An 18th Century Bill of Sale for a Slave and Her Child

This is a transcription of a bill of sale for a slave woman and her child that took place on Long Island in 1716. In the transaction, a woman named Francis and her two-year-old daughter Hannah are sold by William Willis of Hempstead to David Seaman of Oyster Bay for the sum of sixty-three pounds. Slavery was common in New York City and Long Island at the beginning of the eighteenth century; New York had the highest number of slaves of any state north of Maryland prior to 1799, when slavery began to be outlawed locally.

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Know all [men] by those presents that I William Willis of Hempsted in Queens county on nassaw Island yeoman Have for the valuable sum of sixty and three pounds of good and currant mony of new york in hand payed & [illegible] to be paid by David Seaman of Lusam in the Bounds of oyster Bay in the county & on the Island aforesaid yeoman the Receipt whereof to full content and satisfaction I doo hereby acknowledge & doo acquit and Discharge him the said David Seaman his Heirs Executors & Administrators & Every of them by those presents hath [illeg.] agreed and bargained and sold unto the said David Seaman & to his Heirs and Asignes forever one negro woman named Francs & her child named Hannah the child being something more than two years old for him the said David Seaman his Heirs Executors & Administrators and [Signees] to have & to hold the said negro woman and negro child from hence forth & forever and the said William Willis doth hereby declare that at the time of the ensealing and delivery of those presents he is the true sole & lawful owner of the above negro woman and child aforesaid & stood lawfully [illeg.] of them in his own proper Right and further the said Williams Willis doth hereby bind and oblige himself his Heirs Executors & administrators from henceforth and forever hereafter to warrant and defend the said David Seaman in the Quiet and peaceable possession of the abovesaid negro woman named frans & negro girl named Hannah against the lawfull claims pretences & demands of all and every person or persons whatsoever or whomsoever that shall lay any lawfull claim unto them or unto either of them in [illeg.] where of he hath so [illeg.] to his hand and signed his seal the sixteenth day of July in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and sixteen.

Signed sealed & Delivered

In the presence of

William Willis

Wm Powell

Jacob Willits

Source | Benjamin D. Hicks, ed.  Records of the towns of North and South Hempstead, Long island, N.Y., Volume 2 (Jamaica, NY: Long Island Farmer Printers, 1897),  p. 409
Creator | William Willis and David Seaman
Item Type | Government Document
Cite This document | William Willis and David Seaman, “An 18th Century Bill of Sale for a Slave and Her Child,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed September 30, 2014, http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/818.