Sarah Ann Allen v. Joseph Wallingsford. Defendant's Bill of Exceptions


Sarah Ann Allen & others
Joseph Wallingsford

Circuit Court of United States for Washington Co District of Columbia - Petition for freedom March Term 1835

At the trial of this cause, the Petitioners, to maintain the issue on their part offered in evidence to the Jury a deed of emancipation from Rachael Wallingsford, the Defendants wife, to (the record thereof in the Clerk's office being produced) dated on the 26 day of Sept in the year 1826, which said Deed is in the words and figures as follows (insert the deed) To the admissibility of which the Defendant by his Counsel "objected." Because said Rachael Wallingsford was the wife of the Defendant at the time of executing the same and as femme coverte could not execute said deed, sd deed Because said deed so made by said Rachael gave to the Petitioners, who were at the time of it's execution the slaves of the defendant Petitioners no rights of claims to their freedom, and to maintain said life. The Defendant then proved by James Meade, a considerable competent witness, that he had been acquainted with Defendant and his wife Rachael Wallingsford who executed said Deed for a long time. The he has known them for more than 30 years that he knew them before their marriage and ever since, until the day of Rachael Wallingsford death, which took place a short time before the present suit was brought and at the House of the Defendant her husband; That he was not at the wedding but saw them a day or two after at Defendants House and has known them intimately, as man & wife, ever since; that he cannot say how long they since they are married, but it has been many years. That Sarah Ann Allen one of the Petitioners and mother to the others, was born the slave of the Defendant and that he has known her as such ever since. That Defendant has claimed said Sarah since her birth and has [ink splat] all her children as his slaves; That Rachael Wallingsford   the wife of the Defendant and the same who executed said deed, voluntarily left her husbands House about the year 1819 or 1820, as well as Witness recollects, and took Sarah Ann with her to wait on her; that whilst Rachael remained with her husband Sarah Ann used to wait on her and be about the house; that Witness does not know why Rachael went away from her Husband; that she never had a fixed home after this, but lived about with her acquaintances in Prince George's County, in Maryland where Defendant resided, staying with first one and then the other and at times returning to her Husband's, and at other times going for a short time to Washington City to see her acquaintances there and then returning to Prince George's again; that she never did remain or fix her residence in Washington City; that Rachael sometimes had the negroes (Petitioners) with her in Prince George's and sometimes in Washington City. That He also understood from both Defendant and his wife, that Defendant permitted her to take said negroes with her to wait on her only, as his wife. That at times, during all this time, the Defendant and said Rachael his wife, would be friendly together for a short time when a disturbance would take place; that his wife (Defendants) appeared always apprehensive, when then quarrels took place, that Defendant would take said Sarah Ann & children from her, and from the day she first took her (Sarah Ann) said Rachael was in the habit of concealing and hiding said Sarah Ann from Defendant and of for that purpose would often bring her to Washington City; that Witness was the particular and intimate friend of both Defendant and his wife, the latter staying often with him, after she left her Husband, for months at a time, at his residence in Prince George's County Maryland; that said Rachael was much more in Prince George County   than in Washington City and that she only went backwards and forwards from the one place to the other; that her conduct in so doing gave Defendant great unhappiness and distress of mind; that Defendant, to Witnesses knowledge, often entreated her to return and live with him as a wife ought to do and she always refused so to do; that this state of things produced great unhappiness with Defendant; that Defendant had been married before and had lost his wife, by whom he had several children; that said Rachael was his second wife and they had no children. That in the year 1827, Defendant came to Washington City to take possession of Petitioners and to carry them home, having heard that they were concealed there, that Witness was with him; that they took Petitioners and when taking them away, said Rachael made oath before two justices of the peace that said Petitioners were her slaves and that the Defendant and Witness were about stealing or kidnapping or taking them away (Witness does not recollect which) and they were arrested and thrown into Prison and released by Chief Judge Cranch of this Court and said Petitioners ordered to be delivered to Defendant as his property, which was done; that said Rachael then offered to Defendant that if he would leave said Petitioners with her to wait on her as her support, that she would agree to take them in place of $120 per year alimony allowed her by Prince Geo. County Court, during the time to be paid during the pendency of a suit she had brought for alimony; that Defendant said he would agree to it, provided she would not harass him any more and would give up the $120 per year, otherwise he wanted said Petitioners to sell to pay the fine, it being his object in coming to the City to get them for that purpose, that said Rachael so   to agreed and appointed the next day to meet for the purpose of carrying said agreement into effect and promised to have her lawyer Mr Key there; that witness and Defendant remained and went to the place fixed on and neither said Rachael or Mr Key attended. That the Defendant let said Petitioner go with said Rachael upon the evening, she made said proposition to him, thinking she would faithfully carry it into effect, which she did not, but instead of doing it, hid and concealed said Petitioners so that the Defendant could not find them, but was obliged to return home without them, and she kept them so concealed from that time until she came down to Defendants House when she died; she then brought them with her, but the woman Sarah Ann went off before her mistress died and was never heard of again until retaken by Witness. That after the death of said Rachael, the Witness as agent of Defendant heard Petitioners were in Washington City; that he came here to look for them and after some time and some search he found out where they were; that they are hid and concealed in a House of Saml. Brereton in said City; that He employed several constables to aid him in the taking of them viz, Constables, Waters, Stephenson and Ashton and that Ashton took the negroes from a room up stairs in Brereton's House and where they were fastened[?] up and that he had to use stratejem[?] to get them. That the said Rachael exacted the payment of the amount allowed her by the Court from the Defendant notwithstanding she agreed not to do it, and the said Petitioners were left with her, on that condition alone. That Witness paid $20 himself to her on that account, after that time and that he knows Defendant had two of his negroes, the only two he had sold, for that purpose and to pay her   But does not of his own knowledge know that she recd the proceeds of said negroes sale, but believes she did. That he knows said Rachael claimed said alimony allowed her by the Court to the day of her death and that the Defendant was always much pushed to [illegible] it. That he he also knows that said Defendant often said sent said Rachael, meat, meal &c[?] and gave her other things besides, towards her support. The Petitioners then put interrogatories to the witness, to which he answered 1st that he had no interest directly or indirectly in this cause; that he has had much trouble as the agent of Defendant, and thinks he ought to pay him for his services, but has made no contract with him or demand and shall leave it to himself. 2ndly that at the time said Rachael left her Husband, she the woman did not lived in his House or on his farm and did not for three years after. 3rd That he does not know any thing of the woman alluded to, that he always understood she was of good character until this report got out and that since then she is regarded as of ill [illegible] from that circumstance. 4th That he never heard or understood from Mrs Wallingsford that she replied to return to her Husband on account of that woman until towards the latter part of her life, when she told him so.

