Instruments of Freedom: Deeds and Wills of Emancipation, Northampton County, Virginia, 1782-1864


This book “documents the emancipation of 402 slaves by name in Northampton County, Virginia, through the use of 93 deeds and 25 wills.” It consists of Deeds of Emancipation (1782 to 1805 and 1806 to 1864) and Wills of Emancipation (1782 to 1864). All categories are annotated. The lengthy introduction includes: Deeds and Wills of Emancipation Defined, An Overview of the Contents of This Book, The Eastern Shore of Virginia and Slavery, Guide to Local African-American Surnames, Problems in Recording the Complexions of African-Americans, Footnotes, and Illustrations of Documents. Chapters include: Legal Instruments of Enslavement, Deeds of Emancipation (1782 to 1805), Deeds of Emancipation (1806 to 1864), and Wills of Emancipation. The book closes with an Appendix consisting of: Notes about Wills and Virginia Laws; transcripts of Relevant Virginia Laws; a List of Tithables in Northampton County, Virginia (August 1666); Definitions of Legal Terms; and, References. “This book also includes the names of 99 slave holders and an index of all freed slaves and slave holders who freed their slaves between 1782 and 1864.” More than dry transcriptions, this is a well-researched chronicle of slavery in Northampton County that reads like a history book.


Frances Bibbins Latimer


(1994), 2015, 5½x8½, paper, index, 230 pp.

101-L0775 ISBN: 1556137753