The Human Cost of Slavery

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The 1785 probate inventory of Robert Burton reveals the dehumanizing nature of slavery as several persons are listed, along with their financial value, as property of Burton.

The Human Cost of Slavery

Robert Burton owned a farm southwest of Lewes. Inventories were taken at a person’s death to determine their wealth. He died in 1785 without a will so the fate of his slaves would probably be his widows. Robert’s widow Ann died in 1790 and several of the slaves mentioned in his inventory were also found in hers.
Probate is the process used to settle the estate of a deceased person. Probate records are documents generated as part of this process. These records may contain a will, letters of administration, inventories, administration or executor’s accounts, as well as other legal documents that may pertain to the settlement of the estate.