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AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum

BROOKS family ~ free

The origin of the BROOKS family that was free in colonial Virginia and North
Carolina was as follows:

James1 Brooks, born say 1679, had property of (his son?) William Brooks
valued at 3 pounds currency on 17 January 1731/2 when the York County,
Virginia court ordered an attachment on the property to pay a debt William
owed John Byrd (a free African American). The court called James Brooks the
"slave" of John Buckner when Buckner was ordered to bring him into court
[York County Orders, Wills 17:256, 262]. On 13 June 1754 James Brooks, Sr.,
was one of fourteen heads of household who were sued in Southampton County
Court by William Bynum (informer) for failing to pay the discriminatory tax
on free African American and Indian women. James Brooks, Sr., died before 8
March 1759 when a writing purporting to be his last will was presented to
the Southampton County Court for proof but was ordered to be lodged in the
clerk's office because James Brooks (Jr.) entered a caveat against it. On 13
March 1760 the court ruled that the will was not valid because at the time
he made it, he was the slave of his son James Brooks, Jr. The court based
its ruling on the York County bill of sale by which James Brooks, Jr.,
purchased his father from John Buckner on 9 March 1733/4; the deposition of
Young Moreland who testified that James Brooks, Sr., "mullattoe," was once a
slave of Major John Buckner of York County but was purchased by his son
James Brooks in exchange for a "negroe" slave named David; and the
deposition of Charles Hansford, Sr., of York County who testified that he
knew a "mullattoe called Jemmy Brookes" who lived as a servant or slave with
Mr. John Buckner of Yorktown but left those parts and was said to have been
freed by his son [Southampton County Orders 1749-54, 500, 512; 1754-9, 24-5,
34-5, 502; 1759-63, 24].
(Note that it was illegal to free a slave in colonial Virginia after 1723
without legislative approval).
You can read the history of most of the African American families that were
free during the colonial period on


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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