Race and Slavery Petitions Project

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PAR Number 10379002

State: Delaware Year: 1790
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Sluyter Bouchell represents that "he was altogether ignorant of any Law whatever forbidding the bringing Slaves in the State under any circumstances." Dr. Bouchell admits that, while administrating the estate of Thomas Witherspoon, "he found it necessary to purchase some additional Slaves whom he brought over about the time of his removal into this State from the State of Maryland." Noting that Abraham, Edward, William, and Rainy have "since instituted their actions for their Freedom," the petitioner asserts "that the Slaves all came willingly into the service of your Petitioner and as he believes are still content to serve him but as they have been instigated by some officious persons to apply for there Freedoms." Bouchell asks the legislature to assist him in preventing “the loss of said Slaves.”

PAR Number 10379604

State: Delaware Year: 1796
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: George Waller “is a resident near the line which divides the State of Delaware and the State of Maryland," and he is "compelled to have business indiscriminately with the Inhabitants of both States." Waller reports that a business dealing resulted in an indebtedness which was discharged by his "taking a Negro woman named Phillis and her Child named Stephen." He further states that he has had "frequent applications" to buy said slaves, but he fears that "the purchasers wanted to send them to the Southern States." Waller therefore asks that "a Bill be passed into a Law to enable your Petitioner to remove said Negroes from the State of Maryland into this State."

PAR Number 10379703

State: Delaware Year: 1797
Location: Sussex Location Type: County

Abstract: George Waller is a resident near the line which divides the state of Delaware and the state of Maryland, and he does business indiscriminately with the inhabitants of both states. Waller reports that, two years ago, a business dealing resulted in an indebtedness was discharged by his taking "two Negro Slaves a woman named Phillis and her son named Stephen." Because of "existing laws," Waller is prevented from bringing the slaves to Delaware, which he believes will "render the situation of said Slaves more agreeable than to hire them out in the State of Maryland or sell them to be moved to a more distant farm." He therefore asks that a bill "be passed into a Law to enable him to bring the above mentioned Negros woman Phillis and her son Stephen into this State."

PAR Number 10379704

State: Delaware Year: 1797
Location: New Castle Location Type: County

Abstract: Delaware resident Cantwell Jones informs the court that he has "lately purchased in the State of Maryland a family of Slaves," who had previously lived in Delaware. Jones, "being desirous to bring the said family into this State again ... as well with a view to improve his lands here, as to gratify the said Slaves by settling them again amongst their relations who are also the property of your petitioner, prays that permission may be granted him to transport the said slaves, to wit, Adam, Fan & their four children Susan, Rose, Sol, and Harry into the State of Delaware."

PAR Number 10383702

State: Delaware Year: 1837

Abstract: In 1809, Delaware resident John Cooper manumitted several slaves, including a woman named Lydia. By 1826, Lydia had married John Hawkins, a free man of color, and the couple had three children (Charity, Sally, and John) and were living in Caroline County, Maryland. However, John Cooper's son-in-law, John Willoughby, convinced Cooper that the Delaware manumissions were not valid in Maryland and that Cooper faced prosecution for allowing his former slaves to move there. Willoughby thus "seduced" Cooper to sign a deed conveying Lydia and her children to Willoughby, to Cooper's son, Richard, and to other relatives. Soon after, Willoughby and Richard Cooper took Lydia and her children to the Sussex County jail with "the intention to selling them to southern traders." John Cooper and another of his sons learned of this and demanded the former slaves be released, which they were. The freed slaves were never bothered again during John Cooper's life, the petitioner states. In April 1836, however, Willoughby and a gang of armed men kidnapped Hawkins' three children and the children of others freed by John Cooper and carried them to the jail in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Willoughby's objective was to sell them to "foreign traders, or carry them to the south himself." The case of their freedom is still pending in Queen Anne's County, Maryland. Hawkins seeks an act that would affirm the legality of the manumission of his wife and children.

PAR Number 11279505

State: North Carolina Year: 1795
Location: Perquimans Location Type: County

Abstract: Nathan Creecy states that he bought at auction a "condemned Negro woman" named Peg and her child Hannah for seventy-eight pounds, "a large price at that time for a Negro woman & child that had once enjoyed freedom." Creecy then learned that Hannah had been born prior to Peg's manumission and was the slave of Robert Newby. Wishing to keep mother and child together (Hannah was only ten months old), Creecy bought her as a slave until she reached age eighteen, "at which time she is subject to be taken from your petitioner and sold for the benefit of the Publick." Creecy also relates that he bought Peg's two-year-old son Tom, until he reached age twenty-one, "at which time he is subject to be taken from your petitioner and sold for the benefit of the Publick." Having experienced "much expense & trouble in raising the said boy & it being the request of the former owner of said Negroes that they should stay together," Creecy asks that a law be passed "establishing & confirming the right of said Negroes Tom & Hannah in him."

