Depp, Abraham: Petition, Powhatan County
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to be a Deed of emancipation, has recently been submitted to learned Counsel, and by them adjudged to be defective as a Deed, because the word Seal is not mentioned in the body of the instrument, although a scroll is attached thereto, and the word Seal written in it. The omission of this small technicality your Petitioner is adjudged under the sd [said] instrument of writing void as a Deed of emancipation and deprives him of the claim which he would otherwise have to rest his right to Freedom upon an instrument of writing executed before the Act of 1806, by which all Slaves emancipated since that act, are compelled to leave the Commonwealth within 12 months after their right to freedom accrues or else to become liable to be sold as slaves. Your Petitioner is also advised that if his claim to freedom could be placed on the foundation of this instrument of 1801 as a legal Deed that he would have a right to remain in the Commonwealth and enjoy that fortune which the bounty of his late Master and Benefactor had graciously bestowed upon him. Your Petitioner also represents that he is by trade a blacksmith, that he is the owner of a fixed and settled residence, and in a pecuniary situation which places him far beyond the reach of those little temptations to theft and other vices to which too many of the free people of colour are exposed. That he has at all times supported a fair and unimpeached moral character. That he had at all times a large share of his late master's confidence and that his mater's widow with whom he still lives regards him as one of her best friends and supporters in her declining years. Your Petitioner would not feel himself authorized
to speak of himself in the foregoing terms, if it were not necessary to a just and fair presentation of his case and he hopes that the accompanying written statements from under the hand of his late Mistress Mrs Elizabeth Depp and the extension, and almost indiscriminate wish of his fellow county men & neighbors for him to remain in the state, will furnish ample proof of the foregoing facts. He therefore prays as in duty bound that your Honourable body will pass a Law permitting him to remain in the Commonwealth of Virginia during his natural life and in the event of this his humble petition not being deemed reasonable, that he may be permitted to remain within the State for and during Five years from the passage of the act, so as to afford him an opportunity of settling up his business and of receiving, & disposing of the estate devised and bequeathed him by his late master. And your Petitioner will ever pray etc. Abraham Depp