Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: petition

The murder of one Dick Jones.

To His Excellency John M. Morehead, Governor of the State of North Carolina

The Petition of the undersigned respectfully shew unto your Excellency that at the Fall Term 1842 of the Superior Court of Law for the County of Green an Indictment was tried against Joseph Suggs, Bright Cannady and Edith Brown for the murder of one Dick Jones, alias – Jeffrey Mares, a free Negro – that upon the trial of said Indictment the said Bright Cannady and Edith Brown were acquitted and the said Joseph Suggs was convicted of the murder of the said Dick Jones, that the undersigned are some of them acquainted with the said Joseph Suggs and beleive that he is a very ignorant illiterate man and has not the ordinary sense belonging to person of his age and station, that they beleive a violent assault had been commited on the said Joseph Suggs by Dick Jones and his brother Jim Jones who were both free Negroes, and that the shooting took place very soon – not more then a half hour after the assault was committed upon him by the said free Negros, but the Jury under the charge of the Court considered that rather prolong a time had elapsed before the wound was inflicted of which Jones died and therefore felt bound under the said charge to find him guilty of murder

They therefore most respectfully pray your Excellency to grant a pardon to the said Joseph Suggs

Signed this 14th day of October 1842

Jurors names who Tried the crimnal

John Beeman
John Sutton
John F. Jones
Thos Wooten
Parrott M. Hardy
Edward Carmon
Henry H. Gibbons
B.F. Hazelton
James E. Exum
John T. Pridgen
Chas. Edwards

[Names of 151 petitioners omitted.]

Governors Papers, Gov. John M. Morehead, G.P. 102, Correspondence, Petitions, etc., Sept., 1842; Correspondence, Petitions, etc., Oct. 1842; North Carolina State Archives.

They have always been a nuisance, and now become a great danger.

North Carolina. To the Senate & House of Commons, Your memorialists, citizens of Currituck County, respectfully petition your honorable bodies to take immediate steps to relieve the people of this State of the free negro population, which has always been a nuisance, and now become an element of great danger. Scattered over the State, having at all times free communication with the slaves, the free negroes furnish a ready and safe medium for the diffusion of incendiary doctrines which we have abundant reason to believe have, especially of late, been instilled into the minds of the slaves, and they thereby rendered insubordinate and ripe for any wicked enterprise to which they may be instigated by Northern Emissaries. The minds of our people have for several years past been directed to this source of danger, but recent events have produced a deep and settled conviction of the necessity of guarding against it, either by expelling the free negroes, or reducing them all to the condition of slavery. Your memorialists are [page torn] with us qualms as to the right of the Legislature either to expel them from the State, or to reduce them to a condition of slavery. Disfranchised in this State by the convention of 1835, the Supreme Court of the United States, the highest judicial tribunal in our country, by a late decision has decided that they are not citizens under the Constitution; and it must be admitted that here, the only rights to which they are entitled are strictly & solely legal, and therefore subject to revision or change by act of the Gen’l Assembly. Whatever diversity of opinion, however, may be Entertained in reference to this question, it strikes your Petitioners that there is one view of the subject that cannot fail to impress the mind of Every good citizen; all must admit that the present is a time of great danger; such in fact as never before Endangered the peace & safety of the Southern States, and threatened the institution of slavery; it is unnecessary to enter into any statement of facts to prove the truth of this declaration, what is the first duty of the people of North Carolina? Surely, to provide all necessary means to ward off the threatened danger – your Memorialists, firmly believing the removal of the free Negroes from the State, or their reduction to the same condition of the slave population, one of the necessary means, hold that the plain right of self defense would justify such action on their part through their Legislature, and that such legislation at this time would meet the approving voice of the whole body of the Southern people & challenge the approbation of all others throughout the country who properly appreciate our position & respect our rights. But your Memorialists do not design submitting any argument upon the subject to your honorable bodies, either as to the right or the expediency of the policy they recommend; nor do they propose to advise any particular plan for the accomplishment of the object in view, being content to leave the matter to your own good judgement, guided as they believe it will be by sound patriotism and a just sense of your representative duties. They cannot refrain, however, from suggesting that according to their own judgements the wisest and most judicious policy would be to provide for the removal of all such as might choose to go to the Northern States within a certain fixed time, and to authorise the several county courts to sell as slaves all such as remained after the Expiration of the time named in the act and believing that sound policy requires that all proper means should be resorted to to strengthen the institution of slavery by increasing the number of slave holding citizens and otherwise, your Memorialists would recommend, in case the above policy be adopted, that the right of purchase should be confined to these citizens of the state who are not already owners of slaves; that no one person should be allowed to become the purchaser of more than one, except in the case of mothers and small children, that all negroes so purchased shall be exempt from execution for debt, and not transferable by sale and purchase for a term of years. Trusting that your honorable bodies will give this subject that serious attention which its importance entitles it to, your petitioners will ever pray &c

