Fighting For Freedom

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An 1805 Petition for Freedom. In this Court of Common Pleas document, African-American slave Affey White is taking legal action to gain his freedom from his owner George Dehorty

Fighting for Freedom

Affey White was a slave belonging to George Dehorty. She petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Kent County in 1805 to issue a summons for Dehorty to come before the Court to answer her petition of freedom. She was not successful since she was still his slave when his will was written in 1806 along with her three siblings and mother, Amey. They were also included in his inventory at his death in 1807. Sometime later, they were freed since they are found living with Amey’s husband, Jobe in the 1820 census and Amey was mentioned in his 1841 probate as receiving one fourth of his estate.

The Court of Common Pleas was set up in the early part of Delaware’s history. During the colonial era the court mainly heard civil cases. By the Federal period, the courts duties had expanded. The collection includes the documents that would have been generated by civil cases, matters determined by common law, appointment of court officers, execution dockets and much more.