Fourth Generation Inclusive

Historical Documents of Genealogical Interest to Researchers of North Carolina's Free People of Color

Tag: sailor

Jail break, no. 7.


BROKE the jail of Currituck County and made his escape on the 2d day of June, 1852, a free colored man named GATLING BOWYER, confined there for larceny. He is about five feet eight or ten inches high – black – about 21 or 22 years old – and has made occasional voyages by sea. It is supposed that he is lurking somewhere in the neighborhood of Roanoke Island, in Currituck County.

The above reward will be given for his apprehension and delivery at the jail of Currituck county.   THOMAS GRIGGS, Sheriff and Jailer. Currituck Co., N.C., June 22, 1852.

The Democratic Pioneer (Elizabeth City), 5 October 1851.

Much credit is due.


The Schr. Dolphin, Samuel Salyear master of this port, left here 15 days ago bound for New York. Shortly after leaving the bar, the cook, James Corbell, a free colored man, seeing one of the crew, a colored man, frequently carrying water down the hold, suspected something was wrong and communicated his suspicions to the captain, who ordered the mate to make search; who on examination found a slave man secreted in the hold, named Edward, belonging to the estate of the late Mrs. Elizabeth Justice of this town. The boy had been concealed on board through the agency of two free colored men, Tom Fortune and Furny Moore, two of the crew. The captain immediately put into Norfolk Va., where the Dolphin arrived on the 10th instant. The captain immediately brought the case before the Mayor, and upon examination Edward was committed to jail to await the requisition of his owner, and Fortune and Moore were committed for trial for the abduction of the slave. Their trial of course must take place here, and the Governor of our State will demand them from the State of Virginia, Much credit is due the captain and the cook for their promptness in this matter. The above particulars we gather mostly from the Norfolk Herald of the 12th instant.   Newbernian.

The North-Carolina Star (Raleigh), 28 July 1847.



The fall term of Superior Court for this county was held last week. The most important case tried was that of a free negro sailor, Tom Fortune, for his life, charged with aiding a slave to escape into a free state. The slave was discovered in the hold of the vessel after she had got to sea, when the Captain put into Norfolk and lodged in jail the slave and the negros suspected of assisting him to escape. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, the testimony not being sufficient to prove that he knew the slave was on board until he was discovered at sea. Messrs. Stevenson and Sparrow were employed on the defence.

Eastern Carolina Republican (New Bern), 3 November 1847.

The poor fellow is an orderly and honest seaman.

To the Worshipfull the Justices of Perq’s County Court Now Siting

The Petition of the Subscribers in Behalf of a Certain Negro Man Named James formerly the Property of Thomas Newby of the County Aforesaid Humbly Sheweth That some time in the Year 1776 the said Thomas Newby Manumited the said Negro Man James, that since that the Greater Part of his time he has been Employed as a Seaman, and has made Several Voyages from this State & Virginia in the time of the Last War, and that he has Twice, or more been made Prisoner by the British, That he Embraced the Earliest Opportunity in Making his Escape to Return to this Country being the place of his Nativity, where he has a Wife & Children, That once during the War between America & Great Britain he Entered himself onboard of one of the American armed Vessels, That during the Time of his Servitude with his said Master, he behaved himself as a faithfull Servant, and Rendered his Master great Services as a Seaman, and that since his freedom we have reasons to Believe he has Continued to behave Orderly and Honest. We are therefore willing to hope that on your Worships Maturely considering and Weighing every particular, you will be of opinion that the Poor fellow is Intitled to some small share of Merrit, If that should be your worships Opinion. We earnestly Solicit (in the poor fellow behalf) that you Will permit an Entry to be made on the Minutes of your Court allowing the Fellow to have done Something Meritorious, and for that Reason you will give a Sanction to his freedom, that he may with Safety Visit his Wife and Children, when It will be in his Power to Render further Services to this State, as an able Seaman, & Your Petitioners Shall ever pray &c   /s/ Thos. Newby [and nine others]


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

Should he be a slave ….