General Assembly Session Records, November 1860-February 1861, Petitions Box 8, North Carolina State Archives.

A grievance so oppressive.

To the Honorable the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina.

Your petitioners coloured persons citizens of this State would approach your Honorable Body with all the defference & respect due to the Character of representatives of the People

They beg leave to state that some of them whose names are assigned to this petition bore an honorable part in the seven years War which established the Liberties of their Common Country: That during that eventful period they were taught to believe that all men are by nature free & equal, and that the enjoyment of life, liberty and property aught to be secured alike to every Citizen without exception & without distinction.

With these views they need not attempt to express to your Honorable Body the deep concern with which they learned of the passage of A Law at the last Session of the Legislature by which their lives & liberties are virtually placed at the mercy of Slaves. They would ask of your Honorable Body whether their situation even before the Revolution was not preferable to one in which their dearest rights are held by so slight a tenure as the favour of Slaves and the will & caprice of their vindictive masters: for it cannot escape the notice of your Honorable Body that persons of this description are bound to a blind obedience, and know no Law, but the will of their masters:

Your petitioners will not believe that your Honorable Body will hesitate to lend a compassionate ear to their well-grounded complaints, and to redress a grievance so oppressive to them, and so wholly incongenial with the spirit of our republican government

They therefore humbly pray your Honorable Body that the Act of the last Session of the Legislature making Slaves competent witnesses against them in Criminal Cases may be repealed.

/s/ Alien Brown, John X Rutniel, William Brown Senr, William Smith, James Smith, John Stafford, Willis W. Leer, William Weaver, Wiley Cotton, Larrance Weaver, Richd Cotton, Elias X Weaver, John X Flood, Whitmill Cavers, Dannel Copland, William Weaver, Micaiah Cotton, Reubin Trumbil, James Runeals, Phillip X Jones, John Manley, Jerra Reed, Thomas Weaver, Benjamon Copeland, Samuel X Flood, David X Boon, William Known Jnr., John Weaver, Isaac C. Hall, David Milton, Deanel Garner, Moses Manly, Dempsy X Flood, John Sears, Briton X Read, Jesse Weaver, James Reynolds, John Bizzell, Alien Hall, Orren Wyott, Kinston Robbins, William Manly, Malichia Neckins, Bryant Manley, William Hirass, William Weaver, John Weaver, Natthanuel Dolby, Jesse Flood, Shadrack Reed, Charles Weaver, Harvy Washington Hall.

[At left edge: Petition of Coloured persons to Legislature]

Appended to this petition is a supporting petition signed by 84 white citizens of Hertford County.

General Assembly Session Records, November-December 1822, Box 4, North Carolina State Archives.

Competition? Drive it out.

The Mechanics of Washington, N.C., have formed an association, and published resolutions declaring that hereafter they will not give employment to any negro mechanic, or learn any negro boy a trade. They condemn the practice of masters letting slaves hire their own time. They refer to the influx of free negroes from Virginia, driven out by the laws of that State; and they express a determination to petition the Legislature of North Carolina to pass a similar act, or tax free negroes to raise a fund to send them to Africa. – North Carolinian.

Carolina Watchman, 15 August 1850.


He does all he can to keep me in slavery.

