Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10584301

State: Florida Year: 1843

Abstract: In 1808, John C. Mangham married Ann McKenzie in Glynn County, Georgia. His wife left him in 1827 "with the pretext" of suing for divorce and recovery "of certain property, then in the possession of your petitioner." Still married in 1831, Mangham gave his wife all his slaves by a deed of trust during her life, hoping this would resolve their difficulties. Shortly after receiving the slaves, however, Ann Mangham moved with the slaves to the Florida Territory to live with her daughter and son-in-law. Mangham wrote letters asking her to "return home," but she refused. He seeks a divorce.

PAR Number 11083010

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

Abstract: Forty-three Monroe County residents ask that Jasper A. McQuery be compensated for the upkeep and support of an abandoned, insane black girl who was brought to the county in February 1829 and left by an unknown person. The girl was "incapable of laboring for her support and is an object of the greatest pity." They also request the legislature "to make some permanent provision for like cases in the future."

PAR Number 11083101

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

Abstract: The petitioners ask that John Thompson be compensated for caring for a young female slave named Mary Ann. They state that Jasper McQuarey refused to care for the woman any longer and that John Thompson has agreed to assume the responsibility. Mary Ann is "a perfect ediot," they explain, and "the laws of humanity enjoin that she should not be permitted to perrish."

PAR Number 11280405

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

Abstract: Cassandra Alexander Houston seeks a divorce from her husband James Houston. The couple married 4 January 1803 and lived together until 28 November of the same year when Cassandra left him "owing (as she verily believes) to her Husbands imbecillity or impotency as a man in procreating his species." Depositions from the petitioner's relatives and others state that they suspected from observing him "make water" that James Houston was not a man like other men; that he had expressed anxiety that "he was not as complete as to genitals as other men;" and that he had on several occasions attempted to "ride" other men and "act with [other men] as man would with a Woman." Marshal Alexander, Cassandra's brother, stated in a deposition that he was once the object of such attempts and noticed at the time that Houston had no testicles. With the marriage unconsummated, the evidence suggesting that Houston "had not the genitals for propagation," and the Alexander's believing that Houston married solely to obtain property, Cassandra Alexander asks to retain her property and be granted a divorce.

PAR Number 11280504

State: North Carolina Year: 1805

Abstract: Sarah Johnston seeks a divorce from her husband John on the grounds of bigamy and abandonment. Sarah states that they were married for nine years until John left her “without assigning any cause for his Conduct or giving your petitioner any notice of his Intentions." She reports that she "set out to find" him and traced his whereabouts to various towns across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia until finally she learned that he "took Shipping for Ireland his native country." She charges that John "before his departure Squandered and made way with the principal part" of nine slaves of which she was possessed at the time of their marriage; when he abandoned her, there were only three slaves left and she "has Sold two of the slave to pay his Debts." She confides that "during the time they lived together" John told her "he had another wife of which your petitioner had no suspicion untill a short time before he went away." Sarah therefore prays that "the General Assembly would make void the Marriage Contract and grant to your petitioner a Divorce from the said John L D Johnston and also to secure to your petitioner all such property as she may now be in possession of for her relief she being Destitute of any support."

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 11280804

State: North Carolina Year: 1808
Location: Chatham Location Type: County

Abstract: Abandoned by her husband, who "went off to the Western Country," Milly Farrar confides that she and her infant child are "destitute of any Means of Support Other than she might procure by her labour." She laments that when John lay "aside all paternal affections, and the more engaging ties of a husband," he nonetheless retained the "four Negroes, which were given her by her Father." She therefore prays that "Such property as She may hereafter Acquire" be secured to her.

PAR Number 11280809

State: North Carolina Year: 1808
Location: Person Location Type: County

Abstract: Lucy Crockett charges that her husband William abandoned her shortly after their marriage and that "she was possessed of several valuable slaves and other property" that the said William "in a few months squandered and sold." Lucy further reveals that she was pregnant and poor when William left her "to wander about." Noting that her husband has been jailed "for the passing of Counterfeit Bank Notes," the petitioner prays that a law be passed to secure to her "all property which she may hereafter acquire free from the controul of said William Crockett" and that William "not be allowed to disturb or molest her property hereafter acquired, nor have any more controul over her or her property than if they had never been married."

