Georgia, Laurence returned to South Carolina. His creditors, including Turnbull, came calling, and Rambo attempted to regain his former business and property. He returned the slaves to Turnbull, recanted on the bill of sale, and worked out an arrangement whereby his old land would be leased to Daniel. His sons, once again involved in operating the family mill, however, "assumed a high hand" and took control of "the whole establishment," refusing to allow their father anything for his labor or the labor of his slaves. The family submitted the dispute to five court-appointed arbiters, who ordered the sons to pay their father $62.50 and a small yearly allowance. The petitioner objects to the arrangement and asks the court to order a settlement that restores all the property to his rightful ownership.

PAR Number 21381005

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: The children and heirs of John Blake ask the court to order their mother Margaret, administratrix of her late husband's estate, to sell real estate in order to discharge their father's debts. The petitioners report that "over and above the necessary attendants about the family, there are only forty Negroes." The debts amount to $50,000, the land is considerable, and the children think this approach would leave a "considerable Surplus" for their support and maintenance. Margaret refuses to comply "without the Sanction" of the court.

PAR Number 21381006

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William Wightman, the administrator of the late Benjamin Paul Williams, seeks the court's "interference & direction" in executing Williams's will. He states that Williams directed in his will that six of his slaves "be set free from all manner ... of slavery or servitude." His will also gave the "two wenches Catharina & Charlotte the sum of one hundred dollars each, to prepare their way in some measure to make an honest Livelihood;" the other four mulatto slaves, three of whom are minors, were to be provided for by Williams's close friend, Elias Ball, to whom he devised "my East Tenement" in Charleston, "the main end & chief purpose of this my gift to him the said Elias Ball Esqr. is as a means to protect & support the helpless slaves above mentioned." He reports that the "slaves are not yet emancipated according to the directions of the said Testator & therefore have applied to your Orator to comply with the will ... & also to pay unto them the Pecuniary Legacies which have been bequeathed to them." Wightman "cannot see any sound objection" to their emancipation; however, he conceives that payment of the legacies presents problems due to "the youth of some of them." Noting that Elias Ball died shortly after Williams, he is unsure as to how to proceed without injuring the rights of the parties or involving "himself in responsibility." He therefore prays that the court "may be pleased to make such Order & Directions" on the said questions "as to your Honors shall seem fit."

PAR Number 21381007

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William Loughton Smith seeks an injunction to prevent Adam Tunno and Charles John Steedman, the sheriff of Charleston, from proceeding under a judgment to sell his land. Smith explains that David Campbell mortgaged thirty-two slaves to him in 1792 to cover an $80,000-debt. Campbell also mortgaged the same slaves in 1796 to another creditor, James Fisher. In 1806 the court set aside the mortgage to Fisher. Smith then appealed to Adam Tunno, another of Campbell's creditors, to join him in pursuing legal action to liquidate Campbell's debt. The pair agreed on "an average participation of the rescued property." Tunno, however, remained silent about a prior judgment due him from Campbell, compromising the total amount that Smith could recover. At a sale of Campbell's property, Smith purchased two tracts of land as assignee for the benefit of the creditors. Tunno then won an execution against the lands. Smith now fears he will lose his entire claim to Campbell's estate and asks the court to prevent the seizure and sale of his land.

PAR Number 21381009

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: The children of the late Joseph Porcher ask that Thomas Wright Bacot, the administrator of their late father's estate, be permitted to sell "a large body of unproductive land" in order to discharge debts owed by the intestate. The petitioners represent that their father died in 1793, "leaving a considerable real & personal Estate, but incumbered with debts." They further purport that the debts "are now so considerable as to require an early sale of part of their said Father's Estate." Believing that "their Interests would be greatly injured by a Sale of the Negroes or other personal Estate," Porcher's children propose that a tract of land be sold instead "as soon as possible for the purpose of relieving the negroes from the aforesaid Incumbrances." Noting the administrator's refusal to proceed without the court's sanction, the petitioners pray that a tract of land "be forthwith sold, and the proceeds, as far as the same will go, applied to the discharge of the debts of the intestate."

