A Guide to the Bedford County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1764-1860, n.d. Bedford County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1764-1860, n.d. 1138015, 1153768

A Guide to the Bedford County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1764-1860, n.d.

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode Numbers 1138015, 1153768


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2005 By the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Library of Virginia Staff

Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers
1138015, 1153768
Bedford County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1764-1860, n.d.
Physical Characteristics
0.15 cubic feet ca.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Bedford County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1764-1860, n.d. Local Government Records Collection, Bedford County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

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

Historical Information

Bedford County was formed in 1753 from Lunenburg County. Part of Albemarle County and another part of Lunenburg were added in 1754.

Scope and Content

Free Negro and Slave Records, 1764-1860, n.d., of Bedford County (Va.) include slave returns (n.d.), a list of negroes (n.d.), a list of all free negroes in the district of John Kasey, Commissioner of Revenue (1857), return of number of slaves over age of 16 by owner (1813-1816), affidavits and certificates (1814, 1828-1857), registrations of free negroes (1819; 1856-1860, n.d.), miscellaneous records (1764, 1789, 1821, n.d.), and wrappers and fragments of records (n.d.)

The slave returns are lists of slaveowners and number of slaves owned and hired who are between 18 and 55 years of age. The returns list by district the name of the slaveowner, the number of slaves owned, number of slaves hired, a total number of slaves, and a remarks column for notes about a slave's health, a slave's job skills, or information about the slaveowner. These lists are probably related to the government's conscription of slaves during the Civil War. In 1863, at the request of the President of the Confederate States, "An Act to Further Provide for the Public Defence," was passed by the Virginia General Assembly directing that certain counties submit a specified number of slaves for labor on fortifications and other aspects of the public defence. No slave names are given.

The list of negroes (n.d.) contains an alphabetical list of "cullard names" that lists both first and last name, several columns with numbers in them, and the date 1874. This list was possibly compiled for tax reasons.

The list of all free negroes in the district of John Kasey, Commissioner of the Revenue, is a numbered list containing the name, whether male or female, age, and occupation for each person.

The return of number of slaves over aged 16 by owner list the name of the slaveowner and a number of slaves owned over the age of 16 for each year 1813-1816. No slave names are given.

Affidavits and 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. There is one affidavit (1857) of a person swearing to the freedom of a woman. Her name is given, the fact that she is free born, the name of her husband, and the date of the affidavit. The certificates date 1828-1857.

Registrations of free negroes contain the name of the person, whether they were free born or emancipated, age, and a physical description. Sometimes the county of birth is given if it is other than Bedford County. Familial relationships are often given (husband, wife, daughter, son, parents, twin sister) as are maiden names of married women. If a person was previously registered, this is also noted. If emancipated, the name of the previous owner is usually given.

Miscellaneous records contain an advertisement of a slave for sale (1764) that lists the name of the slave, name of the slaveholder, and the date and location of the sale; an advertisement of a white horse for sale (1764) that lists the name of the owner and the date and location of the sale; a letter from Mary Banks to Captain Buford regarding the hire of a slave (1789); two letters about the hire of slaves involving a Mr. Charles Lambert (1821); and four items with no date: a list of the slaves belonging to the estate of Timothy Rogers that lists the names and ages of the slaves, an account that lists various slaves, their hire and amounts of money, and two unidentified lists of names of slaves that also contains their ages and a physical description.

The fragments of records appear to be either certificates of free negroes or registrations of free negroes. One item contains the date 1850 and the other 1851. Others are undated. The 1850 fragment contains the name George Seldon/Seldom.


Chronological by record type.

Related Material

Additional Bedford 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" found on the Library of Virginia web site.

Access Terms

  • Advertisements--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Affidavits--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • African Americans--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Bedford County (Va.)--History.
  • Bedford County (Va.). Circuit Court.
  • Certificates--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Confederate States of America--Defenses.
  • Free African Americans--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Free papers--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Letters (correspondence)--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Lists--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Registrations--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Slave records--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Slave trade--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Slaveholders--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Slaves--Emancipation--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Slaves--United States.
  • Slaves--Virginia--Bedford County.
  • Tax collection--Virginia--Bedford County.