Bazil Thomas v. James Kennedy Jr. Statement of Facts


The case of Bazil

On the 11th Sepr. 1794, a marriage settlement was made by a deed of that date whereby sundry lands and slaves the property of Francina West who was about to marry Charles Turner were settled upon her for her separate use and subject to be disposed of by her either by deed or by her last will. This marriage settlement was duly proved by three witnesses in the county court of Fairfax County on the 15th Sepr. in the same year and admitted to record. The parties to the said deed all resided at that time in Fairfax County and the deed is in the words following towit This indenture &c

Bazil was born a slave in Virginia & became the property of Francina by virtue of her fathers will and is one of the slaves in the marriage settlement set forth and mentioned Afterwards towit on the 12th of May in the year 1796 Francina West made her will under her hand & seal which was proved by two witnesses Charles Little and Jane Blackburn who were subscribing witnesses thereto by which instrument Bazil is directed to be sold for the term of eight years and after he shall arrive at the completion of the term that he is to be free. The will is in the words following towit "In the name &c[?] Charles Turner is one of the executors in the will named but never qualified as such. The will was not proved until june 21st june 1804 sometime after the death of Charles Turner who it is believed suppressed it.

On or about the 27th day of Jany in the year 1802 Bazil was sold and after the death of Francina aforesaid all the title of Charles Turner to as the property of Charles Turner at public auction as a slave for life and James Kennedy the defendant became the purchasor for the sum of 251 dollars by the marshall of columbia district, under an Execution agt the said Charles Turner The value of Bazil and the other slaves for the terms   of years respectively mentioned in the will exceeds the amount of the legacies directed to be paid out of the product of the sales of the said slaves if they had been sold for those terms respectively and the sale of the said slaves produced a sum greatly exceeding those legacies which sum was received[?] by Charles Turner aforesaid. More than eight years have passed since the death of Francina the testatrix and prior to the institution of this suit, and for upwards of eight years since the death of the testatrix the negro Bazil has been in the servitude of the said Charles Turner and the benefit of his services has been enjoyed by [strikethrough] him in the character of master. He is now held in servitude by James Kennedy who claims to hold him as a slave by virtue of his purchase aforesaid The testatrix died on or about the month of october June in the year 1796 The question is whether Bazil is or is not a freeman at this period.

Charles Turner who suppressed the will is the residency legatee of the money arising form the sale of the terms of servitude of the said slaves in the will mentioned.

The writ in this suit is dated 22d august 1804 It is also agreed that the suit is brought to try the right of the plaintiff to his freedom and that he is held now as a slave by the defendant.

If the law be for the plaintiff then we agree judgment shall be entered for him and one cent damage and the costs & if the law be for defendant then judgment shall be entered for him.