A Guide to the Essex County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1714-1857 Essex County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1714-1857 1137639

A Guide to the Essex County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1714-1857

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number 1137639


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
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Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
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© 2006 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Library of Virginia staff

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Essex County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1714-1857
Physical Characteristics
0.45 cu. ft.
Essex County (Va.) Circuit Court.
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Essex County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1714-1857. Local government records collection, Essex County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in shipments of court papers from Essex County.

Historical Information

Essex County was formed in 1692 from Rappahannock County, a now extinct Virginia county.

Scope and Content

Essex County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1714-1857, include slave bills of bargain and sale (1714-1771); deed of manumission (1848); free negro registrations and certifications (1812-1857, undated); and patrol returns, accounts and commissions (1787-1857).

Slave bills of bargain and sale gives the name(s) of the seller of the slave, the name(s) of the purchaser, usually the name of the slave(s) being sold, the price, the date of the deed, and the date the bill of sale was registered or proved with the court and on what page it is recorded. Some items within this group are also labeled as deeds, agreements, or mortgages.

The deed of manumission is from Alexander T. Baylor for Matilda Gains and her children William and Alexander.

Free negro registrations give information on a single person as to the name, age, complexion, stature in feet and inches, apparent marks or scars, whether emancipated or free born, registration number, and date this information was certified by the court.

Certificates of free negroes contain the court date of the document, the name of the person, sometimes their age and a brief physical description, and a statement based either on another person's knowledge or on other official documentary evidence seen by the certifier that this person was either born free or was emancipated. If born free, reference is sometimes made to parents. If emancipated, emancipating owner, place and date of emancipation, and prior registration as a free negro are usually mentioned.

Patrol returns, accounts and commissions contain two kinds of documents. The patrol returns and accounts list the names of patrollers and the dates and/or hours served on the slave patrol. Sometimes other information is listed such as the name of the captain of the patrol, how much money is owed to the patrollers, locations patrolled, and any actions taken. The patrol commissions are orders from a justice of the peace for a slave patrol to form and patrol. The name of the ordering justice is given along with the appointed captain, names of the men named to patrol, the duties of the patrol, and the length of time the patrol is to serve. Often a patrol commission is sealed onto the return of that patrol with sealing wax.


Chronological by record type.

Related Material

Additional Essex County Free Negro and Slave Records can be found on microfilm at The Library of Virginia. Consult A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Essex County (Va.). Circuit Court.
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Free African Americans--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Freedmen--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Fugitive slaves--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Slave bills of sale--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Slave records--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Slave trade--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Slaveholders--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Slaves--Emancipation--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • Essex County (Va.)--History.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Agreements--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Bills of sale--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Certificates--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Claims--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Commissions--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Deeds of manumission--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Free negro and slave records--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Free papers--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Mortgage deeds--Virginia--Essex County.
  • Registrations--Virginia--Essex County.