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Brown, Billy: Petition, Prince Edward County

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To The General Assembly of Virginia, The Petition of Billy Brown a free man of colour, respectfully shewith: That some years past his master permit[t]ed him to purchase his freedom at a moderate price; an act of special kindness to which he begs leave to refer as furnishing some evidence of his good conduct while a slave. Since which time he has, for about nine years, been employed as a servant in Hampden Sidney College. In this situation he has constantly endeavored to discharge his duty faithfully, and so to conduct himself as to obtain the confidence of the neighborhood. This he hopes will satisfactorily appear from the certificates accompanying this petition. He has by a course of honest industry, and careful [illegible] acquired some property, sufficient probably with ordinary labour for the support of the balance of his life, which he hoped to have passed with his family for whose comfort he has been always anxious to provide. He is, however, informed that the laws will not permit him to remain as a free man in this Commonwealth, and that now he is growing old, and his ability to labour must soon in a great degree, if not entirely, fail, he must either seek a residence abroad, separating himself from his wife and children, who have not the right or power to remove with him and relinquish forever his best enjoyments, and every prospect of future quiet or comfort, or forfeit his liberty. From this wretched alternative your Petitioner prays to be relieved by an act of The General Assembly, allowing him to remain a free man in Virginia, And as in his humble Station he trust he has been a useful honest man. so will he from a sense of gratitude for a privilege of such inestimable value, be impelled to [illegible] every effort in his power, to