Petition #20185833


Harriet Caroline Fleming, petitioning by her next friend John Foster, seeks to recover her life estate and get compensation for their hire since they were taken out of her possession. In 1818, at the time of her marriage to William H. Fleming and as part of a prenuptial agreement, Harriet was granted a life estate in a number of slaves for her sole use and benefit. The slaves were Harriet's share in the estate of her father, Calvin Spencer. The agreement named Henry S. Spencer and Matthew Fleming as trustees. Matthew Fleming died shortly thereafter. Henry S. Spencer, continued as surviving trustee, but, according to Harriet, mismanaged the property by hiring out the slaves and not informing her where they worked or compensating her in any way. Specifically, in 1834, Henry Spencer took possession of a slave named Clarissa and kept her, and her children, until his death in 1844. Upon Spencer's death, the executor of his estate, John McKenzie, took possession of Clarissa and her family as part of the estate of the deceased and kept them until 1858, with the exception of Clarissa who died in 1855. In 1858, Henry Spencer's daughter, Elizabeth Gilmer, and her husband took possession of Clarissa's children and grandchildren, claiming them as Elizabeth's inheritance. Harriet Spencer Fleming asks the court to turn over her slaves, and determine the amount of compensation that she is due.

Result: Dismissed; appealed; reversed; remanded.

35 people are documented within petition 20185833

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Citation information

Repository: Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama