HALIFAX   COUNTY

   

 Halifax County Slavery Petitions

 

Following are abstracts of petitions filed by Halifax County citizens from the Digital Library on American Slavery Collection. These records include the names of many slaves and can be very valuable for those researching their slave ancestors. 

I've included the outcome of the petition if it was indicated in the record.

 

 

State: North Carolina Year: 1785
Location: Halifax County

Elizabeth Miller, the widow of Andrew Miller, laments that she "had the misfortune to lose her husband ... and to be left with a very numerous Family of children in a condition embarrassing and distressing to the greatest degree." Noting that her late husband was "one of the Persons whose Estate has been confiscated by an act of the General Assembly," the petitioner prays that said General Assembly "will have the goodness to restore to her such part of the property of her late Husband in this State as hath not been already disposed of." Several tracts of land and five slaves once belonging to Andrew Miller and Company have already been sold.

Result: No recorded result

Others named as owners:
Jonathan B. Ashe, Robert Fenner, John Geddy, Turnifold Green

Slaves:
Bobb - black male
Ceasar - black male
Hannah - black female
Mungale - black
Will - black male


 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1787
Location: Halifax County

Fanny McNeill, widow of James McNeill of Halifax County, states that his property "was confiscated and sold by the Commissioner of Halifax district which said property your said Petitioner claimed the third part of." McNeill reports that she "has since drawn the money out of the hands of Commissioner," except for 270 "in the hands of Joseph Clinch of Nash
County, it being the amount of the Sales of three negroes, for which the said Clinch as not yet paid." The petitioner therefore prays that "she may be permitted to receive her proportion."

Result: No recorded result

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State: North Carolina Year: 1787
Location: Halifax County

William Parham relates that he and his father journeyed to the residence of a certain Widow Cox in Halifax County for the purpose of retrieving a slave in which his father had "an indubitable right to." The petitioner states that his father took the slave into his possession, whereby he was charged with trespass and, for which offence, the petitioner posted a two-hundred-pound bond. Parham states that he believed there was "no absolute necessity for his appearance at said court" and that he forfeited said bond when he failed to appear. "Being a poor man with a large increasing family," the petitioner prays for relief.

Result: denied

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State: North Carolina Year: 1790
Location: Chowan County

Edmund Blount recounts that his sister Elizabeth married Halifax County merchant Andrew Miller, who fled to Bermuda in 1776 "in a State of Distress." Blount further states that he purchased "five Negro men" held by Miller "for the Sum of Sixteen hundred Pounds the then Currency of this State." He states that he hired three of said slaves "to Gentlemen in Hallifax where they were employed in the Boating Business Being used to it & Prefered it to farming." Blount reveals that, despite his right to the three slaves, a commissioner of confiscated property "took them into his Possession and sold them." Blount "humbly prays that he may Receive such Relief in Regard of the Premises as to the wisdom & Justice of the Legislature shall seem meet."

Result: Senate, House: read, referred

Slaves:
Bob - black male
Caesar - black male
Charles - black male
Hungate - black male
Jamaica - black male
 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Halifax County

Randal Parks seeks a reprieve from the death sentence imposed upon him "for stealing Negroes as the laws in this case direct." Currently "in Jail in the Town of Halifax," Parks "begs leave to represent ... that a petition was drawn and signed by a number of respectible Persons in the Town and County of Halifax praying his Excellency the Governor to pardon him from the execution of the sentence." Now being advised to seek a pardon from the General Assembly, Parks prays "that a pardon may be issued relieving him from the agonies of death, when it is likewise the request of many of those who are acquainted with him."

Result: No recorded result
 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Halifax County

Sixty-nine citizens seek clemency for
Randal Parks, "a very young man" convicted "of stealing negroes" and condemned to death for said crime. They aver that Parks "sometime ago removed into this state from Virginia and from the neighbourhood and protection of a very respectable family," whereby he was "not only deprived of their advice and example, but was also exposed to the company of evil disposed persons by which means the said Randal owing to his youth, easy temper and complying disposition was induced to engage in
the crime for which he now stands convicted." They therefore pray "your Excellency to grant him a pardon."

Result: No recorded result

Petitioners: Robert Cochron, Drury Daniel, Dolphin Drew, William Duncan, David Hardee, Benjamin Hawkins, Henry Hawkins, James Ladd, Peter Turner, Benjamin Weaver


 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1798
Location: Halifax County

Jesse Rhymes represents that the late Thomas Amis, in his will, did "lend unto my friend Jesse Rhymes one negro woman, named Grace and her son Harry, during his natural life, requesting that he will on his part take the earliest opportunity of obtaining their liberation." The petitioner, "being desirous of seeing the above earnest and humane request of his deceased friend carried into execution," prays that "your Honorable body, with whom alone, as he understands, is lodged the power of granting freedom to slaves, ... would be pleased to liberate the said Grace and Harry, under, and by the names of Grace Webb and Harry Webb."

