Browne, James: Petition, Norfolk County
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should they be deemed free. And because the suit was expected to be decided at every succeeding term. He had himself little or no use for them had they even been negros capable of rendering services or performing hard labour, but the greater part of them were breeding women, and small children and uncommonly sickly. Such of them as were able to labour believing themselves entitled to freedom were unwilling to do so, and did not actually perform a sufficiency of labour to be taken into account at all. Your petitioner had no right to chastise them or compel them to labour, because having instituted a suit to establish them freedom they are by law to be considered free during the pendency of their suit and dealt with as such. But could they be viewed in a different light, and your petitioner had, had the right of exercising severity towards them yet he would be restrained from doing so by the fear of their elopement. Seeing after a lapse of several months, that there was no certainly at what period the cause would have an end, and feeling the burthen of their support pressing hard upon him (having their provisions to buy) he made many applications to the Court to afford him relief by some other steps relative to them, but without success. At September Court 1804 he presented his account up to that time, the Court considered that the Commonwealth was chargable therewith, and ordered it to be certified to the auditor of public accounts for payment. That officer rejected it alledging [alleging] that the case was not provided for by Law. at October Court next following your petitioner represented his