PAR Number 11280811

State: North Carolina Year: 1808
Location: Anson Location Type: County

Abstract: Lucy Cook Self seeks to secure her right to a slave named Tisha. Before she went to the "western Country" with her husband in 1803, Self states that her father gave her "a Certain Negro wench Named tisha which sd wench was by virtue of the sd Deed of Gift to be my property at my fathers Decease which sd Negro Remains in my fathers possession." Lamenting that she lost her eyesight about 1806 and her husband "Departed from her & Left her in that Doleful Situation & Never Returned to Dwell with her any more," the petitioner prays that she be granted "some Releif by Securing to her the aforesaid Negro wench together with Such other property as She may hereafter acquire."

PAR Number 11280902

State: North Carolina Year: 1809
Location: Ashe Location Type: County

Abstract: Alexander Smith seeks a divorce from his wife Sarah Dickson Smith. He states that he married Sarah in 1784 and that they lived together for many years "in domestic peace and pleasure," raising a family of five girls. Smith confides, however, that Sarah "became base in her conduct" and in 1808 "she went off with a Mullatoe man nearly as Black as an Negro and has lived without the Bounds of this State with said man of mixt collur ever since." The petitioner prays that he be divorced from his wife Sarah and that she be forever prevented “in Law or in Equity to Claim any right Title or interest to any part of your Petitioner's Estate or property real or personal."

PAR Number 11280903

State: North Carolina Year: 1809

Abstract: Frances Murdin reveals that her husband David "fled & left in the most dependant and wretched situation your petitioner with three children without a morsel of support" and "took with him all the negroes about eight." She states that she and David married in 1798 and that "by a constant round of dissipation and extravagance he was embarrassed by debts." Murdin fears that "without your Legislative interposition this unfeeling monster will return from Georgia ... and again rob your petitioner of the scanty necessaries of life by her manual labour she has collected." She therefore prays that "your Honoble Body in tender consideration [will] be pleased to enact such a law as will secure to your Petitioner what little she at present possesses or may hereafter obtain by her own labour, by gift or Inheritance free from the debts or power of her Husband."

PAR Number 11281005

State: North Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Edgecombe Location Type: County

Abstract: Isaac Bracewell states that he married Nancy Low "some years ago" and that he enjoyed "that happiness and content, which he had anticipated." He reveals, however, that the said Nancy abandoned him "without just cause, or provocation" about 1803 and that she "has ever since lived, and continues to live in open and notorious Adultery, extending her favors, if such they can be called, to all, without distinction of color." The petitioner therefore prays that an act be passed "whereby he may be separated from the said Nancy."

PAR Number 11281006

State: North Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Duplin Location Type: County

Abstract: Barbara Wilkinson, the widow of Robert Dickinson, laments that her present husband, Dr. John Wilkinson, abandoned her and "left her destitute of almost every means of support, without Provisions, Scarcely a Bed to lie on, or cloaths to wear." Barbara recounts that she was, at the death of Dickinson, left in "Comfortable and oppulent Circumstances." She regrets, however, that she heeded the advice of her friends and married the said Wilkinson, who was "much Esteemed by those who were acquainted with him." Barbara confesses that "her felicity was of short duration" and that she discovered "she was not the object of his affection" and "found herself in many Respect treated more like his Servant than his wife." The petitioner therefore prays that the legislature "will devise and adapt such Means ... best Calculated to Secure her in future from being again Stripped of her all by the said John Wilkinson."

PAR Number 11281010

State: North Carolina Year: 1810
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Young Utley seeks a divorce from his wife Mary Woodward Utley, whom he married "about three years ago." Utley reveals that "some time after intermarriage the said Mary was delivered of a black child." He further reports that she is currently living in Tennessee where "she cohabits with a man of Colour, (the supposed author of her shame) in the character of a wife." At twenty-five, Utley considers himself to have "sustained an upright character" but he "is now oppressed with a burthen which none but a sufferer can feel." The petitioner therefore prays that "your Honorable body will pass a law divorcing him from his said wife."

