DEMOGRAPHY AND THE SLAVE FAMILY
A little time in the dusk of evening after hard labor all day, was the whole time allowed them for learning and for relaxation, and to visit their wives and children, which were generally in other families, not in their masters'.
David Humphreys (1730)
Five demographic factors--small total population size, low population density, unbalanced sex ratios, small slaveholdings, and random distribution into slaveholdings shaped slave family life in New York. The economic requirements of a slave labor supply system dictated the size, composition, and distribution of the black population in New York rather than biology or human nature. The total number of blacks brought into New York was small compared to the numbers imported into the southern colonies. New York blacks were therefore scattered at low density throughout the southern six counties of New York. White preference for male slave laborers meant that black sex ratios would be unbalanced due to the selective importation of boys and men. Because of the limited labor needs of small New York slaveholders most blacks lived with only one or two other slaves. Slaves were randomly sold and distributed among white households according to the number, sex, age, and price preferences of owners rather than according to the desires of black family members to live together. These factors made black family formation difficult, hindered black social and community life, and destroyed the ability of New York slaves to live in family groups.
Compared to the massive numbers of slaves imported into the South to fuel the large‑scale agricultural economy, only small numbers of blacks reached the family farms of New York.1 In towns where only very small numbers of blacks were located, such as Easthampton in 1687, family formation was hampered by the small number of available mates. Easthampton had a population of 502 persons: 223 white males, 219 white females, 35 male and female servants, and only 11 black males and 14 black females.2 In 1698 there were only 1,972 blacks in the southern six counties of New York. By 1820 slave importations and natural reproduction had increased the number of blacks in the same area to 20,138.3 This black population was not clustered together in large plantation districts as was the black population in the South; it was spread out over a broad geographical area.
The density of the black population partly determined the chances for marriage and family life. The concentration of blacks in a particular area provided a given number of other blacks who were available for family formation and social contact. As table 1 shows, between 1698 and 1820 blacks formed anywhere from 9.2 to 16.2 percent of the population in the combined southern six counties of New York. Although blacks constituted a substantial minority of the population in some New York counties at certain periods, their numbers never approached the density which fostered family development and the maintenance of extended kinship networks in the big plantation areas of the American South.4
By the end of the seventeenth century the black population formed a modest proportion of the total population in each of the small towns in the southern six counties of New York. Black population density varied greatly from town to town. In Kings County in 1698 Gravesend was 8.1 percent black while New Utrecht was 19.2 percent black. Westchester County in 1712 was 11.8 percent black: its component towns included Eastchester at 8.3 percent, and New Rochelle at 18.1 percent black. Morrisania was 74.2 percent black, with sixteen whites and forty‑six blacks, all of whom were on the holding of Lewis Morris. In 1731, the towns in Kings County ranged from 10.9 percent black in Gravesend to 31.2 percent black in adjacent New Utrecht. Suffolk County's 1776 census revealed that only 4.3 percent of Southampton was black, while 22.4 percent of Smithtown's population was black.
In 1790, 13.3 percent of the population in the southern six counties of New York was black. In thirty‑seven of the towns blacks formed from 0.7 percent (Poundridge) to 19.6 percent (Pelham) of the population. The fourteen towns of Shelter Island, Morrisania, Westchester, North Hempstead, Westfield, Smithtown, Newtown, Brooklyn, Harlem Ward, Flushing, Southfield, Flatlands, Bushwick, and Gravesend (in order of proportions) had populations ranging from 23.4 to 32.9 percent black. The greatest black population density occurred in the Kings County towns of New Utrecht and Flatbush, where blacks respectively formed 38.4 and 41.4 percent of the population. After 1790, the proportion of blacks in the population declined in all counties, reflecting the end of slave importations and rising white immigration after the American Revolution.
Dutch‑owned slaves lived in areas of denser black population concentration than English‑owned slaves, with perhaps more chances for family contact and community life than in areas where blacks were sparse. In heavily Dutch Kings County from 1749 (34.3 percent) consistently through 1800 (31.9 percent), approximately a third of the population was black. In other counties, the density range of the black population for the same period was much lower: Suffolk, from 7.7 to 13.7 percent black, Westchester, from 6.1 to 15.8 percent black, New York from 9.6 to 17.8 percent black, Queens from 16.7 to 20.4 percent black, and Richmond, from 16.6 to 23 percent black. The Dutch‑settled Harlem Division in 1790 had the highest proportion of blacks in its population of all the New York City wards at 28.7 percent, while the total citywide proportion was only 10.5 percent black.
The difficulty of finding mates and companions among a small, widely scattered captive population was compounded by uneven adult sex ratios. Slavetraders selectively shipped African males into the colony to meet the white demand for young male workers. This resulted in high sex ratios (an excess of males over females) from 1703 to 1771 with a reversal in trend toward a small male population deficit once importations stopped after the Revolution. Opportunities to find mates were restricted for the excess men in each town and county, and for the great surplus of females which developed in New York City after the 1770s.5
The black population problems of small absolute size, thin concentration of people, and unequal numbers of men and women were caused by the involuntary removal of African nationals from their various homelands and their relocation to New York. Even more devastating to family life was the parcelling out of this population into very small slaveholdings which could not accommodate entire families and which isolated slaves from other blacks in the area.
Most New York slaves lived in units of from one to five slaves which severely restricted their opportunities to reside with black family members. Family life under one roof was not possible for individual slaves who lived in white households which contained only one black person. Slaves in holdings which contained two blacks also had slim chances for family life; the other slave was likely to be an unrelated worker rather than a parent, spouse, sibling, or child. For slaves in units of three slaves, kin‑linked family life may have been possible, depending on the composition of the master's holding. Where a small nuclear family did exist at this size level, the likelihood was great that one or more children had been or would be sold off. Holdings of four or five slaves were probably the minimum borderline sizes for even partially completed family groups to live together under slavery. Enough room existed for two parents and some of their children to live together, although not all of the five members would necessarily be related. Slaves held in units of six or more slaves had the best chance to live with other family members. Most of the slaveholdings in New York, however, were too small in size for completed or even fragmented nuclear families to live and remain together under slavery.
Where both the number of slaves and the number of individual households were enumerated, census data revealed the very small average size of slaveholdings in the southern six counties of New York. Required as agricultural help on small family farms, as laborers and skilled artisans in trades and shops, and as domestic servants, slaves were only needed in small numbers by the white families who owned them. In Flushing in 1675, Flatlands in 1683, Southold in 1686, and New Utrecht in 1693, slaveowners held an average of 1.9, 1.2, 2.3, and 1.1 slaves respectively.6 In Kings County in 1698 the average holding for 129 white slaveowning households was 2.3 slaves, ranging from 1.5 in Gravesend to a high of 3.1 slaves in Bushwick.7 The towns of Newtown, Flushing, Mamaroneck, Fordham, and New Rochelle in 1698 displayed similar slaveholding patterns‑‑owners held an average of from one to 3.1 slaves.8 There were an average of 2.4 slaves per master in New York City in 1703.9 In heavily slaveholding New Utrecht, where approximately 50 percent of the white households owned slaves, the holdings were small: 1.8 slaves in 1716, 1.9 slaves in 1717, 2.1 slaves in 1718, and 2.0 slaves in 1734/5.10 By 1731, the average size of the slaveholdings in Kings County had increased only slightly, from 2.3 slaves in 1698 to 2.8 slaves.11
The 1755 census was taken for military reasons and counted only white slaveholders and slaves over the age of fourteen.12 It polled every town in Kings County, delivered only partial returns for Westchester, Queens, Richmond, and Suffolk counties,13 and omitted completely New York City. Traditional analyses of this census14 found 2,435 slaves colonywide over the age of fourteen: 1,371 males and 1,064 females held by 1,113 individual households. A pyramid of ownership was formed by a broad base of 1,032 households which contained from one to five slaves, 72 households with from five to nine slaves, and six households which owned ten slaves each (Thomas Dongan of Staten Island, David Jones in Oysterbay, Rutgert Van Brunt, Jr. in New Utrecht, Isaac Willitt of Westchester, and Martin Hoffman in Dutchess County). Peter Delancey of Westchester held twelve slaves, and Lewis Morris of Morrisania formed the apex of the structure with twenty‑nine adult slaves. This model demonstrated the widespread holding of small numbers of slaves, averaging 2.2 slaves per household.15 As table 2 shows, based on a revised model of the 1755 slave census,16 combining known adult slaves and estimating the number of children also held, the average number of slaves owned by 793 masters in twenty‑one towns in the southern six counties of New York is raised from 2.1 (adults only) to an average of four slaves‑‑a difference of an additional 1.9 children per owner.17
The average size of New York slaveholdings continued to be modest during the last quarter of the eighteenth century, at 3.1 slaves per owner in New Rochelle in 1771, and 2.7 slaves per household for eight towns in Suffolk County in 1776.18 The average size of slaveholdings in Brooklyn in 1783 was 2.6 slaves, and 2.7 slaves in New Utrecht in 1786.19 In 1790, on the eve of massive voluntary manumission and gradual emancipation of all slaves, average holdings were small in all counties. Slavery in New York remained broadly based, with a large number of very small holders. In New York State in 1790, 21,193 slaves were
owned by 7,796 households, averaging 2.7 slaves per holder. At the base of the broad ownership pyramid, 3,088 households held one slave, 2,867 households held from two to four slaves, 1,165 households owned from five to nine slaves, and 181 households held from ten to nineteen slaves. At the summit, Robert Livingston's household in Columbia County held forty‑four slaves. The size of the holding for another 494 households is unknown.20
The average slaveholder in the southern six counties of New York owned 2.7 slaves in 1790. As table 3 shows, holdings were generally largest in Kings and Richmond counties and smallest in New York and Suffolk counties. Voluntary manumission slowly reduced the size of slaveholdings between 1790 and 1820. The average number of slaves held per household fell sharply in Kings, New York, Queens, and Westchester counties, only moderately in Richmond County, and remained the same in Suffolk County. The average slaveholding in the combined southern six counties of New York lost half a slave other these thirty years.
