May Term, 1793
On Habeas Corpus of Negro James, a Boy about Thirteen Years of Age, claiming his Freedom.
[Different report of this case: 1 N.J.L. 165]
THE case upon the Habeas Corpus and Return, coming before the Court appeared to be as follows,
Jasper Smith of the Township of Maidenhead, in the County of Hunterdon, by Will bearing Date the 29th day of November, 1769, (amongst others) made the following Devise, "And as for all my Negroes, Jack, old Juddy, and young Juddy, with all her Children, and with all their Cloaths, Chests, Beds, and Bedding, After my Decease, I do hereby order that they are all [page 32] by me for ever freed from all Servitude from me or any of mine, and from all others whatsoever at my Decease, and that they may go and work for their Living with whomsoever they please" - That the said Jasper Smith afterwards died—That notwithstanding the said Will, the said Negroes, and in particular the said young Juddy were detained by Joshua Smith, Son of the said Jasper, and one of the Devisees named in the said Will, that during such Detention and before the Death of the said Joshua, the Negro James in the present Habeas Corpus named, was born of the Body of the said Juddy—That the said Joshua Smith died, leaving Keziah Smith and John Biles his Executors, and the said Negro Juddy and her Son James in their Possession—That on the 9th Day of March, 1790, the said Keziah Smith and John Biles, as Executors of the said Joshua Smith, by Bill of Sale of that Date, conveyed the said Negro James to James Pitney the Defendant in the Habeas Corpus named ; but that no Bond or other Security whatsoever was given by the said Jasper Smith, the Master of the said young Juddy and testator in the Will above named, pursuant to the Act of Assembly passed 16th November, 1769 ; whereupon,
The Court having taken due Consideration, are unanimously of Opinion, That the said Negro Juddy the Mother of the said James, was a free Woman by the Will of the said Jasper Smith, the want of Security pursuant to the said Act of Assembly notwithstanding, and that consequently the said James her Son is entitled to his Freedom, and do therefore order, that the said James be discharged from the illegal Detention of the said James Pitney, and he is discharged accordingly, on the Motion of Mr. Bloomfield for the State.