Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 11380505

State: South Carolina Year: 1805
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Peter Berry represents that "it is his wish to manumit his slave Sally who is a person that is advanced in years, but well able to provide for her subsistence." Avowing that she is "of good character," the petitioner prays "that he may be permitted to emancipate the said slave." Berry also asserts that he will be "bound for the said Slave not being chargeable on the Parish, as a Pauper or Beggar in case of her emancipation."

PAR Number 11381602

State: South Carolina Year: 1816
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Ryan seeks to manumit a group of slaves in accordance with the last will and testament of his late brother, Benjamin Ryan. He avers that the nine slaves "are of good character able to maintain themselves and their children and that good security if required can be had to prevent their becoming chargeable to the State." Ryan therefore prays an act be passed "authorising him as the only surviving Executor of the last will and Testament of Benjamin Ryan deceased to manumit the negroes therein named to be free in the same manner as the Testator would have done were he alive or to grant the freedom to said negroes in any form the wisdom of the Legislature may think proper to adopt." The slaves “therein named” are Ned, Rachel and her three children, Silvey, Polaski, Hannah, and Milly.

PAR Number 11382011

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

Abstract: Rebecca Drayton seeks to emancipate a slave named Abba, who she inherited from a "very near connection" twenty years ago "under the solemn promise from your petitioner that she would at her death set the said slave free." Drayton states that "the said slave has always lived under the expectation of being one day free, and has faithfully served your Petitioner, who is old and helpless." She therefore prays that she "be permitted to emancipate the said slave," who is "now rather advanced in life, is without children and so industrious and inexpensive that your Petitioner would fain hope, there is not even a remote probability that her emancipation would be attended with any evil consequences."

PAR Number 11382311

State: South Carolina Year: 1823
Location: Edgefield Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John Ryan, "being far advanced in life," is desirous to emancipate his "aged and faithful female Slave of good Character of the name of Sophia." Ryan reports that Sophia, "the mother of Eleven children nine of whom are at this time field Hands," has performed "faithful Servises" and that he wishes "to provide a Comfortable maintainance for her during the remainder of her life." He further promises to "act as Guardian during his life and will at His Death leave in the hands of his Executors or Some other Trustee a Sufficiency for her Support During her Life."

PAR Number 11382702

State: South Carolina Year: 1827

Abstract: John McFaddin, executor of the estate of Thomas Cubbage, requests the manumission of Amelia. McFaddin states that his testator "did bequeath to his aged & faithful servant Amelia not only her freedom but also sundry goods & chattels particularly for her kind & unwearied care & attention to him during a distressing & protracted illness which terminated in his death." The petitioner therefore prays that an act be passed "manumitting the said negro Woman Amelia & invest her with the goods & chattels bequeathed her."

PAR Number 11383601

State: South Carolina Year: 1836
Location: Clarendon Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Martha Benbow, the widow and executrix of Col. Evan Benbow, seeks to emancipate a thirty-five-year-old enslaved woman named Duley and her seven-year-old son, Rufus. The petitioner avows that Duley is of "unexceptionable moral character" and is able to obtain a livelihood in "an honest & virtuous manner." Benbow therefore prays "that you will permit her to emancipate them." The decedent directed that "if either of them through misfortune become unable to support themselves that they shall be supported themselves out of my estate."

PAR Number 11384504

State: South Carolina Year: 1845
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Priscilla Jessup, a free woman of color, "has considerable property -- That she owns among other things, her husband John, a negro man," whom she purchased in 1834; since his purchase, John's condition, "in consequence of the love and affection which she bears to him has been that only of nominal servitude." Averring John to have always been "industrious, honest faithfull and obedient," the petitioner asks that he be emancipated. Jessup fears "in the event of her death, John ... will fall into other hands in the condition of a slave."

PAR Number 11385006

State: South Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Charleston Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Thomas Bennett seeks a pardon for his slave Peter Blacklock. He represents that an altercation broke out between Peter and another slave named York; the said Peter "inflicted on York a blow that fractured his skull and caused his death in a few hours." Bennett further recounts that Peter was convicted of manslaughter and was sentenced to receive "one Hundred and twenty five Lashes and then to be removed to the Jail of the district" and to "remain imprisoned for two years, the first year of which he should receive monthly Twenty Lashes." He discloses, however, that the said slave is "considerably advanced in years" and that he "became intemperate from the use of ardent spirits -- this habit followed by Epileptic fits." Describing Peter as "a wretched remnant of Humanity -- Prostrate mentally and physically by disease," Bennett fears that his slave "will not probably survive to the termination of his confinement without the interposition of Executive clemency.” The petitioner therefore prays "that Your Excellency would extend to this unfortunate man the Executive prerogative of pardon."