Slaves held by the Dutch lived in larger units, with a larger number of other slaves, than did blacks owned by the English or other ethnic groups. The average holding in Dutch‑dominated Kings County between 1790 and 1820 was larger than in any of the other counties. While the average slaveholding in New York City in 1790 contained 2.1 slaves, the average slaveholding in the Dutch‑populated Harlem Ward
of New York City contained 3.8 slaves. Although the average Queens County slaveholding contained three slaves in 1790, the heavy Dutch population in the Queens County town of Newtown raised its average slaveholding size to 3.8 slaves. Black family life, while still dependent on the vicissitudes of chance ownership together under one roof, was more of a possibility in a holding of 4.6 slaves than in areas where the average holding was 2.1 persons.
Both the small average size of New York slaveholdings and the shrinkage in size after 1790 that was revealed in census data are confirmed by the small average size of slaveholdings found in wills and estate inventories over successive time periods in the southern six counties of New York:
1669‑ 1721‑ 1771‑ 1791‑ 1801‑
1720 1770 1790 1800 1829
wills 1.8 2.4 2.4 2.3 2.0
inventories 3.0 3.1 2.9 2.3 ...
wills 3.9 3.5 2.9 2.7 2.1
inventories 3.7 ... 5.4 ... ...
NOTE: Miscellaneous wills and inventories contained unknown variables as to the number, sex, or age of slaves listed Where plural blacks were mentioned ("my negroes," "some negroes"), they were counted as two slaves, although the real total could have been higher. The miscellaneous group of wills and inventories contained a larger average number of slaves. See below for the will and estate inventory sample.
Census data displayed in table 4 indicate that as owners voluntarily freed their slaves between 1785 and 1827 the proportion of masters who held either one or two slaves increased while the proportion of masters who held three or more slaves decreased. The proportion of slaveholders who owned only one or two slaves rose from 61.6 percent in 1790 to 66.7 percent in 1800, to 75 percent in 1810, and then fell slightly to 73.5 percent in 1820.21 The sharpest increase between 1790 and 1820 came in the proportion of owners who held only a single slave. Data on the patterns within each county reveal that the proportion of slaveholders who owned either one or two slaves was highest in New York, Suffolk, and Westchester counties and lowest in Kings and Richmond counties, where average holdings were larger.22
Census data displayed in table 5 also indicate that as the size of the average slaveholding decreased between 1790 and 1820 and as larger proportions of slaveowners held only one or two slaves, larger proportions of slaves lived in the smaller‑sized holdings which either totally precluded or reduced the chances for resident family life. The proportion of slaves who lived in single‑slave or two‑slave households rose while the proportion of slaves who lived in households with three or more slaves declined from 1790 to 1820. As slaves became more concentrated in the smaller
SIZE AND PERCENT DISTRIBUTION OF SLAVEHOLDINGS,
SOUTHERN SIX COUNTIES COMBINED, 1790 TO 1820
Size of Slaveholdings (Number of Slaves Held)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Over
Number of Slaveholdings
This Size 1,530 617 421 310 217 129 88 59 39 27 18 28
of Slaveholding Sizes 43.9 17.7 12.1 8.9 6.2 3.7 2.5 1.7 1.1 0.8 0.5 0.8
Number of Slaveholdings
This Size 1,669 687 423 259 172 119 80 46 31 23 5 20
of Slaveholding Sizes 47.2 19.4 12.0 7.3 4.9 3.4 2.3 1.3 0.9 0.7 0.1 0.6
Number of Slaveholdings
This Size 1,397 591 297 168 97 49 18 12 9 5 5 4
of Slaveholding Sizes 52.7 22.3 11.2 6.3 3.7 1.8 0.7 0.5 0.3 0.2 0.2 0.1
Number of Slaveholdings
This Size 762 255 125 95 50 41 24 18 2 2 5 5
of Slaveholding Sizes 55.1 18.4 9.0 6.9 3.6 3.0 1.7 1.3 0.1 0.1 0.4 0.4
SOURCES: Compiled from data in Bureau of Census, Heads of Families, 1790; 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1800 Census, Printed Population Schedules, NYGBR; 1810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules.
NOTE: Each of the white slaveholdings (3,483 in 1790, 3,534 in 1800, 2,652 in 1810, and 1,384 in 1820) which appeared in these four federal censuses was grouped according to the number of slaves owned in each unit. For detailed figures for each individual county, see app. 5. Owners who held only slaves and masters who employed both slaves and resident free blacks (only the slaves were counted to determine the size of the slaveholding) are both included.
NUMBER OF SLAVES LIVING IN VARIOUS SLAVEHOLDING
SIZES, BY COUNTY, 1790 TO 1820
Total Number of Slaves in this Size Slaveholding
Numberof 12 &
County Slaves 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Over
Kings 1,475 61 80 126 152 165 120 182 176 90 100 77 146
New York 2,372 554 480 462 336 165 162 63 64 27 10 ... 49
Richmond 755 81 80 75 124 120 72 91 8 72 20 ... 12
Suffolk 1,102 270 160 144 164 110 96 49 24 9 30 ... 46
Queens 2,311 314 246 273 296 320 216 189 136 108 50 77 86
Westchester 1,418 250 188 186 168 205 108 42 64 45 60 44 58
Total 9,433 1,530 1,234 1,266 1,240 1,085 774 616 472 351 270 198 397
Kings 1,519 104 132 153 176 170 180 189 128 81 60 11 135
New York 2,822 812 690 483 340 215 72 63 72 9 40 ... 26
Richmond 675 87 64 114 100 95 84 42 40 36 ... ... 13
Suffolk 890 229 148 126 88 85 42 42 32 36 20 ... 42
Queens 1,547 201 208 222 156 175 198 140 64 63 50 33 37
Westchester 1,227 236 132 171 176 120 138 84 32 54 60 11 13
Total 8,680 1,669 1,374 1,269 1,036 860 714 560 368 279 230 55 266
Kings 1,118 109 162 180 164 175 102 56 64 54 30 22 ...
New York 1,654 728 418 255 112 70 30 21 ... 9 ... 11 ...
Richmond 437 84 102 105 92 30 24 ... ... ... ... ... ...
Suffolk 412 131 108 57 36 25 24 ... 8 ... 10 ... 13
Queens 791 150 182 147 152 100 36 14 ... ... 10 ... ...
Westchester 973 195 210 147 116 85 78 35 24 18 ... 22 43
Total 5,385 1,397 1,182 891 672 485 294 126 96 81 50 55 56
Kings 879 101 108 114 116 75 114 91 80 ... 10 33 37
New York 498 287 100 39 44 10 18 ... ... ... ... ... ...
Richmond 532 61 78 63 96 80 60 42 32 9 ... 11 ...
Suffolk 322 74 68 42 48 15 18 21 8 ... ... ... 28
Queens 557 147 106 90 68 55 30 7 24 9 10 11 ...
Westchester 205 92 50 27 8 15 6 7 ... ... ... ... ...
Total 2,993 762 510 375 380 250 246 168 144 18 20 55 65
PERCENT DISTRIBUTION OF SLAVES LIVING IN VARIOUS
SLAVEHOLDING SIZES, 1790 TO 1820
Proportion of Slaves in This Size Slaveholding
County 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Over
Kings 4.1 5.4 8.5 10.3 11.2 8.1 12.3 11.9 6.1 6.8 5.2 9.9
New York 23.3 20.2 19.5 14.2 7.0 6.8 2.7 2.7 1.1 0.4 ... 2.1
Richmond 10.7 10.6 9.9 16.4 15.9 9.5 12.1 1.1 9.5 2.6 ... 1.6
Suffolk 24.5 14.5 13.1 14.9 10.0 8.7 4.4 2.2 0.8 2.7 ... 4.2
Queens 13.6 10.6 11.8 12.8 13.8 9.3 8.2 5.9 4.7 2.2 3.3 3.7
Westchester 17.6 13.3 13.1 11.8 14.5 7.6 3.0 4.5 3.2 4.2 3.1 4.1
Total 16.2 13.1 13.4 13.1 11.5 8.2 6.5 5.0 3.7 2.9 2.1 4.2
Kings 6.8 8.7 10.1 11.6 11.2 11.8 12.4 8.4 5.3 3.9 0.7 8.9
New York 28.8 24.4 17.1 12.1 7.6 2.6 2.2 2.6 0.3 1.4 ... 0.9
Richmond 12.9 9.5 16.9 14.8 14.1 12.4 6.2 5.9 5.3 ... ... 1.9
Suffolk 25.9 16.6 14.2 9.9 9.6 4.7 4.7 3.6 4.0 2.2 ... 4.7
Queens 13.0 13.4 14.4 10.1 11.3 12.8 9.0 4.1 4.1 3.2 2.1 2.4
Westchester 19.2 10.8 13.9 14.3 9.8 11.2 6.8 2.6 4.4 4.9 0.9 1.1
Total 19.2 15.8 14.6 11.9 9.9 8.2 6.5 4.2 3.2 2.7 0.6 3.1
Kings 9.7 14.5 16.1 14.7 15.7 9.1 5.0 5.7 4.8 2.7 2.0 ...
New York 44.0 25.3 15.4 6.8 4.2 1.8 1.3 ... 0.5 ... 0.7 ...
