Colonial Documents Reveal African Roots

Court Orders, Southampton County, VA, 1749

Court Orders, Southampton County, VA, 1749

Nero a Negro boy slave belonging to Henry Cooker is by the court adjudged to fourteen years of age.

Zingo a Negro boy slave belonging to John Warren by the court adjudged to thirteen years of age.

Douglas a Negro boy slave belonging to Thomas Westbrooks by the court adjudged to ten years of age.

Anarcha a Negro boy slave belonging to Thomas Westbrooks by the court adjudged to nine years of age.

Juba a Negro boy slave belonging to David Edmunds by the court adjudged to ten years of age.

Tilla a Negro girl belonging to Thomas Gillum the court adjudged to fourteen years of age.

Pompey a Negro boy slave belonging to John Barrow the court adjudged to ten years of age.

During the Colonial period, slave owners were required to pay taxes on their slaves from ages twelve to fifty years old. When Africans were brought to the colonies and it was evident that they were adults they were simply added to tax rolls called tithables. When small children and teenagers arrived from Africa and their ages were uncertain, the slave owners would have to take them into court and a judge would assign an age for the slave, which was then recorded in minute or court order books. Most of the slaves were assigned English names, although some retained their true African names. Some of the court orders also list the names of the ships the Africans arrived in and the dates of arrival. Many of these individuals can be traced in later documents such as tax records, wills, and estate settlements. These records can prove to be a genealogical goldmine for African American researchers.

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5 Responses to “Colonial Documents Reveal African Roots”

  1. I can’t believe that I missed your point, I will have to do some research on this.

  2. Ms. Shaw says:

    Dear Mr. Baker Jr.

    Do you have any information on the Shaw surname. I read once that their was a slave mistriss of some sort from England with the last name Shaw and she sold them across the deep south to other people.

    To this day my fathers side of the family is spread out across the deep south. All I know is that the last name is Old English and that’s it.

    How can I find information on my ancestors with paying much money?

    I would also like to trace my family on my mothers side. I have their name but I would like to know who they were and what did they do for a living and the like. I have a picture of my great grandmother on my mothers side wearing a pretty white dress standing by a chair but know one can tell me what she did for living or who was she in society.

    I also would like to trace my grandfathers surname Wells on my mothers side. I have the names of his family, but again no one can tell me what his extended family did for living and if they are from Lexington Virgina also and what did they do for a living and who were they in society.

    Thank you for your help.

    Best Regards,
    Ms. Shaw

  3. John Baker says:

    Ms. Shaw,

    I have not come across any Shaws in my research, however there are many Shaws in Sumner County, TN which adjorns Robertson County where I live. I would suggest you try ancestry.com for researching your family.

    Best regards,

    John

  4. Mary Yamaha says:

    Unlike many posts on the internet, this was fun to read and gave me some valuable input. I will have to put a backlink on my website. Regards. J

  5. You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it

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