PAR Number 21381010

State: South Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: John Miles Jr. asks for an injunction to prevent Mary Brawley from selling slaves that he claims belong to his wife, Susan Allison Brawley Miles. He contends that his wife inherited four slaves from her grandmother, Margaret Allison, and received by deed from her father, Thomas Brawley, an unspecified number. Mary Brawley, Thomas's widow and Margaret's daughter, qualified as executrix of Brawley's estate and took possession of the slaves "to the manifest Injury of your Orator." Mary Brawley returned "a part of them" as her late husband's estate and intends to sell them. Miles asks the court to issue an injunction to prevent Brawley from selling any of the slaves and to order that she return the slaves to him. He explains that Brawley had real estate "fully sufficient to pay his debts," and argues that, if the slaves are sold and the plantation retained, "it will be unproductive property."

PAR Number 21381203

State: South Carolina Year: 1812
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: William Johnson, guardian of Thomas Wurtz, seeks to sell land to which his ward is entitled. He asserts that his ward "is entitled to a small real estate ... situate on Johns Island ... by Virtue of the last Will and Testament of his Grandmother Ann Humphreys." He avers that her will ordered the land's sale after the death of her daughter Rebecca and a division of the proceeds among Rebecca's children. Johnson submits that Thomas "is supposed to be the only Person entitled now to take under the said Will" since his two brothers "have gone to Sea and not been heard of for five or Six Years." He notes that his ward "is also entitled by the Death of the Mother to a personal Property consisting of twelve Negros all of whom except four are so small as to be at present an Expense but who by the time his said Ward comes of Age will be valuable." He believes that the land "in itself is but of little Value, but from its Situation will command a good Price." Citing that "the Labour of the Negros will at present do little more than maintain themselves," the petitioner prays that he be authorized "to carry into Effect the Will of the said Ann Humphreys by selling the said Land and after paying the Debts ... to vest the Balance in Stock for the Interest of his Ward."

PAR Number 21381301

State: South Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Darlington Location Type: District

Abstract: William and Bright Williamson seek a division of property. The petitioners attest that they and the defendants possess a tract of land as "tenants in common" and "in like manner are possessed" of one slave, Ben. Of the belief that it is "very disadvantageous to your Orators to continue the enjoyment thereof in that manner," the Williamsons asked the defendants to divide the property and to give them the one-third share to which they are entitled. The defendants refused, so the Williamsons ask the court to order a partition of the land and slave, allotting them their one-third share to hold "in severalty."

PAR Number 21381302

State: South Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: Massy Paine, executrix of the estate of her late aunt, Dinah Johnston, a free woman of color, seeks permission to sell land in the estate. Johnston's will directed that her estate, which contained a plantation and two slaves, be equally divided between the petitioner and Johnston's nephew, Peter Paul Goings. Paine explains that Goings, "a Seaman," has been "absent from the City of Charleston for more than four years last past." The plantation has fallen into disrepair, with the buildings "decaying for want of repairs and some one to take care thereof." The slaves are "old and infirm and produce no benefit to your Oratrix as Executrix." She asks the court to make an order for sale and offers her bond with security that she will pay to Goings "the Moiety of the proceeds ... which may be Decreed to belong to the said Peter Paul Goings, or his Representatives." She also asks for a subpoena for Goings or for newspaper announcements telling Goings "and all concerned" with the estate to appear before the court.

PAR Number 21381507

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

Abstract: William and Margaret Wells Murray ask the court to set aside a written agreement between Margaret and Arthur Hughes and to compel Hughes to account more equitably with them for Margaret's portion of her parents' estates. Hughes became the third husband of Margaret's mother, Hannah, in 1794, thereby gaining possession of the property of Margaret's father, John Wells, and Hannah's second husband, William Elms. After Hannah died, Hughes "blended together under his own name, his own and your Oratrix's property," instead of properly administering the estate. Until 1811, Hughes managed upwards of 100 slaves in clearing "very extensive fields for the culture of cotton." When the Murrays were about to marry, Hughes delivered 36 slaves to the "unfriended and unprotected" Margaret and offered her a settlement bond of $7000, which "thro' her ignorance" she accepted. She and William now point out that under Hughes's custodianship, the plantation's rent and its slaves' hire total over $31,000. Having been "for sixteen years at the mercy of the Defendant's," Margaret asks for the court's intervention in securing her rightful inheritance.

