A Guide to the Goochland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1726-1867 Goochland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1726-1867 1147037, 1149995

A Guide to the Goochland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1726-1867

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers: 1147037, 1149995


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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© 2007 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Sarah Nerney

The Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers
1147037, 1149995
Goochland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1726-1867
Physical Characteristics
.45 cu. ft. (2 boxes)
Goochland County (Va.)
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Goochland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1726-1867,undated. Local government records collection, Goochland County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in transfers of court papers from Goochland County. Papers related to slaves requisitioned for public use came to the Library under the accession 45355.

Historical Information

Goochland County was formed from Henrico County in 1728.

The General Assembly of Virginia passed a law as early as July 1, 1861, calling for the enrollment of free negroes to work in the public service. From 1862 to 1863, at the request of the president of the Confederate States, the General Assembly passed three more laws that requisitioned slaves to work on fortifications and other works of the public defense. Each county and city were allotted a certain number of slaves that had to be provided to the government under the requisition.

In 1806, the General Assembly moved to remove the free Negro population from Virginia with a law that stated that all emancipated slaves, freed after May 1, 1806, who remained in the Commonwealth more than a year, would forfeit their right to freedom and be sold by the Overseers of the Poor for the benefit of the parish. Families wishing to stay were to petition the legislature through the local county court. Beginning in 1837, freed slaves could petition the local courts for permission to remain.

Scope and Content

Goochland County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1726-1867, consist of affidavits and certificates related to free status (1801-1861, undated), free negro registers or registrations (1810-1861), lists of free negro tax delinquents (1850-1863), emancipations and manumissions (1782-1862), slave bills of sale and deeds (1762-1859), records relating to slave hires (1803-1822), a criminal cause Commonwealth vs. the Lynches (1855 March), certificates of importation of slaves (1813), records of slave patrols and accounts (1762-1863), lists of free negroes (1802-1863, undated), and miscellanous records (1726-1867, undated). The records are in part photocopies.

Affidavits and certificates related to free status (1801-1861, undated) consist of statements 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. Many of these certifications involve the loss of a free person's registration papers and the certifier often is testifying to the circumstances of the loss and that the papers had existed before. Often times details accompany the affidavits and certificates about the free person's life such as their place of birth, their occupation, where they had grown up, or how the certifier had come to know them.

Free negro registers or registrations (1810-1861) contain the name of the free person, sometimes their age and a brief physical description, and whether this person was born free or was emancipated. Reference is sometimes made to a previous registration in another county. Occasionally the register number is given; this number corresponds to the entry number in the register of free negroes kept by the clerk of court at the courthouse. Also included in this series are two lists of free persons from 1853 and 1861 with notations either as to their age, their free stats, or some notation about what is to be done with their registration (for example, to be registered or to be removed).

Lists of free negro tax delinquents (1850-1863) are lists compiled by Goochland County deputy sheriffs of free persons who had failed to pay their revenue tax. The lists consist of the names of persons who are insolvent, sometimes an account of how much they owe, and whether they then paid the tax directly or were hired out in order to do so. The lists also contain orders to hire out the free negroes in order to pay off the tax as state law allowed.

Emancipations and manumissions (1782-1862) give the names of the slaves to be freed, the name of the owner freeing them, and the ages of the slaves, the conditions that must be reached in order to be emancipated (for example, immediately or when the slave reaches a certain age), and in some cases a reason for the emancipation. One item is a list of Richard Cocke's slaves due for emancipation which lists the slave names, their familial relation (for example, Beck daughter of Aggy), and the date on which the slaves are to be emancipated. One deed of emancipation, William Fulcher to Mary Fulcher (1828) is a photocopy.

Slave bills of sale and deeds (1762-1859) contain the name of the grantor and the name of the grantee, the name and age of the slave(s) being sold, the price paid, the date of the deed or bill of sale, and the date of recordation if it was recorded. Sometimes other property is included in the deed as well such as livestock.

