Posts Tagged ‘Slavery’

Littletown W-48

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

In the second quarter of the 17th-century, merchant George Menefie developed a 1,200-acre plantation just east of here he called Littletown. In March 1633, Dutch trader David DeVies observed that his two-acre garden was “full of Provence roses, apple, pear and cherry trees,… with different kinds of sweet-smelling herbs, such as rosemary, sage, marjoram, thyme.” Richard Kemp later acquired the tract and called it Rich Neck. Rich Neck was home to three generations of the Ludwell family and Ludwell’s Mill (at modern Lake Matoaka) was an important 18th-century landmark.

Further Research

Location of Rich Neck Plantation in present-day Williamsburg

The Middle Plantation is considered to be the area between the York and James Rivers. Rich Neck was a plantation started by George Menefie on July 2, 1635 (Agbe-Davies), and contained a total of 1,200 acres under it. He recieved the land by paying 24 immigrants to come into America, and he then gained another 3,000 acres by paying for the passages of 60 individuals. Menefie, however, did not live on that land. It was then sold within a year to another wealthy colonist, Richard Kemp (McFaden et al, 5-6).

This would start a pattern of this land being owned by the wealthy. The main crop that was grown was of course tobacco, and the landowners used enslaved Africans as labor. Also, all subsequent owners would live on the property (Agbe-Davies). Richard Kemp had owned the land until 1650, when he died and his estate was left to his wife. She then remarried, making the next owner Sir Thomas Lunsford. He then died three years later (McFaden, 7).

This pattern of wealthy owners would continue on, as it was then passed down in the Ludwell family until 1814. The land was then divided into seperate tracts for sale, and the 600 acre portion known as Little Neck was a private family-owned farm (McFaden et al, 5).

Further Reading

Agbe-Davies, Anna. “A Brief History of the Rich Neck Plantation.” http://www.daacs.org/resources/plantations/background/6/ (Accessed March 11, 2012).

McFaden, Leslie, Philip Levy, David Muraca, and Jennifer Jones. Interim Report: The Archaeology of Rich Neck Plantation. Williamsburg: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation: 1999.

Photo Credits

Historical Marker “Littletown W-48,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

“Location of Rich Neck Plantation in present-day Williamsburg,” Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery, www.daacs.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources

First Africans in English America WT-1

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Inscription:

The first documented Africans in English America arrived at Jamestown in August 1619. A dutch man-of-war captured them from the Spanish, who had enslaved them, and sold them to the Virginia colonists. The “twenty and odd” Africans, some of whom had been given Spanish names, may have been treated like indentured servants and later freed after their periods of servitude expired. From this beginning the institution of slavery evolved during the 17th century as the Virginia colonists extended the lenght of service for Africans from a fixed term to life. The United States abolished slavery in 1865.


 Further Research

The first Africans came to Jamestown in 1619 from aboard a Dutch ship, in addition to other cargo that had come with it. These were the first laborers of the colonies but it is unclear now as to whether these Africans were originally brought over as slaves or as indentured servants (The Terrible Transformations). A total of 20 Africans were traded in 1619 in exchange for food. The number then increased to 23 during the survey of 1625. According to records past 1623 and 1624, there were a significant amount of “free blacks,” or blacks who were allowed to be property owners. By 1640, there was at least one recorded slave within the Jamestown colony.

The first “slaves” that were recognized by the state of Virginia were in 1660, when slavery was put into Virginia law. This came about due to the increase in demand of tobacco. The number of Africans in Virginia increased from roughly 1,000 to 6,000 over the course of forty years, and would then rise to 23,000 around 1715 (McGinnis, 136). Past this time, Virginia still relied on English labor for its tobacco, while many Africans were moved to the West Indies to work on the Sugar Plantations (Smedley, 93).

The first Africans in Jamestown had Spanish names, such as Isabelle and Anthony. Anthony was in fact the first free African, earning enough funds to import five servants and gain 250 acres of land in 1651. Not only was he the first freed African, but he was also the first African landowner in Virginia (McGinnis, 135-136). This was not overly common past 1660, however, as more and more Africans were being brought into Virginia as lifetime slaves. The numbers grew exponentially, with over 290,000 slaves in 1790, followed by over 517,000 slaves between 1830 and 1840 (McGinnis, 136).

