Tag Archives: runaway slave

- Petersburg Chancery Reveals Rich African American History

 Newspaper notice describing the physical appearance of runaway slave Davey, Petersburg Chancery Cause 1827-003, William Smith vs. Benjamin W. B. Jones.

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that the first installment of images from the Petersburg chancery causes digitization project have been added to the Chancery Records Index. This project has been funded, in part, through a $155,071 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Images for the first forty-four boxes of chancery suits have been added to the index (circa 1803-1845). The boxes are not strictly chronological, so not all images for a given year are available. Additional images will be added periodically as the project progresses. Be sure to check back!

Here are some interesting suits that archivists found while processing, indexing, and conserving the collection. Many other fascinating and complex stories will surely be uncovered once the project is complete and the collection is studied by students, scholars, and family historians.

Transcript of Benjamin W. B. Jones Letter to William Smith, 5 February 1826

Petersburg chancery cause 1827-003 involves a dispute over a runaway slave named Davey, alias Davey Smith. Exhibits found in the suit include a notice published in a local newspaper describing Davey’s physical appearance, occupation, and his escape (image 22). The suit also contains letters from Benjamin W. B. Jones of Alabama claiming that he was Davey’s owner (image 27). 

Also in the newly released images there are two suits that involve an African American … read more »

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- Primary Source Offers Questions and Clues About Will, Runaway Slave

Accomack County, Free Negro & Slave Records Box 1, Barcode 1138011.

Located among the odds and ends of Accomack County court records is this 1758 advertisement from Landon Carter of Richmond County for his runaway slave Will.  Landon Carter was one of the sons of Robert “King” Carter of Lancaster County and a rich man himself.  The advertisement is typical of runaway ads in that it seeks to provide as much information as possible about Will in order to facilitate his recapture:  looks, personality, friends and family, residence(s), and conjecture as to possible destination.  The ads are always interesting for what questions they provoke:  What was this “ill-Behaviour” that caused Will to be moved five counties north from Williamsburg to Richmond County?  What characteristics did he possess that would cause his owner to call him “sensible for a slave” (presumably a compliment)?  Were Will and Sarah particularly close, so much so that after his escape he risked fetching her so that she, too, could be free of slavery and the Carters?  Did Will, Sarah and Peter make good their getaway?

 (Citation: Accomack County, Free Negro & Slave Records Box 1, Barcode 1138011.)

 -Sarah Nerney, Senior Local Records Archivist… read more »

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