In the table at the bottom of this page are notes on
manumissions of individuals drawn from the extant deed and will books of Dinwiddie,
Prince George, Chesterfield, Charles
City, Isle of Wight, Southampton,
Surry, and Sussex Counties. Note that few
records survive for this era from Dinwiddie, and Prince George Counties. Gathered
as part of a larger study of the origins of the free black population of Petersburg,
these counties were home to many of the free people of color who later moved
to and registered in Petersburg.
The notes contain the page number on which the document
begins in the deed or will book; the date of the document and of its recording;
the name of the manumitter, the names of those freed, and their ages, if given.
Included too, are abstracts of any statements of reason for the emancipation
and specific instructions as to timing, payment etc. We
also noted any wills of free people of color or of other documents appearing
in these books where a person was described as free ie, as a purchaser or
seller of property or in an inquisition on the death of an individual. What
a clerk happened to record beyond deeds and wills in these books varied from
county to county.
In our notes on deeds of manumission we have inserted
an "X" in the name of the author if the individual is recorded as
using a mark rather than signing his or her name. We have not generally done
that in wills since feebleness and ill health prevented some from writing
their names, leaving the mark a less reliable indicator of literacy. In the
interest of economy we abbreviated some common terms: exec for executor, admin
for administrator, dau for daughter, rec for recorded, etc and for the months
of the year.
Given the boilerplate nature of many of these deeds
and wills, the abbreviations are largely self-evident. Our notes are summaries
of essential information rather than verbatim transcriptions. Names were sometimes
spelled in more than one way, even within the same document. We have not tried
to be consistent in the spelling of words including those like labor/labour
Each document note carries a page number, listed under
the single reference to the particular deed or will book in which it appears.
As noted above, we have not included the range of page numbers the document
might cover, but only the page on which it begins. Each will or deed book
is identified with title and dates as listed in the Library of Virginia’s
title and with the reel number of the microfilm of that county’s records
as assigned by the Library.Users should easily
be able to find the document on the microfilm should you want to read the
We believe we have found nearly all of the manumissions
appearing in these books and would welcome any additions or corrections to
what is posted here.
Michael L. Nicholls, Professor of
Lenaye Howard, Presidential Research Fellow
Department of History
Utah State University
Logan, UT 84322-0710