Thursday, January 22, 2009

FREE PEOPLE OF COLOR PETITION FILED IN GRANVILLE COUNTY – 1771

Contributed by Deloris Williams

From “Colonial Records of North Carolina”, North Carolina State Archives, Miscellaneous Records in the Office of Secretary of State- transcribed from 2 different copies of the same document, by Deloris Williams).

Through the years of early Colonialism in North Carolina, a number of laws were passed in regards to the taxation of Free People of Color, whether they were Black, Negro, Mulatto, Mustee or even Native American Indian who lived in the State. Granville County was the home of many of these early settlers who are recorded in the very early records as being part of the community, and indeed did intermarry within the local population of frontiersmen and settlers. With these new laws came new burdens on the families who not only had to pay taxes for the males in their households, but also for all of the females of color in their home over the age of twelve, a very heavy burden indeed when one realizes that these were very large families. One of the petitions filed in protest of this was in 1771 by a group of Granville County residents who, at first glance may seem to have been just interested citizens in support of their neighbors, but for those who have researched the names or surnames on this petition, it becomes clearer that while some of the names themselves were indeed white settlers, many of these were probably some of the earliest ancestors of those who later became known as being Free People of Color. Of special note, by the way, while there is only one name on the petition which was clearly indicated to have been “Negro”, extant tax & Court records of the time identify quite a few others on the list also as being Negro, Mulatto or People of Color.

To the Honble. The Speaker and Gentn. Of the house of Assembly

The Petition of the Inhabitants of Granville County Humbly Showeth that by the Act of Assembly Concerning Tythables it is among other things enacted that all free Negroes & Mulato Women and all wives of free Negroes & mulatoes are Declared Tythables & Chargeable for Defraying the Public County & Parish Leveys of this Province which Your Petitioners Humbly Conceive is highly Derogatory of the Rights of Freeborn Subjects Your Petitioners therefore Pray that An Act may pass Exempting Such free negroes & mulatoe women and all wives other than Slaves of free negroes & mulatoes from being listed as Tythables & from paying any Public County or Parish Levys and Your Petitioners shall ever pray &c.

----see the list of names here----


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