Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: marriage to slave

It was for their own good.

Troublesome Escheats.

A free negro had a daughter, the slave of another. He bought her, and she then became the mother of a boy. The woman’s father died without kin and intestate. His child and grandchild being his personal property became the property of the University. They were ordered to be sold. This sounds hard, but it was proved to the Board that they were in the lowest stage of poverty and degradation and that it would redound to their happiness to have a master. It must be remembered that slaves were considered to be as a rule in a better condition than free negroes.

From Kemp P. Battle, History of the University of North Carolina from its Beginning to the Death of President Swain 1789-1868 (1907).

To be allowed to enslave herself. (For love.)



Mr. Walser, a bill, accompanied with a memorial from the party, to allow Percy Ann Morton, a free woman of color, to enslave herself.

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 28 January 1863.




Mr. Logan presented a memorial from Queen Victoria, a free woman of color, praying that she be allowed to enslave herself. (The object of Queen Victoria in seeking to become a slave, was matrimonial, she being desirous of marrying a slave, which is contrary to the Statute in that case made and provided.)

Weekly Standard, Raleigh, 12 December 1860.

Privileges for Joe.

There was sentiment in both [Wilmington and Fayetteville] in favor of granting slaves special privileges. Joe, the slave of Phillis Dennis of Fayetteville, provides a good example of a person in bondage enjoying the privileges of a freeman. Joe was permitted to hire his own time and was accorded the opportunities of any freeman. In her last will and testament, Joe’s mistress conveyed him to Augustus I. Erambert and Charles A. MacMillan. Her will read that they should permit Joe “to exercise his trade without interference.” Erambert and MacMillan were instructed to allow Joe to “occupy possess, and enjoy her dwelling house during his life.” Upon the death of either party the survivor at the request of Joe was to appoint some prudent and discreet man to be named by Joe as a trustee.

From James Howard Brewer, “Legislation Designed to Control Slavery in Wilmington and Fayetteville,” North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XXX, No. 2, April 1953.

An act authorizing him to free his wife and son.

An Act authorizing John Malone, a free man of color, to emancipate his wife and son, upon certain conditions herein mentioned.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That John Malone, a free man of color, in the county of Wake, be, and he is hereby authorized to emancipate from slavery, Cherry, his wife, and Edmond, his son, who are the slaves of the said John Malone; and that the said Cherry, by the name of Cherry Malone; and the said Edmond, by the name of Edmond Malone, shall thence-forth be free and have and enjoy the same rights and privileges as if they had been born free in this State, and may at their pleasure continue to reside in North Carolina; any law to the contrary notwithstanding; Provided, That the said Edmond Malone shall be, after his emancipation, considered in law the legitimate son and heir of said John Malone, and capable in law to succeed as such to the property, real and personal, whereof the said John Malone may die siezed and possessed, without devising it, or otherwise conveying it to others, in all respects, as though the said Edmond had been born in lawful wedlock of the body of the lawful wife of the said John Malone; and provided further, That the said John Malone shall in due form of law intermarry with said Cherry Malone, and make her his lawful wife, on the same day that she shall be emancipated by him from slavery.

Sec. 2. Be it further enacted, That before the said John Malone shall emancipate the said slaves Cherry and Edmond, and as a precedent condition to give the said act of emancipation effect in this State, the said John Malone shall give a bond, in the penal sum of five hundred dollars, payable to the State of North Carolina, and conditioned that the said slaves, Cherry and Edmond, shall each be of good behavior during his or her residence in the State, and that neither of them shall, after their emancipation, become chargable to the county or any parish or county in North Carolina; and further conditioned, that the said John Malone will renew the said bond, with approved security when it shall at any time be required by the county court of Wake; and the clerk of the county court of Wake, under the written approbation of any two justices of the peace or the county court of Wake, may take the first bond, and the said John Malone shall give one or more good and approved sureties to the said bond, as well the one executed at first, as any other given in renewal thereof. [Ratified 2nd of January, 1847]

Chapter CLXII, Public and Private Laws of North Carolina,1846-47, North Carolina State Library.

