Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11681121

State: Virginia Year: 1811
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: John Osborne informs the court that, a few years prior to the filing of his petition, he purchased a slave named James Butler of Prince George County, for one hundred eighty pounds, from Captain Richard Williams. As part of the sale contract, Osborn agreed to allow James Butler to purchase himself "from the proceeds of his own labor and exertions" and "to emancipate him if required so to do." Though born a slave, Osborne says, James possesses the "honor and integrity of a freeman;" he has earned "the affection of his owners and the goodwill and esteem of all the people to whom he was known." James, who is "waxing old in years, has "faithfully and honorably paid the last farthing of the sum which was to entitle him to emancipation." However, the petitioner explains, if he frees James the latter will be forced by the "law this time in operation" to leave the state and his family. Osborne therefore asks an exception to the law and that James be freed, and permitted to remain in Virginia with his wife and children "to enjoy his freedom in his latter days."

PAR Number 11681213

State: Virginia Year: 1812

Abstract: Elly, a free woman of color, represents that she "has been married many years to and has several children by a slave by the name of Nelson." She further recounts that "the father of the said Nelson who is a white person has been lately enabled to purchase him with design to have emancipated him." Elly declares that her husband refuses to be freed if it means "eternal seperation from his family." Noting that Nelson's father "has had the conveyance for him made to your petitioner and her children," Elly prays that she be allowed to free her husband and that he be permitted to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11681302

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: Hampshire Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1804, Joseph Hill promised to free his slave James if James worked for Archibald Linthicum for five years, for which Linthicum agreed to pay Hill one hundred pounds Virginia currency. At the end of the five years, Hill reneged and demanded more money from Linthicum, to which demand Linthicum complied and paid Hill an additional one hundred dollars. After it was paid, James became the property of Linthicum who signed his deed of emancipation. Now a free man, James asks for the legislature to pass an act giving him permission to "remain in the neighborhood where" he has "long lived" without incuring any fines of penalties other than such as are incurred by other free persons of colour who are permitted to remain within the Commonwealth."

PAR Number 11681408

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Philip Hembro Gallego, a free person of color, asks to remain in Virginia to provide "the fostering care and attention ... and the comfort and affection" to his parents, who are "now growing old." He states that Joseph Gallego freed his parents, Hembro and Dilsey Gallego, many years ago and that they purchased and emancipated him in hopes that he might "inherit, possess and enjoy at their death all the property which they now hold or may hereafter acquire." Noting that he is a mechanic, Gallego prays that a law be passed "authorising your Petitioner to remain in the state of Virginia."

PAR Number 11681412

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: In her 1810 will, free woman of color named Patsey Jackson bequeathed a house and lot in Richmond to Richard North, a white man. She instructed North to purchase a slave named Henry and allow Henry to purchase his freedom. She also asked that North give Henry a "part of the property devised" to him. After Jackson's death, one of the witnesses to the will, William J. Dunn, said he would not "prove" the will unless he received one-half of the property. "This proposition being too monstrous to be listened to for a moment," North asserts, he "instantly left" Dunn and "determined to coerce his attendance" in court. But Dunn continued to refuse proving the will under various reasons. North asks the legislature to intervene. If nothing is done, he says, the property will escheat to the state, as Jackson had no free relatives.

PAR Number 11681416

State: Virginia Year: 1814
Location: Amherst Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-seven-year-old free black John Charleston purchased himself a number of years ago for 110 pounds. He has now been able to also purchase his wife, Ursley, and two children, Asberry and Caroline. He asks for the freedom of Ursley and the children; he requests that they be permitted to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11681507