Africans Aboard a Ship

Further Reading

“Arrival of first Africans to Virginia Colony.” The Terrible Transformation: Africans in Americahttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part1/1p263.html (Accessed March 20, 2012).

McGinnis, Carol. Virginia Genealogy: Sources and Resources. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1993.

Smedley, Audrey. Race in North America: Origin and Evolution of a Worldview. Boulder: Westview Press, 1999.

Photo Credits

“Africans Aboard a Ship,” Sisters of Providence: The Beginnings, www.spsmw.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“First Africans in America,” Africans in America: Arrival of First Africans in Virginia Colony, www.pbs.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

Historical Marker “First Africans in English America WT-1,” courtesy of Lindsey Smith, 2012.

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources

The Theft Case of Mary Aggie: not erected

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Inscription:

Mary Aggie, an enslaved woman, was convicted of theft in York County in 1730. Lt. Gov. William Gooch, impressed with Mary’s profession of faith when she sued previously for her freedom, supported her 1730 claim for “benefit of clergy,” which then allowed only white men to escape the harshest penalties for most first offenses. Gooch’s support resulted in Mary’s pardon. In 1732, the General Assembly extended a limited form of benefit of clergy to all races and women. Mary was sold out of Virginia in 1731, probably never knowing her appeal’s significant legal effect. The benefit was abolished in 1849.

Further Research

Dred Scott

Mary Aggie was an African American slave in the mid-eighteenth century and was often related as the Dred Scott of the next century.   Mary Aggie was and still remains and obscure person in history, but her case, however, earned her a place in history as the central figure for an important legal case resulting in laws with respect to convicted felons: white, women, Indians, mulattos and African Americans alike.  There is not much background on Mary Aggie as  there are no records of her birth or her parentage.  Mary Aggie had previously attempted to sue for her freedom in the 1720s from her owner. During this case, Mary Aggie had impressed the current governor with her proclamations of faith in Christianity – something that would prove to be in her favor when she was facing her conviction (Encyclopedia Virginia). At this time, Lieutenant Governor Sir William Gooch presided over her case and thus denied her the freedom she so desired.

Lt. Gov. William Gooch

In 1730, Mary Aggie was accused and convicted of stealing three sheets from her owner of a value of forty shillings, a crime that often yielded the penalty of death or severe corporal punishment.  Fortunately for Mary Aggie, Sir William Gooch also presided over this case and was able to send her case to the General Court in which she would possible receive the benefit of clergy.  Benefit of clergy was best known to be provided to literate persons only which allowed the convicted persons to escape death and other serious penalties – dating back to the Middle Ages English law (Encyclopedia Virginia).  However, before the final verdict, Gooch was able to pardon Aggie on the condition that she be sold out of the colony.  Her case was a precursor for the law in 1732, which allowed for almost all Virginians to plead benefit of the clergy in most cases for the next sixty years.

Mary Aggie's Pardon

After her case, it was still unclear as to whether women and slaves of Virginia were entitled to plead benefit of clergy during a first capital conviction.  The General Assembly, thus, using references to Aggie’s cases, presented evidence to the General Court and ended up passing that law in 1732.  However, though this was extreme progress, there was still a specific list of people who could not plead benefit of the clergy.  The law also allowed for courts to apply other punishments and to deny the rights of the criminals to give testimonies in court (Snyder).

Further Reading

Hemphill, John M. II. “Aggie, Mary.” In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1. Edited by John T. Kneebone, J. Jefferson Looney, Brent Tartar, and Sandra Gioia Treadway. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998.

Hemphill, J. M., II, & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. “Mary Aggie (fl. 1728–1731)”. Encyclopedia Virginia. http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Aggie_Mary_fl_1728-1731 (Accessed March 13, 2012).

Snyder, Terri L. Brabbling Women. Disorderly Speech and the Law in Early Virginia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003.
Photo Credits

“Dred Scott,” PBS: Africans in America, www.pbs.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Lt. Gov. William Gooch,” Brooklyn Museum: American Art, www.brooklynmuseum.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Mary Aggie’s Pardon,” Encyclopedia Virginia, www.encyclopediavirginia.org (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link unavailable.