Notes And Documents of Free Persons of Color is a book that details the lives of several groups labeled Free Persons of Color in Colonial Virginia. The subjects lives are chronicled through documents, excerpts from newspapers, military, and court records. The subjects lives were as varied as the areas they lived in. Some lived on Plantations, others in Rural, and Urban settings. All were governed by the laws, and statues passed by the Virginia assembly.
Writer Anita Wills specializes in colonial Virginia's Free Persons of Color. Her book is published by Heritage Books. Notes And Documents of Free Persons of Color first appears in Heritage Books' February 2003 Catalog.
One of the book's subjects is the Pinn family, who resided on Virginia's Eastern Shore. John Pinn II, fought at Yorktown with his father, brother, and Uncle. John moved to Massachusetts after his service, and filed for a pension when he was over eighty years old. In his pension record Pinn states that his mother was Cherokee, and his father Mustee. This is one of the few remaining records detailing the racial makeup of the Pinn family. John fought at Yorktown along with his brothers Billy, and James, his father Robert Pinn, and his Uncle Rawley Pinn.
Rawley Pinn marched from Amherst County with his unit, and met with Marquis de Lafayette, before marching to Williamsburg. From Williamsburg the men joined Washington at Yorktown. The Amherst County unit was made up of members who would become Tri Racial Isolates. They settled in the mountains of Virginia, in Amherst, Nelson, Bedford, Buckingham, and surrounding counties. They were the ones who Plecker targeted, in the early 1900's. Even though most had never been slaves they were required to register in the Free Negro Registry in Amherst County.
The Bowdens, Mary and Patty, were Indentured Servants to George Washington's family. They resided in Westmoreland County on the Plantation known as Pope's Creek (now George Washington Birthplace). Mary (born 1730, died after 1810), and Patty (born 1750, died 1830), were mother and daughter. Because of their mixed raced status, the women were under a thirty year indenture, set by the law of Virginia. In 1737, Augustine Washington Junior, appeared in the Westmoreland County Courthouse, with a Mulatto Girl named "Mol". She was adjudged to be seven years old, and Mulatto, and therefore under the jurisdiction of the court. Mol was indentured out to Augustine Washington Senior (George Washington's father) for thirty years.
Mol (Mary Bowden), was born about 1730, which meant she was two years older than George. At the time he received Mary's indenture, Augustine Senior was married to his second wife, Mary Ball Washington, George's mother. George five years old at the time, and resided at Popes' Creek, a Plantation purchased by his Grandfather. He had several step brothers, including Augustine Junior, who would inherit Mary Bowdens' Indenture.
Another family chronicled is Charles and Ambrose Lewis, brothers who both served in the Revolutionary War, out of Fredericksburg. The brothers were Seamen on the Galley Page, and the Dragon Ship. After his war service Ambrose Lewis resided in Alexandria, living in the Olde towne District. He mentioed living in Alexandria in his pension application, and stated that he, and his ten year old son, both lived in Alexandria. Several slaves manumitted by Charles Lewis moved to Alexandria, including Ambrose wife Fanny. Their manumission papers are on file in Alexandria's Free Negro Registry. After his service Charles moved to the Rockets Landing area of Richmond. He is listed in the 1783 census, as a Mulatto, and a landowner.
Virginia is important because much of the Western Movement began in that region. The drives to resettle Natives in Oklahoma, and other parts west began in Virginia. Many of the early laws governing our country came out of Colonial Virginia. This book delves into the lives of those who were most affected by those early laws.
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