Brownrigg

Sukey’s journey, part 2.

To the General Assembly of North Carolina

The undersigned, Respectfully Petition, the Legislature, to pass an act, in favor of Sucky Borden (a woman of colour) vesting in her, all the rights, and privileges, of a free woman Your Petitioners have long known said Suckey, and believe her to be a worthy woman, who will duly appreciate all her privileges and your Petitioners will ever pray, etc.

….

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Twenty-six white Wayne County residents presented this petition to the state General Assembly in 1852. The only woman among them? M.A. Borden.

Maria Ann Brownrigg Borden,  proprietor of the Goldsboro Hotel, was the daughter of George and Obedience Brownrigg. In the 1850 census, she reported $20,000 in real property and 67 slaves. She and her sister Eliza Obedience Brownrigg Wright (whose husband John Wright also signed the petition) had inherited all but one of their mother’s slaves in 1841. That one person was Suckey, who went to Alfred Brownrigg. As noted earlier, Alfred Brownrigg quickly sold Suckey to their brother Edwin Brownrigg. Edwin, however, had begun registering large land grants in Sumter County, Alabama, in 1837 and died there, without heirs, in 1843. It’s not too much of a stretch to conjecture that Suckey never left North Carolina, and her ownership passed to Edwin’s sister Maria Borden after his death.

The 1852 petition to manumit Suckey Borden was successful, and the 1860 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina shows baker Susan Borden, 70, with Angia Capps, 60, sewer, and Catharine Carrol, 7. Borden reported owning $500 in real estate and $100 in personal estate. She is not listed in 1870 and presumably died in the intervening years. Had Susan Borden spent most of her life on a lower Edgecombe (Wilson) County plantation, enslaved by successive Brownrigg family members until one felt moved to seek her freedom?

Petition of W.H. Washington et al. to General Assembly of North Carolina, 1852; Petitions; Papers of the North Carolina General Assembly, North Carolina State Archives.

 

 

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

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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

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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], http://www.ancestry.com.