PAR Number 11385903

State: South Carolina Year: 1859
Location: Lancaster Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John H. Hood reports that Marcus Tuttle adeserted his blind, seventy-year-old slave named Burrell in 1858. He declares that said Tuttle "ran off from this State, and on his way, set down said Slave on the public Road, in the Neighbourhood he had left, and abandoned him to his fate." Hood further states that said Burrell "wandered about in the Neighbourhood, and came to the House of your Petitioner, about the first of December 1858, when your Petitioner from feelings of humanity, rather than said Slave should starve, took charge of him, and has clothed, supported and maintained him ever since." The petitioner therefore prays that he be granted "such compensation, for the support, and maintenance of said Slave, as your wisdom may think just and proper."

PAR Number 11386001

State: South Carolina Year: 1860
Location: Lancaster Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: John H. Hood reports that Marcus Tuttle deserted his blind, seventy-year-old slave named Burrell in 1858. He declares that said Tuttle "ran away from this State, leaving behind him, his old Negro Man Slave named Burrell ... nearly totaly blind, in a very helpless, and destitute condition and utterly unable to support himself." The petitioner further states that said Burrell, "after he was deserted by his Master, wandered away and got to the House of Your Petitioner"; Hood, "prompted by feelings of humanity ... took charge of him and has kept, clothed, and supported him from the first of December 1858 until the 14th day of October 1860, at which time, last mentioned, the said Slave Burrell departed this life." The petitioner therefore prays that he be allowed "such compensation, for keeping and supporting" said slave "as in your judgment you may think him entitled to."

PAR Number 11482302

State: Tennessee Year: 1823
Location: Carter Location Type: County

Abstract: Sixty-four-year-old Mary Humphreys, wife of sixty-five-year-old Jesse Humphreys, reports that "by an act of the last session of the Assembly she was appointed Guardian of her said husband," who was deemed incapable of managing his estate. Fearful that his husband’s relatives will attempt to gain possession of his property, the petitioner prays that she "may be shielded against the efforts of his Brothers to wrest it out of her hands, and that she may be permitted to contract bargains relative to the management of it as if she was a feme sole." Humphreys notes that “her husband is possessed of four very aged Negroes, which ... should be kept on their farm and not sold or be subjected to be sold to their great injury -- as your petitioner’s husband has had their labours in early life.”

PAR Number 11483213

State: Tennessee Year: 1832
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: The widow and children of the late Col. William Locke ask that the administrator of his estate be allowed to sell parcels of land rather than the fifteen slaves in order to settle the debts of the intestate. The heirs assert that only three of said slaves are "able to Labour"; two of them are "old and infirm ... the other Ten young and none of them at this time would sell for their value." The petitioners point out that Locke owned 962 acres, divided into ten tracts, as well as lots in the town of Gainesboro. They therefore pray "your Honourable Boddy to pass a Law ... to sell the Town lotts." The petitioners fear that the "whole of the negroes," if put up for sale, would be "Draged a way by Traders to the lower country," leaving the widow "now in her old age without any person to releave her from the burden of hard labour." Moreover, they surmise that the young slaves are "fast increasing in Value and in a few years will be worth more to the Heirs than the whole of the land."

PAR Number 11483311

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

Abstract: Fifty-one residents of Roane County join Thomas Clark in representing that the said Clark "agreed to liberate a Negroe man Slave named Peter Hawkins on Condition that he would pay him one Hundred Dollars"; Clark reports that "the slave has at different times paid him that sum but the Law requiring his removal from the State past before he had got the evidence of his freedom." Noting that "the owner wishes to comply with his promise but the Slave wishes to remain in the State," the petitioners pray "your Honourable Body to permit his Emancipation without his removal." They note that the said Hawkins “is an old man ... and believed to be Honest he is a taylor and useful in his Neighbourhood.”

PAR Number 11483502

State: Tennessee Year: 1835
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Charles B. Hodges represents that the late Samuel Todd "in his last will and testament desired that an old negro man named Dave, of whom the said Samuel Todd died possessed, should be free at the death of the said Samuel." He attests that said Dave "is a respectable negro, and sustains a good character for honesty and probity, that he is now living with your petitioner." Hodges therefore prays "the passage of a law authorising the emancipation of the Said negro man Dave, who is now a slave, upon your petitioners giving bond with good and Sufficient security for the good behaviour and maintenance of the said negro man slave Dave during his natural life."