Richmond 19.2 23.3 24.0 21.1 6.9 5.5 ... ... ... ... ... ...
Suffolk 31.8 26.2 13.8 8.7 6.1 5.8 ... 1.9 ... 2.4 ... 3.2
Queens 19.0 23.0 18.6 19.2 12.6 4.6 1.8 ... ... 1.3 ... ...
Westchester 20.0 21.6 15.1 11.9 8.7 8.0 3.6 2.5 1.8 ... 2.3 4.4
Total 25.9 21.9 16.6 12.5 9.1 5.5 2.3 1.8 1.5 0.9 1.0 1.0
Kings 11.5 12.3 13.0 13.2 8.5 13.0 10.3 9.1 ... 1.1 3.7 4.2
New York 57.6 20.1 7.8 8.8 2.0 3.6 ... ... ... ... ... ...
Richmond 11.5 14.7 11.8 18.0 15.0 11.3 7.9 6.0 1.7 ... 2.1 ...
Suffolk 23.0 21.1 13.0 14.9 4.7 5.6 6.5 2.5 ... ... ... 8.7
Queens 26.4 19.0 16.2 12.2 9.9 5.4 1.2 4.3 1.6 1.8 2.0 ...
Westchester 44.9 24.4 13.2 3.9 7.3 2.9 3.4 ... ... ... ... ...
Total 25.5 17.1 12.5 12.7 8.3 8.2 5.6 4.8 0.6 0.7 1.8 2.2
SOURCES: All slaves who appeared in white households listed in the 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820 federal censuses (whether or not free blacks were also included in the households) were grouped according to the number of slaves held in the unit. Bureau of Census, Heads of Families, 1790; 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1800 Census, Printed Population Schedules, NYGBR; 1810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules.
NOTES: Slaves who lived in free black‑headed households (four slaves in 1790, ten in 1800, nine in 1810, and twenty‑one in 1820) and slaves who lived in independent slave‑headed households (twenty‑four in 1800, four in 1810, and one in 1820) are excluded. Slaves who lived in institutions (ten in 1790, thirty‑one in 1800, twenty in 1810) and one New York City slave not individually enumerated in the 1820 census also do not appear in this table.
sized holdings, chances for resident family life worsened.
Between 1790 and 1820 the proportion of slaves who lived in single‑slave households rose from 16.2 percent to 25.5 percent in the combined southern six counties of New York. Resident family life was ruled out for this sector of the slave population. Family life on the master's premises was also improbable for slaves held in two‑slave households. Although in 1790 61.6 percent (66.7 percent in 1800, 75 percent in 1810, and 73.5 percent in 1820) of slaveholdings contained either one or two slaves, data in table 6 shows that a smaller 29.3 percent (35.1 percent in 1800, 47.9 percent in 1810, and 42.5 percent by 1820) of the slaves themselves lived in units which contained one or two slaves. This discrepancy exists because larger holdings accounted proportionately for bigger segments of the slave population. While ten single‑slave holdings accounted for ten slaves, ten five‑slave holdings housed fifty slaves.
Although opportunities to live with a family member improved for slaves who lived in three‑slave households, full nuclear families could not be accommodated and the likelihood was strong that some or all of the resident slaves would be unrelated. A large 42.7 percent of slaves in 1790 (49.7 percent in 1800, 64.4 percent in 1810, and 55 percent in 1820) lived in holdings of three or fewer slaves, making family life problematical. The vast majority of slaves lived in units of five or fewer slaves (67.4 percent in 1790, 71.5 percent in 1800, 85.9 percent in 1810, and 76.1
PROPORTION OF SLAVES WHO LIVED IN THIS SIZE
SLAVEHOLDING OR SMALLER
Two or Three or Four or Five or Six or
Year Less Slaves Less Slaves Less Slaves Less Slaves More Slaves
1790 9.5 18.0 28.3 39.5 60.5
1800 15.5 25.6 37.2 48.4 51.6
1810 24.2 40.3 55.0 70.7 29.3
1820 23.8 36.7 49.9 58.5 41.5
1790 43.6 63.1 77.2 84.2 15.8
1800 53.2 70.3 82.4 90.0 10.0
1810 69.3 84.7 91.5 95.7 4.3
1820 77.7 85.5 94.4 96.4 3.6
1790 21.3 31.2 47.6 63.5 36.5
1800 22.4 39.3 54.1 68.2 31.8
1810 42.5 66.5 87.6 94.5 5.5
1820 26.1 38.0 56.0 71.1 28.9
1790 39.0 52.1 67.0 77.0 23.0
1800 42.3 56.5 66.4 76.0 24.0
1810 58.0 71.8 80.6 86.6 13.4
1820 44.1 57.1 72.0 76.7 23.3
1790 24.2 36.0 48.8 62.7 37.3
1800 26.4 40.8 50.9 62.2 37.8
1810 42.0 60.6 79.8 92.4 7.6
1820 45.4 61.6 73.8 83.7 16.3
1790 30.9 44.0 55.8 70.3 29.7
1800 30.0 43.9 58.2 68.0 32.0
1810 41.6 56.7 68.6 77.4 22.6
1820 69.3 82.4 86.3 93.7 6.3
SIX COUNTIES COMBINED
1790 29.3 42.7 55.9 67.4 32.6
1800 35.1 49.7 61.6 71.5 28.5
1810 47.9 64.4 76.9 85.9 14.1
1820 42.5 55.0 67.7 76.1 23.9
NOTE: This table is based on the sources and findings in table 5
percent in 1820),23 with from none to only moderate chances to live with other family members. The minority of slaves who lived in holdings which contained six or more slaves (32.6 percent in 1790, 28.5 percent in 1800, 14.1 percent in 1810, and 23.9 percent in 1820) were the most likely to be able to enjoy family life under one roof. Chances for family life were best for slaves in Kings County, where large holdings of six or more slaves were very common, and worst for slaves in New York City, where large holdings were very rare. The small size of New York City slaveholdings is demonstrated by the fact that in 1820 the three largest holdings contained only six slaves each.24
As data in table 7 shows, the number of slaves listed in individual wills and estate inventories25 also indicates that high proportions of slaves lived in holdings which contained three or fewer slaves and that after 1800 slaves increasingly lived in these smallest slaveholdings. Of the 2,451 black slaves listed in 1,078 wills written between 1669 and 1829, 54.5 percent lived in units which contained three or fewer slaves, as did 39.5 percent of the 980 slaves listed in inventories. Estate inventories showed a broader distribution of slaveholding sizes since inventories may have been disproportionately taken only of larger estates with higher numbers of slaves.
A division of this entire 1669 to 1829 group of wills into time periods26 shows a preponderance of holdings which contained only one, two, or three slaves in the early 1669
INSERT TABLE 7 HERE
to 1720 period: 66.5 percent of slaves lived in such units. Holdings then increased in size with a lower 51.2 percent (1721 to 1770), 55.4 percent (1771 to 1790), and 56.2 percent (1791 to 1800) of slaves living in the smallest one, two, or three‑slave units. As voluntary manumissions mushroomed after the 1790s, however, increasing proportions of slaves who were listed in wills lived in holdings which contained three or fewer slaves (68.6 percent of slaves in the 1801 to 1829 period). Only 27.8 percent of slaves listed in wills from 1669 to 1829 lived in holdings of six or more slaves, and 42.2 percent of the slaves listed in inventories; these were the blacks most likely to be able to live with other family members.
Data from both censuses and wills indicate that over half of the enslaved black population lived in units of three or fewer slaves from the late seventeenth century through the early nineteenth century. For this half of the slave population family life under one roof was unlikely. Information from censuses and wills also show that only approximately one quarter of New York slaves lived in holdings which contained six or more slaves; they were the minority of slaves whose possibilities for family cohabitation were the greatest.
From the beginnings of slavery in British New York in 1664 through the abolition of slavery in 1827, large slaveholdings were always rare and were still of modest size compared to southern plantation holdings. Eleven large manors were formed in the late seventeenth century; they formed an ongoing, interlocking directorate of prominent families who intermarried, did business together, and exchanged slave property during the next hundred years.27 The owners of these great manors and estates controlled large numbers of slaves. Lewis Morris of the Manor of Morrisania was the largest slaveowner in the 1698 census with thirty slaves.28
In New York City in 1703 Peter Pieret held fourteen slaves and Derick Ten Eyck held thirteen; they were the largest slaveholders in the city.29 In 1755 the Manor of Morrisania contained twenty‑nine adult slaves; Peter Delancey of Westchester with twelve slaves was the next largest slaveowner. Thomas Dongan of Staten Island, David Jones of Oysterbay, Rutgert Van Brunt, Jr. of New Utrecht, and Isaac Willitt of Westchester shared third place with ten slaves each.30 In the 1776 Suffolk County census Nathaniel Woodhull of Manor of St. George‑-Patent Meritches and Nicoll Havens of Shelter Island were the largest holders with fifteen and fourteen slaves each. Several other families held twelve slaves: Edmund Smith, Jr. of Smithtown, Thomas Tredwell of Smithtown, and both William Floyd and Richard Floyd of Manor of St. George-Patent Meritches.31
The Philipse family on the Manor of Philipsburgh in Westchester County owned very large numbers of slaves by New York standards for over a century. Frederick Philipse, first lord of the manor, came to New York in about 1653 and was employed as a carpenter‑builder by the Dutch West India Company. He prospered, acquired properties, and managed to buy an interest in a plantation in Yonkers in 1672. Philipse slowly gained full control of the estate and expanded its borders; it was granted to him in 1693 as the Manor of Philipsburgh.32 In 1698 "the negers of Mr. fillips Sqier" included twenty slaves , some of whom had been freshly imported from Africa.33 When Frederick Philipse died in 1702 at age seventy‑six he owned well over twenty‑one slaves who were divided between his son Adolphus and his grandson Frederick (Philip's son), who became second lord of the manor. His October 26, 1700, will left Frederick the lower half of Philipsburgh Manor (the Jonckers plantation) with all of its negroes and negro children. Besides these slaves Frederick was to receive negro Harry with his wife and child, a negro man Peter, and a negro man Wan. The will gave Adolphus the upper half of Philipsburgh Manor plus ten negro men, one boy, two negro women, and one Indian woman with her child. Philipse ordered that his negro woman Old Susan was to dwell on the plantation at the Upper Mills during her life.34 Frederick Philipse's slaves were fortunate in that their two new prospective owners both resided on the manor; the holding would not be widely scattered as so often happened at the death of a master.
