Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History

Record Detail

Record #29 from Free Black Families of Colonial Delmarva (abstracted by Paul Heinegg)

State Maryland
County (Primary) Northampton
Other Counties Somerset, Sussex, Kent
Family Name Driggers
Family History Notes The Driggers family originated in Northampton County, Virginia where they were free by 1645. They spread to Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina and South Carolina during the colonial period. See the Virginia section for the entire Driggers history. Listed below are the branches of the family which lived in Maryland and Delaware. 1. Emmanuel Driggers, "Negroe," born say 1620, was the slave of Francis Pott on his plantation in Magotha Bay, Northampton County, Virginia. He was free by 27 May 1645 when he purchased a cow and calf from Pott and recorded the sale in the Northampton County court [DW 1645-51, 82]. His children were 2 i. Thomas, born about 1644. 3 ii. Devorick/ Devorax1, born say 1656. 2. Thomas Driggers, born about 1644, remained a slave in Northampton County. He married a free woman named Sarah King, daughter of "King Toney Negro." She was in Somerset County, Maryland, before 23 April 1688 when she, called "negroe Woman & wife to Thomas Griggers Negro," complained to the Somerset County court that Margaret Holder had stolen some of her goods. Peter George, "Negroe" of Wiccocomoco Hundred, posted five pounds sterling security for Sarah's appearance. The court heard testimony from Peter George, Mary George, Mary Johnson, and Sarah Driggers, Jr., and found in favor of Margaret Holder. By 14 August 1688 Sarah, Peter George, three unnamed women, and an unstated number of men petitioned the Somerset County court to stop taxing them as slaves since they were free born. The court ruled that for that year the women should be exempt, but the men should pay taxes. The court also ordered that they obtain certificates from where they formerly lived to prove that they were free born [Archives of Maryland 91:47; Judicial Record, 1687-89, 58]. In 1689 Sarah was back in Northampton County [Orders 1679-89, 463]. Their children were free because their mother was free. Two of their children who moved to Delaware and Maryland were i. Sarah1, born say 1667, raised by John and Christian Francisco until she was twenty-one years old. In 1691 she was bound to William Kenny "to go to the Southward with him" [OW 1689-98, 121, 125]. He may have been the William Kening, Jr., who sued Sarah Driger for defamation in Sussex County, Delaware Court on 3 June 1691 [Court Records 1680-99, 497]. She brought a successful suit against Edward Fadlooks(?) in Kent County, Delaware Court on 14 November 1717 [Court Dockets 1680- February 1725, fol. 119]. 4 ii. William2, born say 1682. 3. Devorick/ Devorix1 Driggers, born say 1656, was the son of Emmanuel Driggers, a slave who was freed in Northampton County, Virginia. Deverax received a bay mare from his father by a 1673 Northampton County deed [D&c 1668-80, fol.59-60]. He moved to Somerset County, Maryland, about 1677 when he was one of the headrights claimed by Stephen Cosden in his patent [Maryland Provincial Patents, Liber 15:433]. In 1689 he signed a Somerset County address of loyalty to King William and Queen Mary [Torrence, Old Somerset on the Eastern Shore, 349]. On 12 January 1701/2 he provided security in Somerset County court for Deborah Wildgoose who had an illegitimate child by Samuel Webb. He was living in All Hollows Parish when he and several whites were presented for being drunk on the Sabbath. He was acquitted after paying court costs [Judicial Records 1702-5, Liber G-I, 21; 1707-17, 16]. He was renting a 300 acre plantation in Bogerternorten Hundred of Somerset County in 1707 [Somerset County Rent Roll, 1707, Calvert Papers, ms. 174, MHS]. He received a cow from his sister in Somerset County on 27 July 1708 [Wright, Maryland Eastern Shore Vital Records, Book 1 (Somerset County