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

Source Information

Virginia Petitions to Remain in the Commonwealth, 1846-1866 (Library of Virginia African American Narratives project)

Manumission & Freedom • 80 Records • Uploaded November 1, 2021 • Data Website: www.virginiamemory.com

In 1806, the General Assembly passed a law to suppress the manumissions of slaves. The law stated that all formerly enslaved people freed after May 1, 1806, who remained in the Commonwealth more than a year could be put on trial by the state. If found guilty, they would be re-enslaved and sold. The proceeds from the sale went to the state treasury, and often, records of those sales can be found in the Public Claims records from the Auditor of Public Accounts. The act required individuals who wished to remain in the Commonwealth to petition the legislature. Beginning in 1837, formerly enslaved individuals could petition the local courts directly for permission to remain in the Commonwealth. Often included in the petitions are the name(s) of the petitioner(s), the circumstances of free status, and a request to remain in the county. Many include affidavits with signatures and names of citizens testifying to the free status and character of the petitioner.

This source (and description) was extracted from data provided under Creative Commons from the Library of Virginia’s VIRGINIA UNTOLD: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN NARRATIVE project. The Library’s African American Narrative project aims to provide greater accessibility to pre-1865 African American history and genealogy found in the rich primary sources in its holdings.

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Fields Included

The list below shows the data fields included in this source. If a field is marked as Indexed, it is searchable.

  • File Name
  • Year Indexed
  • Petitioner First Name Indexed
  • Middle Name Indexed
  • Petitioner Surname Indexed
  • Petitioner Alias Indexed
  • Method of Emancipation Indexed
  • Previous Owner Indexed
  • Approved Indexed
  • Affiants Indexed
  • Additional Slave Names Indexed
  • Additional Free Blacks Indexed
  • Processor's Notes Indexed
  • EAD
  • Locality
  • Source
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