Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of New-Jersey; relative to the Manumission of Negroes and others holden in bondage
[page 29]


May, 1791

([Minutes,] p.257.)


On Habeas Corpus of Negro Hagar, Wife of Cornelius Wilson, and Cornelius, Lydia and Anna their Children, praying their Freedom, detained by the Defendant, claiming their Service for life.

[Habeas Corpus returned this Term and filed.]

THE Court having fully Heard the Allegations and Proofs of all Parties, and the Arguments of Counsel thereon ; it appeared to the Court that the said Negroes brought up on the said Writ, were in the Year 1776, the Slaves of William Winds, Esq. of the County of Morris ;—That the said William Winds, in consideration of the good Behaviour of the said Negro Cornelius Wilson the Father, in the said Year 1776 did manumit and set free the said Cornelius, his Wife Hagar, and all the said Children—That the said Cornelius and his Family built a House on the Lands of the said William Winds by his Assistance, and with his Permission, and lived thereon as Free Citizens for the Term of Three Years, when the said Cornelius Wilson and Wife were taken sick ; on which the said William Winds removed them to a House near his own, and took care of them till they recovered, when he employed them and paid them [page 30] Wages for their Labor as free persons; That the said William Winds, fearing they might become a burthen on his Estate, urged them to obtain security to indemnify him from any Expence in Case of their becoming a Charge—That thereupon the said William Winds gave to the said Negro Cornelius Wilson a Pass to go into the County of Monmouth to obtain such Security—That the said Cornelius accordingly went to the said County of Monmouth, and agreed with Abraham Probasco the Defendant, that in consideration of his becoming Security to the said William Winds, he and his Family would serve him Five Years—That the said Abraham Probasco in Consequence thereof, came to the said William Winds and agreed with him accordingly, and in order to secure the said William Winds, the said Abraham Probasco proposed, that the said William Winds should give to the said Abraham a Bill of Sale for the said Negroes, and at the end of Five Years, the said Abraham would release the said Negroes and set them free : That a Bill of Sale for the Consideration of Five Shillings, without any Condition or Reservation was drawn up accordingly by the said Abraham, and executed by the said William, and a Receipt given by the said Abraham to the said William therefor, calling it a Deed of Gift—That at the Execution of the said Instrument or Bill of Sale, the said William Winds mentioned his Fear least the said Abraham should claim the said Negroes as Slaves by virtue of the said Bill of Sale, when he and the Witnesses should be dead, and declared that although he could get Two Hundred Pounds for the said Negroes, yet he had given the said Bill of Sale for Five Shillings in order that they might be free—That the said Negroes have faithfully served the said Abraham for more than Six Years under the said Agreement, and are still detained by the said Abraham who claims their Service for Life by Virtue of the said Bill of Sale.

The Court therefore having maturely considered the Premises, are unanimously of Opinion, That the said Negroes and every of them, be discharged from the Custody of the said Abraham Probasco as free Citizens, and they are hereby discharged accordingly, on Motion of Mr. Attorney-General, Bloomfield.

The Attorney General, and J. Stockton for the Negroes. Kirkpatrick for Defendant.