Saturday, March 14, 2020

What Rights did the Wife of an Indentured Servant have upon his Death?

18C Flour Mill Powered by water

... January 7, 1796, from Pearce stating that Davenport, a miller whom George Washington had brought from Pennsylvania, was dead. He had already received six hundred pounds of pork & more wages than were due him as advances for the coming year. What should be done? asked the manager. "His Wife & Children will be in a most Distressed Situation." As I examined the papers that followed I said to myself: "I will see if I know what his answer will be." I thought I did, & so it proved. Back from Philadelphia came the answer:

"Altho' she can have no right to the Meat, I would have none of it taken from her.--You may also let her have middlings from the Mill,--and until the house may become indispensably necessary for the succeeding Miller, let her remain in it.--As she went from these parts she can have no friends (by these I mean relations) where she is. If therefore she wishes to return back to his, or her own relations, aid her in doing so."

Text excerpted from the book George Washington: Farmer  by Paul Leland Haworth (1876-1936) Ch 12  Slaves