The said Witness being again examined by Defendant, said that when Mr Ashton took sd negroes for Defendant they were put into jail by a Justice of the Peace, because they claimed their freedom and that Witness as agent for Defendant obtained from Judge Cranch a Habeas Corpus and that he decided they are not entitled to their freedom under said Deed from said Rachael, she being a feme coverte at the time and was about ordering them to be discharged and delivered to Defendant as his slaves, when the present suit was brought and denied sd Defendant whilst the   Judge was deliberating and he refused to order Petitioners to be delivered to Defendant, unless he gave security for their appearance, which not being able to do, they [illegible].

The defendant then also proved by Henry Ash Leonard Ashton a constable, that he arrested the Petitioners as stated by James Meade, and that he found them [illegible] in a room up the stairs in a House of Mr Brereton, where they are concealed; that he asked permission of a negro woman who was there to open the door, which was refused and he entered the House from the top of a shed, through a window and found the Petitioners concealed there and took them before a justice of the Peace who committed them to jail.

Defendant also proved by Mrs Amelia Wallingsford a competent Witness, that she is the niece of Defendant & Rachael Wallingsford his wife, in equal degrees of relationship to both by blood and the wife of Defendants Brother. The she was well and intimately acquainted with Rachael Wallingsford before her marriage and ever since and was with her when she died at the Defendants. That she did not see them married but was there next day and they always acknowledged each of [illegible] to be man and wife. That she was particularly intimate with Mrs Wallingsford. That Sarah Ann the Petitioner and mother of the other Petitioners, was born the slave of Defendant; that Rachael his wife left him and when she went away took the Petitioner with her to wait upon her; that the said Rachael often told her t and at different times before the year 1826 [illegible] that she was permitted by her husband to [illegible] Petitioners to wait upon her during her life only, and that after her death they would belong to Defendant again; that she had them in lieu of her alimony. She has heard sd Rachael often state this for the last fifteen years of her life and always so   understood it from both the Defendant and said Rachael. That said Rachael left Deponent with his consent and that she often heard Defendant entreat her to return and live with him, which she Rachael always refused; that the first years of said Rachael's leaving her Husband, she lived amongst in Prince Geo. County amongst her friends and that after some time, she would go to Washington City to see her acquaintances there and would stay a time and then return to Prince George and generally carried Petitioners whenever she went, and during all of said times she occasionally return here to her Husband, but they would [illegible] and she never staid long, about two or three days at a time and sometimes not so long. She often went to her Husband to get money and other things and she has known him to give her money and sometimes give her meat and other things. That there was no complaint made by Mrs Wallingsford about any woman when she left her husband and it was nearly three years before the woman named came to live on Defendants[?] Land[?], that she then be said she was jealous of that woman, but does not know that she had any cause. That the woman always had an excellent character until Mrs Wallingsford said these things about her.

