The Resource Free blacks records

Free blacks records

Free blacks records, 1833-1863
Free blacks records
Inclusive dates
  • The Free Blacks Records, 1833-1863, are arranged alphabetically by folder title, with oversized materials arranged to the rear. The records include correspondence, court records, lists, minutes, petitions, receipts, reports, resolutions, and returns regarding the taxation of free blacks and efforts to transport free blacks to the coast of Africa
  • The Lists of Free Negroes and Mulattoes, 1833-1836 and 1862-1863, were created by local Commissioners of Revenue and are arranged chronologically and then alphabetically by county name within each year. The lists are a great source for genealogists and contain the names, occupations, and ages of free blacks. Related to the Lists of Free Negroes and Mulattoes are the Returns, Commissioners for the Assessment of Free Negroes, 1852-1860. The Returns are payments made to the local Commissioners of Revenue for assessing the number of free blacks in their localities. The Commissioners were paid two cents per free blacks they assessed and the receipts include the number of free blacks in the county but do not contain names or any other identifying information. The Sheriffs Commissions for Capitation Taxes of Free Negroes records, 1857-1859, are receipts from the Auditor of Public Accounts for payments made to local sheriff's for collecting taxes on free blacks. The sheriffs received a percentage of the capitation taxes on free blacks and the receipts state the amount of money and percentage on the tax they received
  • Of note are the receipts, 1835-1849, to Lucy Powell of Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1815 Lucy, a slave belonging to Ptolemy Powell of Spotsylvania County, Virginia, heard of a possible slave revolt being organized by George Boxley. Lucy reported the information to Ptolemy Powell who in turn informed the local magistrate. Local authorities got involved and the insurrection was interrupted. In February 1818 the General Assembly passed an act authorizing Governor James P. Preston to purchase and set free Lucy Powell. An additional act was passed 3 January 1824 that provided Lucy a yearly sum of one hundred dollars as her annual allowance. Included are receipts for the annual payments made from the Court of Hustings of Lynchburg which was then reimbursed by the Auditor of Public Accounts
  • Included is a copy of the 4 March 1833 Act of General Assembly "making appropriations for the removal of free persons of color" to the western coast of Africa and established a board of commissioners charged with carrying out the provisions of the act. Also included are reports, 1833, from localities regarding their ability to find free blacks who were willing to relocate to Liberia. Most of the localities were unable to find free blacks who were willing or able to relocate, although a few such as Bedford, Charlotte, and Fayette Counties, and Petersburg, named some that were willing to move. For those localities that identified free blacks, the reports included names, ages, and sometimes height
  • Of note are the Board of Commissioners for the Removal of Free Persons of Color records, 1833-1856, containing correspondence, lists, minutes, oaths, and resolutions. Included are lists of free blacks, lists of free blacks who emigrated to Liberia (including the name of the ship), lists of free blacks willing to emigrate, and resolutions to send money to the American Colonization Society and to those who transported the free blacks to Liberia. The Colonization Board paid fifty dollars for each person transported. Also included is a report of the Board of Commissioners, 1835, containing a list of free blacks transported to Liberia and including their names, ages, and where they had lived in Virginia
  • Also of note are the voluntary enslavement petitions, 1857-1860. In 1856 the Virginia General Assembly passed an act allowing free persons of color who desired to remain in the commonwealth to petition for re-enslavement and choose an owner and remain in the state. The records are arranged chronologically and the petitions include the petitioners name, previous owner, means of emancipation, and their desired owner. The new owner also had to pay the court for the purchase of the free person and a value was placed and paid for the reinslaved free black
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).
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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 slaves ran away or were imprisoned or executed. Some condemned slaves were transported beyond the state's boundaries to Africa. The American Colonization Society chartered ships to transport free negroes and condemned slaves to Liberia.
  • Free blacks were discouraged from remaining in Virginia because their presence was a contradiction of the concept of black slavery. Restrictive laws and special taxes, as well as official support for emigration to Liberia, prompted many free blacks to leave. A few were reenslaved "voluntarily" because of debt or criminality. Occasionally a free black was authorized to remain in the state by a special act of the General Assembly for some "essential service".
Cataloging source
Citation location within source
entry no. 757
Citation source
Auditor of Public Accounts inventory
Free blacks records
These records are part of Auditor of Public Accounts. Disbursements to Localities and Individuals: Public Claims - Slaves and Free Blacks
Arranged alphabetically by folder title with oversize materials arranged to the rear.
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Finding aid
Immediate source of acquisition
Free blacks records, 1833-1863,
Type of unit
cu. ft. (4 boxes)

Library Locations

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