Between 1702 and 1750 Adolphus Philipse's white tenant population grew from 200 to 1,100 persons, and his slave force totalled 27 persons by 1750. His slaves must have worked with the bolting equipment he added to the gristmill operation and in the plantation's coopering shop on the production of barrel staves. A bakery at the Upper Mill prepared ship biscuits, which, along with flour, were shipped to New York and foreign markets.35 One of the problems of Adolphus's stewardship over this prosperous plantation economy included the indictment of his slave Coffee for setting fire to his nephew Frederick Philipse's house during the 1741 negro plot.36
After Adolphus Philipse died in 1750 two estate inventories survived. One, dated February 12, 1749, included the following slaves: six men, five women, seven boys aged one to nine years, and one girl aged three years. Four men were described as not fit for work.37 The other inventory and administration of the estate extended from 1749 to 1763. It listed one negro man John worth L75 who owed the estate L26.19.0, one woman Sarah, one "mallotto" girl Molle at Mr. Goelets (probably hired out to him), and old Bess. Also listed were "two old wip Saws, one old broken iron pott and some rubbish" in the Negro house.38 Fifteen of these twenty‑seven slaves were sold at auction shortly after his death; the disposition of the others is unknown. In an advertisement placed in the New York Weekly Post Boy on April 9, 1750, his properties were "to be sold at public vendue at ten o'clock on Thursday morning the 19th at the house of the late Adolph Philipse." This property included four negro men (a miller, a boat‑man, and two farmers), three negro women, six negro boys, and two girls in addition to household goods, forty head of cattle, twenty‑six horses, a number of sheep and hogs, and all the utensils belonging to the manor. Philipse's death meant familial breakup and sale for most if not all of his slaves.
The death of bachelor Adolphus Philipse meant reconsolidation of the manor as the sole property of Frederick, second lord of the manor, who died only one year later than his uncle Adolphus. His will, dated June 6, 1751,39 divided sixteen slaves between his wife, his son Philip, three daughters, and one granddaughter. He left all of his negroes on both farms at the upper and lower mills to his son Frederick who became the third and last lord of the manor: the thirty‑three slaves included thirteen men, five women, eleven boys, and four girls. At the time of the American Revolution the manor comprised 92,160 acres, extending for twenty‑four miles along the Hudson River.40 Since Frederick Philipse was a loyalist during the Revolution his estate was confiscated on October 22, 1779; Philipsburgh Manor was sold in 311 conveyances in 1784. The number of slaves Philipse held in 1779 is unknown, but based on his inheritance of thirty‑three slaves in 1751, his holdings were probably large. New York State wound up supporting eight of his former slaves, either aged or infirm, from 1786 until 1818 or later.41
The slaveholdings of Frederick and Adolphus Philipse had been parallel in time‑‑they both received their inheritances in 1702 and died a year apart, in 1750 and 1751. They both lived on the vast Philipsburgh Manor, and between them owned seventy‑six slaves at the end of their tenures. In this pre‑1750 period their combined slaveholdings approached the size of slave workforces on large southern plantations. There were undoubtedly many matings and kinship connections among the separately owned groups of Philipse slaves who were all within extended walking (twenty‑five miles) and communication distance of each other.
The holdings of the original Frederick Philipse (over twenty‑one slaves), his son Adolphus (twenty‑seven slaves), and his grandson Frederick (forty‑nine slaves), were all large enough to accommodate and permit slave family life. The relationships between the Philipse Manor slaves are largely unknown, except for the references in Frederick Philipse's 1700 will to "Harry with his wife and child," and to "the Indyan woman Hannah and her child." The recurring use of a group of names over time‑‑Squire, Diamond, Harry, and Wan/Wau, and the use of "old" or "young" to separate members of different generations with the same name indicate familial connections. In 1700 Susan the Younger had to be demarcated from Old Susan, and in 1751 Young Charles from Charles, little Diamond from Diamond, and little Coezar from Coezar. Little Jenny‑Wall's parents in 1751 may have been Jenny in the same holding and Wall who belonged to Frederick Philipse III.42
While slaves on the large Philipse Manor lived with high numbers of other blacks and were probably able to enjoy family life on the premises, ownership on a large manor did not imply lifetime family security. The sale of fifteen out of Adolphus Philipse's twenty‑seven slaves in 1750 rippled through the familial networks among the seventy‑six slaves who lived on Philipsburgh Manor. When Frederick Philipse died in 1751 the other forty‑nine slaves on the manor were divided between his heirs. Thirty‑three would remain on the manor with his son and main heir Frederick, along with the seven left to his wife, but the other nine were bequeathed to his son Philip, three daughters, and one granddaughter. From a combined Philipsburgh Manor slave community of seventy‑six slaves in the 1750 to 1751 period, fifteen were sold, the disposition of twelve is unknown, and nine were probably removed with relatives who lived away from the manor. Only forty remained on the estate--the death of the two Philipse proprietors shattered the stability of their slaves' lives.
At the end of the eighteenth century the number and proportion of slaves who lived in large (for New York) slaveholdings of twelve or more slaves was small; it decreased even further from 1790 to 1820.43 In 1790 397 slaves (4.2 percent of slaves) lived in such units, 266 in 1800 (3.1 percent), 56 in 1810 (1 percent) and 65 (2.2 percent) in 1820. The twenty‑eight large slaveholdings which contained 397 slaves in 1790 were distributed as follows: ten in Kings, six in Queens, four each in New York and Westchester, three in Suffolk, and one in Richmond County.44 The largest four individual holdings in 1790 were of seventeen slaves each, belonging to Jacob Bennet in Brooklyn, Samuel Martin in South Hempstead, Lewis Morris at Morrisania, and Augustus Van Cortlandt in Yonkers.
By 1800, only twenty such large holdings remained, containing 266 slaves: ten in Kings, three each in Suffolk and Queens, two in New York, and one each in Richmond and Westchester.45 The largest single holding in 1800 was of eighteen slaves in the town of Flatbush. In 1810 only four slaveholders in the southern six counties owned twelve or more slaves‑‑three in Westchester County and one in Suffolk (totalling fifty‑six slaves). In 1810, the four large holdings were of sixteen slaves in the town of Westchester, fifteen in Yonkers, thirteen in Brookhaven, and twelve in Mount Pleasant. By 1820 five slaveowners remained in the southern six counties of New York with holdings of twelve or more slaves (totalling sixty‑five blacks)‑‑three in Kings County and two in Suffolk. In 1820 the five large holdings consisted of twelve slaves, twelve slaves, and thirteen slaves in Kings County, and twelve slaves and sixteen slaves in Suffolk County. Slaves in these largest of New York holdings of from twelve to eighteen slaves had the best chance to live in settled family units on their masters' properties. While large holdings did not guarantee that spouses or several children would not be sold away, the holding was large enough to theoretically contain several family members under one roof.
As New York slaveowners voluntarily freed large numbers of their slaves between 1785 and 1827, the size of slaveholdings shrank and chances for family cohabitation worsened. Slaves lived in white households which contained progressively fewer other slaves. This trend was counteracted for many slaves by the widespread residence of freed blacks in white slaveowning households during these years. After freedom many blacks sought employment as resident workers in white households; jobs for free blacks were concentrated among current and recent white slaveholders who had traditionally housed and used black labor. In 1790 46.1 percent of free blacks lived in white households (with slaves or other free blacks on the premises), 42.1 percent in 1800, 44.5 percent in 1810, and 40.2 percent in 1820.46
As table 8 shows, a large proportion of slaveholders employed resident free blacks: 12.2 percent of slaveowners in 1790, 20.5 percent in 1800, 38.3 percent in 1810, and 29.7 percent in 1820. Whites who employed both free black and slave labor had a larger average combined workforce per household than either slaveowners or whites who used only resident free black labor.47 They also generally held a larger average number of slaves than did whites who held only slave labor. As table 9 shows, in 1790 an average of 2.9 slaves and 1.4 free blacks were maintained by
NUMBERS AND PROPORTIONS OF SLAVE‑OWNERS WHO HELD
UNITS COMPOSED OF BOTH SLAVE AND
FREED BLACK LABOR, 1790 TO 1820
Kings 319 297 22 6.9 398 260 138 34.7
New York 1,117 1,015 102 9.1 1,483 1,209 274 18.5
Richmond 238 190 48 20.2 231 185 46 19.9
Suffolk 493 307 186 37.7 410 326 84 20.5
Queens 776 776 0 0.0 532 426 106 19.9
Westchester 540 474 66 12.2 480 404 76 15.8
Total 3,483 3,059 424 12.2 3,534 2,810 724 20.5
Kings 370 192 178 48.1 286 211 75 26.2
New York 1,074 759 315 29.3 366 259 107 29.2
Richmond 203 99 104 51.2 183 171 12 6.6
Suffolk 225 106 119 52.9 146 135 11 7.5
Queens 357 145 212 59.4 270 150 120 44.4
Westchester 423 336 87 20.6 133 47 86 64.7
Total 2,652 1,637 1,015 38.3 1,384 973 411 29.7
SOURCES: Bureau of Census, Heads of Families, 1790; 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1800 Census, Printed Population Schedules, NYGBR; 1810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules.
