My earliest ancestors to Maryland arrived in 17331 from what is now Germany. They were named Troud (aka Trout) and Loy (aka Ley or Lye). The lands they settled bore fanciful names like Taskers Chance, Lambson, and Arnold’s Delight.2 In two generations, my line was in Ohio seeking land to simply call home instead of something catchy.
Sometimes I forget my other Maryland kin, Caywood and Talbott. The Caywoods went to Indiana and Kentucky, the places in which I most associate them.
I don’t like my fifth-great-grandfather, Isaac Caywood. He is an odd duck in my mostly Yankee lineage. Isaac had two enslaved persons in his 1810 Maryland census household.3 He could have chosen differently. Isaac Caywood treated other humans as property and profited from their labor. I am not inspired to learn if Isaac’s farm bore a fanciful name.
While reviewing resources in the new Historic Maryland Law page, I searched case law volumes for surnames and farm names. My attention was quickly drawn from my personal research by case law involving enslaved and manumitted persons, and the people who had enslaved them.
Maryland case law should not be overlooked by those researching Maryland’s enslaved and manumitted persons and enslavers. Based on the language in browsed cases, try search terms including slave, manumission, manumit, freedom, and Negro. Check the table of cases for Negro, as it precedes the given names of people in at least one volume.
In volume nine of Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court of Appeals of Maryland (1837),4 for example:
Negro Ann Barnet vs. Wilson, p. 158
Negro Harriett vs. Ridgely, p. 174
Negro Peggy vs. Wilson, p. 169
Negro Anna Maria vs. Rogers, p. 181
The following bits of extracted information do not represent the full cases.
Negro Harriett vs. Ridgely, p. 174: Eleanor Dall freed Maria and her children, Benjamin and Harriett, in the codicil of an 1829 will. Maria’s children were not to be free until age 21. There was disagreement on if Dall really owned Harriett. The will’s executor claimed that Harriett was his slave for life, and he was trying to remove her from the state. Relationships mentioned include Harriett’s unnamed enslaved grandmother and a free uncle. A series of enslavers are named to explain the transactions that brought Maria to Dall.
Negro Peggy vs. Wilson, p. 169: In 1835, Peggy filed a petition for freedom, claiming she was a free woman but was held in service by Michael Wilson. Locations in Virginia and Maryland where Peggy had lived, and her former enslaver, Warner Throckmorton, were named. Peggy’s age is given in a county recording of enslaved people brought to Maryland from Virginia.
Negro Anna Maria Wright vs. Rogers, p. 181: Anna Maria Wright was freed in a deed of manumission executed by her enslaver, Anna Maria Tilghman. In violation of the law, the manumission was not recorded. Anna Tilghman then sold the manumitted Anna Maria to Tench Tilghman. Tench sold Anna to the defendant despite knowing of the manumission.
More case law awaits in the new Historic Maryland Law page, which also has links to statutory law and extras, such as topical compilations, and volumes such as The Bench and Bar of Maryland and The Negro Lawyer in Maryland, which provide information on people who worked in the legal field.
I will revisit my Maryland ancestral connections in the future, and work to establish the facts of their lives. I will face ancestors whose decisions I disagree with. Right now I need to get back to work.