A Guide to the Amherst County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1814-1819 Amherst County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1814-1819 0007539992

A Guide to the Amherst County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1814-1819

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 0007539992


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/

© 2014 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Chris Smith

The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Amherst County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1814-1819
Physical Characteristics
.10 cu. ft.
Amherst County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Patrons are to use digital images found at Virginia Untold: the African American Narrative .

Preferred Citation

Amherst County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1814-1819. Local government records collection, Amherst 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 Amherst 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)

Amherst County was named for Major General Jeffery Amherst, British commander in North America during the latter part of the French and Indian War and governor of Virginia from 1759 to 1768. It was formed from Albemarle County in 1761. Islands in the Fluvanna (now the James) River were added in 1770. The county seat is Amherst.

Scope and Content

Amherst County (Va.) Judgments (Freedom Suits), 1814-1819, 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 Amherst County Court Records are found at the Library of Virginia.

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

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

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

  • African Americans -- Virginia.
  • Free African Americans -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Slaveholders -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Slavery -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Geographical Names:

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

  • Civil actions -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Freedom suits -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Judicial records -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Local government records -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Petitions -- Virginia -- Amherst County.
  • Wills -- Virginia -- Amherst County.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Amherst County (Va.) -- Genealogy
  • Amherst County (Va.) -- History.

List of Freedom Suits

1814 July: Pompey, etc. vs. Thomas Coleman
1818 November: Sam vs. John Barnett
1818 November: Bob Boyd vs. Godfrey Toler