NOTE: Free black heads of household who owned slaves are excluded from this study: most such slaves were really family members. This table measures normal white slaveholding patterns. Each slaveholding household which appeared in the 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820 censuses was classified as to the presence and number of slaves held alone or of both slaves and resident free blacks included in the household.
AVERAGE NUMBER OF FREE BLACKS AND OF SLAVES (PLUS AVERAGE
SIZE OF COMBINED SLAVE/FREE WORK GROUPS) IN WHITE
HOUSEHOLDS WHICH CONTAINED BOTH SLAVE
AND FREE BLACK LABOR, 1790 TO 1820
Kings 22 23 1.0 115 5.2 6.3 4.6
New York 102 129 1.3 279 2.7 4.0 2.1
Richmond 48 61 1.3 159 3.3 4.6 3.1
Suffolk 186 303 1.6 465 2.5 4.1 2.1
Queens 0 0 ... 0 ... ... 3.0
Westchester 66 82 1.2 217 3.3 4.5 2.5
Total 424 598 1.4 1,235 2.9 4.3 2.7
Kings 138 244 1.8 542 3.9 5.7 3.8
New York 274 399 1.5 489 1.8 3.2 1.9
Richmond 46 56 1.2 183 4.0 5.2 2.7
Suffolk 84 141 1.7 251 3.0 4.7 2.0
Queens 106 159 1.5 298 2.8 4.3 2.9
Westchester 76 116 1.5 212 2.8 4.3 2.5
Total 724 1,115 1.5 1,975 2.7 4.3 2.4
Kings 178 418 2.3 595 3.3 5.7 2.7
New York 315 512 1.6 478 1.5 3.1 1.5
Richmond 104 211 2.0 257 2.5 4.5 1.8
Suffolk 119 265 2.2 262 2.2 4.4 1.4
Queens 212 472 2.2 509 2.4 4.6 1.9
Westchester 87 158 1.8 183 2.1 3.9 2.3
Total 1,015 2,036 2.0 2,284 2.2 4.3 1.9
Kings 75 123 1.6 212 2.8 4.5 3.2
New York 107 169 1.6 147 1.4 2.9 1.3
Richmond 12 19 1.6 40 3.3 4.9 2.9
Suffolk 11 12 1.1 21 1.9 3.0 2.2
Queens 120 233 1.9 226 1.9 3.8 2.2
Westchester 86 206 2.4 147 1.7 4.1 1.2
Total 411 762 1.8 793 1.9 3.8 2.3
SOURCES: Each white household which contained both slaves and free blacks in the 1790, 1800, 1810, and 1820 federal censuses was analyzed as to the number of slaves and free blacks held in the unit. Bureau of Census, Heads of Families, 1790; 1800 Census, Printed Population Schedules, NYGBR; 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules; 1820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules.
NOTE: See tables 8 and 10 for figures from which the average number of slaves held in white households which contained only slaves (and no free labor) was compiled. See table 3 above on the average size of slaveholdings in New York (which included slaves in both households which contained only slaves and in households which contained both slaves and free blacks).
slaveholders who also employed free black labor, 2.7 slaves and 1.5 free blacks in 1800, 2.2 slaves and 2.0 free blacks in 1810, and 1.9 slaves and 1.8 free blacks in 1820 in the combined southern six counties of New York. The number of slaves in slave/free white households always exceeded the number of free blacks in the unit.
The average number of slaves held in white slaveholding households which also used resident free blacks fell between 1790 and 1810 while the number of free blacks per unit rose to maintain an unchanging workforce size of 4.3 blacks during these years. By 1820, however, several changes had occurred. Both the number of slaves and of free blacks per household had declined; slaveholders who also employed free black workers on the premises reduced the total size of their labor complement to an average of 3.8 blacks. A smaller proportion of slaveholders than in 1810 chose to use both slave and resident free black labor. As a result of both this change in slaveowner labor preferences and the dwindling numbers of slaves left in the area, smaller proportions of the free black population lived in slaveholdings; free blacks who sought positions in white homes increasingly lived instead in white households where no slaves were present.
The majority of slaves between 1785 and 1827 lived in white households which contained only slaves; their ability to live with family members decreased as slaveholdings grew smaller. The average number of slaves per white household which contained only slaves fell from 2.7 slaves in 1790 to 2.4 slaves in 1800, 1.9 slaves in 1810 (but rose again to 2.3 slaves in 1820 among the remaining group of determined slaveholders). The average number of slaves per white household which contained both slaves and resident free black workers also declined during this period, from 2.9 slaves in 1790 to 2.7 slaves in 1800, 2.2 slaves in 1810, and 1.9 slaves in 1820, but the real size of these "slaveholdings" was enlarged by the addition of an average of one to two free blacks.
Slaves who lived in white households which also contained free blacks between 1785 and 1827 enjoyed the greatest chance of living with family members; they also had an immediate demonstration that the condition of bondage could be transcended. Between 1790 and 1810 "slaveholdings" began to consist more and more often of slaves and free blacks. As table 10 shows, the proportion of all slaves who lived in white households which also housed free blacks rose from 13.1 percent in 1790, to 22.8 percent in 1800, to 42.4 percent in 1810; in 1820 the proportion dropped to 26.5 percent.
The proportion of slaves who lived in white households which also contained free blacks not only changed over time but differed from county to county. Apart from owner decisions, the degree to which free blacks were included in white slaveholding households was determined by three variables: the proportion of blacks who were free, the size
NUMBERS AND PROPORTIONS OF SLAVES WHO LIVED IN
WHITE HOUSEHOLDS WHICH CONTAINED BOTH SLAVES
AND FREE BLACKS, 1790 TO 1820
Kings 1,475a 1,360 115 7.8 1,519 977 542 35.7
New York 2,372b 2,093 279 11.8 2,822c 2,333 489 17.3
Richmond 755 596 159 21.1 675 492 183 27.1
Suffolk 1,102 637 465 42.2 890d 639 251 28.2
Queens 2,311 2,311 0 0.0 1,547 1,249 298 19.3
Westchester 1,418 1,201 217 15.3 1,227e 1,015 212 17.3
Total 9,433 8,198 1,235 13.1 8,680 6,705 1,975 22.8
Kings 1,118 523 595 53.2 879 667 212 24.1
New York 1,654f 1,176 478 28.9 498h 351 147 29.5
Richmond 437 180 257 58.8 532 492 40 7.5
Suffolk 412g 150 262 63.6 322i 301 21 6.5
Queens 791 282 509 64.3 557j 331 226 40.6
Westchester 973 790 183 18.8 205 58 147 71.7
Total 5,385 3,101 2,284 42.4 2,993 2,200 793 26.5
SOURCES and NOTES: See table 8 above.
aFour slaves living in a free black‑headed household in Brooklyn are omitted from this total.
bThis figure excludes ten slaves in institutions.
cThe eight slaves on Blackwell's Island are included here. These figures exclude five slaves in free black‑headed households, nineteen slaves in slave‑headed households, and thirty‑one slaves in institutions.
dFive slaves who lived in a slave‑headed household in Smithtown are excluded.
eThis figure excludes five slaves who lived in a free black‑headed household in Rye.
fThis figure excludes thirty‑two slaves who lived either in slave‑headed households, free black‑headed households, or in institutions.
gOne slave living in a slave‑headed household in Brookhaven is omitted here.
hThis figure excludes one slave in a slave‑headed household, eighteen slaves in free black‑headed households and one slave whose residence was among a group of households not enumerated in the census on Governor's, Bedlow's, and Ellis's islands and at the Battery.
iThis figure excludes one slave who lived in a free black‑headed household.
jTwo slaves who lived in free black‑headed households are excluded here.
of the free black population, and the living circumstances of free blacks in each area. As an example, in Kings County in 1790 only 3.1 percent of the black population were free; there were only forty‑seven freed blacks in the county.48 Although 48.9 percent of them lived in white slaveholding households,49 their numbers were so small that only 7.8 percent of Kings County slaves were able to live with resident free blacks.
By 1810, as more blacks were freed in Kings County, a larger proportion of slaves (53.2 percent) lived in white households with freed blacks also domiciled on the premises. In the five rural towns of Kings County very large proportions of the slaves (from 57.8 percent in Bushwick to 80.1 percent in New Utrecht) lived in households which also contained free blacks. This was because high proportions (from 80 to 94.9 percent) of free blacks in these five towns lived on white slaveholding farms rather than in free black‑headed households. Brooklyn, however, had become a large town by 1810; its blacks behaved more like their cosmopolitan New York City neighbors than like the blacks in the rural towns which it bordered in Kings County. Only 19.1 percent of its slaves lived in white households which contained free blacks because only 10.7 percent of Brooklyn's free blacks lived in this type of white household (55.4 percent of free blacks were in their own domiciles).
New York City slaves less commonly lived in white households which contained free blacks. Although large proportions of New York City blacks were free and available as laborers between 1785 and 1827, space restrictions and generally smaller slaveholdings meant that owners could not accommodate both slaves and freed blacks in their homes. Freed blacks in the city were also more successful in setting up independent households and resorted less often to continued residence in a white household.
