Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11680909

State: Virginia Year: 1809
Location: Loudon Location Type: County

Abstract: William L. Lewis seeks permission to bring into Virginia four slaves that had belonged to his new wife, the former "Miss An Dunnington" of Maryland. Lewis had filed a petition one year earlier in December 1808 with the same prayer. In that petition, he had assured the legislature that he would use the slaves himself and did not wish "to part with them on any terms whatever."

PAR Number 11680912

State: Virginia Year: 1809
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: John Talbot of Jefferson Count, Virginia, informs the court that he is "entitled by Marriage" to two slaves, a mother and daughter, who are currently part of the estate of his mother-in-law, Jane Gettings of Maryland. Gettings is not willing to sell the slaves, but she is prepared to let her son-in-law take possession of them. Talbot therefore seeks permission from the legislature to bring the two slaves into Virginia.

PAR Number 11681102

State: Virginia Year: 1811
Location: Washington Location Type: County

Abstract: Elizabeth Brackenridge's mother died in childbirth, and she was left in Virginia to be raised by her grandmother when her father moved to Kentucky. Since there was at the time of his leaving Virginia no law preventing the importation of slaves into the state, Elizabeth's father took all his slaves with him, even as it was always his intention to send one of his female slaves to his daughter, at a future date, as an advancement on her inheritance. Elizabeth's father has now acted upon his intention and Elizabeth has now been given a slave named Matilda, whom she is "extremely anxious to be permitted to bring into the Commonwealth."

PAR Number 11681127

State: Virginia Year: 1811
Location: Dinwiddie Location Type: County

Abstract: Prior to his trial, conviction, and execution for murder, a slave named Will or William had instituted a suit in "forma pauperis" against his owner, Salley Pegram, "for the recovery of his freedom." The murder case was therefore remanded by the Dinwiddie County Court to the Superior Court where Will was tried as a free man. Pegram claims that, as part of the court decree, Will's value was assessed at $500. However, when Pegram applied to the auditor for compensation on the loss of her slave, the auditor consulted with the Attorney General who decreed that slaves suing for their freedom could not be tried and convicted as slaves; therefore the assessment of Will as a slave was inappropriate and compensation was refused. Pegram claims that, at the time of his death, Will was still her slave and she should therefore be compensated in the amount that Will was assessed.

PAR Number 11681303

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: King George Location Type: County

Abstract: In her will, Mary Matthews freed her slaves and directed her executor to take them to some place where they would "enjoy their freedom." One of the freed slaves, Lucinda, refused to leave, explaining that her husband lived in King George County, and nothing could make her leave him, not even her freedom. A year passed, and now fearful of being sold by the overseers of the poor, she asks to return to slavery as the servant of her husband's owner, Captain William H. Hooe.

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 11681419

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

Abstract: On 3 December 1812, Ellen Shields married Robert Dunlap, turning over to her husband two slaves--Milley and Hudson--and other property. It was not long before she was forced to leave, discovering that her husband was "criminally unlawfully and carnally Intamate with and [did] keep her the Said Negroe Milley" from the first day of their marriage. She seeks a divorce.

PAR Number 11681522

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

Abstract: Mary Thomas represents that she has received two slaves--Easter and Mark--by deed of gift from a North Carolina woman named Joanna Person, a relative of her late husband. Both slaves were born in North Carolina and when Mary Thomas moved to Virginia forty or fifty days prior to the filing of her petition, she brought the slaves with her, never intending or designing to sell them in violation of the law. She is "poor and needy," as well as "a widow aged and infirm." She asks to keep the slaves for her own use.

PAR Number 11681607

State: Virginia Year: 1816
Location: Frederick Location Type: County

Abstract: Emancipated by a deed from the late Jane Graham of Frederick County, free black James Beeseck applied twice to the county court for permission to remain in the state. His case, however, was never taken up. Now he "is advised that it is doubtfull if he could even obtain a hearing of his case." His case is "particularly distressing" because he would be forced to leave his wife and children. He seeks legislative intervention.

PAR Number 11681612

State: Virginia Year: 1816
Location: Charles City

Abstract: Ann H. Lee, petitioning for herself and on behalf of her four minor children, and Bernard M. Carter, trustee, petition the legislature to obtain permission to sell the slaves in the trust estate held by Ann and her children. Ann H. Lee informs the court that she considers slaves "a specie of property extremely inconvenient and disagreeable," because, as a town resident, she does not "possess any farm, whereon such property is usually employed." She finds the ownership of slaves "absolutely precarious, on account of the facility of their Elopement" and the "hiring of said slaves is productive of very disagreable circumstances." Furthermore, the females have not proved to be productive and the males, representing "one half of the whole" are bound to diminish in value in proportion as they advance towards that period when" her children "may reasonably expect to come to" their possession. The trust estate was created by the last will and testament of Ann's sister, Mildred W. Carter. Mildred had inherited the slaves from their father, Charles Carter, Esquire.

