The Resource Condemned slaves and free blacks executed or transported : records

Condemned slaves and free blacks executed or transported : records

Condemned slaves and free blacks executed or transported : records, 1781-1865
Condemned slaves and free blacks executed or transported
Title remainder
Inclusive dates
  • These records are part of Auditor of Public Accounts. Disbursements to Localities and Individuals: Public Claims - Slaves and Free Blacks
  • The Condemned Slaves and Free Blacks Executed or Transported Records, 1781-1865, are housed in 11 boxes and arranged into three series. Series have been designated for Series I: Slaves executed records, 1781-1864; Series II. Transportation records, 1788-1865; and Series III. Miscellaneous records, 1816-1855. These records concern payment from the Auditor of Public Accounts to slave owner(s) for the execution or transportation of a slave (or multiple slaves) condemned for capital crimes committed
  • The records, 1781-1865, contain affidavits, bonds, correspondence, court records, death warrants, estate files, power of attorneys, receipts, sheriff certificates, and valuations of slaves and free blacks convicted for capital crimes and sentenced to be executed or transported from the United States. Capital cases involving slaves and free blacks were tried before special sessions of the local courts called Courts of Oyer and Terminer. Oyer and Terminer cases were held before a commission authorized to hear a criminal case with special circumstances. Capital cases heard in Oyer and Terminer Courts usually included murder, attempted murder, burglary, rape, attempted rape, infanticide, house burning, and insurrection. If found guilty of the crime, a slave or free person of color was either executed or sold and transported outside of the boundaries of the United States. If a slave were condemned, his or her value was estimated and certified to the Auditor of Public Accounts for payment to his or her owner to cover the loss of property. Executions of condemned slaves waned after the 1830s when sale and transportation became more favorable. Slaves and free blacks condemned to sale and transportation were usually held at the State Penitentiary until the sale took place
  • The records are identified by the slave owner's name and the date on which the Auditor of Public Acounts paid the owner for his or her loss of the slave(s). Many of the files include a copy of the judgment and court records detailing the crime and sentence, while other files simply contain a valuation and receipt from the Auditor's Office. Also included are statements from the sheriff certifying that the execution took place. The vast majority of the records pertain to condemned slaves and very few of these records contain information about free persons of color. Some sporadic references to free blacks can be found in Bonds for Transportations and Executive Authority to Sell Transportees, found in Series II: Transportation records, Subseries B and C. Additional records relating to free persons of color can be found in Series III: Miscellaneous Records, Lists of slaves and free persons of color received into the Penitentiary of Virginia
  • The records contain information on the slave(s) such as name, age, locality, and owner's name. Of note are several files of execution and transportation records that pertain to insurrections led by Gabriel Prosser (1800) in Henrico County, Virginia, and Nat Turner (1831) in Southampton County, Virginia
Agency history record describes the history and functions of the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (1776-1928). (Search Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (1776-1928) as author).
Member of
Additional physical form
Also available on microfilm
Biographical or historical data
  • During the antebellum period the General Assembly passed increasingly restrictive laws in response to white fears of slave crime and insurrection. Procedures were established to compensate slaveholders for the loss of their property when saves ran away or were imprisoned or executed. Some condemned slaves were transported beyond the state's boundaries, frequently to Africa.
  • Free blacks, too, were subjected to harsh laws intended to persuade or compel them to leave Virginia. Special taxes were assessed against them, emigration to Liberia was promoted, and reenslavement for debt or crime was threatened constantly. Some free blacks did leave, but most stayed despite the restrictions.
  • Capital cases involving slaves and free blacks were tried before special sessions of local courts and included murder, attempted murder, and burglary. If a slave was condemned, his value to his owner was estimated and certified to the auditor of public accounts for payment. Alternatives to execution included sale or expulsion from the state by order of the governor. Often brief transcripts of trial records were sent to Richmond with the slave's valuation, especially if reprieve and transportation to Africa were under consideration.
Cataloging source
Citation coverage
Auditor of Public Accounts inventory
Citation location within source
entry no. 756
Condemned slaves and free blacks executed or transported : records
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Finding aid
Organization method
The collection is arranged into the following series: Series I: Slaves executed records, 1781-1864 Series II. Transportation records, 1788-1865 Series III. Miscellaneous records, 1816-1855
Type of unit
cu. ft. (11 boxes)

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
Processing Feedback ...