The Petition of negro man Dick Dingley to the worshipfull County Court of Chowan humbley sheweth that a certain Ichabod Jordan of the county aforesaid Redeem’d the said Petitioner of Mr. James Legett on Ronake for the Consideration of ninty five pounds & then the Said Petitioner made a bargain with Said Ichabod Jordan before witness that if the Said Petitioner was to be a full Liberty as will more fully appear the said Petitioner has paid Said Jordan his full Demand and Since that the Said Jordan has Let him have his Liberty for three years as agreed but so it is that of Late the Said Jordan has renewed his Clame & has most Cruely Beaten your Petitioner and does all he Can to keep him the Said Petitioner in Slavery this therefore is Humbley to pray your worships that as your Petitioner is without redress only through your worships that you will be please to Confirm the above bargain & Redress your Said Petitioner & as in duty Bound Shall Ever Pray.       Dick Dingle  March 8th 1798

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

He craves the privilege of carrying a shotgun.

State of North Carolina, Edgcomb County   }

To the Worshipful the Justices of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sestions May Term 1841 – The Petition of the under Signed Cizens of Said County Humly requesting:

Your Petitioners respectfully Shew unto your worships that Basdill Thomas of the State and County afore said having been a Citizens of Destrict No 7 of the 1 regiment of the Edgcomb Militia, he being a free person of color and having been debard by the Laws of the State of keeping Fire armes Except in Case of having a proper License from the worshipful Court of the County wherein he resides whare as he the said Thomas Craves the privilege to geather with his assigners of being Impowered with the authority of Carrying or using a Shot gun or musket in his neighbor hood or about his Dometical afares and also the said Thomas to gather with his assigners wish to shew to your worship in order that you may be Staisfied that he has been a resident of said District above mentioned and that he is a peaceable & quiet Citizen and Stands fare as an honest man and as & unblemished a character as any man in the neighbourhood for the Last for or Five years Whareas we the under signd are willing and do assigne our names with the same Thomas to be granted the above named privilidg this 24th May 1841

/s/ Basdill Thomas, Wm. R. Dupree, R.F. Eagles, John A. Pin[illegible]

Rejected – By order, May term 1841 – Louis D. Wilson

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

Basdill Thomas married Sally Young in Franklin County on 13 March 1833. Benja. Long was bondsman; S. Patterson, witness.

A plea for the repeal of a tax on free colored wives and daughters.

To the Worshipful the Speaker and Gentlemen of the Assembly.

The petition of Sundry of the Inhabitants of the Counties of Northampton Edgecombe and Granville.

Humbly Sheweth That by one Act of Assembly passed in the year 1723, Intituled “An Act for an Additional Tax on all free Negroes, Mulattoes, Mustees and such Persons Male & Female, as now are or hereafter shall be intermarried with any such Persons resident in this Government.” Amongst other Things it was enacted That all free Negroes &c. that were or shou’d thereafter be Inhabitants of this Province Male & Female being of the Age of twelve Years & upwards shou’d be deemed Tythables and as such should yearly pay the same Levies and Taxes as other Tythable Inhabitants.

That many Inhabitants of the sd Counties who are Free Negroes & Mulattoes and persons of Probity & good Demeanor and chearfully contribute towards the Discharge of every public Duty injoined them by Law. But by reason of being obliged by the sd Act of Assembly to pay Levies for their Wives and Daughters as therein mentioned are greatly Impoverished and many of them rendered unable to support themselves and Families with the common Necessaries of Life.

Wherefore your Petitioners would humbly pray in behalf of the sd Free Negroes &c. That so much of the said recited Act as compels such of them as Intermarry with those of their own complection to pay Taxes for their Wives & Daughters may be repealed or that they may be otherwise relieved as to your Worships in your great Wisdom seem meet.

And your Petitioners as in Duty bound shall pray &c.