Livestock Marks), 160]. He died before 2 March 1708/9 when court suits against him by David Hudson and John Swann & Co. were suspended by his death [Judicial Record 1707-11, 176, 215]. His estate was valued at about 37 pounds [Inventories and Accounts, Liber 30:88]. His administrator John Jermain was sued by a number of Deverix's creditors to whom he had written promissory notes at Snow Hill, one of them his lawyer for six cases between March 1698 and March 1706. Jermain recovered 1,600 pounds of tobacco that William Godard of Wicomico had owed Deverix [Judicial Record 1706-11, 223-4, 228, 256-60, 434; 1711-13, 57]. He may have been the father of i. Devorax2 Driggers, born about 1680, was a "Molatto" Accomack County tithable in Jonathan Owen's household in 1696. He was sued by Robert Houston in Accomack County court on 7 August 1704 [Orders 1690-7, 222a, 224, 235; 1703-9, 30a]. He and (his wife?) Arendia Driggas were witnesses with Thomas Purnell to the 24 December 1720 Somerset County will of Henry Hudson, Sr., a wealthy planter [Maryland Wills 16:279; Baldwin, Maryland Calendar of Wills, 5:36]. He was taxable in Thomas Purnell's household in Bogerternorten Hundred, Somerset County in 1723 and 1724 and in Peter Beckett's household in 1725, listed in Baltimore Hundred from 1730 to 1733 [List of Taxables]. He was called a carpenter on 17 November 1730 he admitted in Somerset County court that he owed Christopher Glass for 500 pounds of tobacco and 650 pounds of beef which he had contracted for in writing on 10 November 1729. Peter Beckett provided special bail for him [Judicial Record 1730-3, 43-4]. On 16 June 1731 he purchased 75 acres in Somerset County on St. Martins River in present-day Worcester County [Land Records, Liber SH:324]. He and his wife Ann sold this land in 1734 and were renting it in 1748 [Worcester County Debt Book, 1748, 190]. They may have been the parents of an apprentice named Davarix Drigus who was valued at 6 pounds in the inventory of the estate of Thomas Parnall in June 1723 [Prerogative Inventories & Accounts 1724-1725, 263]. He may have been the father of 4. William2 Driggus, born say 1682, was probably the son of Thomas Driggers, a Northampton County slave, and his wife Sarah King. William was called the "Maletto Servant" of Daniel Neech when he recorded his cattle mark in Northampton County court in 1698 [DW 1651-54, 30 at end of volume]. He was living in Somerset County, Maryland, in April 1708 when he was presented for carrying Mary Winslow out of the county to avoid prosecution for having an illegitimate child by Daniel Francisco. The court ordered that he, a "Mollatto," receive twenty-five lashes when he told the justices that they had no more to do with sd Woman than his Arse Edward Winslow and David Hudson were security for him [Judicial Records 1707-11, 94, 96, 102; 1713-5, 5, 26]. William signed his 7 January 1720 Somerset County will which was proved 7 May 1722. He left his 100 acre plantation called "Drigus Adventure" to his son William and mentioned unnamed children under eighteen years old and his wife, Jane. He specified that his children were to be cared for by their uncle, John Driggus of Accomack County, if his wife remarried. The inventory of his estate included a parcel of old books [Maryland Wills, Liber 17:285; Inventories 8:65]. Jane was called a "maleto widow" in 1724 when Winslow Driggus (William's son by Mary Winslow?) was taxable in her Baltimore Hundred, Somerset County household [List of Taxables]. William's children were i. William3, born about 1702. 5 ii. ?Winslow1, born say 1705. iii. ?John, taxable in Bogerternorten Hundred, Somerset County from 1734 to 1740. iv. Sabra, born say 1722, presented by the Somerset County court on 17 November 1741 for having an illegitimate child [Judicial Record 1740-2, 175]. 