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

Abstract: About 1797, Maryland slaveholder Robert Whiteford transported the slave Fanny to Fauquier County, Virginia, and some ten years later his heirs sold Fanny to Thomas Chapel. Her new owner, however, discovered by searching the court house records, that she had not been registered upon entry into the state of Virginia, as required by law; he therefore gave his title to Fanny back to her previous owners. Chapel, however, retained Fanny's services by hiring her from the Whiteford family; while working for Thomas Chapel, Fanny cohabited with one of Chapel's slaves and lived with him as his wife. When Fanny's owners were getting ready to leave the state and separate Fanny from her husband, some two years prior to the filing of the petition, Chapel encouraged her to raise money by subscription toward the purchase of her freedom; and he contributed "a considerable sum for that purpose." By this means, the petitioners say, "Fanny has raised money sufficient to procure a transfer of herself" and her infant daughter, Ellen, to Thomas Chapel, who again has become her owner and that of her daughter. Chapel is now desirous to free Fanny, Ellen, and a younger daughter born since the transfer. The petitioners ask that Fanny and her children be emancipated. They further add that "they conceive that Justice and Humanity require this at your hands, and that no Plea of expediency can with propriety be urged against it. They trust it will never be said that the Legislature of Virginia of the State which boasts as her Son, the Man who assisted by a band of Patriots united with him in the cause of freedom, achieved the Independence of our Beloved Country—that the Legislature of this State have suffered a legal obstruction to be interposed to the performance of an act so obviously required by the best of motives, but that the 'wisdom which cometh from above' and is profitable to direct in all things will be vouchsafed to guide your deliberations."

PAR Number 11681518

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

Abstract: Living some twenty-five or thirty miles away from his wife, the slave Will, owned by Bowling Clark of Campbell County, asks Dr. Samuel K. Jennings to purchase his slave wife Mourning, who belongs to a man in Amherst County. Will had saved the purchase money himself, and Jennings believes it is admirable that the black man seeks to purchase his wife rather than buying himself. Mourning is "a woman of fair & honest Character remarkable for her Industry & the correctness of her Conduct." She and Will have lived together as man and wife for more than twenty years. Samuel Jennings asks that Mourning be freed and allowed to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11681802

State: Virginia Year: 1818
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: In his will, free black Lewis Turner, deceased, emancipated his wife Aggie, whom he had purchased from Henry Chappell. Knowing that freed slaves, unless liberated for some meritorious act, were required to leave Virginia within twelve months, Turner instructs his executor to petition the General Assembly for an act permitting her to remain in Virginia. She is about forty-five or fifty years old, and had served her master faithfully until purchased by her husband.

PAR Number 11681804

State: Virginia Year: 1818
Location: New Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: In his last will and testament, Thomas Moody directed that his slave Laury be placed with a person to learn "the art of weaving," and that, when she reached the age of twenty-one, she should be emancipated and allowed to remain in Virginia. Accordingly, the will's executor, Samuel Keiningham, seeks to fulfill Moody's wishes. According to Keiningham, "the strongest of all human Ties, induced his testator first to purchase and Then to Give her freedom," suggesting that Moody may have been Laury's father.

PAR Number 11681901

State: Virginia Year: 1819
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: In May 1806, free black barber Caesar Hope, who cut hair in Williamsburg when it was the seat of government, and later in Richmond when it became the capital, wrote a will providing for the purchase and emancipation of his slave children, one of whom is the petitioner, Judith Hope, and the other a boy since deceased. Following Caesar Hope's death, Judith was purchased by her mother who executed a deed of emancipation in accordance with her husband's will. However, in 1807, shortly after Caesar Hope had made his will, a law was passed requiring freed slaves leave the state after acquiring freedom; more recently, in 1816, the law has been relaxed, but it still restricts to slaves emancipated for "extraordinary merit" the privilege of remaining in the state. Judith realizes that she cannot make such a claim, and "the longest life of utility and quiet good conduct," such as hers, can only be "rewarded with banishment for all that can bind a sentient and rational creature to life." She cannot resign herself to such a fate and to severing "every connection and every habit and partiality of her life." As dear as freedom is she could not accept it "above all price." She prays that "by the indulgence of the honorable the Legislature" to be "permitted to live and enjoy the blessings of freedom within the Commonwealth of Virginia." A related document reveals that the name of Judith's mother was Tener Hope.