PAR Number 11281202

State: North Carolina Year: 1812
Location: Perquimans Location Type: County

Abstract: Rhoda Wynns states that she was left "in affluent circumstances, possessed of Lands, Houses, Negroes, and Stock" upon the death of her husband eight years ago. She laments, however, that four years ago she married a certain Benjamin Wynns, whose "deceptive tongue induced your petitioner to believe she had married a Gentleman and a man of fortune." Rhoda reveals that her husband has beaten her so much that she "was obliged to bind him to the peace to protect my life from his cruel hands." Noting that said Benjamin has disposed of or sold her property and has "returned to the County from whence he came," Rhoda prays that she be granted "such relief in the premises as will enable her to possess quietly such property as she may obtain by donation, industry, or otherwise." Affidavits disclose that Rhoda took refuge "at a Negro man's house by the name of Dick" when she fled from her husband's assaults.

PAR Number 11281302

State: North Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Camden Location Type: County

Abstract: Sarah Bell, a widow "far advanced in years and mother of Ten Children," seeks a divorce from Samuel Bell. Sarah states that, at the time of her marriage to Samuel, "she was possessed of a handsome property in Lands, negroes, Stock &c" and that she "had experienced a life of ease and affluence in the life time of her former husband." The petitioner confesses, however, that the said Samuel has "not only wasted her personal property by selling her negroes Stock &c but treated her person in a very harsh unmanly and Cruel manner, descending to Blows with Cruel and Barbarous Weapons on the Body of your Orator." Having taken refuge at the house of her married daughter, Sarah prays that a law be passed to divorce her from the said Samuel.

PAR Number 11281303

State: North Carolina Year: 1813
Location: Gates Location Type: County

Abstract: James Hoffler admits that his "Situation in Life is disagreeable." He reveals that he married his wife Deborah Duttons in September 1802 and that three months later she "deserted my bed and board without Cause on the part of your petitioner." Hoffler reports that his wife give birth to a child while at her father's house and then she "did take up with a man by the name of John Lowance, a person of Collow, by whom she the said Deborah had a child"; Lowance left her and Deborah moved to Charleston, South Carolina. He further discloses that the legislature favored him a few years ago "by passing a Law divesting her the Said Deborah of all right of Dower in my property." Hoffler now prays that a law be passed "Divorcing him ... from the said Deborah."

PAR Number 11281401

State: North Carolina Year: 1814
Location: Gates Location Type: County

Abstract: Love Brady laments that her husband Mills "did beat and Iltreat" her and that he "Spent and Wasted the whole of the property," which included "Negroes and other things" that she owned prior to her marriage. The petitioner further confides that her husband has abandoned her "without any thing to Subsist on, other than the Charity of Friends and took up with a Certain Selah Eure with whom he lives." She therefore prays that a law be passed "Vesting any property in your Memorialist that She may hereafter acquire by Industry, Gift ... or otherwise and barring Said Brady from any Claim on property so acquired by your Memorialist."

PAR Number 11281601

State: North Carolina Year: 1816
Location: New Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Harriet Laspeyre seeks a separation from her husband Bernard, "late of the Island Hispaniola." Laspeyre laments that she "discovered to her infinite mortification that her property trifling as it was had been the primary object of his warmest affection." She further confesses that she "was too soon made sensible of his fixed determination to compell her by every diabolical scheme & the brutality of his manners and the malignity of his heart could devise to a surrender of every thing she held in her own right." In addition, she confides that she "was at length stripped of the right that every woman claims" as she was "divested of her keys," thereby "deprived of the authority of a mistress, her negroes forbidden to obey her orders under penalty of the severest punishment." Laspeyre charges that "the profits arising from the labor of her Slaves, which ought to have been appropriated, to the support and education of her children, she had the extreme vexation to see wantonly lavished on his black and mulatto mistresses." Having left her house under a serious apprehension "of an attempt upon her life," the petitioner therefore prays "your Honourable body in tender consideration of her wretched and desolate condition, to pass an act to separate her from her said husband and to secure to her the residue of her little property and what she may hereafter acquire."

PAR Number 11281703

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

Abstract: Bernard Laspeyre asks that an act passed in favor of his wife Harriet be repealed. Bernard contends that the charges contained in "that obscene Instrument" constitute "a Virulent and Infamous Libel, under the name of a Petition" and that Harriet's petition "cannot be the production of that fallen Angel, once the ornament of her Sex"; said petition accused Bernard of committing adultery with her slaves and marrying her solely for her property. He further asserts that Harriet abandoned him "in a fit of Jealousy" and that he urged "her by the tenderest terms and manner to return to your Memorialist house and family"; instead, he complains that she inveigled "from his Service all his negroes which by a Marriage Settlement are under his Sole controll." The petitioner therefore prays that "you will be pleased to Repeal the act passed Last session in favour of his Wife, as being Ruinous to your Memorialist and family and being Subversive of the most Sacred Institutions of Society." If not checked, Bernard believes that "before long the tables of Both houses [will be] covered with Petitions from Jealous and discontented Wifes, who are now on the tiptoe of expectation to see the issue of this petition."

