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AfriGeneas Slave Research Forum

Re: 1803 Va laws regarding freed slaves

Thank you for your response. On the 1787 tax list for Russell County, Samuel has one black over 16 and one under 16. From that time until 1803 the tax listings only indicate one black and he over 16 years.

On the 1815 tax assessment, he has two slaves, one male and one female, both 12 to 50, and valued at $600. I believe these would be Sawney (20) and Violet (16). Samuel placed Sarah in the care of his daughter, Jane, Fitzgerald about 1808 when Sarah was about 13. However, on the 1820 census, he has three slaves listed. One male, 16 to 25, one male over 45 and one female over 45. Could the two slaves on the 1815 assessment be the older two and the children not listed since they were under 21?

Just trying to piece things together. In the deed of emancipation, Samuel says that he believes God created all men equal and that all were born free, so he was emancipating the three children, the girls at 25 and the boy at 28. If he believed all men should be free,then why didn't he emancipate the older couple. I don't think they would have been over 45 in 1803 since they were under 50 in 1815.

Samuel records the doe in 1803 when Sarah is 8. When she is 13, she is placed in the care of Samuel's daughter, Jane Fitzgerald, who then moves to Washington County, TN. Judging from the details of a petition in my possession (148 pages), I believe Sarah had a daughter named Margaret at this time (1808).

Samuel dies in 1820 and Sarah is never emancipated. Jane Fitzgerald divorces her husband in 1854 and receives full ownership of Sarah's family (kids and grandkids, about 13 souls) as part of her alimony.

Jane dies in 1858 and ownership falls to her estate. Sarah testified in an 1858 bill filed in the WC court that Jane's heirs were arguing about what to do with her family. Divide them up or sell them all and split the money.

Having been told previously that Master Robinson had provided for her freedom, Sarah sent someone to Russell county to find the deed of emancipation (Possibly her son-in-law, Elbert Hale, a free person of color). The deed was located and a petition filed in WC, TN Court.

The judge ordered the Fitzgerald family to cease all actions regarding the Sarah's family, declared all of her descendants to be free persons and assigned a Court Receiver to take possession of the family and hire them out until court costs and legal fees were paid in full.

In 1858, the Judge determined that 1803 VA law applied, not TN law, since the deed was filed in Russell County. Then, in 1864, the Judge changes his mind and orders the receiver to investigate the costs of transporting the able bodied members of the family to Liberia.

When the Receiver reports back to court, he determined the cost to be $850 and added that to the amount the family had to earn. Sarah is deceased by this time, and a daughter and three granddaughters are unable to make the trip, but the remainder are to be sent to Africa when the money is earned. However, he ends his report by stating that the US Navy had the Confederate ports blockaded, so nobody was going anywhere.

When the war ended, the trip to Africa was no longer required, so about $600 was refunded to Sarah's family and they were finally free of their debt.

During the time that they were being hired out, the receiver placed them in the custody of two free men of color, Elbert Hale and Nelson Ford, Sarah's sons-in-law.

One of the debts listed in the accountant's report was a receipt dated 03 Jan 1860 in the amount of $5.50 for Sarah's coffin.


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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