The Proceedings of the Convention of Delegates for the Counties and Corporations in the Colony of Virginia, Held at Richmond Town, in the County of Henrico, on the 20th of March 1775
An entry in the journal of Virginia delegates from 1776 discusses the capture of runaway slaves, including some of whom possibly served with British forces under the command of Lord Dunmore. Slaves found to have borne arms against the United States were to be sold in the West Indies, while slaves that had not borne arms were to be returned to their respective owners. One of the captured slaves, Neptune, was owned by founding father George Wythe, who was at the time in Philadelphia attending the Second Continental Congress.
Neptune's name does not appear in the list of slaves still waiting to be retrieved from jail published in the Virginia Gazette on January 19, 1776. His fate is unknown.
Excerpt, Resolutions for 17 January 1776
Mr. King, from the committee appointed to enquire into the several cases of the prisoners confined in the public jail, reported, that the committee had, according to order, had the same under their consideration; and that it appeared to them, that Henry Crouch, was a serjeant in capt. Saunders's company. That it farther apeared to them, that negro Tom, belonging to the estate of Joseph Selden; and Tawley, belonging to Edward Hack Moseley; Dick, belonging to Edmund Ruffin; Lewis and Bob, belonging to Jacob Keeling; Dick, to James Legate; Harry, to Joel Cornick; George, to Elizabeth Woodhouse; Jemmy, to Thomas Banks; Jaspcer and Luke, to William Keeling; Tom and Roger, to Mary Jones; Europe, to William Haynes; Romeo, to Lemuel Cornick; Frank, to John Henley; Peter, to William Keeling; Will, to Joel Cornick; Africa, to Charles Sayer; Harry, to Arthur Boush; that George, belonging to Samuel Donaldson; Ishmael, to George Gaskin; Cuff, to Willis Wilkinson; Ned, to William Forsyth; Cato, to Stephen Tankard; Lewis to Robert Langley, Michael, to Robert Boush; were taken at the Great Bridge. That Derry, beloning to Edward Cooper; and Bob, belonging to John Shedden, have been active, and some of them borne arms under Lord Dunmore. That it appeared to them, that Charles, belonging to John Poole; Cuffy, to Charles Boush; Davy to Charles Jenkins; Poole, to Willis Hoflin; Dennis, to the widow Hodges; were also taken at the Great Bridge. That Billy, belonging
to Anthony Robinson; Tom, Will, and Jemmy belonging to Merit Moore; Anthony, to Henry Howard; Ned and Sam, to Bennet Tompkins; in attempting to run away from their several masters, were by them pursued and taken at Point Comfort. That it does not appear that the said Charles, Cuffly, Davy, Poole, Dennis, Billy, Tom, Will, Jemmy, and Anthony, have ever borne arms, or been active in the service of Lord Dunmore. That it also appeared, that Rachel and Amy, belonging to Bennett Tompkins, have been guilty of a robbery in the county of York; and that Neptune, belonging to George Wythe, Esq., was taken up as a runaway. And that they had come to the following resolutions thereupon; which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again twice read, and agreed to.
Resolved, That the said Henry Crouch be detained as a prisoner.
Resolved, That the said several slaves, who have been active under lord Dunmore, or have borne arms in his service, be detained in jail until the Committee of Safety shall procure them to be properly valued, and sent to the foreign West India Islands, or the Bay of Honduras, there to be sold, and the money arising therefrom, after deducting the charges, be paid to the treasurer of this colony, to be repaid to their respective owners, provided they are not unfriendly to American liberty.
Resolved, That such of the said slaves who have not borne arms, or not been active in the service of Lord Dunmore, be delivered to their respective owners, on their paying the the expenses which have accrued, or shall accrue, from the time of their being taken, till the time of their delivery; and that a list of the said negroes, with the names of their several owners, be inserted in the Virginia Gazette. And, if the owners do not apply within two months from the date of the said advertisement, that such thereof as remain may then be sold at public auction, and the balance, after deducting the expenses aforesaid, be lodged in the bands of the treasurer of this colony, to be paid to the owners, when demanded.
Resolved, that the said Rachel and Amy be committed to the jail of the proper county, there to remain till discharged by due course of law adjourned till tomorrow, half after 10 o'clock.
Adjourned till to-morrow, half after 10 o'clock.
- Read this book in Google Books.
- The Proceedings of the Convention of Delegates for the Counties and Corporations in the Colony of Virginia, Held at Richmond ... on the 20th of March 1775 (Richmond, VA: Ritchie, Trueheart & Du-Val, 1816), 99-100.
- Virginia Gazette (Williamsburg, VA: Alexander Purdie), 19 January 1776, 3. The advertisement reads:
AGREEABLE to an order of the General Convention, I do hereby give notice, that Tom, Will, and Jemmy, negro slaves belonging to Merritt Moore; Anthony, to Henry Howard; Charles, to John Poole; Cuffey, to Charles Boush; Davy, to Charles Jenkins; Poole, to Willis Hoslin; Dennis, to the widow Hodges; are now confined in the publick jail, and directed to be delivered to their respective owners, on their paying the expenses which have accrued, or shall accrue, from the time of their being taken to the time of their delivery. PETER PELHAM. Jailer.