It gets worse.

To the worshipful the Justices of the County Court of 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 County that a suit if now depending in this Court before your Worships against George Brownriggs wherein the said George at the instance of your Petitioner hath pleaded that your Petitioner is a freeman & not a slave your Petitioner further sheweth that he hath been informed that the said William Leigh, apprehensive that the said issue will turn out against him designs to seize upon the body of your Petitioner & remove him to some foreign Country beyond the jurisdiction of this Worshipful Court by which means your Petitioner would be utterly deprived of the benefit of the law and of those natural & Civil Rights to which the Citizens of this Country are entitled.

Your Petitioner further shews that impressed with the truth of the above design of the William [sic] he is hampered and impeded in preparing himself in his defence and without the interposition of your Worships to take his Care into consideration & give such Relief as to you in your Wisdom may seem proper.

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