PAR Number 21381607

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Washington Location Type: District

Abstract: Dempsey and Rosa Cothran sue Rosa's father, David Waters, for the title to a tract of land that was promised to them by Waters prior to marriage in February 1815. The couple's fathers each agreed to give them property amounting to $1500, in order to "encourage your orator & oratrix who were marrying young with a handsome beginning." The two men entered into arbitration to ensure that the gifts would be equal, and an impartial committee decided that Waters owed the couple an additional $50 in order to balance the gifts. The in-laws renegotiated the terms of their largess, which included three slaves between them, but the petitioners now complain that Waters has not delivered goods "near to the value in either quantity or quality of those furnished by" Dempsey's father, Samuel Cothran. The petitioners also report that, although David Waters has delivered the two slaves he promised to them, he "now pretends to claim the same." The Cothrans ask the court to enforce the original arrangement agreed to in arbitration.

PAR Number 21381610

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Charleston Location Type: District

Abstract: John S. Bennett petitions with his family to sell a house and lot that are currently held in trust for their benefit by his brother, Thomas Bennett. They represent that Thomas Bennett the Elder bequeathed said property, together with two slaves, to his son, Thomas Bennett, "for the support and benefit of my Son John S. Bennett and his wife jointly, during their lives." The petitioners purport that said house and lot have become "very unprofitable to your Orator and Oratrixes." They report that they have "frequently applied to the said Thomas Bennett, Trustee in the said will, to have the same sold and disposed of, and the proceeds thereof vested in the Stock of this State or that of the United States," but he "absolutely refuses to perform the said request ... unless by a decree of this Honorable Court." The petitioners therefore pray that "the said Thomas Bennett, by a Decree of this Honorable Court, may be compelled to sell and dispose of the said House and Lot, and to invest the proceeds thereof in the Stock of this State, or of the United States, for the benefit of your orator and oratrixes."

PAR Number 21381616

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Washington Location Type: District

Abstract: Rosannah Moore seeks a separation from James Moore, her husband of twenty-two years. Rosannah asserts that James has become "much addicted to the habits of intoxication," which leaves him "wholly unfit for the proper government and management of a family." He has also become violent towards her, causing her to take herself and the couple's minor children to the home of her brother, John McClelland, who acts as her next friend in this suit. She requests "some fixed and settled sum per annum in proportion to the value of his estate." She also seeks custody of their minor children and an order preventing James from selling the estate or leaving the jurisdiction of the court until the matter has been resolved. The petitioner notes that said estate includes a slave named Jack, who is "so old that he is worth not more than Twenty dollars."

PAR Number 21381618

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Washington Location Type: District

Abstract: James Saxon informs the court that William and Coleman McClure "Recovered a Judgment against your Orator" for $2003. In order to pay said debt, Saxon agreed to sell some of his land and a "family of Negroes" at public auction. Prior to the auction, William McClure and Saxon agreed that the said William "would purchase it ... himself or authorise some other person to do it for him and that the same should be afterwards resold at private Sale in as advantageous a manner as possible and that your Orator should have the benefit of the resale." Saxon reports that William McClure authorized Robert Creswell to purchase the property and "allow your Orator the benefits of a Resale;" however, due to his "embarrassed circumstances," Saxon asked Creswell to resell the land, with the profits applied to his said judgments. The petitioner charges that Creswell did sell said land but that "your Orator was not credited for one cent for the resale of the lands as was agreed." Saxon therefore prays that Creswell "may be Decreed to account and pay over to your Orator" the $287-profit from said sale.

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