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Bilberry, Benjamin: Petition, Richmond City

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To the Hon'ble the Speaker and Gentlemen of the Assembly, The Humble petition of Benjamin Bilberry, sheweth that your Petitioner's wife, by the name of Kate, was the property of Mr Abraham Cowley deceased and by him kept in a State of Bondage. That your Petitioner desirous to liberate her had by his unremitted labours acquired Property on a Lott of land upon Shockoe Hill, which the said Abraham Cowley was willing to receive as a consideration for the purchase of your petitioner's wife. He hath accordingly conveyed the said Lott to the purchaser & hath his wife now in his possession. But being advised that his purchase instead of liberating his said wife, & freeing her perpetually from the Shackles of Bondage, has only changed her Master, and that at his your petitioner's death she with her future offspring will be subject to slavery again, he hopes and prays that your Hon'ble House will pass an Act for her emancipation. To freemen who are on the [eve of basking?] in peace the blessings of a free constitution, he need not suggest the reflections inspired only by nature in his mind to obtain a favourable reception to his Petition, for even to his uncultivated mind it is inhumane to know that he himself, by the Laws of this, now independent Commonwealth is forced to hold his own wife in a Slavish Bondage without the power of making her as free as himself. To a generous mind the Idea of continuing such a Custom will not bear to be dwelt on. Your petitioner therefore again humbly prays that no policy may restrict your Honors from empowering him to enjoy the sweet reflection of having spent the whole labours of his Life in bestowing freedom on one equal by nature (whose Laws alone he is acquainted with) to himself, & whom he has chosen to be the partner of his worldly Cares. & he shall as in duty bound ever pray &c [etc.]. Benjamin Bilberry