April Term, 1789.
On Habeas Corpus of Negro Margaret Reap, claiming her Freedom.
[Different report of this case: 1 N.J.L. 403]
UPON the hearing before the Court, it appeared, that Zacheus Mayhew, of Massachusetts, by Deed of Gift, dated the first Day of March, 1750, did give a certain Negro Girl called Flora, unto his Daughter, Lucy Little, then the Wife of Little-That the said Lucy Little afterwards being a Widow, and having One Son called William Little, intermarried in Massachusetts with a Dr. Joseph Eaton, who came from thence with his Wife to Shrewsberry in New-Jersey, and at the same Time brought the said Negro Flora with them-That on the 31st Day of August, 1752, the said Dr. Eaton sold the said Negro Flora with a Child she then had called [page 20] Rose, unto one John Worthley-That the said John Worthley by Bill of Sale, dated 27th September, 1753, sold the said Negro Flora to one John Williams-That John Williams the 8th of May, 1754, sold the said Negro Flora to the aforesaid Dr. Eaton for the Sum of Sixty-Pounds York-Money-That the said Dr. Eaton upwards of Twenty Years ago, and about Five Days after one Jacob Dennis had purchased the aforesaid Negro Girl Rose, Daughter of the said Flora, of the said John Worthley, he the said Dr. Eaton informed the said Jacob Dennis, he was collecting those Negroes for William Little (his Son-in-Law)-that they should return to him again as they belonged to him ; and at that Time and often afterwards declared that he was principled against Slavery, and that he never intended the said Flora should belong to his Estate, nor should any of his Children be benefited by having her as their Property- It also appeared that the said Lucy Eaton survived her said Husband, the said Dr. Eaton-That shortly After the Death of the said Dr. Eaton (to wit, about Seventeen Years ago) one Thomas White applied to the said Lucy Eaton to purchase and did purchase at private Sale, a small Spinning Wheel, which she then said she had not any further Use for, as she had given Flora free who used to spin on the said Wheel-That since that Time the said Flora has passed for, and been esteemed a free Woman, and for a considerable Time worked about in the Neighborhood of the said Widow Eaton, and in the House of the said Widow, and for the Wife of John Eaton the eldest Son of the said Dr. Eaton, and always received her Wages as well from the said John Eaton's Wife, as the Neighbours ; and the said Widow Eaton herself promised to compensate her therefor-And it further appeared that whilst the said Flora worked about for herself as aforesaid, she intermarried with a certain Joseph Reap, a free Negro, with whom the said Flora has ever since lived unmolested and as a free Woman, and still continues fo to live-That After the marriage of the said Flora with the said Joseph Reap, she had Two Children called Lydia, and Margaret (the present Claimant), that these Children lived with their said Father and Mother, who brought them up by their own Industry without any Expence or Trouble to any other person whatsoever, until [page 21] last Fall, when they were taken away from their said Parents without their Consent-That since the said taking, it appears by a certain Instrument of Writing, bearing date the 8th Day of January, 1789, executed under the Hand and Seal of the aforesaid William Little, (the Son-in-Law of the said Dr. Eaton, and for whom the said Dr. Eaton declared as aforesaid, he was collecting the Negroes)-That the said William Little hath manumitted and set at Liberty the said Flora and her said Two Children, Lydia and Margaret whereupon
The Court having considered this state of Facts, and the arguments of Counsel on both Sides thereupon, are of Opinion, That, permitting the said Negro Woman Flora to remain at Liberty for so long a Time, and to work for herself, and having intermarried with the said Joseph Reap a free Man, with whom she has ever since lived as a free Woman, is such Evidence of Freedom, both of the said Negro Woman Flora, and confequently of her Children, as to entitle the said Negro Margaret Reap to her discharge ; and the Court do therefore accordingly order the said Negro Margaret Reap to be discharged and set at Liberty from the said David Lyon ; on Motion of the Attorney General.
Bloomfield, Attorney General, and R. Stockton for the State.
M. Williamson, and Aaron Agden for Defendant.