Daniel Wells v. Benjamin F. Lewis. Petition for Freedom


To The Honorable the Judges of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia sitting at Alexa.

The Petition of Daniel Wells respectfully shews. that he is a lineal descendant of one Ann Wells a white woman; Monica the mother of your petitioner being the daughter of Rachael, who was the daughter of Kitty who was the daughter of the said Ann Wells. Your Petitioner further shews that he has from his birth been claimed as a slave by Nicholas Young, who lately sold him to one Benjamin H. Lewis, and that the said Lewis now illegally detains your petitioner in slavery. Whereupon your petitioner prays to be permitted to sue in forma pauperis, for his freedom in your honorable Court; that counsel may be assigned to prosecute his said Suit's, and that the said Benjamin H. Lewis may be required to give bond with security for the forthcoming of your petitioner to answer the judgment of the Court. All which is respectfully submitted.

Daniel Wells

County of Alexandria
District of Columbia Se

This day Daniel Wells personally appeared before me the subscriber a justice of the peace for the County aforesaid, & made Oath in due form of Law that of the matters and things set forth in the foregoing petition, such as are therein stated to be of his own knowledge are true, and such as are therein stated to be on the information of others he believes to be true.

Given under my hand this     day of November 1823.


Danl Wells' petition
Benjamin H. Lewis
for freedom

on Rough docket

The Counsel of the Deft having waived the necessity of an affidavit in the support of the Petition as far as relates to the assignment of counsel, Philip R. Fendall Esq is assign'ed as counsel for the petitioner to examine & report &c

Nov: Term 2nd day
P.R. Fendall assigned counsel for the petitioner to make report to the Court the grounds on which the petitioner founds his freedom on motion of the pltff: he is committed to the custody of the marshal until the Deft: give bond & secy: to the U. States in the sum: of $400 either in Court or with the Clerk conditioned for the forthcoming of the plaintiff to answer the Jud. of the Court

17th day. On Defts. motion ordered that the Pltff be taken out of Jail & hired out by the marshal until the trial of this case

Novemr. Term 13th day
Report returned & filed & leave given to sue in forma pauperis for freedom & Pltff. to remain in the hands custody of the marshal until B. F. Lewis shall give Bond with Scy. in the penalty of $400 either in Court or with the Clerk conditioned to have the sd. Danl. Wells forthcoming to answer the Judt. of the Court in which case the sd. Danl. is to be returned to the possession of the owner. & a caps. awarded.

May Term 22nd day
An Attw: awd. [illegible] witnesses returnable on Saturday next

1824 Novem Term 5 day
Dismissed with leave to reinstate on cause being shewn