Result: Senate, House: read, referred

 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Halifax County

Henry Motley "is desirous of emancipating" a slave named Winney, who "has rendered not only to him but to his family in general" faithful service. Motley maintains that "were if not for the care assiduity and attention of this Slave, a numerous offspring of his father, who were left by his death without sufficient funds for their maintenance, must have considerably suffered." He further notes that Winney "thro her Industry and care and that of her husband, has accumulated some small Estate ... to become useful and necessary in her neighborhood." Revealing that Winney "has paid to your Petitioner sufficiently for her freedom," Motley asks that a law be passed "to sett free the said Winney by the name of Winney Guvenread."

Result: granted
 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1801
Location: Northampton County

Free black
Len Kenchen took the slave Rebecca as his wife more than fifteen years prior to the filing of his petition. He purchased her some five years later her owner, Robert Armstead of Scotland Neck, for 45 Virginia currency. Now the couple is old and infirm, and Kenchen asks to free Rebecca who has been "a dutyful wife and a faithful Servant."

Result: granted
 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1824
Location: Halifax County

James McCrory contends that "he is Justly entitled to pay for Three years service" rendered during the American Revolution. He admits that he presented his account to officials, who told him "the account was Just" but could not be paid "in consequence of the [scarcity] of money in the Treasury." McCrory states that said officials "proposed giving me a Negro with one Hand burned off for my account" to which he replied "I would [rather] have nothing as have him and I then left there not knowing that there was any way that I could get my pay." The petitioner therefore prays "his case may be taken into consideration by your honourable Body and you cause your Humble Petitioner to be Payed his Just right."

Result: rejected
 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1831
Location: Halifax County

Jesse H. Simmons, commander of the Roanoke Blues a light infantry company, reports that "information reached Halifax Town Stating that the Slaves of Southampton VA were in a state of open rebellion" and that he soon thereafter mobilized his men to march "to the assistence of our distressed neighbours in Southampton." He reports that, in his absence, his house became a "retreat not only for the militia actually called out but for a great number of women and children of Halifax Town & County," whereby he incurred expense in feeding them "for several days" and in caring for their horses. Admitting that "he was disposed and did do all in his power to serve his Country in this unfortunate affair," Simmons nevertheless asserts that "he is unable and unwilling to sustain a loss as heavy as this." The petitioner therefore prays that he receive remuneration, even though "he is unable himself to make any estimate of what he actually did suffer." Related documents reveal that during Simmons's absence, "all the male servants were taken up and put in Jail" during the "alarm."

Result: referred to county court
 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1832
Location: Halifax County

Mary Reid seeks a divorce from her husband Elias. Mary, also called Polly, confides that the said Elias, shortly after their marriage, told her "that altho she was his wife he had no regard for her" and that he "had married her alone for the property which she brought him;" said property consisted of "a very large personal estate consisting mostly of negro slaves." She further states that her husband banished her "from his house & placed her at his negro quarter where she was deprived of all the conveniences as well as necessaries of life beyond a bare sufficiency to support existence." Mary maintains "that while at the said negro quarter her provisions were measured out to her in the same way as if she had been a
field labourer." Having abandoned her husband and "now destitute," the petitioner prays that "the tie which binds her to her husband" be dissolved and that she be granted "all the relief which her case shall require."

Result: No recorded result


 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1838
Location: Halifax County

Gideon P. Harvey and P. P. Harvey, "old and advanced in years," are desirous "of having the said slaves viz Elizabeth, Preston, Denton, and Mary Emancipated." They represent that they "are fully satisfied and believes that the said slaves ... are entitled and ought to enjoy those privileges from merit and good behavior towards the petitioners," one of whom "has been for many years subject to Colick, Rheumatism & other diseases that is common to the human family." They therefore pray "that your honorable body will pass a Law to emancipate" thirty-seven-year-old Elizabeth, thirty-two-year-old Preston, thirty-year-old Denton, and twenty-year-old Mary.

Result: referred to committee

Related Documents: List of Subscribers, 20 October 1838; Notice of Emancipation, 12 October 1838; Affidavit of Gideon P. Harvey, 12 November 1838; Sworn Oath of Mary Williams, 12 November 1838

Note: This family moved to Marion Co., Indiana by 1850, along with the Bartlett Hedgepeth family.

