Richmond, Virginia Uncovered - Frantel Nancy C.
Richmond is located in the heartland of Virginia on the free flowing water of the James River. The James brought much pain, for it was by this river that the slave boats arrived and unloaded their imprisoned passengers in the 1700s and early 1800s. Many slaves purchased in Richmond were transported to other Southern states as demand for labor increased in those regions. History has not left a complete story of those who lived and died in the area. Many records were lost as a result of fires over the years, including during the Civil War. Fortunately information has survived to ensure that some of those who passed through this land are permanently documented. The Richmond City Sergeant Register is one of those precious records. The transcribed entries preserved on these pages portray the hardships experienced by the enslaved and free blacks in the area. Entries typically contain: name of the person committed, name of the person who apprehended the slave or free black, court information if applicable, date committed, date discharged, number of days maintained in the jail and the charge for that maintenance, charges for "turning the key," apprehending fee, total charge to the prisoner or slave owner, and arrangements for the payment of jail charges. If a free black (who was discharged after proving his freedom) was unable to pay his jail charges, he (or she) was sold at public auction to pay off this debt. The length of service required to repay this debt ranged from months to years. Lucy Briggs, an unfortunate free black woman who attained her release from jail after providing her freedom papers, was hired out for fifty-nine years! A sentencing chart follows the register entries; a full name index completes this work.
- The Records of Slave and Free Blacks Listed in the City Sergeant Jail Register, 1841-1846
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