Not so fast — those slaves are mine.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
William K. Lane v. Jane Bennett et al., 56 NC 371 (1858).
This case was removed from the Wayne County Court of Equity. By valid will, Furnifold Jernigan made several provisions for the disposal of his slaves. To his wife Jane Jernigan (who later married Thomas Bennett), he left 13 slaves, including Bill Winn, John Winn, Simpson and Anne. To his daughter Mary Anne Kelly, he left eight slaves, including Olive. He provided for the liberation of “negroes, Dave, Tom, Morris, Lila and Mary” and their transport to a free state, and he directed that ten named slaves be sold. John A. Green and William K. Lane were named executors.
Before the legacies were paid out, Adam Winn filed suit to recover John Winn, Bill Winn, Simpson, Anne, Olive and Dave, claiming that (1) he had mortgaged the slaves to Jernigan to secure payment of money Jernigan loaned him, and (2) he had a judgment attesting that he had repaid the money, and the slaves had been reconveyed to him.
The executors filed a “bill” with the court seeking guidance on the will’s provisions. Jane Bennett and Mary Anne Kelly claimed the full value of the slaves bequeathed to them or, in the alternative, the amount paid by Winn to redeem them. The court found that each was entitled to the amount of the redemption. (And, incidentally, Dave, having been redeemed by Winn, “loses, of course, his freedom intended for him…”)