5. Winslow1 Driggers, born say 1705, was taxable in the Baltimore Hundred, Somerset County, Maryland household of Jane Drigus in 1724 and in the household of Isabee Parkins in 1725. He was called Winsley Drigers when his Little Creek Hundred, Kent County, Delaware taxes were charged to William Beckett in 1727 (listed with Robert Butcher, Robert Whud (Wood), Julius Caesar, Thomas Consellor, Jacob Miller, and Daniel Francisco) and in the Murderkill Hundred, Kent County, when his taxes were charged to Isaac Perkins in 1729 and 1730 [Kent County Assessments, Film RG 3535, reel 1, frames 354, 360, 364]. He was sued in Kent County by Hugh Durburow in August 1729, by John McDowell in May 1733 but was not found by the sheriff, and he sued the executors of Robert Wood in November 1733. The sheriff's warrant for McDowell's case read "William Grigers" [RG 3815.031, Common Pleas, Dockets 1722-32, frame 363; 1733-1740, frames 12, 37, 73, 131; May Term 1733 case papers, executions #41-86]. He may have been the ancestor of i. Jacob, born say 1733, a "Negro" indicted in the November 1754 session of the Kent County court for stealing a dark bay gelding worth 10 pounds from John Durham on 1 October 1754 [DSA, RG 3805.0, MS case files, November 1754 indictments]. ii. Drake, taxable in Indian River and Angola Hundreds, Sussex County, Delaware, from 1770 to 1787. Administration of his Sussex County will was granted to John Wiltbank on 2 September 1788. It mentioned his sister, Rhoda Hodgskin [de Valinger, Calendar of Sussex County Probate Records, 195]. iii. Rhoda, sister of Drake Driggers, married Jonas Hodgskin. iv.Richard, taxable in Dover Hundred, Kent County, Delaware in 1773 [Kent County Assessments, frame 0183] and taxable in Duck Creek Hundred in 1779 when an X was placed next to his name [DHS, MS Kent County Papers, 1680-1800, Official Tax lists, etc., Duck Creek Hundred 1779-1781]. v. Luke, taxable in Lewes and Rehoboth Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware in 1774. He was indicted by the Sussex County court in February 1775 for an unstated offense. Lydia Coursey gave 40 pound recognizance to appear to give evidence against him [RG 4805, General Sessions, 1767-1794, frame 164]. vi. Benjamin, taxable in Indian River and Angola Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware in 1777. vii. James, born say 1758, listed in the payroll of Captain Matthew Manlove's Company in the Revolutionary War on 1 October 1776, having served a month and seventeen days and paid 3 pounds, 16 shillings [Public Archives Commission, Delaware Archives, 70-1]. viii. William5, born say 1765, a delinquent taxpayer in Little Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware, in 1787, taxable in Dover, Kent County in 1788, and head of a Sussex County, Delaware household of 6 "other free" in 1800 [DE:425]. He purchased 13 acres leading to Thomas's Chapel in Murderkill Hundred for 8 pounds on 5 December 1799 [DB F-2:234-5]. ix. Betty, married Peter Becket on 27 November 1788 in Sussex County, Delaware [Records of the United Presbyterian Churches of Lewes, Indian River and Cool Spring, Delaware 1756-1855, 302]. x. Noval, head of a Sussex County, Delaware household of 3 "other free" in 1800 [DE:425]. xi. Mary/ Molly, purchased 15 acres called Second Chance on Gabriels Branch in Worcester County, the crop of corn, a cow, nine hogs, ten pigs, two beds and furniture, a ewe and lamb, all his household furniture and 40 shillings of paid accounts from William Jarman (of Wm) for 6 pounds on 11 September 1794 [DB P:493]. xii. Elizabeth, "Negro," had an illegitimate child by "Negro" Moses Wall in Dover Hundred in June 1785 [DSA, RG 3805, MS November 1785 Indictments]. Moses was a "Negro" taxable in Little Creek Hundred, Kent County, from 1782 to 1784 [RG 3535, Levy Assessment List 1768-84, frames 542, 620].
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[Author (if known)], Free Black Families of Colonial Delmarva (abstracted by Paul Heinegg), [Date (if known)], Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva’s Black History, Nabb Research Center, Salisbury University.