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Sydnor, Henry & Lucy: Petition, Lynchburg

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To the Hon. Legislature of Virginia. The petition of Henry Sydnor and Lucy his wife, free persons of color, residing in the Town of Lynchburg, humbly represent. That your petitioners are about the age of 49 years each, that they have been married upwards of seventeen years & are childless. That for a long series of years they respectively served their masters with fidelity and affection - and, as they believe, gained from them strong and warm feelings of attachment. That under the influence of these feelings they have been severally emancipated by deed of record in the Hustings Court of Lynchburg, in the belief & hope that such persons, as they were known to be, would find no difficulty in obtaining [illegible] to remain in this state. That your petitioners recently made application to the said Hustings court and were refused permission to remain in the Commonwealth by a vote of seven to five on the sole and simple ground, that the Court deemed it inexpedient and improper to suffer any emancipated slave to remain, and to a citizen of the state, no matter how meritorious or of however excellent character, unless such emancipated slave could bring himself strictly within the provisions of the law of 1806 - or by some act of unusual and uncommon merit, could command the approbation of the court. That your petitioners exhibited before the court, the most ample and (by the court themselves, admitted) the most satisfactory evidence of their exemplary character and standing that certain members of the court (who voted against the application) voluntarily declared on the Bench that if any free persons of color were entitled from the excellence of their standing to remain they were your petitioners - and yet, with this admission of their claims, which they believe was universal with the court, they decided against their prayer, solely and [cowardly?], on the ground aforesaid. Your petitioners will bow with all respect, to the will of the court, and if it [is? be?] right, will suffer its consequences. But they are informed by their counsel and friends, that the construction of the law, by the court, is not the true one. that it was never the intention of the legislature to forbid the courts, except in the cases above set forth to grant emancipated slaves leave to remain in the state but that under the late act of March 22 1837 (see [illegible]: acts 1836-7 ch: 70) the legislature intended, as well for the sale of convenience, as for the bitter canvassing the claims of applicants to transfer to the county and corporation courts the hearings and decision of such applications - leaving it to those tribunals, in the exercise of a found discretion to grant the leave asked in every case, where, if the application had been made to the legislature, that body would have entertained it favorably. Your petitioners as before stated are without children, and have arrived at that period, when there is no probability, they will ever, be in a different condition. They have, each, at