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 11682608

State: Virginia Year: 1826
Location: Pocahontas Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Hill, the nephew of the late Abraham McNeal, asks that a slave named Humphrey, previously owned by McNeal, be freed. Hill explains that it was McNeal's intention to free Humphrey, a man of "moral and virtuous conduct", of "unceasing care" for his owner, and with great "attention toward business"; however McNeal died before he could put his intentions into effect. Hill therefore purchased Humphrey from his uncle's estate for the purpose of setting him free. He asks the legislature authorizing Humphrey, after he has been set free, to remain "within the Circle of the relatives of his deceased master."

PAR Number 11683309

State: Virginia Year: 1833
Location: Stafford Location Type: County

Abstract: Free man of color Henry Lewis is a "mechanick" who seeks permission to remain in Virginia for another eighteen months. Lewis explains that his father, Daniel Lewis, was a free man of color who had been allowed under the laws then in existence in Virginia to remain in Virginia and who had married a slave. Henry was born while his mother was still a slave. Daniel Lewis was eventually able to free his wife and, some time later, all his children, including Henry. All emancipations took place after the year 1806, when the residency law concerning emancipated slaves had become more restrictive. After their emancipation, most of Henry's siblings left the state. Henry, however, continued to live in Virginia where he has earned the reputation as being "one of the most orderly, correct, and industrious colored persons in the County," and he has thus been able to "accumulate a small sum of money." But, as the sum was insufficient to purchase the "lovely female of his own Color" with whom he had fallen in love and married, and who "happened to be a slave," he borrowed money from local "gentleman" for that purpose. He purchased his wife, and then "liberated and legally married her," as well as the two children born of their union. The debt for the purchase, however, remains, unpaid. Lewis contends that with another eighteen months of "his greatest industry and oeconomy" he will be able to pay off the debt at which time he and his family will leave the state "in conformity with the existing laws."

PAR Number 11683408

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

Abstract: One hundred Rockbridge County residents support Scipio Lucas in his effort to remain in Virginia. They explain that, while they support the general provisions of the law requiring proof of "extraordinary merit" for emancipated slaves wishing to remain in the state, they hope an exception will be granted in Scipio Lucas's case. Lucas is about fifty years old, an able mechanic, and married; the couple has never had any children. He has purchased his wife, Peggy, out of slavery and freed her. His former owner, Reverend John D. Ewing, as well as many others, could "scarcely speak too highly of [his] integrity and Moral Character."

PAR Number 11683414

State: Virginia Year: 1834
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Sally Dabney informs the legislature that she was purchased by her husband, Cambridge Dabney, in 1818 and remained his property until his death in 1826. Her husband, Cambridge Dabney, had always intended to free her at his death, she contends, but he "held her in slavery during his life to prevent the separation which would have been the necessary consequence of her emancipation." There is no better proof of his intention to free her, she contends, than the fact that he left his property to her; a slave cannot own property, she points out. Nevertheless since Cambridge never officially emancipated his wife, she now finds herself in the peculiar circumstance of being a slave without an owner. She asks for an act granting her freedom and allowing her to remain in Virginia. She and Dabney had no children and, although she is now remarried, she thinks it unlikely that she will ever have any.

PAR Number 11683616

State: Virginia Year: 1836
Location: Norfolk Location Type: County

Abstract: Born a slave in 1776, Rachel Collins was promised her freedom, but when her owner died "Embarrassed in his Pecuniary Circumstances," she was sold to Capt. Robert Steed "with a view and wish that she might be permitted to purchase her own Freedom." Collins confirms that she "repaid Capt Steed the purchase money he had given her" and that "she was Liberated by the said Capt Steed as per his Deed of Emancipation." The petitioner reports that, during the War of 1812, she cooked for militia troops defending Norfolk and found accommodations for many soldiers. Averring that she "has always paid her Taxes regularly and has uniformly Borne a good & Reputable Character," Collins "expected to End her few remaining days" in Virginia "amongst her Friends & associates." She now, however, laments that "she has been ordered to leave the state of Virginia." The petitioner therefore prays "that your Honorable Body would pass a Law to authorise her to Spend the ... Remainder of her Days in the Commonwealth among those who have known her in her days of usefulness and that she may not be driven away in her Helplessness to Beg her Bread amongst strangers."