* * * * *
Small New York slaveholders provided limited housing accommodation for their slaves. Whereas bondsmen on large southern plantations lived in separate slave quarters which afforded room and independence to create black family and social life, New York slaves were usually haphazardly housed somewhere within the master's residence. New York owners needed and could only shelter a precise number of workers; both their limited labor requirements and limited available housing space caused owners to possess individual slaves rather than family groups and to sell off unneeded children produced by their female slaves.
The physical area within which New York slaves could sustain family life consisted of sleeping space in attics and cellars, rooms in the kitchen area of the dwelling, or in small separate out‑buildings.50 Such shelter was generally overcrowded, offered small protection against weather and disease, and provided little privacy from both white scrutiny and other slaves. "A small windowless, stone‑walled building, which tradition tells us was used as a slave house" stood near the Jan Mebie house built by Daniel Janse Van Antwerpen in the 1670s.51 In 1713 Rev. John Sharpe inadvertently provided information on slave housing in his comments on Elias Neau's religious work among the negroes in New York City: "They see him creeping into garrets, cellars, and other nauseous places, to exhort and pray by the poor slaves when they are sick."52
The June 21, 1742, issue of the New York Weekly Journal advertized a prosperous estate for sale. The farm, belonging to the late Robert Freeman, fronted Flushing Bay on Long Island and contained 270 acres of upland and 12 acres of salt meadow, with 600 trees in the orchard. "The house is about eight years old, with an entry in the middle, a large parlour on each side, and back of them two bedrooms; over the parlours are two large rooms with closets; adjoining to the house is a room of 14 by 16 foot for white servants, over it lodging rooms and a back stairs; behind it a kitchen with a room fit for negroes; a very good barn and stables for horses and cows and a coach house and a bolting house." The room "fit for negroes" behind the kitchen was probably smaller than the 14 by 16 foot room for the white servants.
The slave housing accommodations on the prestigious Philipsburgh Manor in Westchester County were as follows: "From the upper South Hall, one ascends to the attic--the old slave quarters. The rude plank floors, thin partitions and doors, wooden latches, wooden hinges with leather washers to prevent squeaking, the unceiled attic roof showing the ancient hewn timbers of the gambrel or curb roof, and the little dormer windows."53 Thirty black and twenty‑six white servants lived in this third story dormitory. Little privacy could be afforded family members in these close quarters.
A Hessian officer travelling through upstate New York during the American Revolution saw many houses that had "a negro family living nearby in an out‑house."54 Provisions in the 1778 will of Tunis Covert indicated how his slave was housed: "Allowing to my negro man Tom the kitchen room where he now lives, for his dwelling room, and the privilege of one acre of land for him to plant and till for himself."55 Caesar, a slave on the 1,300 acre Nicoll estate in Bethlehem, New York, spent his old age supported by the Nicoll family, from 1817 to 1852. He was settled in a room on the ground floor of the kitchen extension of the old house, which room had an outdoor entrance, a stoop, and a large open fireplace.56 Ulster County slave Sojourner Truth recalled the slave accommodations provided by Charles Hardenbergh in his comfortable limestone house during the first decade of the nineteenth century. His fourteen slaves slept in the same room in the cellar:57
Its only lights consisting of a few panes of glass, through which she thinks the sun never shone, but with thrice reflected rays; and the space between the loose boards of the floor, and the uneven earth below, was often filled with mud and water. . . . Its inmates, of both sexes and all ages, sleeping on those damp boards, like the horse, with a little straw and a blanket.
* * * * *
In addition to low black population density, unbalanced sex ratios, and small holdings, the random distribution of slaves into white households prevented slaves from living with kin‑related other slaves and reduced their opportunities to find mates on or near their masters' properties. For all New York slaves, whether the majority who lived in holdings of from one to five slaves or the minority who lived on large estates, the ability to live with family members depended on the age, sex, and relation composition of the holding even more than on the number of slaves on the premises. Where masters or employers required the labor of two male farm hands or only one female domestic, slave family life had to transcend both distance and slavery.
The nature of New York slavery, characterized by small holdings and limited labor requirements, worked against the ownership of black family members together. Slaves were dispersed among white households according to white labor needs rather than according to black family groups. Owners were not eager to purchase or maintain more slaves than they really needed in order to keep slave families together. Some owners traded slaves with other owners or purchased a particular slave over other choices in order to satisfy their slave's wish to live with a spouse or child. Most owners, however, bought and sold slaves over their lifetimes solely in accordance with their changing labor needs and financial circumstances.
In order to ascertain what proportion of the slave population in the southern six counties of New York could have lived with family members based on the sex and age composition of their master's slaveholding, a study was made of slaves listed in wills and in estate inventories from 1669 to 1829. All male and female adult slaves in the same holding were counted as a potential husband and wife. An adult male, an adult female, plus children present in the household were considered to comprise a nuclear family. Any woman with a child or children were treated as a parent and child. Male adult slaves with children, slaves of the same sex, and groups of children alone were assumed not to be related.58 In holdings where Indian and black slaves were both held, no intermarriage or kin relationship is assumed, although many interracial unions existed.
Only rarely were slave family relations definitely ascertained from the content of wills and estate inventories; owners infrequently mentioned the interpersonal relations of their slaves. While some marriages, mother and child units, and nuclear families were clearly identified by the testator, most such relationships were estimated by the age and sex divisions within each slaveholding. These assumed family units vastly inflate the real number of married couples, mothers with children, and nuclear families that lived together under slavery. Not all adult male and female slaves owned together were really spouses; the absence of specific ages for most listed slaves leaves ninety‑year‑old women and twenty‑five‑year‑old men incorrectly paired together statistically as spouses in one holding. Many women lived with children other than their own, and men, women, and children living together were not necessarily a biologically related family.
Based on an analysis of the 2,523 slaves listed in 1,092 wills and the 1,043 slaves in 349 estate inventories over a 160 year period, possibilities for even temporary family life emerge.59 As shown in table 11, data from wills indicate that in all time periods a little over half of the
INSERT TABLE 11 HERE
slave population at any given time could not have been living with a family member. These slaves either lived in a white household as single slaves or with other slaves whose sex or age ruled them out as probable family members. Two men held together, two women, adult men with children, and several children together were slaveholdings composed of presumably non‑related workers. A greater proportion of slaves listed in inventories appeared to reside with family members than slaves listed in wills due to the larger average size of slaveholdings found in estate inventories. Although almost half of the slave population (and almost two‑thirds of those listed in inventories) seemed to live with a close relative, a large proportion of this group were really living with unrelated slaves. For most New York slaves, relationships with parents, spouses, children, and more distant relatives involved separated residences and irregular contact.
A far greater proportion of adult female slaves were able to live with some family members than male adult slaves. Unbalanced sex ratios (an excess of males) during the first three‑quarters of the eighteenth century meant that many men were unable to find wives and lived in holdings where other men were the only other blacks present. The fact that women and children owned together are here presumed to be related enlarges the proportion of women able to live with family members. Mothers were more likely to live with their children (at least temporarily) than fathers because all slave children started out in life as the property of their mothers' masters. Of the 1,331 blacks listed in wills who were theoretically unable to live in family units, 418 were men, 271 were women, and 584 were children (plus 58 whose sex or age is unknown). Of the 389 slaves listed in inventories who were theoretically unable to live in families, 195 were men, 85 were women, and 103 were children (plus 6 whose sex or age is unknown). Males, disproportionately to females, lived with non‑related slaves; women and children were more often grouped in holdings with possible other family members.
Most New York censuses taken prior to 1820 failed to list the ages and sexes of slaves they enumerated, preventing speculation on the familial composition of slaveholdings. Only seven colonial censuses provided enough information to estimate family cohabitation based on the age and sex distribution of the slaveholdings. As table 12 shows, the New Rochelle 1698 census provided a detailed breakdown of slaveholdings in the town. Out of forty‑three slaves, six lived alone in white households with no other blacks. In all, eight men, one woman, and two children (aged eight and fifteen) could not have lived with family members (25.6 percent of the town's blacks). The other thirty‑two slaves theoretically could have lived with relatives, forming five nuclear families, two marriages, and two mother and child units.60 Out of eleven black women in town over the age of fifteen, seven could have lived with
INSERT TABLE 12 HERE
husbands in nuclear families or marriages (63.6 percent); of the sixteen adult males, seven lived with possible wives (43.7 percent). The remaining nine men had only four women in town to choose as "abroad spouses," with five extra males left to find mates in nearby towns or not at all.
In the holding which contained John, Charls, Jeams, An, John, and Peter, An and her possible husband Charles could have named their six‑year‑old John after sixty‑five‑year‑old John, conceivably the child's grandfather. In the holding of eleven slaves headed by Jacoab and Mary, four‑year‑old Jacoab may have been named for his father, indicating that this was a real nuclear family. Although 74.4 percent of the slaves in New Rochelle in 1698 could have lived with spouses and children, the reality may have been far less. As examples, Manveall and Dan and Beateay with either John or Jeafrye may not have been married. An, rather than being the wife of Charls, may have been the sole resident parent of John or Peter (or of neither).
As table 13 shows, based on the sex and age composition of individual slaveholdings which appeared in seven censuses taken between 1698 and 1783, from 54.9 to 85.2 percent of the enslaved black populations in these towns could have been living with other family members. All marriages, nuclear families, and parent with child categories were based on assumption, as no definite identification of family relationships was possible. As with slaves listed in wills and estate inventories, males
TABLE 13 GOES HERE
were disproportionately unable to live with family members: out of 635 slaves unable to live in families, 346 were men, 159 were women, and 130 were children. Overall, 63.9 percent of this census sample of 1,760 slaves could theoretically have been living with immediate family members, although the reality was far lower (compared to 47.2 percent of the 2,523 slaves listed in wills and 62.7 percent of the 1,043 slaves listed in estate inventories).
