It was always my intention to free the child.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
Halifax July 12 1771
Sir, When Mr Bignall went last in to Virginia I desir’d him to speak to you about a mulatto Boy he has of yours. He tells me you have agreed that I shall have him for £20, on Condition I give the Child his Freedom. The money I have sent by Mr. Miller, & hereby promise and oblige my self to perform that part of the agreement respecting his Freedom. You may be assured it was always my intention. I will be obliged to you to give Mr. Miller a line to Mr. Bignall authorizing him to deliver the Child to me, & I am, Sir, Your mo. Obed’t hon’t Serv’t, William McClellan
[On reverse} To David Meade Esqr. Favour of W. Miller
Miscellaneous Slave Records, Edgecombe County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
[…] Certain Yellow or Mulatto Boy Named Harry now in the Possession of George Brownrigg was the son of William McClellin formerly a merchant in Tarborough and was at a certain Age (Twenty one years he Believ’d) […]
[…] Edgcombe. The Petition of your Petitioner Harry McClennan humbly sheweth that your Petitioner is a freeman that for some time past he hath been held and claimed as a slave by William Leigh late of this […]
In 1776, William McClellan was forced to flee due to his Loyalist sympathies. He went first to England, then returned to New York where he made his will in 1781 (he did not mention his mulatto son Harry). William died in Charleston, NC in 1782.
Thanks for this follow-up, Claire!
What became of Harry McClennan/McClellan?
Could one of the following women named be Harry McClellan’s mother?
Edgecombe County, NC – Edgecombe County Deed Book 3, page 159, Deed date 28 Jun 1777, recorded Jul Ct 1777, William McClellan, Town of Tarborough, Mercht, to James Hill, Town of Tarborough, for 1200 pounds proc money, nine Negro slaves to wit, one man slave named Robin, one ditto named Morris, one ditto named Glasgone [Glasgow?], one Negro boy named Juba, one ditto named Jacob, one Negro woman slave named Grace, one ditto named Pleasant, one Negro girl named Sal, one ditto named Rose, one bay blooded mare called Nettle, one bay blooded gilding called Court, two work horses now at the plantation 13 head of black cattle, 19 head of sheep, (forty) head of hogs, 100 bushels of Indian corn, one cart & wheels, together with all my plows, hies, axes, & utensils of husbandry, one riding chair & harness, two mens saddles and bridles, three bedsteads, three (suite) curtaines, three pr blankets with all the pillow bolsters cases counterpanes sheets and furniture there unto belonging, three walnut tables, 12 walnut chairs, one walnut stand, one large looking glass, one dressing glass, one mahogany desk, one walnut book case with all my library of books therein contained, one large enamled China bowl with all the remainder of my household & kitchin furniture of every kind and nature, signed William McClellan, wit John Hall, Arch White, Tho Gray (proved). Abstracted 3-15-05, NCA film C.037.40005, CTC.
I am thinking that I have an additional document, not yet transcribed, related to Harry. I’ll look for it. Otherwise, I know nothing else about him. An in-depth examination of contemperaneous court records could shed some light.