PAR Number 11684703

State: Virginia Year: 1847
Location: Richmond Location Type: City

Abstract: Oscar Taliaferro explains that, a number of years ago, he was able to accumulate $400 toward the purchase of his freedom. The money was entrusted with his then owner, James Blakey, "to keep for him." But before Blakey could execute a deed of emancipation in favor of Oscar, he "became so embarrassed" with debts that Oscar became "in danger not only of losing" his money, as he did, but of being sold to someone else and "separated from his wife a slave in Richmond." Consequently, with Blakey's permission, he convinced Richmond resident George Taylor to purchase him and to allow him to return the purchase money in installments of "from one to fifty dollars." By 1842, Oscar had reimbursed Taylor and the latter has since that time been "willing & anxious" to "execute the promised deed of manumission." However, Oscar, reluctant to leave his slave wife behind if forced to emigrate as the law requires of emancipated slaves, he continued accumulating funds with the object of purchasing and freeing her. As he was close to "accomplishing the object" of his efforts, he was struck down by illness and forced to use his savings for medical care. He no longer has the money to purchase his wife's freedom. He therefore seeks the "interposition" of the legislature to grant him permission to remain in the state if emancipated, so as to allow him to "enjoy the freedom he has so long struggled from, & the society of the being he cannot abandon."

PAR Number 20185529

State: Alabama Year: 1855
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: In 1848, Dr. Pleasant Kittrell sold to Stith Evans a thirty-five-year-old blacksmith named Carney for $1,250. The condition of sale was that once Carney had earned enough to pay back his purchase price, plus ten percent interest, he would "have and enjoy his freedom." Over the next several years Carney paid his owner more than two thousand dollars. In 1854, Evans mortgaged the slave to Samuel Cowen, who knew about the original sale contract, for $2,500. Now a resident of Texas, Kittrell asks the court to force Evans "to execute and perform all the duties and obligations and undertakings in his said Contract, and the freedom of the said Carney in order that he may remove the said Carney free from all claim and right of property forever beyond the limits of the State of Alabama."

PAR Number 20185817

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Dallas Location Type: County

Abstract: A. Saltmarsh, executor of the estate of William R. King, deceased, explains that in his will King bequeathed funds to purchase the slave Asher and provide him with a legacy of five hundred dollars upon his leaving the state. Asher's owner, however, refused to sell him during her lifetime. She did, however, accede to Archer's request to learn the carpenter's trade. "This trade is believed to be of much greater value to him than his legacy," the executor argues, "and besides it is understood that he has no wish to leave this section of the country his mother & kinsfolks being here." Saltmarsh asks that "the value & benefit" of his becoming a carpenter be substituted for the five hundred dollar legacy and that the court accept the substitution as being "consistent with justice & the facts of the case."

PAR Number 20185852

State: Alabama Year: 1858
Location: Greene Location Type: County

Abstract: Pleasant Kittrell seeks the enforcement of a court order that directed Stith Evans to remove his slave named Carney to a non-slaveholding state and emancipate him. In a related 1855 petition, Kittrell informed the court that, in 1848, he sold Stith to Evans a thirty-five year-old slave, a blacksmith, named Carney for $1,250 on the condition that once the slave earned enough to pay back his purchase price, plus ten percent interest, he would "have and enjoy his freedom." Over the next several years Carney paid his owner more than three thousand dollars. In 1854, Evans mortgaged the slave to Samuel Cowen, who knew about the original sale's contract, for $2,500. A resident of Texas, Kittrell continued to press Evans "to execute and perform all the duties and obligations and undertakings in his said Contract." In 1857, he obtained a court order requiring Evans to take Carney "to some non-slaveholding state or country." Now, he asks for an order appointing a commissioner to "take charge of said slave and carry out and execute the said decree; and also to restrain the said Evans from interferring with the said slave."