PAR Number 11279812

State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Pasquotank Location Type: County

Abstract: Lemuel Overnton, "of mix'd Blood but free Born," acknowledges that he "did faithfully Serve in the Last American Warr with Great Britain." He further reveals that, "by Consent," he was able to marry a slave woman named Rose and "had my Eldest Son John by her." Overton states that he was able to purchase said Rose and John and that he has a second son named Burdock. The petitioner prays that his case be taken into consideration and that his wife and two sons be emancipated and called "after his own name Overnton."

PAR Number 11280506

State: North Carolina Year: 1805
Location: Perquimans Location Type: County

Abstract: Joseph White, administrator of Alexander Stafford, represents that by order of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Perquimans County, February Term 1802, "Negro Woman Amy and her three children, Ruth, Dolley, and Mourning" were sold by the sheriff "as having been emancipated contrary to the provision of the several acts of the legislature"; Alexander Stafford "became the purchaser" of said family for the sum of £333. White explains that a certain John Saunders claimed said slaves and contested the sale and that the Superior Court of Edenton District in 1803 "determined the negroes aforesaid were the property of the claimant John Saunders." The petitioner therefore prays that the state treasurer be authorized "to repay" to him, as administrator, the aforesaid purchase price, with interest, since "the estate of your Petitioner's Intestate has not only paid the sum aforesaid but has lost the negroes."

PAR Number 11284602

State: North Carolina Year: 1846
Location: Wake Location Type: County

Abstract: John Malone, a fifty-six-year-old free black man living in Raleigh, "is anxious to emancipate and set free from Slavery his said wife & son Edmund before he dies." Malone represents that, "by hard work and close economy," he "has been able to lay by a little money and property and though a free negro he has done this without exciting the suspicion of white gentlemen against his honesty, but so that he may appeal to the whole community in favour of his claims to a good reputation." He further states that he applied "a part of his earnings ... to the purchase of his wife Cherry and more recently to the purchase of their son Edmond." The petitioner therefore "earnestly beseeches the General Assembly of North Carolina to set free his wife Cherry and Son Edmund by the respective names of Cherry Malone and Edmond Malone" and that they be allowed to remain in the state.

PAR Number 11285408

State: North Carolina Year: 1854
Location: Cumberland Location Type: County

Abstract: The joint owners of Dolly, age about fifty, and Caroline, age about twelve, seek to free the two slaves in accordance with the wishes of Dr. Hiram Robinson, who sold said slaves to the petitioners. They point out that the said bill of sale "expressed upon its face that your Petitioners should hold the said slaves as tenants in Common until they were lawfully emancipated or conveyed to some free state or territory -- thereby conveying the impression to the purchasers, your Petitioners, that he, the former owner, desired their future emancipation." They therefore pray, "in consideration of the uniformly good character of the said Dolly & her daughter Caroline," that an act be passed emancipating said slaves.

PAR Number 11382801

State: South Carolina Year: 1828
Location: Richland Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: James Patterson, a free man of color born in Columbia, seeks to free his wife Sally, his son George, and his daughter Candice. Patterson, "a carpenter by trade," could "not raise a Sufficient Sum to affect that desirable and anxious object" of purchasing his family "until after the passage of the act prohibiting the freeing of slaves." The petitioner reports that he "made the purchase of his wife and Son in 1821 and paid for them One Thousand Dollars a Sum far beyond their value, his Son being at that time about Seven years old, and his wife not worth more than an ordinary female house Servant"; his daughter Candice was born after he had purchased his wife. "Anxious that they should be placed on a footing with himself," Patterson prays that "your Honorable Body ... will take the peculiar circumstances of his case into consideration and make his wife and children free."

PAR Number 11385201

State: South Carolina Year: 1852
Location: Barnwell Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: Failing to file a tax return, Joseph Allen was issued a writ of fieri facias by the Barnwell District tax office and was forced to pay $207.52 in taxes, double the amount he claims to owe. Allen argues that he failed to file his return "in consequence of the sickness of the Tax Collector. In addition, he asserts that the 1851 assessment “was governed by the last return of your Petitioner and did include in his assessment one hundred and two negroes at fifty-six (56) cents per head making the sum of fifty seven dollars and twelve cents ($57.12) which said one hundred and two negroes had been removed from this State [to Louisiana] prior to the 30th Sept 1851.” He seeks reimbursement.

