A Guide to the Westmoreland County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1810-1858 Westmoreland County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1810-1858 0007423868

A Guide to the Westmoreland County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1810-1858

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007423868


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)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2013 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Greg Crawford

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Westmoreland County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1810-1858
Physical Characteristics
.35 cu. ft. (1 box)
Westmoreland County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Westmoreland County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1810-1858. Local government records collection, Westmoreland 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 Westmoreland County.

Historical Information

Slaves 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 slaveowner(s) to abide by the 1778 slave nonimportation act (Henings Statutes, volume 9, pp. 471-472); or claimed to have been freed by slaveowner(s) by deed of emancipation or last will and testament (Henings Statutes volume 11, pp. 39-40)

Westmoreland County was named for the English county. It was formed from Northumberland County in 1653. The county seat is Montross.

Scope and Content

Westmoreland County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1810-1858, consist of suits initiated by slaves 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 slaves and slaveowners found in suit as well as whether slave(s) 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 slave's argument for freedom, acquisition of slaves by slaveowners, slave ancestry, and relationship between slaves and slaveowners.

Judgments (Freedom Suits) are useful when researching local history and genealogical information, particularly for African Americans. They are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality's history.


Arranged chronologically.

Related Material

Additional Westmoreland County Court Records are found at the Library of Virginia.

Additional Westmoreland County Court Records can be found on microfilm at The Library of Virginia. Consult "A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm."

Additional freedom suits may be found in the Westmoreland County Chancery Causes. Search the the Chancery Records Index found on the Library of Virginia web site. Enter the tilde symbol in the plaintiff surname field.

Index Terms

Adjunct Descriptive Data

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

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List of Freedom Suits

1810 Sept: Jenny~ vs. Bennet Rose
1819 May: Alexander Toleson, etc. vs. Thomas Rowand
1822 May: Joanna Thompson vs. James Wigley
1847 Aug: Ann~ alias Ann Daniel vs. James B. Murphy
1858 Oct: Sydnor~, etc. vs. Admr. of Ransdell Pierce, etc.