PAR Number 11483505

State: Tennessee Year: 1835
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty-nine petitioners represent that Benjamin McFarland is "the owner of two Slaves Named Solomon, and Abby his Wife." They disclose that McFarland is "desirous that Said Solomon & Abby may be emmansipated, on account of the faithful Services rendered by said Solomon and his Wife in Raising him, and his fathers family." Noting that McFarland has moved to Missouri, they point out that he "left a power of Attorney authorising application to be made to the Court of pleas &c of said County" to order that the sixty-year-old slaves be set free. The petitioners further report that Solomon and Abby "desire to remain in Said County after they are free." They therefore pray "that your Honorable body will pass a law Authorising them to live in Said State after they are set free for and during the remainder of their lives."

PAR Number 11484302

State: Tennessee Year: 1843

Abstract: One hundred fourteen citizens of Tennessee "request that the Laws of the State may be so changed as to permit 'Doctor Jack' to continue the practice of the healing art." The petitioners represent that "in his disposition he is humble, unobtrusive, peaceable and quiet; and in his morals altogether irreproachable, possessing great medical skill, particularly in obstinate diseases of long standing, and capable of great usefulness to the community in which he may reside." They further aver that "Doctor Jack is about 60 years of age, and has been a public practitioner of medicine 16 years, giving offence to no one, creating no disturbance, and until recently meeting no disturbance in the quiet pursuit of his business."

PAR Number 11484902

State: Tennessee Year: 1849
Location: Blount Location Type: County

Abstract: Forty residents of Blount County ask that Charles Cobb and his wife, Hannah, who recently purchased their freedom from the estate of their late owner, M. H. Bogle, be allowed to remain in the state. They "state to your honorable body that the persons above named are old and have been living here for many years and do not wish to be compelled to leave the state and they wish to have the rights of Free persons of colour and remain in Blount County." The petitioners therefore “ask your honourable body to give the chairman of Blount County Court power to Emancipate them by their complying with the requisitions of the Law and that they be allowed to remain in the state."

PAR Number 11485101

State: Tennessee Year: 1851
Location: Hawkins Location Type: County

Abstract: Twenty petitioners, including the executors of William Keele's will, ask that the slave Archibald be emancipated and permitted to remain in Tennessee. They state that "according to the Last will and Testament of said William Keele Said Negro Archibald was to be free on the Demise of his Consort Livy Anne Keele which took Place About the First of December 1850." They further cite that "said Archibald is Pretty Far advanced in Life A man of Firmness truth and good Moral Character [and] has A Large Family and is very solicitous to Remain in This Country with them." The petitioners therefore pray "your honorable Body to Pass A Special act in his favor Liberating of him ... Permiting him to Remain in this Country."

PAR Number 11586001

State: Texas Year: 1860
Location: Gonzales Location Type: County

Abstract: Nineteen-year-old John Blackwell petitions the legislature for the authority to control his own affairs. Blackwell, a farmer, "feels and believes that he is competant to attend to his own business, and to exercise all the rights, privilleges, and functions of a free man." He further explains that "he is the legal owner of property that is suffering and accumulating him nothing by reason of the opportunities being with-holden from him, of availing himself of higher wages a healthful location -- prudent care of his slaves and a higher rate of interest on money." He states that "some of his Slaves being old, and many of them little children that require the fostering hand of a good Master instead of the abuse and neglect to which a hired condition subjects them." Blackwell therefore prays that "your Honorable Body will enfranchise him, and confer on him the powers and privileges of a free man, to possess himself of the control of his estate."

PAR Number 11677802

State: Virginia Year: 1778
Location: Nansemond Location Type: County

Abstract: Margaret Goodrich, the widow of John Goodrich, represents that the Committee of Safety assigned the slaves belonging to her late husband’s estate to work in the mines but agreed "to assign a Certain portion thereof to the use of your Petitioner for the maintenance of herself and younger Children" and to give her forty pounds annually to hire said slaves to work on her two plantations. The widow reports, however, that she cannot retain any hired slaves except for short intervals, "the said slaves either from inclination or seduction have so frequently absconded from their duty as to leave her Crop in a condition which precludes all hope of its being sufficient to supply the wants of her family." The petitioner therefore prays that "this Honourable House would be graciously pleased to make order for the restitution of the Slaves belonging to the Estate of her husband, to be employed by her for the support of herself and young children." Goodrich "has reason to believe that the affection which they retain for her and the authority which she would have over them would attach them to her interest, and enable her more effectually to answer the reasonable expectations of her Children."

