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Petition from Clement and Sarah Cooke concerning the estate of Steven Lee
Cooke, Clement; Cooke, Sarah
May 1783
Volume 22, Pages 625-629


State of North Carolina
, Edenton District, May Term, 1783.

To the Honorable the Judges of the Superior Court of Law and Equity for the District of Edenton:

Humbly complaining shew unto your Honors your Orator and Oratrix, Clement Cooke, of Tyrrell County, in the State of North Carolina, Esquire, and Sarah his wife, that sometime in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty Eight, or the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Fifty-nine or thereabouts, Stevens Lee, late of the said County, Esquire, Father of your Oratrix, being possessed of a very considerable Estate, great part of which he had acquired by his Marriage with Miss Martha Pollock, Mother of your Oratrix, and your Oratrix then being an infant about the age of three or four Years and her said Father being confined to his bed by sickness and desirous to make a certain and independent provision for your Oratrix He, the said Stevens Lee, did about the time aforesaid, at his house in the county aforesaid, caused certain of his negro slaves to be brought before him in the presence of William Gray, of Bertie County, Esquire, which said Negro slaves were the following to-wit: Henry, commonly called Henry the Miller; Charles, commonly called Charles, the Black-smith; Manuel, old Duroy Emperor; Dick, Tony, young Duroy, Great Cæsar, Mank, Tom, Patt, Jude, Con, Caley, Rachel, Molly, Hopey and Abigail, and then and there did personally and with his own hand deliver the said Negro Slaves, One by One into the Hands and Possession of the said William Gray, Esquire, and did at the same time declare to the said William Gray, that he delivered those Negro slaves to Him in Trust for his Daughter Sarah, which was your Oratrix then an infant as aforesaid, about the age of Three or Four Years, And they further say that he did

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also at the same time and place declare that he gave the following Negro Slaves (which were also at that time the property of said Stevens Lee) to the said William Gray in Trust for his said Daughter your Oratrix to-wit: Ned, commonly called Ned the Blacksmith, Sall, Tatty, Old Nancy, Scilla, Cole and Cotte, which said last mentioned Negroes were not then and there personally present; and your Orator and Oratrix further shew that the said William Gray did receive into his Possession, in Consequence of the delivery as aforesaid, of the said Steven Lee, the said Negro slaves, Henry commonly called Henry the Miller, Charles commonly called Charles the Black-smith, Manuel, old Duroy Emperor, Dick, Tony, young Duroy, great Cæsar, Mank and Tom, Patt, Jude, Con, Caley, Rachel, Molly, Hopey, and Abigail, and that he did take upon him and accept and engage to execute faithfully the trust so reposed in him by the said Stevens Lee, as well in regard to the negro slaves so personally delivered to him as in regard to the other Negro Slaves, so given by the said Stevens Lee, but not manually delivered at the time of the said Gift; and your Orator and Oratrix further say that some time after the said Gift the said Stevens Lee did deliver in person to the said William Gray the other Negroes above mentioned, which he did not manually deliver at the time of the said Gift to-wit: Ned commonly called Ned the blacksmith; Sall, Tatty, old Nancy, Scilla, Cote and Cotto, and that the said William Gray did accordingly receive and take the same into his Custody, and promise that he would faithfully preserve the same agreeable to the purpose and intentions of the Trust above expressed. Yet, nevertheless, the said William Gray, combining and confederating with other persons, at present unknown to your Orator and Oratrix, but when discovered they pray may be made parties hereto with apt words to charge them how to defraud and injure your Oratrix in the premises. He the said William Gray, on the wilful Violation of his Trust, did some time after the said Gift and Deliveries, redeliver all the aforesaid negro slaves to the said Stevens Lee and permitted him to appropriate them to his own use without taking any step whatever in pursuance of the Trust which he had accepted as aforesaid, to secure the said Negro Slaves and their increase for the Benefit of your Oratrix. And your Orator and Oratrix further shew that the said Stevens Lee afterwards converted the said negro slaves which he had as aforesaid given to the said William Gray, on Trust for his said Daughter, your
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Oratrix, to his own use intending to defraud and injure your Oratrix and to deprive her of what he himself had so solemnly and deliberately given to her. And they further say that since the Gift aforesaid, certain of the said Negro women Slaves, 10 given, to-wit: Patt, Judie, Catey, Rachel, Molly, Hopey, Sall, Tatty, Old Nancy, Cotto, Abigail, Scilla and Cate, have had the following children born of their bodies respectively, to-wit: Patt, her children Ned, Hercules, Frank, Sam, Con; Judie and her children Jack, Ell; Catey, her children Nance, Duroy; Rachel and her children Joe, Rachel, Hannah; Molly, her children, Brickhouse, Catey; Hopey her children Henry Dago, Bill; Sall her children, Stephen, Manuel, Caskey; Tatty, her children Little Cæsar, Jim, Tom, Peg, Patt, Mank, Frank; Old Nancy, her children Jonas, Sukey, Henry, Adam, Grace; Cotto, her children Rachel, and one or two others whose names are unknown; Abigail, One child Daph; Scilla, her children Hannah, Peter; Cate, her children Four or Five whose names are unknown.

