Petition #11684309


Edmund Anderson, executor of Lucy Slaughter, represents that the said Lucy, a free woman of color, executed her last will and testament in 1836 and that said will directed "that a parcel of real estate Consisting of a small house & lot in said City be sold, and the proceeds equally divided, among three persons of Color, viz Clara, Dinah, & James, who were her grandchildren." He further states that, upon qualifying as executor, he "attempted to make sale of the said house & lot, at public auction -- the sale was however forbidden by one Thomas W. West, who claimed to be owner of the said Real estate, by virtue of a deed executed to him by said Lucy Slaughter." Noting that said property "was finally knocked out to one Stubbs, & taken off his hands by one David W. Michie," the petitioner states that West "instituted an action at law, of forcible entry and detainer, to get possession of said house and lot"; Anderson retaliated by suing West and "the Chancery Court decreed that the said deed was fraudulent & void." Anderson reports that Virginia's Attorney General then "filed a Cross Bill, in which he alleged that the said property was ... vested in the Commonwealth for the benefit of the Literary fund, because the said grand-children to whom it was left by the said will, were all slaves, & therefore incompetent to take and hold any Kind of property." In response, the petitioner avers that "James, the third legatee, was, sometime in the year 1842, about 18 or 20 years old -- and is one of the slaves Commonly Called the Pleasants negroes, who were manumitted by the will of John Pleasants decd ... all of whom are to be free at the age of thirty years respectively." Anderson argues that "James, who is proven to be entitled to emancipation at the age of thirty, may be held by the Court to be incompetent to take now -- because of the fact that he is bound to serve for a term of years, before his right to his freedom can be properly asserted and acknowledged and thus the intention of the testatrix, which is held always to be the polar star of a Court of Equity to guide it in its decisions, would be defeated, and the property taken from her own Kith and blood." The petitioner "therefore respectfully prays, that the mere fact that the boy James has not attained the period prescribed for his liberation, may not be allowed to deprive him of his Just rights -- but that an act may be passed releasing the rights of the Commonwealth, if any she have, in the whole fund, and authorizing the Court of Chancery to invest the same, in some safe security, for the benefit of the said Legatee James."

Result: Referred to committee for courts of justice.

8 people are documented within petition 11684309

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Citation information

Repository: Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia