A Guide to the Lancaster County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818 Lancaster County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818 0007711550

A Guide to the Lancaster County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007711550


Library of Virginia

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Processed by: Greg Crawford

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Lancaster County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818
Physical Characteristics
.10 cu. ft.
Lancaster County (Va.) Circuit Court

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Lancaster County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818. Local government records collection, Lancaster County (Va.) County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in a transfer of court papers from Lancaster County.

Historical Information

Lancaster County was named probably for the English county. It was formed from Northumberland and York Counties sometime between 26 March and 16 September 1651. The county court first met on 1 January 1652. The county seat is Lancaster.

Enslaved people sued for emancipation in freedom suits based on the following: they were descendant(s) of a free female ancestor, typically a Native American (Hening Statutes, volume 2, p.170); failure of enslaver(s) to abide by the 1778 "slave nonimportation act" (Henings Statutes, volume 9, pp. 471-472); or claimed to have been freed by enslaver(s) by deed of emancipation or last will and testament (Henings Statutes volume 11, pp. 39-40)

Scope and Content

Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; religion; sex; and sexual orientation and gender identity.

Lancaster County (Va.) County Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818, consist of one suit: Billy and others versus Ezekiel G. Shearman. Suits initiated by enslaved people seeking to gain their freedom on the law side of the court. Cases are identified by style of suit consisting of plaintiff and defendant names. Surnames of others involved in a suit, including secondary plaintiffs and defendants, witnesses, deponents and affiants, and family members with surnames different from the plaintiff or defendant are indexed. Also identified are names of enslaved and enslavers found in suit as well as whether enslaved won their freedom. Predominant documents found in freedom suits include petitions, records of suits, depositions, affidavits, wills, among other items. Information found in documents include enslaved's argument for freedom, acquisition of enslaved people by enslavers, ancestry of enslaved people, and relationship between enslaved and enslavers.

Related Material

Lancaster County (Va.) County Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1818, is available at Virginia Untold: the African American Narrative digital collection .