In the 1850 census of Raleigh, Wake County: John Malone, 58, livery stable keeper, born Virginia; wife Cherry, 49, born NC; son Edmond, 30; plus Elisabeth Hinton, 22, Sarah J. Leary, 21, William Laws, 17, James Roe, 18, Bryant Smith, 14, Elijah Rollins, 9, Burtie Morgan, 11, Aribella Smith, 13, Virginia Somerville, 9, and James Harriss, 22.

He lives with a free colored woman.

Fifty Dollars Reward. For negro SHADRACK, who ran away from me in August last, 1823; he is twenty-six years old, five feet six or seven inches high, dark complexion, and has a sulky appearance. He was raised by Mathew C. Whitaker, Esq. deceased, of Halifax county; his parents belong to Henry Mason, Esq. and his wife belongs to the heirs of Benjamin Harriss, deceased, and at this time lives with a free colored woman, one mile and a half from Halifax town, on the main road leading from thence to Enfield. I will give the above reward for him delivered to me in Warren county, three miles south of Warrenton, on the stage-road, or confined in Halifax jail so that I get him. All persons are forewarned from hiring or harboring said boy. Rob. Ransom. Greenwood, Aug. 16, 1824.

Free Press, Halifax, 17 September 1824.

A good deal of human interest.

There is a good deal of human interest to be found in many of the experiences of these colored slaveholders and in their relations with those whom they held in bondage. Rose Petepher, of the neighborhood of New Bern, N.C., was a free colored woman who was married to a slave named Richard Gasken, who had taken the name of his master. He ran away and was in the woods for years, when his wife finally bought him to take possession. When she could find him this change of owners brought him in at once. They lived together for many years afterward, raising many children whom they hired out just as slaves were hired out. Thus they all prospered. Near the town mentioned above, on their own land, some of the grandchildren are now living and doing well.

Judge William Gasken, who owned the man of whom we have just told, was thrice married, one of his wives being a daughter of Colonel McClure of New Bern. After his death, one of the slaves, Jacob, became the property of Mrs. Gasken. This Jacob’s wife was a free woman, and they had a son Jacob, then a young man and free of course, as the child of a free woman. Aided by his mother’s efforts, he managed to purchase his father at a very reasonable price as negroes were then held. All went smoothly for awhile, when young Jacob did not act as his father thought he should and his parent reproved him with fatherly love. Young Jacob was so disgruntled that he went off to a negro speculator named John Gildersleeve, who was from Long Island and was then in New Bern. This trader bought the father at a high price and at once sent him off south. Young Jacob afterward boasted that “the old man had gone off to the corn fields about New Orleans where they might learn him some manners.”

From Calvin D. Wilson, “Negroes Who Owned Slaves,” Popular Science Monthly, vol. LXXXI (1912).

In the 1850 census of Craven County: Richard Pettiford, 80, wife Rose, 69, children Dinah, 27, and Bryan, 25, and Elizabeth Pettiford, 100. (!!!) (Note that Richard adopted his wife’s surname. Wright Pettiford, 38, living alone nearby may have been another son.)

Perhaps: in the 1850 census of Craven County: Jacob Gaskins, 64, farmer, Penelope Gaskins, 88, Sarah Wiggans, 25, and her children Martha, 5, Elizabeth, 3, and Sabeah, 1 month.

He wished to go after his wife.