PAR Number 11385601

State: South Carolina Year: 1856
Location: Abbeville Location Type: District/Parish

Abstract: The "Trustees of the Estate of Dr De La Howe and the Lethe School" ask that the legislature "authorize the purchase four negroes, two men and two women, that is, two men and their wives" for use at the school and on the Lethe Farm. The petitioners argue that "it is a difficult matter to find a negro to hire, and when one is found, the probability is that he is such an abandoned character as to make him of little value." They purport that purchasing slave couples, on the other hand, would provide a more stable labor force and the cost of interest on money borrowed to purchase four slaves would be less than yearly hiring costs. They therefore assert that "the advantages to the proper and successful management of the Estate by purchasing are so clear and decided in its favour, that the Trustees deem it unnecessary to say any thing further, but request your Honorable body to take the matter into consideration."

PAR Number 11483330

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

Abstract: William G. Harding, the guardian of the only child of the late William Harding, asks permission to sell Maria and her six children to Texas-bound Daniel Maurice Harding, owner of Maria's husband. The petitioner states that he "believes it would be to the interest of the infant to make the sale," as "the whole family are an Expense." Harding further reveals that "the said family of children are not healthy and two of them are afflicted one with white swelling and the other with scrofula."

PAR Number 11680923

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

Abstract: Amelia County residents seek to emancipate the family of Frank Gowen, an industrious free black man who purchased his wife and children, with whom he then lived "in peace and quietude." Gowen has recently died and although "no individual claim whatever has been or can be made to his family— Patience and the children Philemon, Elizabeth and Henry—the four slaves are nevertheless liable to be sold by the Overseers of the Poor. Patience and the children are honest, peaceful, and respectable, and deserve special consideration, the petitioners assure the legislative body.

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 11681514

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

Abstract: Through industry and economy Samuel Johnson purchased himself from his owner Edward Digges, receiving permission from the legislature to remain in the state. Now, again through strict attention to business, he saved "a large sum of money" and purchased his wife and children. He asks that they be emancipated and permitted to remain in Virginia. A related petition reveals that Samuel or Sam Johnson (also called Johnston in other related petitions) was a man of mixed race.

PAR Number 11685110

State: Virginia Year: 1851
Location: Jefferson Location Type: County

Abstract: Edmund Lee, administrator of the late James W. Strider, asks that two slaves held by his intestate’s estate be freed. Lee states that the said Strider purchased James Munroe and his wife Patsy in 1848 “with the purpose of emancipating them when they should be enabled from their hire ... earnings or by contributions from the benevolent to refund the purchase money.” He further reports that “Strider having been thrown from his horse was suddenly killed, and had never emancipated the said slaves who are now prepared to refund the Balance of the purchase money and interest.” Noting that the said Strider died “considerably embarrassed,” Lee fears that “his slaves will probably have to be sold and among them the persons above mentioned unless the Legislature sees proper to interfere in their behalf.” The petitioner attests that James and Patsy “are well known as persons of good character, sober, orderly and industrious, and your memorialist considers that in making this application he is but carrying out the humane purposes of this intestate.”

PAR Number 20182101

State: Alabama Year: 1821
Location: Jackson Location Type: County

Abstract: Thomas Hopkins states that when he lived in Warren County, Tennessee, he owned a "Negroe Woman of dark complection aged about 45 years & of the value of about four hundred dollars named Molly" and a "mulatto girl named ayes of light complection aged about sixteen years of the value of about one thousand dollars." Hopkins asserts that the women "were feloniously taken" by John Hammons and transported to Alabama where they were sold by one John McGowan to George W. Thompson, despite knowledge of his (Hopkins's) claim to ownership. Fearing the slaves will be sold, Hopkins asks the court to order Thompson to offer security for them pending the outcome of his suit of recovery.

PAR Number 20183104

State: Alabama Year: 1831
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: William Tylor seeks to secure the status of slaves bought by him from William Roy and then hired back to Roy for a five-year term as payment. The slaves were "a negro woman named Sarah & three children, Marshall, Boling & Mary" and the conditions of their hire were that the "negroes should be fed & clothed by said Roy & their Taxes paid and that they should not be carried from the county or removed to any place therein reported unhealthy without the permission of your Orator." Tylor now charges that Roy has stolen the bill of sale and tried to smuggle the slaves out of the county. The slaves are presently in legal custody, and Tylor seeks an injunction to prevent the sheriff from returning the slaves to Roy without sufficient security that Roy will return them to Tylor at the end of their term of hire.

