A Guide to the Warren County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1836-1861 Warren County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1836-1861 1208718, 1138047

A Guide to the Warren County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1836-1861

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers: 1208718, 1138047


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
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Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
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© 2011 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Catherine G. OBrion

The Library of Virginia
Barcode numbers
1208718, 1138047
Warren County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1836-1861
Physical Characteristics
0.25 cu. ft. (1 box) and 1 leaf (oversize)
Warren County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Warren County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1836-1861. Local government records collection, Warren County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

These items came to the Library of Virginia in transfers of court papers from Warren County, in part under accession numbers 37580-37582.

Historical Information

A law passed in 1782 by the state legislature made it lawful to emancipate slaves, and also stipulated that liberated slaves neglecting to pay tax levies might be hired out by the sheriff long enough to raise the taxes.

An act passed in 1793 by the Virginia legislature in 1793 required every free Negro or Mulatto to be registered and numbered in a book to be kept by the county clerk. Emancipated slaves may have been registered with the court at an earlier date in some localities. Registrations were to be renewed annually at a cost of 25 cents.

An act passed in 1801 by the Virginia legislature required commissioners of the revenue annually to return a complete list of all free African Americans within their districts, with their names, sex, place of abode, and trades, and a copy of the list to be fixed at the courthouse door.

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.

Warren County was named for Joseph Warren, the revolutionary patriot who sent Paul Revere and William Dawes on their famous rides and who was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The county was formed from Shenandoah and Frederick Counties in 1836.

Scope and Content

Warren Edward County (Va.) Free Negro and Slave Records, 1836-1861. These records are comprised of tax records, 1836-1857, and free papers, 1836-1861, of free African Americans living in Warren County before the Civil War. The records also contain applications to remain in Virginia, 1847-1848; an order to transfer an indenture of a free boy of color, 1855; and a list of the ages of slaves emancipated by Lucy Hansbrough, 1856.

Certificates and affidavits of freedom, 1836-1861, are free papers required by law of persons of color. They contain name, sometimes age and a brief physical description of the individual, and the circumstances of the person's freedom or emancipation. If born free, reference is sometimes made to parents. If emancipated, the emancipating owner, place and date of emancipation, and prior registration as a free Negro are usually mentioned. The certificate of Hannah Henry indicates she was the daughter of Delilah Henry, one of the slaves emancipated by the estate of Robert Carter. Also included is a request for free papers, 1857.

Tax records, 1836-1857, contain a list of free Negroes in Daniel Stickley's district, 1836; a list of free Negroes and Mulattos in Warren County, 1837; free Negro lists, 1855, 1859, and 1861; and lists of free Negroes returned delinquent, 1837, 1840, 1850-1854 and 1857. Lists of free Negroes contain first and last name, amount of tax owed, place of abode, and trade or occupation. Lists of Negroes delinquent contain names of persons returned delinquent and sometimes why returned, such as "no property," "removed," or "not found."

Related Material

A cohabitation register, 1866, documenting free African Americans living in Warren County before the Civil War is available digitally with searchable transcriptions through the Library of Virginia's Virginia Memory website.See also Henry County (Va.) Free School Registers, 1847-1853, available at the Library of Virginia.

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Warren County (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Persons:

  • Carter, Robert, 1728-1804.
  • Hansbrough, Lucy.
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--Employment--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Free African Americans--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Slaveholders--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Slaves--Emancipation--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • Warren County (Va.)--History--19th century.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Affidavits--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Certificates--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Emancipations--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Free negro and slave records--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Free negro lists--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Free papers--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Indentures--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Petitions--Virginia--Warren County.
  • Tax and fiscal records--Virginia--Warren County.

Significant Persons Associated With the Collection

  • Carter, Robert, 1728-1804.
  • Hansbrough, Lucy.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Warren County (Va.)--History--19th century.

Contents List

Barcode number 1138047:

List of Free Negroes, 1855

Barcode number 1208718:

Lists of Free Negroes Delinquent on Taxes, 1836-1857; Certificates of Affidavits and Freedom, 1836-1850; Petition to remain in Virginia, 1847; Free Negro Lists, 1859, 1861; Free Negro Certificates, 1836-1861; Request for Free Papers, 1857, and Order to transfer indenture, 1855.