TAKEN UP, AND committed to the Jail of this county on the 3d of August last, a Negro man who calls himself PETER GREEN, says he is free, and that he belongs to Providence, Rhode Island. He professes to have followed the sea, and exhibits an American Protection, which, however, does not correspond with his height. He appears to be about 33 or 35 years of age, very black, well made, about 5 feet high, very artful, and had on when taken, the clothing of a seaman.

Should he be a slave, the owner is notified to come forward, comply with the requisitions of the law and take him away; otherwise he will, after a reasonable time, be sold for his jail fees, and discharged form custody.   W.C. TAYLOR, Jailor.   October 11th, 1823.

New Bern Sentinel, 24 October 1823.

He formerly followed the sea.

Taken up and committed on the 17th Inst. to the jail of this county, a negro man by the name of John Brown, who has formerly followed the sea; he is a about twenty-four years of age, six feet high, spare made and speaks broken English; he says, on examination, that he was on board of the British merchant vessel “Canada,” bound from Trinidad to Newfoundland, as a sailor, and captured just before the restoration of peace, by the privateer Hero, commanded by capt. Waterman. Said vessel Canada, was brought into Beaufort in this state, condemned and sold at Washington. All the crew except himself returned to home, he remained at Greenville and passed for a freeman, until a few days past he was sold to a Mr. MacLeod of Richmond county, by whom he is not certain; on his way he absconded with an intention of returning to Greenville. It is hoped that the Marshal of this state will make enquiries into the above circumstances, and a permit will be required from his hand before the purchaser will be permitted to pay charges and take him away. Also committed on the same day, a negro man who answers to the name of Joe, about twenty one years old, five feet and a half high and remarkably black, says he was sold by William Beaton of Lenoir county, to a speculator, whose name he does not remember, and that he deserted this dealer in human flesh on Deep river. The owner of this negro is requested to prove property, pay charges and take him away.  ROBT. GULLY, jun. Shff., Smithfield, Johnston county, June 20, 1816.

Star, Raleigh, 25 June 1816.

She has a free colored sailor for a husband.


Ran away from the Subscriber, on the 7th inst., a negro woman named HAGAR. She is from thirty five to forty years of age, of a slim figure, in delicate health, and has had on one or both of her thumbs what is called a bone film.  She has lived for a number of years in the family of Charles Stewart, — and having a free coloured man, a sailor, for a husband, it is supposed that she has gone off with a view of getting to New York. All masters of vessels are cautioned not to take her away, under the penalty of the law.

The above reward will be paid to any person who will deliver the above named woman to me or secure her in jail so that I get her.    JOHN L. DURAND. June 13th, 1840.

Newbern Spectator and Literary Journal, 13 June 1840.


The sailor quit his vessel and stayed.

State of North Carolina, Chowan County     }  Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, August Term 1856

The Jurors for the State on this oath present that Anthony Adams a free man of colour not being a citizen of the State did on the 1st day of July 1856 migrate into this State contrary to the form of the statute in such case made & provided.

The Jurors aforesaid on their oath aforesaid do further present that Anthony Adams a free man of colour not being a citizen of this State & coming into the State as a sailor did on the 1st day of June 1856 attempt to & did migrate into this State by quitting the vessel in which he came into the State & not leaving the State in the same contrary to the form of the Statute in such case made & provided.   Hines Solicitor

[On reverse] State vs Anthony Adams } Misdm’r  A True Bill

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

A Cuban petitions in Craven County.

Craven County Js’s.  To the Justices of the Peace constituting the Inferior Court of Craven County aforesaid, the Petition of Antonio Muray (a free Negro) humbly Sheweth.

