Barbary Wilson Deed of Emancipation for Harry
Scope and Content
This collection contains a deed of emancipation signed by enslaver Barbary Wilson of Bath County, Virginia, freeing Harry, identified as a Black man, on January 5, 1822. Wilson is described as filing the deed "upon principle opposed to holding any person in slavery." Harry is listed as being about thirty-two years old. Please note, the signature says "Barbary Wilson," but the clerk wrote her name as "Barbara Wilson."
- Wilson, Barbary, d. ca. 1822 (Person)
Language of Materials
The materials in the collection are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
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Enslaver Barbary (also Barbara) Wilson freed fourteen people, including "Henry" (this may be the "Harry" in the deed of emancipation), in Bath County, Virginia, in January 1822. The following month, Wilson's family filed a case claiming that she was mentally insane and of unsound mind when manumitting the people. The family initially failed, but seized Wilson's estate upon appeal. The enslaved people filed a suit, called "Henry and Others, Paupers, v. Ballar and Others", against the family members, claiming to be white and therefore not legally enslaved, while the family claimed they were of mixed race and legally enslaved. The family also stated that Wilson had been attacked by Native peoples while a child, which they claim led to her mental incapacity during her lifetime.
In the course of the case, Wilson died, leaving an 1819 will that also emancipated the enslaved people. (She was believed to be in her eighties at her death.) In 1836, the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia ruled that the people were entitled to their freedom, and that Wilson was of sound mind when she freed the people she enslaved. They also ruled the freed persons were entitled to profits made during their enslavement after their original emancipation.
In addition to Henry or Harry, the individuals freed in the will were Cathy and her children Peggy and Andrew; Lucy and her children Sally, Benjamine [sic], Strother, Patsy, and Nancy; and Sally and her children Jane, Betsy, and Washington. The will also deeded many of them land and goods Wilson owned.
U.S. Federal Census Records, 1810-1820
Benjamin Watkins Leigh, Report of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Appeals, and in the General Court, of Virginia, Vol. 5, 1903. Pages 552-553. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Virginia_Reports/aZ4UAAAAYAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=henry+and+others,+paupers,+v.+bollar+and+others&pg=PA541&printsec=frontcover, accessed September 26, 2023.
Barbara Wilson in the Virginia, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1652-1900, Ancestry.com, https://www.ancestrylibrary.com/discoveryui-content/view/500268:62347, accessed September 26, 2023.
0.1 Cubic Feet (1 folder)
This collection contains a deed of emancipation signed by enslaver Barbary Wilson of Bath County, Virginia, freeing Harry, identified as a Black man, on January 5, 1822. Harry was one of 14 people that Wilson had enslaved and manumitted in 1822.
Source of Acquisition
This collection was purchased by Special Collections and University Archives in 2018.
Rights Statement for Archival Description
The guide to the Barbary Wilson Deed of Emancipation for Harry by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work/public-domain/cc0/).
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Barbary Wilson Deed of Emancipation for Harry was completed in November 2022.
- Barbary Wilson Deed of Emancipation for Harry, 1822
- Miranda Christy, Graduate Assistant, and LM Rozema, Archivist
- 2022 (CC0 1.0)
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository
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