Julia Roberts v. Austin L. Adams & Ann C. Harding. Defendants' Bill of Exceptions


Julia Roberts
Adams & Harding

At the trial of this cause, the petitioner having given evidence tending to shew that previous to the year 1801 Sarah the mother of the petitioner was the property of Simon Somers & remained in his possession until about the year 1799 when she was placed by said Somers in the possession of sai Wesly Carlin Wesley Adams who about that time married the daughter of said Somers & who lived there & continued to live for many years thereafter in Fairfax County Virginia & then read in said Ct the said gave evidence leading to shew that diligent search had been made among the records of Fairfax County Virginia for an original deed of manumission of said Petitioner's mother by said Somers but no such original deed could be found and that the same is lost; but that, though there was for among said records, the enrollment of a deed whereof the annexed paper marked A is admitted to be a true copy and of the certificates of acknowledgement and the recording of the same. and further offered evidence that said deed was personally acknowledged by the sd Simon Somers in the County Court of the said County of Fairfax; the said slave Sarah being then there in the said County and having always before resided in said County. (prout the same) & the petitioner then read in evidence the said paper marked A purporting to be the copy of a deed of manumission from said Somers of the negro woman named Sarah, [strikethrough] named therein   & then gave evidence tending to shew that the petitioner was the child of said named Sarah & is now about 38 years of age, & further gave evidence tending to shew that the defendant Har Adams Harding makes no claim to the petitioner in her own right but solely by the direction of her co-defendant Adams who is the son of the Wesly Adams above named & his said wife the daughter of said Somers. And the petitioner farther prov gave evidence tending to shew that about the year 1820 the said Wesley Adams brought Sarah the petitioners mother to the Public poor house in Fairfax County State of Virginia & applied to the overseer of the poor for said county for alimony for said Sarah as a free woman of colour & her two small children & that a levy was made upon said county for their support, & they were supported until the year 1826, when a levy was made for the support of said Sarah & the three children which she then had with her but who were not among whom the petitioner was not included, & that said levy when raised was placed in the hands of said Wesly Adams for their support as aforesaid. And further gave evidence tending to shew that Sarah passed as free for a number   of years & that Wesly Adams about the year 1826 said that Sarah & her children were free & that the said Adams wanted to sell the petitioner to a witness to serve him until she should reach 25 years of age when she was to go free & that the county ha of F & that Simon Somers had given slaves to him in such a way as to be of no service to him as just they became free so soon as they became valuable. And the petitioner farther proved that gave evidence tending to prove that at the division of the estate of Simon Somers in 1836 who died in 1836, the deft Adams was present, & that in said division the said Sarah was brought into [illegible] that is they Wesly Adams was charged as distributee of Simon Somers estate with the value of the services of said Sarah up to the year 1814 when she went free & up to which time the said Somers had allowed her to serve Wesly Adams.

And the Plaintiff further offered evidence to prove that the said Simon Somers Summers resided in the said County of Fairfax before and until the 27th of february 1801 when the County of Alexandria was erected, consisting of a part of the said County of Fairfax; and the then residence of the said Simon Summers fell within the said County of Alexandria in the District of Columbia, without any change of the his actual residence. That he still held in fee a tract of wood land in the sd County of Fairfax, about 2 miles from his residence and that he had a joint interest in another tract of land in the said County of Fairfax, but that did not entitle either of the said tracts That the slaves mentioned in the deed of Emancipation had always resided in the said County of fairfax up to the date of the said deed and to the time of its acknowledgement as aforesaid.

The Dft then offered evidence tending to prove that an order was made by the overseers of the poor of the sd. County of Fairfax, in 1825, to   to demand of the sd. Wesley Adams the $20 advanced him fro the support of Sarah's infant children.

The Defendants then gave evidence tending to shew that said Sarah died some years ago on the land of John Adams & after remaining two days there was buried at the expense of the Dft. Austin L. Adams The defendants then gave evidence tending to shew that at the date of the paper marked A viz on 30th Dec. 1801, the said Simon Somers was a resident of the county of Alexandria District of Columbia & did not reside in Fairfax County Virginia. But the witnesses who proved the said residence & said Somers proved in cross examination that at said last mentioned date the said Sarah was in the possession of Wesly Adams in Fairfax County Virginia, & that at said date Simon Somers owned 200 acres of wood land in said Fairfax county & was interested in a another tract of land in said Fairfax County on which there was a house which was cultivated land but which was [illegible] by one [illegible] & that said Simon Somers resided before 1800 in Fairfax County in Virginia, & never removed from the place where he then resided, but that the place of his residence was included within the lines of the District of Columbia & that he continued to reside in the same place until his death.


Whereupon, the defts. & their Counsel, prayed the Court & instruct the Jury that if they shall believe, from the above evidence, that the said Simon Somers, did reside in the County of Alexandria, Dis: Col:, at and before the time of the executing, & acknowledging, the deed aforesaid, [torn page] continued so to reside, until his death in 1836, then, that the deed of Emancipation so as aforesaid made, & executed, acknowledged, & Recorded, in the   County Court of Fairfax County Virginia, does not entitle the Petitioner to freedom, under the Statute of Virginia, in such case made & provided entitled "An Act reducing into one, the several Acts, concerning Slaves, free negroes & Mulattoes," Passed the 17. December 1792.

But the Court refused to give the instruction as prayed, and to which refusal, the defts except and pray that this, their Bill of exception, may be signed, sealed and enrolled, and which is accordingly done, this the 18th of May 1842.

W. Cranch (seal)

James S Morsell (seal)


1st Bill

Neg. Julia
Adams & al

1. Instruction

18 May 1842