Granville County: Will’m Eaton, John Hawkins, Phil. Hawkins, George Jordin, Tho’s Lowe, Jno. Sallis, Patrick Lashley, Phil. Pryor, Fra’s King, Jno. Bowie, Aaron Fassol, John Jones, Tho’s Dulany, John Wade, Zack Bullock, George Cuttlor, John Williams Jun’r, Thomas Woodlief, John Gibbs, William Forkner, And’w Hampton, Marton Dickson, Moses Coppack, Amanwall Forkner, Wm. Johnson, Leopold Fallon, Jonas Parker, James Smith, Rich’d Harris, Wm. Smith, Amos Newsom, Jos. Brantley, Shurley Whatley, James Brantly, Jno. Glover, Edw. Young, John Martin.

Edgcomb County: Jos. Jno. Alston, Wm. Irby, Will’m Anderson, Joseph Strickland, Thos. Wood, Benj’n Sherrod, John Jones, Jacob Strickland, Augustin Curtis, Nathan Joyner, John Noland, Ebenezer Folsom, Benj. Nevill, Wm. Adams, John Cheney, William Richason, John Fish, Richard McKinne, James Brown.

Miscellaneous Records, Office of Secretary of State, North Carolina State Archives, as transcribed in Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,

A useful citizen.

State of N Carolina, Craven County   } December Term 1799.

The Worshipful the County Court of Craven The Petition of Nancy Handy a free person of Color humbly sheweth to this Worshipful Court, that during the Time she was a Slave and the property of Wm. T. Howe She conceived and did bear Two children to wit Louisa and Betsy and that she by certain allowance and indulgences granted to her by her said Master did gather together & accumulate cash in sufficient quantity to purchase her self and said children and that the aforesaid Nancy did purchase from her aforesaid master her aforesaid Children, and your Petitioner states that she has always endeavourd to conduct herself as a peaceable citizen, and an useful one to the community by encreasing the number of good & valuable Citizens of the State, and your Petitioner therefore prays that the worshipful Court would grant the freedom of the said Children according to act of Assembly is such case made and provided.   Benj’n Martin atty for the Children

Miscellaneous Records, Craven County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

[Sidenote: For a detailed account of Nancy Handy’s purchase and emancipation of her children, see Bill Hand, Remembering Craven County: Tales of Tarheel History (2006), p. 79-81. — LYH]

A prayer for release from cruel servitude.

North Carolina, Craven County   }  The humble Petition of Ailce Williams a free born Mollatto of the Age of Twenty-three Years to the Worshipfull Court of Craven County non-Sitting

In most humble Shew Whereas your Petitioner has long been detain’d as a Servant to Peter Conway and whereas your Pett’r never has Signed any Indenture or any other Instrument of Writing as may well known plainly appear Therefore may it please your Worships to take it into your Mature Considerations that your Pettitioner may be Released from a cruel Servitude and your Pettitioner as in duty bound Shall Pray.

[No date.] Miscellaneous Records, Craven County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

By the assistance, industry, economy and prudence of his wife.

State of North Carolina, Pasquotank County  }  June Term 1797

To the Worshipful the County Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions for Pasquotank County The Petition of Thomas Sylvester a Freeman of Colour Humbly Sheweth That he some years agoe took to wife a Negroe Woman Slave by the Name of Joan the property of a certain Jeremiah Symons who hath borne him four Children, to wit Abba, Nancy, Jerry and Annaretta. That by the Assistance, Industry economy & prudence of his said Wife Joan he hath been enabled to raise a sufficient Sum to purchase her and her Children from their said Master.

May it therefore please your worships taking your Petitioners Case under your consideration to prepare Order for the liberation & emancipation of the said Joan, Abba, Nancey, Jerry and Annaretta by the names of Joan Sylvester, Abba Sylvester, Nancey Sylvester, Jerry Sylvester and Annaretta Sylvester agreeable to the Power of Authority in your Worships Vested by the Act of the General Assembly in such Cases made and provided and Your Petitioner as in Duty bound shall ever pray &     Will Blair for the Petitioner

In the 1790 census of Pasquotank County, Thomas Sylvester is listed as the head of a household of four “other free” people.

Records of Slaves and Free Persons of Color, Pasquotank County Records, North Carolina State Archives. US Federal Population Schedule.