This methodology used to analyze possible black families in slaveholdings produces an estimate of the highest possible proportion of slaves who could have lived with black family members at a given time. It vastly exaggerates the real number of such favorable situations--far less than from half to two‑thirds of the slave population lived in family units. As a theoretical model, it indicates that a definite one‑third to one‑half of the slave population were deprived of family cohabitation. A large proportion of the slaves placed into theoretical family units were actually also living apart from real spouses, parents, and children. The haphazard arrangement of adult men, adult women, and children into slaveholdings made them often neatly appear as countable nuclear families, married partners, and mother and child units, but this framework cannot reach beyond sheer demography into the real emotional and biological underpinnings of these statistically defined hypothetical families.
* * * * *
The small size of New York slaveholdings and the random distribution of slaves into these holdings usually prevented traditionally defined families (husband, wife, and children) from continuous, stable cohabitation. In this context it might be more appropriate to consider the holding as the meaningful social unit on a day to day basis rather than the biologically or legally constituted conventional family. The notion of "family" needs to be redefined for enslaved New York blacks; the cohabiting slaves within a white household may have functioned as a de facto family. Since the traditional slave family based on emotional and biological relationships commonly transcended the boundaries of a particular household, with "abroad" marriages and scattered children, it may have been unable to perform the companionship and supportive roles for its members. Slaves owned together could have fulfilled "familial" obligations towards each other on a practical everyday basis, bridging the gap between visits and communications with blood‑related kin.
The Reverend Robert Jenney, a missionary for the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, was stationed at Rye, New York in 1725. He held three slaves: a young man, a woman, and a child. The Jenney slaveholding appeared statistically to contain a nuclear family based only on the age and sex distribution of its slaves, illustrating the great possibility of overestimating real cohabitating family units based on sex and age criteria alone. The holding really consisted of a mother and child with an unrelated man. The quality of their relationship to the adult male slave in the household is unknown--he may have substituted for the missing father. The woman's husband lived in New York City, by whom she had had four children. Although this indicated the persistence of their long‑distance relationship, her marital infidelity was noted by her owner as a consequence of their marriage separated by slavery. Because of the twenty mile distance between them, Jenney found it difficult "to keep them faithful at any considerable distance from one another."61 In 1727, Rev. Robert Jenney moved to Hempstead; if his slaves went with him, his female slave remained at a walkable but still inconvenient distance from her husband, 17 1/2 miles away.
Flatlands farmer John Baxter recorded some local gossip in his diary on January 29 and 30, 1807. He had heard that slaveowner Douwe Stoothoff's "wench got bamboozled by his negro Sam an old married Ethiopian"; she subsequently gave birth to his daughter.62 A slaveholding which began with a married male and an unrelated female evolved into a biological unit composed of a married man, his mistress, and their offspring. This surrogate family became a family in fact.
Another case illustrates both the concept of the holding as the family and the fact that the high proportions of slaves who seemed to live in family units based on the sex and age characteristics of the holdings alone were widely inflated. On April 26, 1799, Betty and Charles, black children of Belinda, were baptized at St. Ann's Episcopal Church in Brooklyn,63 with Belinda and Jephthah standing as sponsors. Belinda, Jephthah, and the children were all owned together by Cornelius Stevenson of New York. Diana, the daughter of Jephthah and of a free woman named Liana, was also baptized on the same date, with parents Jephthah and Liana as sponsors. Belinda and Jephthah were adult male and female slaves who lived together with two children, but not as sexual mates or spouses. Betty and Charles were Belinda's children--the father is unknown. Jephthah was involved with Liana, a free woman and the mother of his child. Although Jephthah's child must have been free because she was born of a free woman, this slave father was responsible for having her baptized, perhaps at his owner Stevenson's insistence.
The experience of Belinda and Jephthah may have been the common familial mode for New York slaves; they lived together but they were still two distinct black families. Jephthah replaced the father in standing as sponsor for Belinda's children and may have served routinely as a practical surrogate father on the premises. Both adult slaves lived together with children in a slaveholding large enough to accommodate a nuclear family of four persons, composed, however, of a single mother and children and an unrelated man with a separated family of his own.
The partition of the New York slave family into separate slaveholdings meant that families were not only divided by residence, but often by considerable distance.64 At the May 20, 1805, legal registration of the birth of a child to his slave woman, Samuel Bayard of New Rochelle certified that the child Henry's parents were Katy and "a black man in New York (as I am informed, named Frank)."65 The mother and newborn son lived in New Rochelle, thirteen miles away from Frank in New York City. The ability to preserve contact with family members was made even more difficult as spouses and children were shifted from household to household and from town to town during their lives due to changes in ownership.
Marital and parental relationships had to and often did survive these impediments imposed by isolated enslavement from other family members. The love that slave spouses, parents, children, and siblings felt for each other cannot be measured by their separate living patterns. It should rather be measured by the actions they took to reach each other and to reunite their families, often in defiance of their masters. Slaves attempted to visit their kin as often as they could, with or without owner permission. Slaves ran away from their masters in order to be with their loved ones. Slaves implored their masters not to sell their relatives away to new owners. Black men worked hard to buy the freedom of their wives and children.
Many slave families maintained their emotional connections over many years and preserved their links to each other. On February 22, 1795, an adult slave named George who belonged to Peter Culver of Bushwick was baptized at Newtown by clergy from the Grace Episcopal Church of Jamaica. His daughter Diana was baptized there on the same date; she was owned by her mother Jane's master Peter Duryee, probably of Newtown.66 Either their respective masters or George in Bushwick and his wife Jane in Newtown (approximately four miles apart) arranged for father and daughter to be baptized together, consolidating religious and personal rituals important to familial integrity.
Some slaves made determined efforts to maintain their families and reunite themselves through self‑purchase. John Moranda's family was split three ways: John was owned by John DeBaan in New York City, his wife Elizabeth and son John were owned by a physician Gardner James also in New York City, and his four‑year‑old daughter Susan was held by John Haring in Bergen County, New Jersey. John and his wife and son could have visited, but seeing their daughter was more problematical. Over a 2 1/2 year period John spent $410 to first free himself and then to gather together his family. He purchased the daughter in New Jersey first, perhaps from a sense of urgency created in the family by her enslavement at so great a distance from both the mother/son branch of the family, and from the newly freed father.
On October 29, 1795, a lawyer paid John DeBaan $200 for John Moranda's freedom (money probably accumulated by John for his self‑purchase). Two months later, John bought the freedom of his daughter Susan for $50 from her New Jersey owner. On May 18, 1798, John bought the freedom of his thirty‑three‑year‑old wife Elizabeth for $150 and of his son John for $10 from their one owner.67 In 1810 both John "Marander" and his son John "Morandum" were successfully independent free heads of households (each with three members) in New York City. By 1827 John Moranda (either the father or son) had become prominent in free black community affairs. Moranda served as chairman of the arrangement committee which organized the July 4, 1827 church service to celebrate the end of slavery in the state.68
Joseph Way, a slave, lived with his owner Eleanor Rapelye in Newtown, and his wife and two children lived with Christopher S. Bird, also in Newtown. On January 2, 1800, Joseph bought his wife Jenny (or Jane) and sons Philip (age four) and William (age two) on an installment plan from Bird; the family received their freedom on January 2, 1801 upon full payment ( 83.10.0) to Bird. Jane, however, soon found it necessary to bind son Philip Way (shortly before his sixth birthday) as an apprentice to Peter Faulkner on January 25, 1802 for ten years. Joseph Way only purchased his own freedom on March 16, 1802 for 65. It took two years and 148.10.0 for Joseph Way to liberate his family. This separated, enslaved family lived no more than six miles apart (and perhaps far closer) while the father successfully struggled to bring them all out of slavery.69
Isaac Menix's family was also divided among several owners, all in New York City. On October 30, 1800, Tunis Rapelye freed Isaac Menix, and five weeks later William Bowne freed his two children, Betty Menix and Isaac Menix, Jr. Six months later Isaac Menix paid Abraham Bloodgood $125 for the unexpired time of his forty‑two‑year‑old wife Betty's term (five years and five months of service), effecting her freedom on June 13, 1801. Although this family was held by three separate masters (the father was held alone, the mother was owned alone, and the two children were owned together), both children bore their parents' given names and the last name Menix, and family ties were preserved until they all achieved freedom within eight months of each other.70
1See pp. ‑ above and app. 2 on the number of slaves in other colonies and states.
2"Easthampton, 1687," Doc. Hist., 3:219.
3See table p. above on the size of the black population from 1698 through 1830 in both the southern six counties of New York and in New York colony and state.
4See app. 2 on the proportion of blacks in the populations of southern colonies and states.
5See pp. ‑ below on sex ratios.
6"Flushing, 1675," Doc. Hist., 2:263‑64; "Flatlands, 1683," Doc. Hist., 2:288‑89; Southold, 1686, L.I.H.S.; N.U., Bergen Papers, St. Francis.
7"Kings Co., 1698," Doc. Hist., 3:87‑89.
8Mamaroneck owners averaged one slave per holding, 2.2 in Flushing, 2.3 in Newtown, and 3.1 in New Rochelle. In Fordham, once the unusually large Philipse holding of twenty slaves is excluded from the sample, the average holding was 2.8 slaves for the twenty‑three other slaveowning households in town. Gardner, "Census of Newtown"; "Flushing, 1698," Doc. Hist., 1:432‑37; Randolph, "Census of 1698, Mamaroneck, Morrisania, and New Rochelle"; Miller, "Census of Westchester, Eastchester, Fordham, and Bedford, 1698."