PAR Number 20381105

State: Delaware Year: 1811
Location: Kent Location Type: County

Abstract: Petitioning by his father Peter Hammond, Robert, an "Infant," explains that his father purchased him for "a certain Sum of Money" and afterwards "manumited your Said Petitioner in due Form of Law." Now, however, William Hazzard "claims and detains" him as a slave. Robert asks the court to summon Hazzard so that he can prove "that the Said William Hazzard has no Right or Title to claim, hold or detain him as his Slave."

PAR Number 20483101

State: District of Columbia Year: 1831
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: William Williams, a free man of color, seeks to resolve an ownership dispute and asks for an injunction against Thomas Duvall to prevent him from selling Williams's wife and child out of the District of Columbia. Williams had hired himself out to Duvall for eight or nine years and requested that the payment for his services be used to purchase his wife and child, then owned by Thomas Berry. Duvall paid the purchase price for Williams's wife and child and obtained the slaves, along with a bill of sale, which he later used as his claim of ownership. Williams claims that his wife and child have been "in his possession & maintained without any expence to said Duvall," but now Duvall them and placed them in jail with the purpose of selling them to slave traders. Williams's wife escaped, but his two-year-old child is still missing. Williams asks for an injunction to prevent Duvall from selling or removing his wife and child. He also asks the court to cancel the bill of sale.

PAR Number 20484502

State: District of Columbia Year: 1845
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Austin Tripplet, a person of color, states that in April 1845, Henry Lloyd sold him to Elizabeth Tripplet, a free woman of color, and Tripplet's wife, for $160 payable in monthly installments of $5. In October 1845, Elizabeth Tripplet executed a deed of manumission for Austin Tripplet "in consideration of the love & affection she had" for him. Despite the fact that Elizabeth Tripplet has consistently met her payments, the petitioner states that Lloyd has had him arrested and jailed. Austin Tripplet believes that Lloyd is planning to sell him as a slave for life. He states that he has a petition for his freedom pending in the courts and seeks an injunction to prevent Lloyd from selling him beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20584509

State: Florida Year: 1845
Location: Leon Location Type: County

Abstract: Dolly Moore, a free woman of color, by her next friend James T. Archer, petitions for possession of her daughter, Sally Robinson. Moore and Robinson were once owned by William Madison of Virginia. Moore purchased her freedom, but Robinson was sold to Henry Washington of Florida. He offered to let her buy her freedom, but when he filed for bankruptcy, she was sold to Albert Nims and Albert Bestwick, merchants operating as Nims & Bestwick. Moore and Robinson lost the money they had paid to Washington for Robinson's freedom, but Nims & Bestwick agreed to deliver Robinson to her mother. In exchange, Moore agreed to pay the merchants $250 as soon as possible and Robinson agreed to do Nims's washing, to cover the interest. Now Nims & Bestwick has been dissolved, and Robinson transferred to Nims in the settlement. Moore complains that she has paid him $150 for her daughter, but that Nims refuses to acknowledge the payments or issue receipts. She says that he rejected the final $100 payment and now threatens to sell Robinson in New Orleans; as a result, Sally Robinson has run away. Moore prays that Robinson will be "decreed to be the property of this complainant upon the payment of the balance due in said purchase." Moore further prays that the defendants will be "enjoined inhibited and restrained from taking possession of, illtreating, molesting, removing, carrying away, abducting, seizing, selling, interfering with, or otherwise intermeddling with said Sally Robinson."

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