State of North Carolina, Chowan County } June Term 1795
To the worshipful the County Clerk of Please and Quarter Sessions for the County of Chowan the petition of John Cunningham Humbly Sheweth that your petitioners Father died when he was very Young leaving a Valuable but unproductive Estate for the Support of your Petitioner and his Mother, consisting principally of Young Slaves, among whom is a Mulatto Male Slave by the Name of James, the profits of whose labour, has greatly if not principally contributed to the Maintenance & Support of your Petitioner thru a long Minority and an expensive course of Education. Your petitioner further Sheweth that the great profit which he has derived from the labour of the said Slave James has been owing as well to the great assiduity and attention of the said James in acquiring & presenting himself in the Trade of Mystery of a Barber & Hair Dresser as to his Industry sobriety and honesty Your petitioner further Sheweth that during a very dangerous and lingering Sickness last Spring (1794) the attention of the said James was such as cannot fail to inspire the highest gratitude in him in consideration whereof and as a reward for the past faithful Services of the said James, your Petitioner is willing and desirous to Manumit or set him free conceiving that no less a reward will be commiserate to the Services rendered, but as to guard against the great injuries & inconvenienced which might result from the indiscriminate Manumission of Slaves the legislature have Wisely provided that no Slave shall be manumitted except for Meritorious services to be approved of by the County Court, your petitioner is prevented from effecting his intentions without the aid and assistance of your Worships. May it thereof please your Worships taking the past character and faithful and meritorious Services of the said James into consideration to order & Decree that he may be Manumitted & Set free agreeable to the Directions of the act of the General Assembly in Such Cases Made and provided And your petitioner as in Duty bound shall ever pray &c. John Cunningham
Miscellaneous Slave Records, Chowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.