Records relating to slave hires (1803-1822) are promissory notes, letters, or bills relating to slave hires between private individuals. The promissory notes and bills list the name of the person hiring the slaves, the names of the slaves, the cost to hire including requirements to furnish clothing and food, and the name of the slaveowner. Some letters are included in this series that discuss various issues with hired slaves.

Certificates of importation of slaves (1813) are two certifications from slaveowners that they have brought in slaves for personal use and not for sale. The names of the slaves are given, their ages, and brief physical descriptions. One certificate involves slaves brought from Kentucky and the other from North Carolina.

Papers related to slaves requisioned for public use, 1862 circa, came under the accession number 45355. This is a report of eleven pages noting name of owner, whole number of slaves, number between 18-45, number sent last year, rateable proportion of each, exceptions, remarks, and number allotted. These information was compiled and recorded as the county attempted to comply with the state law requisitioning slaves to work on the public defense works including the fortifications around Richmond. No slave names are given.

Records of slave patrols and accounts (1762-1863) include slave patrol appointments and authorizations and accounts. Patrol appointments and authorizations list the names of persons appointed to the slave patrol, the length of the appointment, and the extent of the assigned duties. Patrol accounts give the district patrolled by a particular company of slave patrol and the names and number of hours for each participant. On most lists, the captain of the company is noted and a total amount of payment is given.

Lists of free negroes exist for the following years: 1802-1807, 1809-1813, 1815, 1817, 1852-1853, 1855-1858, 1860, 1863, and undated. The lists were compiled by the commissioner of the revenue for tax purposes. They record the full name of each individual, place of residence, and occupation. On some lists, family groupings are clearly delineated. Some lists also classify persons as either a mulatto or a freed negro.

Miscellaneous records (1726-1867, undated) consist of various kinds of records relating to slaves or free persons which do not easily fall into another category. They include: a slave pass for Peter, property of Philip Webber (1726?); certification of the death of Hampton, an outlaw slave belonging to John Owen (1739); a note involving a deed between Adam and Mary Toler to George [Potter] and John Shelton (1806); a memo about Abram, a runaway, encountering another runaway in the woods (1813); photocopy of affidavit of Revolutionary War service of John Banks, a free man of color (1819); permits for free negroes to carry firearms (1823); order to hire out insolvent free negroes (1823); list of dower negroes of Mary Trevilian (1825); unnamed runaway slaves to valued (1837); summons of justices of the peace to consider Act of Assembly passed 10 February 1844 entitled "An Act to extend the provisions of an Act to prevent free negroes and mulattoes in the counties of Accomack and Richmond from selling agricultural products without a certificate (1844); a photocopy from judgment case Pickett vs. Pickett: a list of slaves sold from estate of George C. Pickett (1846 May); guardianship of William James Cosby, a free boy of color (1857); order for certain free negroes to report for work on the fortifications at Richmond (1861); photocopy of two lists of negroes with names and birth dates from the estate of Adam Toler (1848); list of colored people on Elk Island (1867); lawyer's argument to jury from unknown case (undated, circa 1818); court order directing constables to search free negroes and slaves for firearms (undated, circa 1861); unknown list of slaves (undated).


Chronologically by record type.

Related Material

Additional Goochland 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.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

  • African Americans -- Employment -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • African Americans -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Confederate States of America -- Defenses.
  • Free African Americans -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Freedmen -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Fugitive slaves -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Lunenburg County (Va.) -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- African Americans.
  • Slave labor -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Slave records -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Slaveholders -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Slavery -- Law and legislation -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Slaves -- Emancipation. -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Slaves -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Tax collection -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • War -- Economic aspects -- Virginia -- Lunenburg County.
  • Geographical Names:

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

  • Affidavits -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Bills of sale -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Certificates -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Claims -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Criminal court records -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Deeds -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Deeds of manumission -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Emancipations -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Free negro and slave records -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Free negro lists -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Free negro registrations -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Free papers -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Lists -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Local government records -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Patrol returns -- Virginia -- Goochland County.
  • Registrations -- Virginia -- Goochland County.