Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Penal bonds concerning the Estate of William Tilghman

Hello again readers,

I, like my colleague Christian, am determined to spread the word about the kind of historically important and interesting finds we come across while working with the Poplar Grove Collection. For this reason, we will both post regularly and encourage comments and discussions about this collection. We both feel that this collection deserves attention since it is rich with Maryland history.

Today, I would like to share with you some penal bonds that relate to Christian’s post about the estate of William Tilghman.

As a note for those unfamiliar with the concept of a penal bond, this was a bond made to secure a fine payment as penalty if an obligation or promise is not upheld; ideally this ensured that the deal would not be broken.

While processing Series 10 of the Poplar Grove collection, three penal bonds were found concerning slaves from William Tilghman’s estate. Our first penal bond was between Benjamin Chew, the primary executor of William Tilghman’s Estate, and Joseph Hoffecker. The other two penal bonds dealt with business between Chew and Jacob Raymond.

Benjamin Chew, was in charge of selling William’s property, which included his slaves.* Chew sold Hoffecker a slave named Samuel for two years of service. The penal bond (on right) stated "Samuel shall not be removed from the state of Delaware during his time of service, than this obligation shall be null and void." Hoffecker would then have to pay a one thousand dollar penal sum, which was mentioned at the beginning of this document. Penal bonds made against transporting slaves from one state to another, like this one, were probably used as one way to control and track the slave trade.

The next penal bond (front side left, back side right) was between Chew and Jacob Raymond of Delaware on March 17, 1830; the penal sum was one thousand dollars if either of the two slaves bought, Abraham for 13 years and Charlotte for 15 years, were removed from Delaware.

Along with this bond was a letter( on left), which is the last document that I am going to share with you. This letter was written by Jacob Raymond concerning his problems with the above penal bond, and was written to John Tilghman. John was most likely contacted because had contact with Benjamin Chew and was familiar with the court system. Raymond, in the letter, complained about the penal bond that Benjamin Chew made, as well as the stiff 500 dollar fine and imprisonment penalty that. Delaware enforced for selling a slave outside of the state. Raymond wrote,"Had I been appraised of this previous to my having brought my two blacks home they might have remained in Maryland, the laws in our own state inflict a very severe penalty for selling blacks out of it." In other words, Raymond was not happy that the penal bond did not allow him to move his slaves out of Delaware, and that if he did move them he would face punishment by both the penal bond and the state of Delaware. I found it both interesting and informative to find a man’s penal bond and a letter expressing his problems with it.

I hope you have enjoyed this quick glimpse into one of the many subjects that the Poplar Grove Collection holds. More posts are to come, until then…


* See previous post for more details.

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