You Have No Right: Jane Webb’s Story

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2013-01-15 02:34Z by Steven

You Have No Right: Jane Webb’s Story

Out of the Box: Notes for the Archives @ Library of Virginia
Virginia Memory: Library of Virginia

Greg Crawford, Local Records Coordinator

The colonial era Northampton County court records tell a fascinating story of a woman named Jane Webb. Born of a white mother, she was a free mulatto, formerly called Jane Williams. In 1704, Jane Webb had “a strong desire to intermarry with a certain negro slave … commonly called and known by the name of Left.” Webb informed Left’s owner Thomas Savage, a gentleman of Northampton County, of her desire to marry Left and made an offer to Savage. She would be a servant of Savage’s for seven years and would let Savage “have all the children that should be bornd [sic] upon her body during the time of [Jane’s] servitude,” but for how long the children were to be bound is not clear. In return, Savage would allow Jane Webb to marry his slave, and after Jane’s period of servitude ended, Savage would free Left. Also, neither Savage nor his heirs could claim any child born to Jane Webb and Left after her period of servitude. Savage agreed to Jane Webb’s offer, and an agreement was written and signed by both parties.

Jane Webb fulfilled her part of the agreement and served Savage for seven years. During that time, she had three children by her husband Left—Diana or Dinah Webb, Daniel Webb, and Francis Webb. After she completed her term of service in 1711, Jane Webb “in a kindly manner” demanded her husband from Savage as well as her children. Apparently, Jane Webb and Savage were at odds on how long the children she bore during her servitude were supposed to be bound to him, and Savage refused to free Left and the children. In April 1711, Savage submitted a letter to the county court of Northampton requesting that Jane Webb’s children be bound to him and his heirs, to which the court agreed…

Read the entire article here.

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