RAN AWAY, From Raleigh on the 25th Instant, A BLACK MAN, by the name of ABRAM about five feet two inches high, well set, and about 40 years of age, a tolerably good Shoemaker and Cooper – at the Shoemaking he has worked the year past with Mr. Joseph G. Bacon of this place. I expect he will make to Murfreesborough in Hertford County, in this State, where he is well known, as he was bro’t to this place by a Mr. Allen Clark, and sold to me in June, 1813. I expect he has a Pass, as I understand he was wishing to get one wrote, as he said he wished to go after his wife Nancy, a free mulatto, who is said to be in the neighbourhood of the Borough with one of her children. – I forewarn all persons from harbouring or employing him in any way, or from carrying him either by land or water, as I shall be under the disagreeable necessity of putting the law in force against all such persons – but will satisfy any reasonable person who may bring him to me, or deliver him in Jail, so that I get him again.  J. SCOTT Raleigh, March 28.

Raleigh Register and North Carolina Weekly Advertiser, 29 March 1816.

One of the runaways had a free wife.

TAKEN UP AND COMMITTED TO THE PUBLIC JAIL — of Wilkes County on the 15th inst. three negro men, who say they belong to JOHN SMITH, a refugee, stopping at present at High Point, N.C. viz:

JO, about 30 years of age, weighs 160 lbs., five feet three and a half inches high, teeth good, “black as soot,” says he was raised in Jones County by MERRY JONES; had a free wife name ANNA DONE [DOVE]; is a shoe-maker.

CHARLES, raised in Craven County, owned by MRS. LAVINIA SMITH, of Edgecombe County; knows B.M. SELBY and other citizens of Tarboro’; 40 years of age, weighs 160 lbs., height five feet eight inches; black round face; and professes to be a sort of carpenter.

HENRY, 35 years of age; weighs 150 lbs., five feet eight inches high; yellow black in color; was raised in Virginia by DR. HARRIS, sold to JAS. HARRISON, who sold to JOHN SMITH, the present owner, and says he is a plasterer.

The owner or owners will please come forward, pay charges and take said negroes away, or they will be dealt with as law further directs.  August 24, 1863       ROBT. M. SMITH, Sheriff.

Raleigh Standard, 26 August 1863.

He is probably lurking around his wife’s.

Twenty Dollars Reward.

RAN AWAY From the Subscriber’s plantation in Jones County, on the 8th inst. a negro man named TONEY. He has a cut on his foot, which occasions him to walk lame — is of a black complexion, and has a wife in Newbern known by the name of Rhoda Dove. It is probable he is lurking about Newbern. The above reward will be given and all expences paid, for his apprehension and confinement in Jail. All persons are hereby forwarned from harbouring, and masters of vessels from carrying said fellow away under penalty of the law.   LEWIS SANDERSON, Jones County, April 8, 1821.

Carolina Centinel, New Bern, 11 August 1821.

In the 1830 census of New Bern, Craven County, Rhoda Dove was the head of a household of three free people of color.

Impelled by the powerful feelings of a husband and father.

State of North Carolina, Chowan County   } Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, June Term 1811

To the Worshipfull the Justices of the said Court, The Petition of Thomas Barnwell a free person of colour in the Town of Edenton humbly sheweth, That your Petitioner hath intermarried with one Asa a negro woman slave late the property of Henderson Standin Esquire & hath for a long time cohabited & still doth cohabit & live with her as his wife; that your petitioner hath by his said Wife two children, to wit, Thomas & Nancy; that Mr. Standin hath lately conveyed this woman & her children to your Petitioner; that the said Asa hath always behaved as a peaceable, orderly, submissive & diligent slave & by her meritorious conduct during her servitude hath well-entitled herself to the favor of this Worshipful court — that your Petitioner, impelled by the powerful feelings of a husband & father, & anxious to reward the faithful services of the said Asa, is desirous of manumitting her & the two abovenamed infant children — He therefore prays your Worship that in consideration of the previous, you would pass an order Directing the manumission of the said slaves, upon his complying with the terms prescribed by the Acts of Assembly in such cases made and provided — And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray &c.  Ja. Iredell for Pet’r.


Miscellaneous Slave Records, Chowan County Records, North Carolina State Archives.