William Henry Ross v. Thomas Triplett. Petition for Freedom & Statement of Facts


To the honorable the Judges of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia, sitting for the County of Alexandria.

The petition of William Henry who is an infant within the age of twenty one years by Lucy alias Mary Ross his mother as his next friend, respectfully sheweth unto your honors that the said William Henry is unjustly detained in a state of bondage. for that the said Lucy alias Mary Ross was born in the State of Maryland & continued to reside there as a slave for many years. until some time during the year eighteen hundred & twelve, when she was brought to the town of Alexandria by a certain John Bell a citizen and resident of the state of Maryland, & whose property she then was; that she was hired by him in the said town of Alexandria [strikethrough] from the month of June until the end of the said year, when she was sold to Mr. Thomas Triplett also of Alexandria with whom she continued to reside until the month of April in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred & fourteen, when she obtained her freedom by the judgment of this honorable Court, as having been illegally brought & kept within this District. And it is further respectfully represented unto your honors that the said William Henry was born in the latter part of the month of February or March in the year eighteen hundred & thirteen & some time after the said Lucy alias Mary Ross was sold to the said Thomas Tripplett who now claims the said William Henry as his property. Thus by the law of the land as she has been informed & believes the said William Henry is entitled to his freedom. It is therefore prayed of this honorable court that he may be allowed to sue therein in forma puperis for the recovery of his freedom, & that he may obtain counsel to be assigned by the Court &c.

Lucy alias Mary Ross


The facts of the case stated in the within written petition appear to be, that M by reference to the suit of Lucy alias Mary Ross vs Triplett, that Lucy alias Mary was brought to the town of Alexandria in 1812 from the state of Maryland & in consequence of being continued within the sd. town for a longer period than twelve months she obtained her freedom. It further appears That William Henry the party now petitioning, was born in the town of Alexandria a short time before the twelve months had elapsed from the period at which his mother was brought from Maryland. Under these circumstances I am of opinion that William Henry the party petitioning is probably entitled to his freedom & that his application to bring suit should be granted.

Thomson F. Mason

William Henry Ross a pauper
Thomas Triplett

Peto. & Statement of Facts

1815 April Term 10th day
On the Petition of Wm Ross Leave is granted him to commence a suit in forma pauperis for his freedom and Thompson F. Mason is assigned him as Counsel to prosecute the same and ordered that the petitioner be committed to the Custody of the Marshal until the said Thos. Triplett shall enter into Bond wt. Security in the Penalty of $200 conditioned to haveth Petitioner forthcoming to answer the Ind: of the Court

1815. June Contd.
July. Contd.
Aug. Contd.
Sept. Contd.
Octo. Contd.
Novr. Contd.
Decr. Contd.
1816. Jany: Cont.
Feby: Contd.
Mar: Ind: & W. [illegible]
April 10th day W. [illegible] set aside & Not Guilty &c. & Statement of the case agd. filed & on hearing the Court, are divided in opinion whether the Law is for the plt. or def. & Cer fd.