PAR Number 11681703

State: Virginia Year: 1817
Location: Hanover Location Type: County

Abstract: Mary Austin petitions the legislature to authorize her to free her slave Amanda when the latter reaches the age of eighteen or before, should she die before Amanda reaches that age. Mary Austin explains that as an infant Amanda had her mother "taken from her" and was gravely ill for a long time. Mary nursed her back to health, and consequently formed, "perhaps unfortunately, a strong, and from its continuance, it seems, a lasting attachment for her." It would be "most abhorrent and distressing," Mary informs the legislature, if Amanda were to remain a slave. The language of the petition makes it unclear whether Amanda's mother was sold away from her or died.

PAR Number 11681710

State: Virginia Year: 1817
Location: Prince William Location Type: County

Abstract: Margaret Adie's "very Valuable young Negro Man named Joe" was jailed in December 1816, in Stafford County, charged with an "Alleged offence." A short time before his scheduled trial, Joe escaped. Adie offered a fifty dollar reward, which she advertised in newspapers "as long as there was the most remote probability of recovering him." She is "now fully persuaded" that Joe has left the state of Virginia and "is perhaps residing, secure from the most eager or vigilant pursuit, in Philadelphia, New York or Boston." As she considered her slave "surrendered to the office of the court, to be kept until he was dealt with according to Law," she believes she is entitled to "adequate compensation."

PAR Number 11682003

State: Virginia Year: 1820
Location: Pittsylvania Location Type: County

Abstract: On 26 December 1819, Pleasant Waller's slave Abraham was murdered by a slave named Primus, belonging to Ayres Hodnett. Tried and convicted, Primus was sentenced to death, but "the Executive of this Commonwealth" commuted the sentence to transportation and sale beyond the limits of the United States. Waller complains that although Hodnett, the owner of the murderer, was compensated--Primus was sold at a fair price—he, the owner of the victim, who was an innocent observer, remains uncompensated. He seeks reimbursement. Several related documents contain the testimonies of slaves, belonging to different owners, who recount the fight between Abraham and Primus that led to Abraham's death. The fight occurred over an insulting remark made by a third party regarding the leaden style of dancing of Primus's wife, Dilsey. The altercation started in the course of a social gathering in the kitchen of one of the owners.

PAR Number 11682102

State: Virginia Year: 1821
Location: Cabell Location Type: County

Abstract: Emancipated by the will of his late mistress Esther Russell, Sam was also given land and several young slaves. He was directed by the will to care for the youngsters until they reached hiring age, and then hire them out. However, Sam points out to the court, he cannot discharge his obligation toward the youngsters if, as the law requires of freed slaves, he must leave the state within twelve months of his emancipation. He therefore asks the legislature to grant him permission to reside in the state of Virginia "for and during his life or if not for that length of time for such time as will be necessary to raise the said children slaves until they shall become useful."

PAR Number 11682611

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

Abstract: In 1817, at age seventeen, Macy Birdsong married a blacksmith named Charles Gay, who was "very poor but had learned the blacksmith trade from one of his uncles a very industrious and respectable man." A short time later, Gay took his wife's single slave, a woman, and ran off to North Carolina with another woman, Sally Andrews. Macy returned to live with her mother (her father having died many years before) and now, with her mother nearing the end of her life at age sixty-six, Macy fears following her mother's death her husband might return and lay claim to her small inheritance--a few slaves distributed among several family members. She asks for a divorce.

PAR Number 11683305

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

Abstract: Free persons of color Sam and Celia, who are in their late sixties, and Dennis, age about forty-three, were emancipated in the will of their late master Isabella Leonard and also bequeathed 188 acres of land, along "with all the Crop of corn, wheat, Oats, Fodder, and Tobacco, with the stock of horses, Cattle, hogs, and Sheep &c &c." They have "White Friends" who will vouch for their honesty. They seek to stay in Virginia.

PAR Number 11683306

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

Abstract: Alice Kelley writes that in 1832, her slave Anthony "became deranged in mind" and "spread consternation and dismay throughout the neighbourhood." Lately, he has become "more furious and ungovernable than ever." Kelley is a widow who has only an eleven-year-old son to help her, while Anthony is "a strong, athletic man." She not only fears for her own safety, but her neighbors' safety as well. He might, she contends, escape and commit "greater outrages than he has already." She asks to have him placed in the Lunatic Hospital at Williamsburg, or Stanton, or in the county jail.

