The Resource Northumberland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records

Northumberland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records

Northumberland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1786-1862
Northumberland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records
Inclusive dates
  • Northumberland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1786-1862. The collection contains applications to register as a free negro, 1818 and 1822; the apprenticeship of William Garner, a free African American, 1862; certificates of importation of slaves, 1799 and 1803; a deed of manumission freeing an enslaved woman called Fanny from Daniel Muse, 1802; two printed circular letters to the county clerk pertaining to slaves and free African Americans, 1802 and 1833; a list of three enslaved people, Judy, Bett, and Esther, belonging to Nancy Blackwell, 1786; two petitions for reenslavement (Jerry Glascock, 1857; and George Kent, 1860); registers (registrations) of free negroes, 1829-1845
  • Applications to register as a free negro, 1818 and 1822, and free negro registrations, 1829-1845, contain name, sometimes age and a brief physical description, and the circumstances of the person's freedom or emancipation. If born free, reference is sometimes made to parents. If emancipated, the emancipating owner, place and date of emancipation, and prior registration as a free negro are usually mentioned
  • Certificates of importation of slaves, 1799 and 1803, contains the oath of James Cox stating that the enslaved people he is bringing into Virginia from Maryland were not imported from Africa and that he does not intend to sell them in Virginia. The statement contains the names of the slaves he is bringing into Virginia. The other document is a certificate issued by thethe county clerk to William Harding in 1803 stating that Harding has complied with the law concerning the importation of slaves from Maryland into Virginia
  • The circular letter, 1802, is a communication from the Governor of Virginia informing county clerks of laws requiring county courts to record proceedings against enslaved people accused of capital offenses, and to submit copies of those records to the executive branch. The circular letter, 1833, is from the Board of Commissioners appointed by the legislature in 1833 to make appropriations for the removal of free persons of color from Virginia. The letter is a follow-up to an earlier request for information to aid the Board with plans to sponsor a ship to transport free persons of color from Virginia to Liberia in November 1834, under the direction of the American Colonization Society
  • Jerry Glascock's petition for reenslavement, 1857, contains the circumstances of his emancipation, his rationale for requesting reenslavement, and his choice of James Kelly as his owner. The papers related to the petition also contain a record of the court's examination of the parties involved in the case to ensure the absence of fraud or collusion; a bond, a summons, and two copies of William Kelly's will emancipating Glascock and the rest of Kelly's slaves, proven in Lancaster County 1847. In his will, Kelly provides five hundred dollars for each emancipated slave and requests that his brother purchase a plantation for the emancipated slaves in a state that admits free persons of color
  • George Kent's petition for reenslavement, 1860, contains the circumstances of his emancipation by the will of B. Burgess, his rationale for requesting reenslavement in Virginia over freedom in Africa, and his choice of Samuel B. Burgess as his new owner. The case also contains a summons and Burgess' bond
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Biographical or historical data
  • Northumberland County probably was named for the English county. It was formed about 1645 from the district of Chickacoan, the early seventeenth century name for the region between the Potomac and the Rappahannock Rivers.
  • An act passed by the Virginia legislature in 1803 required every free negro or mulatto to be registered and numbered in a book to be kept by the county clerk.
  • Beginning in 1778, slaveholders who brought slaves into Virginia were required to register the slaves with the county court and sign an oath agreeing not to bring slaves into the commonwealth with the intent of selling them.
  • In 1806, the General Assembly moved to remove the free negro population from Virginia with a law that stated that all emancipated slaves, freed after May 1, 1806, who remained in the Commonwealth more than a year, would forfeit his right to freedom and be sold by the Overseers of the Poor for the benefit of the parish. Families wishing to stay were to petition the legislature through the local county court. Beginning in 1837, freed slaves could petition the local courts for permission to remain.
  • An act passed by the Virginia legislature in 1856 allowed free persons of color who desired to remain in Virginia to petition for reenslavement and choose a master or owner and remain in the state.
Cataloging source
Location of other archival material
Additional Northumberland Free Negro and Slave records can be found on microfilm at the Library of Virginia. Consult "A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm" found on the Library of Virginia web site.
Northumberland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records
These items came to the Library of Virginia in a transfer of court papers from Northumberland County under the accession number 43283
  • The Library of Virginia
Governing access note
There are no restrictions
Immediate source of acquisition
Northumberland County Circuit Court
Reproduction note
Terms governing use
There are no restrictions.
Type of unit
cu. ft. (1 box)



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Library Locations

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