PAR Number 20183105

State: Alabama Year: 1831
Location: Franklin Location Type: County

Abstract: Ellis Isbell states that on or about 5 November 1827 the defendant, Benjamin Hudson, paid off a $530.90 judgment held against him. Isbell claims that, in order to "secure & indemnify said Hudson for paying the sum of money," he placed four slaves valued at $1,325 in Hudson's possession. Isbell estimates the value of the slaves' service and labor at $180 per year. Their verbal agreement provided, according to Isbell, that Hudson would hold ownership of the slaves until the debt was paid and if the debt remained unpaid, then he would retain ownership of the slaves. Isbell gave Hudson a bill of sale for the slaves, based on the verbal agreement of ownership rights. Isbell states that on 6 November 1830 he attempted to pay the debt, but Hudson "positively and entirely refused to receive the same and refused to deliver said Slaves." Isbell charges Hudson with fraud and seeks ownership of the four slaves, either upon payment of the debt or upon payment of the difference between the interest on the debt and the slaves' hire.

PAR Number 20183307

State: Alabama Year: 1832
Location: Autauga Location Type: County

Abstract: In a previous petition, William Tylor asked the court for an injunction to prevent the county sheriff from delivering four slaves, currently in custody in the jail, to William Roy. Tylor had accused Roy of stealing the bill of sale showing Tylor's rightful ownership of the slaves, and when confronted, Roy attempted to remove the slaves from the county. Tylor now appears in court stating that the slaves were released to Roy by law of replevy before the injunction was issued. Tylor further states that "a part of the slaves aforementioned have been sold or disposed of to one John H. Thorington and part to one William Hadnot." Since Roy is still insolvent, Tylor still fears that the slaves "will be removed beyond the Jurisdiction of this court," and beyond the reach of the petitioner. Tylor therefore asks that the defendants be served with a summons requiring them to "answer all the matters & things in this Bill of Complaint," and to have an injunction issued to take possession of the slaves until a final decision is made.

PAR Number 20183402

State: Alabama Year: 1834
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: Eli Lewis states that his brother, William Lewis, who died intestate, owned fifteen slaves jointly with the petitioner, although "no Books or accounts of monies and other transactions" between the brothers exist. Lewis claims that the administrators and heirs of Lewis's estate refuse to recognize the petitioner's claim that he is entitled to one half of the estate, "both real and personal." Eli believes "that if his lamented brother (said William) still lived, he would not now be driven to the unpleasant alternative, either of losing his rights, or of suing his relatives." Unfortunately, however, "said William was hurried to an untimely grave by a murderous hand."

PAR Number 20183505

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

Abstract: In 1822, Turner Christian of Charles County, Virginia, gave the following slaves to his grandchildren, the petitioners: Henry, Suggy and her son, William, and Hannah and her children Charles, Suckey, Fanny, and Marsha. The grandchildren moved with their father, Tyler Hardyman, and his wife, Catherine, to Jefferson County, Alabama. In 1824, Hardyman, "surrounded by perplexing pecuniary difficulties & harassing embarrassments," sold Suggy and her children, William and Crespy, the property of his children, conveyed to them by their grandfather, "whilst they were all tender minority incapable of self protection strangers in a strange land," to Mark Harris. Octavius Spencer then purchased Suggy and her son, Jack, described by the petitioners as possessing "great value & capable of performing much service," from the estate sale of John Riley, who had purchased them from Harris. The petitioners aver that Hardyman disposed of all of their property in order to pay his debts, "stripping them of their all and have caused them to feel poverty in all its bitterness which abides with them still," leaving them in "depressed circumstances." They ask the court to nullify the sale of the slaves and recognize their rightful ownership. In addition, the petitioners argue that the slaves are "family negroes the gift of their Grandfather," having "long resided with him and with them in their father's family." They further state that they "have all that personal regard for them that is commonly felt & entertained for property of this kind by all families possessing it and it is now from motives of the highest humanity & benevolence to the negroes themselves that" they seek the recovery of the slaves. The petitioners also request compensation for the slaves' hire and an injunction preventing Spencer from selling the slaves beyond the jurisdiction of the court.

PAR Number 20183603

State: Alabama Year: 1836
Location: Madison Location Type: County

Abstract: In October 1823, William Allen, "in consideration of the natural love and affection which he bears to Martha Coleman (his daughter) and for the further consideration of Five Dollars," sold nine slaves to his grandsons, William Coleman Jr. and Jones D. W. G. Coleman, "as Trustees for the benefit of said Martha," their mother and the wife of William Coleman Sr. The slaves were to be used "in the support and maintenance of the said Martha and in the education and support of her unmarried children, without the interference or control of her husband the said William Coleman sen." After Martha's death the slaves and all profits from their hire were to be divided among Martha's children. The petitioners, also Martha's children, argue that the estate was mismanaged by William and Jones Coleman, who sold slaves and land belonging to the estate and kept the proceeds, and by John Coleman, who succeeded William and Jones as trustee. The petitioners ask for an accounting of the trust and for the appointment of new trustees to administer it.

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