To the questions of Petitioners the witness answers 1st Mrs Wallingsford told her that she would not return to her husband on account of that woman, but she never[?] heard any thing against the woman, except from Mrs Wallingford and she was jealous of her & said she was. 2nd That the woman did not live near Defendant, when Mrs Wallingsford left him and did not for years after.

The Defendant also found by Mrs. Fanny Meade, not the wife of the Witness Meade, who had been sworn in the case, but the wife of the deceased brother, the same facts as stated by the   last witness Mrs Amelia Wallingsford and further that Mrs Rachael Wallingsford, Defendants wife never pretended to claim Petitioners as her property, but only the use of them during her life, and this she shewed by keeping them concealed, for fear Defendant would take them, whenever they had a difference; This did That Witness so understood from her from the time she first left Defendant until her death

To the questions proposed by Petitioners, the said Witness answered, 1st That the woman she was jealous of, was of as good character as any in the Country until Mrs Wallingsford Defendants wife accused her and that put a slur[?] upon her character.

The Defendant also proved by Wm Magill[?] a competent Witness, that in the Spring of 1826, he offered to purchase the Petitioners of Rachael Wallingsford, who said she would sell them for her life, but could not sell or dispose of them for a longer term, as she had no right to them for a longer time, as they were her Husband's the Defendant, after her death. In consequence of which he did not buy them.

The Petitioners then proved by Saml Brereton, that he had known Rachael Wallingsford for 8 or 9 years past and also the Petitioners. That he believed sd Rachael staid with her sister when she came to Washington City. That the greater part of said time she was in Washington City and that during said time, the Petitioner Sarah Ann was in the habit of hiring herself out and to Witnesses knowledge received money for her hire and often bought things at Witnesses store and paid for them. That he saw her going about without concealment

The Petitioners also proved by Wm Fergusson, that he knew Rachael Wallingsford   That he saw her in Washington City and that she was miserably [illegible] and often in distress and destitute of necessaries. That as [illegible] of the [illegible] he often assisted her and often from his own private means. That he has seen the Petitioners two or three times as they passed along.

Petitioners also proved by     Boone That in the District of Columbia, small children of the age and description of those named in the said Deed of emancipation, can be put out for their victuals and clothes until the age of maturity.

The Petitioners also read in evidence the Petition of Defendant in a certain suit between him and sd Rachael for alimony which Petition is as follows (here insert Petition.

The Defendant then offered and read in evidence, the proceedings had before the Hon. Wm Cranch chief Judge of the Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, upon two applications for a Habeas corpus relative to Petitions which proceeded as as follows (here insert said proceedings)

The Court were of the opinion that said Deed was admissible and permitted it to be read in evidence to the Jury for and gave the following opinion and Instructions to the Jury. (here insert opinion &c of the Court) To which opinion of the Court the Defendant his counsel excepts and prays that this his bill of exceptions may be signed by the court according to the form of the Statute and the Law in such cases [illegible] provided and which is accordingly done

2. The Defendant then prayed the court to instruct the Jury (here insert instructions No 2) But the court refused to grant said prayer and instruction. To which refusal and opinion of the court the defendant by his   Counsel prays leave to except and that the Court will sign this his bill of exception, according to the form of the statute in such cases made and provided and which is accordingly done.

3rd The Defendant then prayed the court to instruct the Jury that (here insert the prays &c No 3) But the Court refused to grant said prayer and Instruction. To which refusal and opinion of the Court the Defendant by his Counsel, prays leave to except and that the Court will sign this his bill of exception, according to the form of the statute in such case made and provided and which is done accordingly.

4th The Defendant then prayed the court to instruct the Jury that (here insert prayer & instructions No 4) But the Court refused to grant said prayer and Instruction. To which refusal and opinion of the court the Defendant by his Counsel prays leave to except and that the court hi will sign this his bill of exceptions, according to the form of the statute in such case made and provided and which is done accordingly.

5th The Defendant then prayed the court to instruct the Jury that (here insert prayer and instructions No 5) But the Court refused to grant said prayer   and instructions without the instruction marked A attached to it (here insert instruction A). To which refusal and opinion of the court and instruction marked A the Defendant by his Counsel prays leave to except and that the court will sign this his bill of exceptions, according to the form of the statutes in such case made and provided and which is down accordingly.



Neg. Sarah Ann Allen
Jos. Wallingsford

The instructions prayed are not with the papers.

Wm Brent brought them 24th June 1835