 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1840
Location: Halifax County

Fifty residents of Halifax County "do petition to the Hon Legislators of No Carolina to prohibit Free Negroes and molatoes from carrying or useing fire armes under any circumstances what ever."

Result: No recorded result

Petitioners: W. H. Day, Daniel L. Ellis, William E. Hallsey, Benjamin Ivy, John Lawrence, John K. Martin, T. W. Pierce, William Richards, R. H. Walker, Littlebury Wilcox

 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1844
Location: Halifax County

Seventeen Halifax County residents complain that "it has become a common occurrence for runaway negroes to provide themselves with guns in this County, & to use them in providing themselves provisions, & by threats to intimidate and frighten the timid thereby rendering their apprehension extremely difficult." They cite one example of a farmer who "lost by them seventy five hogs" where the runaways alleged "as the reason they stole from him in particular that he hunted for them; they sent him word, that if he would not hunt for them again -- they would not kill any more of his hogs -- but if he did, they should kill him." Eager "to put a stop to such monstrous outrages of the well being and order of society," the petitioners "would respectfully suggest to your honorable body the passage of a law upon the subject, based on the following principles, to wit -- the negro to be hung, & the state pay the owner for him, & that no one to be held accountable for shooting him while in the woods." They understand that "your honorable body, may perhaps think that the above principles of a law, would be too strong, we dare say they are." They assert, however, "we think strong remedies ought to be used."

Result: approved by committee

Petitioners: G. H. Allen, W. H. Day, Mark Harris, G. W. Ivey, John Ivey, N. M. Long, William M. Moody, James Perkins, Rice B. Perkins, James Simmons

 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1850
Location: Halifax County

In 1825,
Thomas Hudson made died. In his will, he bequeathed to his widow, Martha Hudson, during her life time, the slaves Ben and Eliza Fails. Upon Martha's death, Eliza and any children she might have were to be emancipated, with five hundred dollars "put out at interest" for her benefit. In 1828, Martha married Littleberry Wilcox, putting her property in a trust estate. In later years, Eliza gave birth to Sally who in turn gave birth to Eliza's grandchild. When Martha Hudson Wilcox died in 1849, Eliza was dead, and Rice B. Pierce, the executor of her estate, sold Sally and her child for six hundred dollars. The petitioners and heirs argue that the emancipation of Eliza was void according to law, and the five hundred dollars legacy was invalid because "a slave cannot hold or be, in law, the owner of property." As next of kin, they should therefore receive the proceeds of the sale of the two slaves as well as legacy. They ask the court to summon Pierce and order him to pay the money they believe is rightfully theirs. They also name Mary Shine, another legatee under Thomas's will, and her children as defendants.

Result: granted

Petitioners: Mary Hudson Cheatham, Mary B. Hudson Fowlkes, Irby Hudson, Jane Hudson Overton, Alexander B. Pierce, B. F. Simmons

Defendants: Harriet T. Penton, William Penton, Rice B. Pierce, Mary Shine, Mary Shine, Jr.

Slaves:
Ben - black male
Billy ([Hannibal]) - black male
Sally ([Sarah]) - black female
Eliza Fails -black female (died before 1850)

 

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State: North Carolina Year: 1851
Location: Halifax County

About 1825,
Thomas Hudson died. In his will, he bequeathed to his widow, Martha Hudson, during her life time, the slaves Ben and Eliza Fails. Upon Martha's death, Eliza and any children she might have were to be emancipated, with five hundred dollars "put out at interest" for her benefit. In later years, Eliza gave birth to Sally who in turn gave birth to Eliza's grandchild. By the time of Martha Hudson's death, Eliza was dead, and Sally and her child were sold out of her estate by Rice B. Pierce, the executor of the will. The petitioners claim that they are the next of kin of Thomas Hudson and that he died "intestate as to the slaves, and the said sum of five Hundred Dollars." The petitioners therefore seek to get their share of the proceeds of the sale of the two slaves as well as the legacy left to the slaves. They also add that it is their understanding that Thomas Hudson died with large sums of money owed to him, money that went to his widow, and then to her executor. They believe it should go to them as well.

Result: granted

Petitioners: Mary Cheatham, Mary B. Fowlkes, Irby Hudson, Jane Overton, Alexander B. Pierce, Mary Rawls, Benjamin F. Simmons

Defendants: Harriet T. Penton, William H. Penton, Rice B. Pierce, Mary Shine

Slaves:
Ben - black male
Sarah - black female
Eliza Fails - black female (died before 1851)
 

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