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 11681128

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

Abstract: Joé Booth, a free man of color, was emancipated by the will of his late owner, James Booth, to whom he was "born a slave" and with whom he remained untill the latter's death. Joé explains that he was emancipated in consideration of his "long & faithful services" to the late James Booth. However, Joé explains, he is an old man and "the priviledge of freedom will be of no enjoyment" to him if he cannot remain with his wife and children and is forced to leave Virginia as the law requires. He therefore asks permission to "remain unmolested" in Virginia "with his family and friends" for what is left of his life.

PAR Number 11681301

State: Virginia Year: 1813
Location: Petersburg Location Type: City

Abstract: As the "principal miller" in Richard Bate's "manufacturing mill," James Butler was promised his freedom by his owner who was "well pleased with his sobriety, honesty and general good conduct." However, before Bate made good on his promise, James Butler was seized, "with divers other slaves," on "an action of retinue" by his second owner, Captain Richard Williams; in other words James was seized to pay for Bate's debts. Williams, his new owner, "feeling for James's disappointment," promised that he would cause James to be emancipated if James paid him $600 from "his honest labour." Accordingly he executed a bill of sale to John Osborne, James's present owner, "a gentleman in whose entegrety and honor" James "reposed the fullest confidence, on a trust distinctly understood by all parties to the transaction." True to their word, James has now paid Osborne the value of his purchase "to the last farthing." But before he could make the last payment, an "act of assembly pas passed restricting the rights of entire emancipation of slaves at the discretion of their owners." James has now learned he would have to choose between leaving Virginia or remain a slave. He is now an old man--"in a few years the grave will close over his person"--and he wishes to remain near his children and friends. He asks for a law conferring on him the "rights of a free person," and permission to remain in Virginia.

PAR Number 11681306

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

Abstract: When his master, Nathaniel Wheeler, decided to move from Prince William County, Virginia, to Tennessee, in 1808, Jacob struck a bargain to purchase himself and remain with his wife and children, slaves in Fairfax County. He paid for himself but before he received his deed of manumission, he explains, the General Assembly prohibited the emancipation of slaves within the commonwealth. Unable to fulfill the contract, Wheeler executed a bill of sale to Christopher Trickey, whom Jacob had chosen as his guardian, "with the condition that" Jacob "should have and enjoy the privileges of a free man." Accordingly, Jacob presented himself to the courthouse of Fairfax County to register as a free person of color. He was rejected. "Far advanced in life," he now turns to the legislature, asking that "in tender compassion for his age, and for the feelings of a faithful old negro" the legislators will "pass an act to enable" him "to spend his few remaining days within the Commonwealth." He would rather die, he says, than leave his wife and children "whom he tenderly loves." A related document reveals that his white guardian, Christopher Trickey, presented an affidavit to the legislature asserting that Jacob "was never designed" to be his slave and presenting himself as "exceedingly desirous" that Jacob be "legally emancipated & allowed to remain in this Commonwealth."

PAR Number 11681418

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

Abstract: Sterling, a carpenter, was owned by Joseph Mann, who had received him from his wife, Mary. After Joseph Mann's death, in 1798 or 1799, Sterling was owned by the widow, Mary Callico Mann. While living with the Manns, Sterling asserts, the promise of freedom was held out to him as recognition of his "honesty and fidelity in the service of his employers." Nevertheless freedom did not come to Sterling during his owners' lifetime and it did not come to him before the Virginia laws relating to the emancipation of slaves were changed and made more restrictive. In her last will and testament, however, Mary Mann bequeathed fifty pounds to Sterling, to be used toward the purchase of his freedom. After Mary Mann's death, he was claimed by Joseph and Mary Mann's only son, John Mann. Eventually, John Mann sold his interest in Sterling to the executor of his mother's will, Major Thomas Burfoot. Burfoot then permitted Sterling to purchase himself for $550. Sterling, who says he is upward of fifty years of age, is too old to move and wishes to remain in Virginia with his wife and nine children, who are the property of Thomas Burfoot.

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