And your Orator and Oratrix further shew that they intermarried on the Sixth Day of June One Thousand seven hundred and seventy-four, your Oratrix then being the widow of Francis Lee, late of the County of Tyrrell, Gentleman. And your Orator and Oratrix further shew that the said Steven Lee departed this Life on or about the first Day of July, One Thousand Seven hundred and seventy-nine, having previously made his last will and Testament ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ whereby he contstituted the said William Gray and Stevens Gray, Esquires, her Executors, and that the said Stevens and William Gray proved the said Will in the County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for the County of Tyrrell, and took upon Themselves the burthen execution thereof and thereby became possessed of the following Negro Slaves that are part of those above mentioned and which were at the time of the Death of the said Stevens Lee in his possession, and which your Orator and Oratrix contend justly belong to them in right of your Oratrix in Virtue of the Gift aforesaid, to-wit: Henry, Mank, old Duroy Emperor, Dick, Toney, young Duroy, Cæsar, Ned, Patt, Jude, Catey, Hopey, Tatty Abigail, Hannah, Peter, Bett, Tom, Dago, Adam, Jack, Hercules, Frank, Patty, Grace, Ned, little Cæsar, Jim, Sam, Eve, Peg, Nantzy and Steven. And your Orator and Oratrix further shew that the said William and Stevens Gray, Executors as aforesaid, have also possessed themselves of a large personal estate belonging to the said

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Stevens Lee to the amount of five Thousand Pounds Specie and upwards, more than sufficient to pay the Debts of the said Deceased.

And your Orator and Oratrix further shew that the said Stevens Lee and William Gray, or either of them, did never inform either your Orator or Oratrix of the said Negroe Slaves so having been given in Trust as aforesaid. And that it is but a little while and since the Death of the said Stevens Lee that they have come to the Knowledge of it and that they immediately afterwards made Application to the said William Gray and Stevens Gray, Executors as aforesaid, to have the said several Negro Slaves, so as aforesaid in their possession, delivered up to them. And that the said William and Steven Gray should fully account to them out of the estate of said Stevens Lee; and the said William Gray, if satisfaction could not be otherwise obtained, out of his own Estate for the value of the Negro Slaves that had been given at the time aforesaid, and which had been disposed of by the said Stevens Lee in his life time, and also for the value of the Hire of the said Negro Slaves so given, and their Increase from the time of the said Gift. Yet, nevertheless, the said, William and Stevens Gray, and each of them, though well knowing the promises yet contriving and fraudulently intending unjustly to injure your Orator and Oratrix, altogether refused and still do refuse to deliver to your Orator and Oratrix the said Negro Slaves, or to give them any satisfaction whatever, in the premises to the great injury of your Orator and Oratrix, and contrary to Equity and good conscience. In tender Consideration whereof, and forasmuch as your Orator and Oratrix are without Relief in the Premises, without the Aid and Assistance of a Court of Equity, and to the end that the said William and Stevens Gray, may upon their several and respective corporal Oaths, a true and perfect answer make to the premises as fully and particularly as if the same were herein again repeated and interrogated, and more especially that they may declare whether the said Stevens Lee did not make such Gift in manner as above set forth, or any other, and what Gift of the same or any of the Negroes aforesaid. And whether the said William Gray was not such a Trustee or any other, and in what manner for the same or a similar Purpose, and whether there was not such Deliveries as are above set forth or any other, and what Conveyance of the same or any other Negro Slaves in trust for your Oratrix, and whether the said William Gray did not redeliver as is above set forth, the said Negro Slaves to the said Stevens Lee, and for what reason and

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whether for any, and if for any for what Consideration, and in what Manner to the Knowledge of either of them. The said Stevens Lee in his Life time disposed of the Negro Slaves so given aforesaid, and their Increase, and which were not in his Possession at his Death, and what is become of them and in whose possession they are now, and whether the said Stevens Lee did not die on the Day above mentioned leaving a last Will and Testament, by which they were constituted his Executors, and if they did not prove the said Will as aforesaid and take upon them the Burthen and Execution thereof, and possess themselves of his personal Estate to the Value above mentioned or any other, and what Value, and whether they did not receive into their Possession the said several Negro Slaves as above mentioned after the Death of the said Stevens Lee, and whether the application above stated to have been made to the said Executors for the Delivery to your Orator and Oratrix of the said negro Slaves, in the Possession of the said Stevens Lee at his Death, and for the other purposes above expressed were not really made by your Orator and Oratrix, and if the said William and Stevens Gray did not altogether refuse to deliver to your Orator and Oratrix the said Negro Slaves, or any of them, or to give them any Satisfaction whatever in the premises. And that they or either of them may decree to deliver up to your Orator and Oratrix all such of the Negro Slaves so given as above set forth to the said William Gray, in trust for your Oratrix and their Increase as were in the possession of the said Stevens Lee at the time of his Death, and came to their possession or the possession or either of them, or account for the Value of the same if not now in the Possession of the said Executors or either of them an dalso for the Value of their Hire since the Death of the said Stevens Lee, and that they may fully account with your Orator and Oratrix out of the Estate of the said Stevens Lee, or if that be not sufficient for the purpose, that the said William Gray may account out of his own Estate for the Value of the Negro, Slaves that were given at the time aforesaid and their Increase, and which were disposed of by the said Stevens Lee in his life time. And also for the value of the hire of the said several negro Slaves, so given, and their increase from the time of the said gift, and that your Orator and Oratrix may have such other and further relief in the Premises as to your Honors shall seem meet. May it please your Excellency to grant to your Orator and Oratrix.