PAR Number 11281705

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

Abstract: Mary Hassell laments that her husband Benjamin "has betaken to himself as a wife & companion a negro woman, the slave & lawful property of your petitioner." Hassell admits that she has removed herself from her husband, "who is looked upon as disgraceful ... by every upright & virtuous member of civil society," in order "to relieve herself from the odious embraces of a man so entirely destitute of all the finer feelings of sensibilities." Seeking to secure to herself "the remnant of property yet remaining" and to protect any future acquisitions "from the cruel & rapacious grasp of the monster," the petitioner implores the legislature to pass an act protecting the property still “in her possession, & all that she may ever hereafter acquire, either by her own industry or inheritance."

PAR Number 11282302

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

Abstract: Jane Welborn informs the General Assembly that she married her husband John in 1776 and remained with him until 1793 when she "was compelled to separate herself" from him due to his intolerable "abusive treatment and dissipated habits." Welborn relates that "her said Husband since the time of their separation has been stroling about the Country without being of much benefit to himself of any person else." The petitioner reveals that she inherited a life interest in five slaves from her stepfather William Bell but she laments that "the lifetime right in said slaves has been sold to satisfy said Husband's debts." Welborn therefore prays that a law be passed "securing to her such estate as she may hereafter acquire by gift descent or her own industry."

PAR Number 11282402

State: North Carolina Year: 1824
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: John D. Barber discloses that, after three years of marriage, his wife Mary "left his house without cause and entered into the most abandoned scenes of prostitution with black and white." Barber further reveals that said Mary "has contracted a long time since a most hateful disease" and that "she is a most uncommon drunkard and thief." The petitioner therefore prays "that the Legislature will pass a law to dissolve the bonds of matrimony between him and the said Mary Barber." Attached affidavits charge that the said Mary "is considered to be and looked upon as one of the basest prostitutes in the human family" and that she is "entirely unfit for civilized Society."

PAR Number 11282403

State: North Carolina Year: 1824
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: Lewis Tombereau, a native of France, laments that he married a young woman named Nancy Jolly, "to whom he was determined to stick as close as wax." Tombereau confesses, however, that by his said marriage "he linked his fortune with and intrusted his happiness to one of the most frail, lewd, and depraved, daughters of Eve." The petitioner charges that said Nancy "forsoke both his board, and bed, to cohabit with a certain mulatto Barber named Roland Colanche." Tombereau, "with the most pungent and heart felt sorrow," reports that Nancy "has had a coloured child, and became, and continues to be, a public and notorious prostitute in the most unlimited sense of that word. She indulging in an unreserved, and promiscuous intercourse with men of every colour, age, class, and description she meets, sufficiently dissolute, licentious, and sensual, to gratify their passion, and her lust, and desire of variety." The petitioner therefore prays that he be released "from the unhallowed bonds he in an evil hour entered into."

PAR Number 11282708

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

Abstract: Ann Borden asks that the divorce petition soon to be filed by her husband Jesse be rejected. She relates that she left Jesse four months after their marriage because of "ill treatment" and "many desperate threats made by said Borden against her life." She also admits that a month before her marriage she "had the misfortune to have a child born of which Jesse Borden was not the father"; Ann argues, however, that she never tried to conceal the fact that the child was not his and that he never voiced any qualms about rearing another man's child. The petitioner further asserts that attempting to pass the child off as his "would have been unavailing as the child would unavoidably have shown for itself." Ann therefore prays "that the Legislature of North Carolina will preserve inviolate the ties of matrimony that exist between your Petitioner and Jesse Borden." A summary of Jesse's petition reveals that he thought the child was his because "previous to his marriage he had been in habits of illicit intercourse with her during which time she became pregnant"; that Jesse "did believe in the early infancy of the child that it was his and being desirous of making her what reperation was in his power for the loss of her virtue he intermarried with her immediately after the birth of the child"; and that he exclaimed "to his mortification and astonishment" said infant "to be a mulatto child the fruits of [a] negro."

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