First in this year one thousand Seven hundred and Sixty nine your unhappy Petitioner left a Wife & Children in the Havanah, Shipped himself on Board a Vessel Bound to Jamaica and arrived at Jamaica & from thence to Carthagene, and back to Jamaica, and that he had lent one of the Sailors (John Taylor by Name) a Pistole while at Carthagene and their return to Jamaica a Dispute happened between your Petitioner and the said John Taylor, who refused to repay it, upon which the said John Taylor struck your Petitioner and he returned blows, and your Petitioner being a Black man was taken up at the Instance or Complaint of the Said John Taylor and committed to Gaol, for which Assault he was not prosecuted, and after being Detained three months in the Said Gaol untill as I understood five or Six pounds was due for the Fees of the Gaol, when a Certain Timothy Clear and Capt. Roberts came to the Gaol & talked about purchasing some Negroes that were in the Gaol & at last agreed with the Gaoler to pay the Gaol fees & take out your Petitioner & another free Negro which was in the Same Gaol.  Mr. Clear pd. the fees for me, & Capt. Roberts paid for the other, but before we left the Gaol an indenture was made for six or seven years to the said Clear who promised to set me at Liberty as soon as I had earned the value of the money which he paid, and that notwithstanding the fair promises of the said Timothy Clear (that he would use me kindly & not detain me any Longer than sufficient to reimburse him for about the sum of six pounds which was all he paid for me) he hath treated me cruelly, by unmerciful whipping, frequently for six years, and being Satisfied with my labour as a Slave during the said Term, sold me again to my present Master Thomas Parsons, who treats me Very Ill.  Your Poor Petitioner Humbly prays that your Worships will take my unhappy case into serious Consideration, and do what Justice and Humanity requires to be done in the premises.  And your Petitioner will ever pray, JW Cogdell for the Petitioner.

Petition of Antonio for Freedom. December Court 1775. Read and rejected.

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

The Confederates tried to get me again, but I dodged them.

Hugh Cale filed claim #12668 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was 33 years old, resided in Elizabeth City, and engaged in trading. From 1861 to December 1862, he lived in Edenton.  He then moved to Plymouth until 1864.  He then “went in the United States service on board Steamer Massaint [Massasoit] a transport remained on her for five months. I then shipped on Steamer Pilot Boy still in the service of the United States and remained on her until after the close of the war.”

“I was taken in the Spring of 1861 & carried to Beatom Iland [Beacon Island] near Ocracoat-bar [Ocracoke] N.C. and was made to work on the fortifications for the Confederate Government against my will for I was a man of color. Was kept there two weeks and was then carried to Hatrass [Hatteras] to work on fortifications & was then kept there three months & three days.  We were then sent home, & remained home until the fall of Hatrass. I was then taken and put on board of the Schuner Cinaline and remained on her till the Capture of Roanoke Iland. I then went home the Confederate troops tried to get me again. I doged them.”  He “did all I could to get other collered people to leave home and to go the places held by the United States Authorities.”  “In 1862 I was arrested up the Chowan River as a spie for the United States. I was kept about five weeks under arrest and was not released until the Union troops took Winton.”  “The Confederate troops wanted me to go to Norfolk Va and get goods for them. I told them I couldnot do that. They said if I did not do it that I should not stay at Home. I faild to do it then Confederate soldiers came to my House & beat me so I was laid up for some time.” “After I became free I worked at the Masons trade. I made money after I went in [illegible] lines at Plymouth and paid for the property with it. Except the boat which I owned before the war. I never had a master.” Union soldiers took lumber, goods and a sail boat from him.

Cale worked as merchant from 1862 to 1864.  While absent, his clerk, Sam Skinner, conducted business for him.  After they captured Plymouth, United States authorities took such merchandise from Cale as butter, flour, tobacco, bacon, apples.

John Block estimated that Cale’s 26-foot boat, in good shape with sails and fixtures, was worth two hundred dollars.

Allowed: $602.50.

Report of the Secretary of War, Vol. I, 1865, “No. 20. List of vessels in service of Quartermaster’s department supplying General Sherman’s army” lists both the Massasoit and Pilot Boy.

Hugh Cale died July 22, 1910, in Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County.  He was about 75 years old.  His death certificate lists his occupation as merchant.

Navy deserter.

DESERTED, from the U.S. Gun boat No. 150 ELIJAH BRENT, alias WILLIAMS a dark mulatto man about 5 feet, 5 or 6 inches high much pitted with the small pock, walks erect about 22 or 23 years of age slow of speech –  hails from Charleston where he says his mother and relations reside.  Ten dollars Reward will be given to any person who will take up said deserter and deliver him to any Officer of the U.S. or place him in jail.  T.N. GAUTIER, commanding Naval Officer.  July 24 – tf. 

Wilmington Gazette, 2 Oct 1813, NC Newspaper Digitation Project, North Carolina State Archives Historic Newspaper Archive.