Eleanora Bell v. Susan Armistead. Petition for Freedom


To the Hon Judges of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia:

The petition of Ellenora Beall (or Bell), infant child of color, aged eight years and seven months, by Mary E. Edwards, her next friend, respectfully makes known that Robert Armistead, deceased, the late master and owner of your petitioner's mother, Mary Beall (Bell), having permitted said Mary Beall to go at large and free for many years, towit; from about the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty eight, did, on the fourteenth day of September, eighteen hundred and thirty five, by a good and sufficient deed, duly encanted and recorded in the Clerk's office of this Court, in manumission Record, No 2, folios 404 and 405, declare that the said Mary Beall and her children then living to be released from slavery, manumitted and set free at the respective periods mentioned in said deed, towit; the said Mary at his, the said Armistead's, death, and her said children when they should have completed their respective terms of service as provided in said deed, a copy whereof is hereto annexed; that in the same year, towit; in eighteen hundred and thirty five, the said Robert Armistead died; and Thereupon your petitioner's mother obtained a copy of said deed duly certified under the seal of this Hon Court as the evidence of her freedom   and thenceforward continued to go at large as free until the birth of your petitioner, towit, the third day of August, eighteen hundred and thirty nine; and for some time thereafter, towit; until some time in the year eighteen hundred and forty six, when Susan Armistead, widow of said Robert Armistead, unlawfully seized and took possession of your petitioner and has since held and now holds her in slavery, contrary to law and in violation of her rights, for the protection and enforcement whereof your petitioner humbly prays this Hon. Court to decree her enfranchisement and release from the condition of slavery, in which she is now unlawfully held by the said Susan Armistead, as aforesaid.

And whereas there is reason to believe that the said Susan Armistead contemplates removing your petitioner beyond the jurisdiction of this Hon. Court, to wit; to Norfolk in the State of Virginia, whereby your petitioner would be much prejudiced in the prosecution of her rights, she prays Your Honors to issue your forces, to restrain the said Susan Armistead from removing her to any place beyond the jurisdiction of this court, until your final decision in the premises; and for such other & further relief as to Your Honors may seen fit.

Duff Green
Ben E Green
Attys for Petr.

Washington 26 March 1849.


4 10 33.

Ellenora Bell
Susan Armistead

Petition for freedom.

Mr Jno A Smith, Clerk &c.
File this & issue subpoena
Ben E. Green
26 March 1849.

Filed 27th March 1849

The clerk will please file this petition & issue subpoena.
Green & Clarke
Attys fr. Petr
April 18th 1850

Filed 18th April 1850.