PAR Number 11683403

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

Abstract: Richmond resident Ann Pritchard stipulated in her last will and testament that her slave, Dolly Woodson, should be emancipated and that she should receive the residual of her estate after payment of all the debts and of a $500 bequest to a male relative. Following Pritchard's death, George Crump, the executor of Pritchard's estate, seeks an act of emancipation and permission for Woodson to remain in Virginia. Dolly "is now upwards of fifty years old, is infirm and subject to fits of frequent recurrence." In a related document, the late Pritchard's attending physician testifies that he had, over the course of several years, "abundant opportunity of witnessing the deportment of her servant woman Dolly—as a slave she was unexceptionable in her conduct and indeed upon many occasions, she exhibited an affection and tenderness rarely if ever surpassed in the more exalted walks of life."

PAR Number 11683412

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

Abstract: Sixty-three residents of Rockingham County inform the court that Nathan Dunlap, who was recently emancipated by his owner, Catharine Dunlap, has always exhibited "a most excellent character, as an honest, harmless, quiet, industrious man." Dunlap is approximately fifty years old and has a wife and five slave children. The petitioners ask that he be permitted to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11683703

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

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

PAR Number 11683705

State: Virginia Year: 1837
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Murphy Quarles, a free man of color, informs the legislature that, by her last will and testament, his late owner Anna Maria Quarles directed that he apprenticed to a useful trade until he reached the age of nineteen and emancipated. Murphy is now nineteen and a free man. He asks the legislature for permission to remain in the state until the age of twenty-one, "by which time he will have acquired a thorough knowledge of his trade & will be enabled to accumulate a small sum sufficient to set him up in trade where he shall have removed to another state so as to enable to become as useful a member of society as one of his colour is capable of attaining to." A related document reveals that by her last will and testament the late Ann Maria Quarles emancipated four slaves.

PAR Number 11683804

State: Virginia Year: 1838
Location: Bedford Location Type: County

Abstract: Sally Wade Ballinger seeks a divorce from Richard Ballinger, her husband of twenty years. She represents that the said Richard has squandered her estate and "took another woman into his house lived in open adultery with her, by her has had three children, and has driven your petitioner from him forever under the penalty of being beaten to death." The petitioner therefore prays that she may be divorced "from the said Richard Ballinger, and that all his power over her and her little children as well as her property may forever cease."

PAR Number 11684003

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

Abstract: Verlinda Perry's slave, Jarrett, was charged, tried, and convicted of "circulating or causing to be circulated a certain writing denying the right of Masters to property in their slaves and inculcating the duty of resistance," the slave Jarrett or Gerrard was transported and sold "beyond the Limits of the United States." Perry submitted a claim to the state for $800, the value of her slave, as is customary "in all cases of slaves condemned to be hung or condemned to death," but through an omission she as not yet been compensated.

PAR Number 11684807

State: Virginia Year: 1848
Location: Prince Edward Location Type: County

Abstract: In her last will and testament, the late Polly Jackson bequeathed her slave, Jesse Woodson whom she had owned since the time of his birth, to one Tarlton Woodson, directing the latter to free him when he reached the age of twenty five. After Polly Jackson's death, Tarlton apprenticed Jesse to a cabinet maker and freed him in 1847 when the latter reached the age of twenty-five. As a free man, Jesse is now "honestly supporting himself in the exercise of" his trade" and is in the employment of the man who trained him in his craft, George W. Claiborne. He has a slave wife and several children. As a freed slave, he now must seek permission to remain in the state or face expulsion. However, "because of the difficulty and impracticability of convening the justices of is county" to whom he would submit his application, he would not be able to receive permission to remain in the state until the following May, that is after the time period allowed him by law. He therefore must submit his request to the legislature and prays they will allow him "the privilege of remaining the state."

PAR Number 11684808

State: Virginia Year: 1848
Location: Chesterfield Location Type: County

Abstract: Emancipated by the last will and testament of Mary Cox, deceased, Amy asks to remain in the state. She is the mother of many slave children who belong to Henry A. Winfree of Chesterfield County. "Oh, may the feelings of a mother, now advanced in age, and daily growing infirm," she writes, "find a favourable response in the hearts of your honourable body." She points out to the legislature that her remaining in the state in no way defeats the purpose of the law, which aims at preventing an increase in the population of free people of color rather than at the elimination of the existing population; she is past childbearing age and therefore does not pose any threat to the intent of the law.

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