Sukey’s journey, part 1.

Recd. of Jas. B. Woodard a negro girl Sucky in his possession as Execr. of Obedience Brownrigg decd., the legacy of Alfred Brownrigg which said girl was sold by Alfred Brownrigg to Edwin Brownrigg in as good health & Condition as he recd. her under the will of Mrs. Brownrigg, and obligates to hold him the sd. Woodard harmless in Event any difficulty should rise from the delivery of sd. negro.    Feby. 14th 1842  Jno. Wright for Edwin Brownrigg


Waynesboro, N.C., 15 Feb. 1842

Edwin Barnes, Esq., Tosnot Depot

Dr Sir, You will please hand Mr. Barnes the above receipt for Sucky. If it does not suit him, write out any thing to give him such as will satisfy him. I am under many obligations to you for the trouble I have put you to in this and other matters of mine. I am much in hopes yr health will speedily return.

Yours Truly, Jno. Wright


This note and receipt are transcribed in The Past Speaks from Old Letters, a copy of the working papers found in the files of Hugh B. Johnston, Jr., acquired in the course of his lifelong avocation as a professional genealogist and local historian, republished by Wilson County Genealogical Society in 2003. What is going on here?

Obedience Thomas Tartt Brownrigg died in 1840, likely on her plantation near White Oak Swamp in what was then Edgecombe County. She had drafted a will in April 1839, and among its many bequests were these:

  • to daughter Maria Burden [Borden] — “Tom Penny Dennis & William & Maria & Jim & Ellick
  • to son Alfred Brownrigg — “one negro girl by the name of Susan”
  • to daughter Obedience Wright — “one boy Henry one boy Lonor one negroe woman named Winny one boy Bryant one boy John also one girl named Angy & Anscy
  • also to daughter Obedience Wright — “one negro woman named Cloy one negro man named Joe and all my Table & Tea Spoons it it my Will and desire that the labor of Joe Shall Support the Old Woman Cloy her life time then Joe to Obedience Wright”

Obedience Brownrigg’s first husband was Elnathan Tartt, who died in 1796. As shown here, he bequeathed his wife an enslaved woman named Cloe [Chloe], who is surely the Cloy named above, and man named Ellic, who is probably Ellick.

Obedience’s second husband was George Brownrigg, who died without a will in 1821. An inventory of his estate included enslaved people Ellick, Chloe, Joe, Jem, Tom, Penny, Drury, Tom, Annie, Matilda, Suckey, Clara, Fereba, Sarah, Clarky, Anthony, Rachel, Mary, Nelson, Emily, Julia and Abram, and several others unnamed in a petition for division of negroes filed by his heirs in 1825. Ellick and Chloe surely are the man and woman Obedience brought to the marriage. I have not found evidence of the distribution of George Brownrigg’s enslaved property, but Joe, Tom, Penny and Susan seem to have passed to his wife Obedience. (Suckey, pronounced “Sooky,” was a common nickname for Susan.)

So, back to the receipt.

George Brownrigg bequeathed Susan “Sukey” to his widow Obedience about 1821. Obedience Brownrigg in turn left Sukey to her son Alfred Brownrigg. Alfred Brownrigg quickly sold Sukey to his brother Edwin Barnes Brownrigg. On 15 February 1842, Edwin’s representative John Wright took possession of Sukey from James B. Woodard, Obedience Brownrigg’s executor. Wright was married to Eliza Obedience Brownrigg Wright, daughter to Obedience Brownrigg and sister to Alfred and Edwin.

The note is less clear. Wright, who lived in Waynesborough (once the Wayne County seat, now long defunct) is asking someone (the unnamed “sir”) to deliver the receipt to Edwin Barnes of Toisnot Depot (now Wilson.) There were several Edwin Barneses in southeast Edgecombe (to become Wilson) County at that time.  And Edwin Brownrigg’s middle name was Barnes. Are Edwin Barnes and Edwin Brownrigg the same man, whose name was misgiven in one or the documents? In other words, should the receipt have been made out instead to the Edwin Barnes mentioned in the note? If this were the case, the note would make immediate sense. As to Sukey, I’ll explore a possible twist to her story in another post.]

Estate Records of Obedience Brownrigg, Estate Records of George Brownrigg, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],



  1. Hello Lisa Y. Henderson,

    To help ID Sukey’s family. Her first name “Sukey” could be her Nick name.
    So, I unleased my Sherlock Holmes. The information is what I learned.

    What does Sukey mean?

    as a girls’ name is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of
    Sukey is “lily”. Diminutive of Susan. First used in the
    18th century, and revived in the 20th.

    ASSOCIATED WITH lily (flower), 18th century, 20th century (modern)


    VARIANTS Soki, Sokie, Sukee, Sukie, Suky
    RELATED FORMS VIA SUSAN Sonel, Su, Suanny, Sudie▼, Sue▼, Sunel, Suse, Susee,
    Susen, Susi, Susie▼, Susy, Suzan▼, Suze, Suzee, Suzi, Suzie, Suzon, Suzy

    (female) Sakey, ..
    (male) Suber, ..

    Sukey Alexia (S.A.), ..

    Sukey Alexia (S.A.), ..
    How popular is Sukey?
    Sukey is an unusual given name for females. Sukey is also an unusual surname for both
    adults and children. (2000 U.S. DEMOGRAPHICS)

    Which version is better?
    Susan (#922 IN 2016), Sudie, Sue, Susie, Suzan, Suzi, Suzie and Suzy are the prominent
    related forms of Sukey (OUTSIDE TOP 2000). Other variants, like Susi, are seldom used.

    These forms of Sukey were at the apex of their popularity in the 1950s (AVERAGE #917)
    and are now significantly less common (#1865, ▼99.7%), with versions such as Susan
    going out of style. (TOP BABY NAMES, 2016)


    Similar Names
    Sukey is similar in meaning to Asphodel “lily”, Azucena “lily”, Lilias “lily”,
    Lillian “lily”, Lily▲, Sanna “lily”, Shana “lily, rose”, Shoshana “lily, rose”,
    Susanna▼ “lily, rose”, Susannah “lily”, Suzanne “lily, rose”, Yuriko “lily child”,
    Zanna “lily” and Zsazsa “lily; God is my oath”.


    I hpoe this helps. Use Lily or Lillian.

    Keep the Faith,
    Leroy Barnes

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