The first mention of negro slavery in connection with the Choate family occurs as follows: "June 30, 1714. A negro boy, who had been bought by Thomas Choate of Hogg Island of one Joseph Norwood of Gloucester and sold to Jonathan Bunker of Charlestown."
Then Thomas Choate, while a member of the General Court, bought on Long Wharf, Boston, for his son, Francis Choate, a negro boy just arrived from Africa by the name of "Ned". He was about eighteen years of age when purchased. He subsequently married the girl Sabina, or "Binah", as she was called, a negress for whom one "Phillis" was exchanged with Robert Choate, of Ipswich. Vid. Bill of Sale. Ned and Binah had seven children, all of whom were baptised as Ned was a member of the church. Their names were Edward, Titus, Peter, Caezar, Jane, Violet, and Peggy. Edward went to Leicester, Mass. with Isaac Choate; Peter was sold to John Choate, Esq.; Titus and Caezar remained with the family; Jane and Violet, when girls, took cold by sleeping in the barn after a famous husking, and died. They lie buried in the corner of a field near some large rocks, the only burials on the Island except those of Indians. "Uncle Ned" remained with Esquire Francis Choate after "The Governor" Thomas Choate removed to the main land to a house which stood next to the one now occupied by Mrs. Abby P. Choate. He lived to be full ninety years of age and died in 1800. "Ned and Binah" remained slaves until 1845 when Mr. Francis Choate gave them their freedom if they wished to take it, otherwise they were to be supported. They chose to remain with the family and accordingly were cared for as long as they lived.
LIEUT. ROBERT CHOATE'S BILL OF SALE OF A NEGRO WOMAN TO FRANCIS CHOATE.
"Know all men, by these presents that I, Robert Choate of Ipswich in the county of Essex and Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, yeoman, for and in consideration of a certain Negro-woman slave to me sold and conveyed by Francis Choate of Ipswich afresaid yeoman in Bill of Sale equally dated. With these presents (said Negro named Phillis) wherefore I do hereby sell, convey, make over, release, confirm and deliver unto the said Francis Choate and his heirs and assigns a certain Negro woman slave named "Binah" or Sabina for and during the term of her natural life according to the deed and form of law in that case. To have and to hold said Negro woman for the purpose, benefit and behoof of him the said Francis Choate his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns the term of her natural life aforesaid and I the said Robert Choate for myself, my executors heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, against all and all manner of persons shall warrant and forever defend by these presents for witness whereof I hereunto set my hand and seal. Of our sovereign Lord, George the Second, by the grace of God of Great Britain France and Ireland Being Defender of the Faith &c. And in the year of our Lord God Annoque domine one thousand seven hundred thirty & four. Robert Choate. Signed sealed and delivered in the presence of Jacob Story and Jeremiah Foster.
For anybody interested in this family of Ned and Binah, there is a lengthy poem written about Choate Island (written by a Choate). One stanza reads: "Beneath the shelter of the low green mound -- Their early fate all unforgotten yet -- Sleep on in death's long dreamless slumber sound. The two slave sisters, Jane and Violet."
Thank you for providing me an opportunity to help the descendants of Ned and Binah locate them. As for my ancestors apparent position on slavery, it was the most regrettable discovery in the genealogical search. I am a descendant of Thomas Choate who made the original "purchase" for his son Francis. I would like to think that Francis Choate's offer of freedom or provision of care for Ned and Binah for the rest of their lives was a realization on his part that slavery was wrong. I would like to think this but, alas, I have no proof. If it were possible, I would be delighted to communicate with the descendants of Ned and Binah. I hope my efforts make up in some small part for that horrendous past.
Wendy Carroll, Chandler, AZ
Contributed by: Canajen