Thursday, April 10, 2008

Defining Mixed-blood Indians in Colonial Virginia and the Carolinas

“A Rose by any other name is a Cactus”

By Steven Pony Hill


Augusta County, VA (Orders 1773-1779)

19 AUG 1777….Nat, an Indian boy in the custody of Mary Greenlee who detains him as a slave complains that he is held in unlawful slavery. Commission to take depositions in Carolina or elsewhere.

17 SEP 1777….On the complaint of Nat an Indian or Mustee Boy who says he is to be set free from service of Mary Greenlee…nothing appeared to this Court but a bill of sale for ten pounds from one Sherwood Harris of Granville County, NC that through several assignments was made over to James Greenlee deceased, late husband to the said Mary….said Mulattoe or Indian Boy is a free man and no slave.
( Nat was most likely half-Indian, so therefore Mulatto or Mustee could be used interchangeably, use of these terms were influenced by the status of his servitude)

Charles City County, VA (Orders 1687-95)

DEC 1690….Thomas Mayo an Indian belonging to Jno. Evans is adjudged 14 years old.

Chesterfield County, VA (Orders 1767-71)

6 APR 1770…On motion of Sibbell, an Indian woman held in slavery by Joseph Ashbrooke, have leave to prosecute for her freedom in forma pauperis.
- Sibbell an Indian wench V. Joseph Ashbrooke, for pltf. To take deposition of Elizabeth Blankenship and Thomas Womack.
- Sybill a Mulatto V. Joseph Ashbrooke – dismissed.
(Sibell was most likely less than full blooded Indian…she was described as Indian up to the point it was determined that she was legally a slave, then she was described as mulatto…use of the term is influenced by the status of her servitude)


Dinwiddie County, VA

18 AUG 1794...registered free papers of “Nancy Coleman a dark brown, well made mulatto woman..freed by judgement of the Gen’l Court of John Hrdaway being a descendant of an Indian.”

10 FEB 1798…registered free papers of “Daniel Coleman a dark brown free Negro, or Indian…formerly held as a slave by Joseph Hardaway but obtained his freedom by a judgment of the Gen’l Court.

14 AUG 1800…registered free papers of “Hagar Jumper a dark brown Mulatto or Indian woman short bushy hair, obtained her freedom from Stephen Dance as being a descendant of an Indian.”

27 MAY 1805…registered free papers of “Betty Coleman a dark brown Negro woman…formerly held as a slave by John Hardaway…liberated by judgment of the Gen’l Court as descended of an Indian.”


Goochland County, VA

7 MAR 1756…Elizabeth, daughter of Ruth Matthews, a free mulattoe, baptized by the Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish.

26 SEP 1757….Cumberland County Court to bind out the children of Ruth Matthews, an Indian woman, to William Fleming.
(Ruth is described as ‘a free mulatto’ at one time, ‘an Indian’ at another.)


Henrico County, VA

5 MAY 1712…..Thomas Chamberlayne brings before this Court his servant Mulatto man Robin and informed the Court that he hath several times run away. Ordered to serve one year from (release date).
- Robin Indian (filed) against Major Chamberlayne…next Court.

FEB 1712….Robin Indian ordered free from Thomas Chamberlayne’s service at end of year’s service.

MARCH 1713….Thomas Chamberlayne against his servant Robin Mulatto hath unlawfully absented himself for 16 weeks.
(Robin is described as Mulatto until he is determined to be illegally held as a slave, then he is described as Indian…use of the term is influenced by his servitude…his former master tactfully uses the term Mulatto to influence the Court to return him to slavery)

APR 1722…Peg an Indian woman servant belonging to Richard Ligon appeared…be adjudged free..he be summoned.
JUN 1722…Peg a Mulatto servant born in this County whose mother was an Indian intitled to freedom at the age of thirty years, having petitioned for her freedom against her master Richard Ligon.
(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

JAN 1737….petition of Tom a Mulatto or Mustee setting forth that he is the grandson of a white free woman and hast a just right to freedom but that his master Alexander Trent contrary to law or equity detains him in slavery.
(the terms Mulatto and Mustee are used here interchangeably)

JUL 1739…On the petition of Indian Jamey alias James Musttie is exempted from paying County Levyes.

NOV 1740…petition of Thomas Baugh it is ordered that the Church Wardens of Dale Parish do bind out Joe a Mulatto the son of Nan an Indian woman according to law.
(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

18 NOV 1747….will of Richard Randolph…to my son John the third part of my slaves, he taking my two Negroes, Indian John and Essex as a part of his third which two Negroes I propose he should have.
(an Indian is described here as a ‘Negro’…the term is influenced by his servitude)

2 DEC 1754….Church wardens of Henrico Parish do bind out Ezekiel Scott and Sarah Scott, children of John Scott, Tommy son of Indian Nan, Henry Cockran son of John Cockran, and Isham Roughton an Indian according to Law.

5 MAR 1759….Ordered that the Church Wardens of Henrico Parish bind out Ben Scott and Roger an Indian Boy according to Law.

Cont. Here:

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