9"N.Y.C, 1703," Doc. Hist., 1:395‑405.
10N.U., Bergen Papers, St. Francis.
11The six towns in Kings County in 1731 ranged from average slaveholdings of 1.9 slaves in Gravesend, Flatlands (2.2), Brooklyn (2.6), Flatbush (2.9), Bushwick (3.1), and 4.4 slaves per household in New Utrecht. "Kings Co., 1731," Doc. Hist., 4:122‑31.
12The New York legislature probably ordered this census to be taken of all slaves over the age of fourteen less to ascertain the black manpower pool than to calculate the potential danger from the colony's black adult population. Zebulon Seaman counted the number of slaves in Oysterbay; he added in his letter to James Delancee, Commander in Chief of the Province, that "whereas there is Sundry free Negroes Melattoes and Mustees Resideing within ye Township of Oysterbay that may probably be Likely In case of Insurrections To be as Mischevious as ye Slaves, Therefore I Thought it my Duty to Acquaint Your Honour Therewith. . . ." "1755 Slave Census," Doc. Hist., 3:518. For six of the twenty‑one towns in the southern six counties, and for the majority of towns in Ulster and other counties, the census specifically states that it only counts slaves over the age of fourteen. I am therefore assuming that the entire 1755 census only counted slaves over fourteen, and that children were not included.
13A comparison of the 1755 slave census with the 1756 provincial census reveals that the 1755 census counted only 47 percent of the adult blacks in Westchester. The 1755 census included 364 black adults, while the 1756 census counted 775 (364/775 = 47 percent) black adults in the county. It covered only the Westchester County towns of Philipsburgh, Westchester, Pelham, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, Rye, North Castle, and Morrisania. The 1755 census included 55.9 percent of the adult slaves in Queens County (608/1,088 = 55.9 percent), covering the towns of Hempstead, Newtown, and Oysterbay. The 1755 census counted only 40.4 percent of Richmond County's adult slaves (90/223 = 40.4 percent), all in the North Division of Staten Island. The 1755 census for Suffolk counted 30.5 percent of the adult slaves in the county since it only included the towns of Smithtown, Islip, and Huntington (175/573 = 30.5 percent).
14Thomas Davis, "New York's Long Black Line: A Note on the Growing Slave Population, 1626‑1790," Afro Americans in New York Life and History, 2, no. 1 (January 1978): 55.
15This model treated these slaves as the total slave population although only adults were represented. The revised model proposes new estimated total figures which include the missing under‑fourteen population.
16The 1755 census counts only slave adults. By using the 1756 census as a basis of comparison, one can estimate the true numbers of blacks in a town by adding in the missing slave children. The methodology involves computing the proportion of adults and children in the 1756 slave population for each county. As an example, Kings County in 1756 had 295 male and 197 female adult slaves, totalling 432 adults out of a black population of 845 persons. These 432 adults formed 51.1 percent of the total black population. The proportion of adults in the total population is found as follows for the 1756 census:
adults = 432 X 100 total population 845 = 51.1%
The total population is 845 persons--the difference between 845 and 432 adults is the number of children (413). Since there is only one year between the 1755 and 1756 censuses, it is assumed that the proportion of adults to the total population was the same: the proportion of adults to the total population in 1755 is 51.1 to 100. For the 1755 Kings County census, a total of 225 male and 196 female adults (421 combined) are listed. Thus the total population in 1755 is:
421 X 100 = 824 people 1 51.1
Thus there are 824 minus 421 adults, or 403 children in 1755 in Kings County, close to the known total of 413 children one year later in 1756. The 1755 census covers all Kings County towns, including 201 slaveholders with an estimated population of 824 blacks, averaging 4.1 slaves per owner. This figure would have been impossible to obtain from the 1755 census alone, which included only adults--the average would have been 2.1 slaves per owner. For the other fifteen towns in the 1755 census I am comparing their populations to the proportions of black men, women, and children in those towns' counties in the 1756 census; the 1756 census gives only county rather than town totals. This methodology unfortunately hides differences between the individual towns which composed the 1756 county populations. As an example, for the towns of Philipsburgh, Westchester, Morrisania, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, North Castle, Rye, and Pelham in 1755, I calculated that 57.9 percent of their black populations were composed of adults, since 57.9 percent of the total black population was adult in Westchester County in 1756. The 1755 census counted only 57.9 percent of their real population--the other 42.1 percent were the uncounted children.
17The estimated average holding of four slaves per owner is higher than other averages for the eighteenth century. The heaviest slaveholding areas in the southern six counties of New York are overrepresented in this sample of only twenty‑one towns. The Dutch areas of Bushwick, Brooklyn, New Utrecht, Flatbush, Flatlands, Gravesend, Staten Island‑North Division, and Newtown normally had greater numbers of slaves per owner than other towns. The large size of the average slaveholding in Pelham reflected the wealth of the several branches of the Pell family on the Manor of Pelham. The single large slaveholding of the Manor of Morrisania alone raised the size of the average slaveholding for the twenty‑one combined towns from two adults to 2.1 adults and from an estimated total of 3.9 slaves to four slaves.
18"New Rochelle, 1771," NYGBR 107 (1976):196‑98; "Suffolk, 1776," Force, ed., American Archives, 4:1236‑52. A total of 831 slaves were owned by 313 households in Suffolk. Several large holdings skewed the town averages upward for the two towns of Shelter Island and Patent of Meritches/Manor of St. George. On Shelter Island William Nicoll owned ten slaves while Nicolls Havens held fourteen; they were two of the seven slaveholders in town. In Patent of Meritches/Manor of St. George three men held unusually large numbers of slaves--William Floyd with twelve, Richard Floyd also with twelve, and Nathaniel Woodhull with fifteen slaves.
19"Brooklyn, 1783," Manual Common Council Brooklyn; N.U., Bergen Papers, St. Francis, p. 63.
20Bureau of Census, Century of Population Growth, p. 136. According to Davis, "New York's Long Black Line," p. 55, New York State in 1800 had 20,663 [20,613] slaves owned by 8,439 households, averaging 2.4 slaves per owner. It had fewer slaves but more owners than in 1790, and a smaller average holding size. Of the 8,439 owners, 3,858 held a single slave, 1,758 held two slaves, 1,005 owned three slaves, and 633 owned four slaves. Small numbers of households held five or more slaves: 434 held five, 267 held six, 164 owned seven, 99 owned eight, 62 owned nine, and 112 households held ten slaves. Davis's analysis contains an error in that it omitted holders of more than ten slaves, unless the 112 households really included holders of more than ten each. In the southern six counties alone, twenty‑five households contained eleven or more slaves in 1800. Although flawed, this model indicates the general size distribution of slaveholdings in the state.
21The rise in the size of the average slaveholding from 1810 to 1820 (table 3) and the slight decline in the proportion of very small slaveholders between 1810 and 1820 in the figures for the combined southern six counties of New York is due to the reinvigoration of the institution of slavery in Richmond County (see pp. ‑ below).
22See app. 5 for figures on each individual county.
23While the proportion of slaves that lived in either one-slave or two-slave households rose from 1790 to 1820, the proportion of slaves that lived in each size category of three or more slaves fell during this period. The overall proportion of slaves that lived in holdings of "three or fewer slaves" or "five or fewer slaves" rose in spite of the fact that smaller proportions of slaves lived in size three, four, or five holdings due to the increase in size one and two holdings which were included in these groups.
241820 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules, New York City, Ward 9, William A. Davis, James Blackwell, and Sampson A. Benson, pp. 103, 111, 113.
25A sample of 1,470 wills (1669‑1829) and 384 inventories (1675‑1829) were located for the southern six counties of New York which listed slave property. Wills and inventories were divided into four descriptive categories: regular, miscellaneous, listing both black and Indian slaves, and listing only Indian slaves. Regular wills and inventories included only negro slaves and provided full information on them. Miscellaneous wills and inventories excluded one or more variables such as the age, sex, or exact number of slaves in the testator's holding.
Number of Slaves Number of Slaves
Type of Document Documents Listed Documents Listed
Regular 1,078 2,451 327 980
Miscellaneous 354 1,111 29 98
Blacks 50 31
Blacks and Indians 14 72 22 63
Indians 22 32
Indians Alone 24 26 6 8
Total 1,470 3,660 384 1,149
26A breakdown of estate inventory holdings into time periods is less meaningful due to the small sample sizes in the 1791 to 1800 and 1801 to 1829 periods of only eighteen and fourteen slaves.
27These eleven men obtained land patents which evolved into substantial manors: Col. William Smith, Manor of St. George at Brookhaven (1693); James Lloyd, Manor of Queens Village (1697); Stephen Van Cortlandt, Cortlandt Manor, 83,000 acres (1697); Lewis Morris, Morrisania; Frederick Philipse, Manor of Philipsburgh, 1,500 square miles (1693); Thomas Pell, Pelham Manor, 9,000 acres (1687); Caleb Heathcote, Scarsdale Manor (1701); John Archer, Fordham Manor (1671); Lionel Gardiner, Gardiner's Island, 3,300 acres (1639); Christopher Billop, Bentley Manor, Staten Island, 2,000 acres (1687); and John Palmer, Cassilton Manor, Staten Island (1687). Viscount De Fronsac, "Lords of Manors of New York," NYGBR 39 (October 1908):292‑300; Hall, Philipse Manor Hall, pp. 82‑84.
28Randolph, "Census of 1698, Mamaroneck, Morrisania, and New Rochelle."
29"N.Y.C., 1703," Doc. Hist., 1:395‑405.
30"1755 Slave Census," Doc. Hist., 3:510‑21. These figures include only adult slaves over the age of fourteen.
31"Suffolk, 1776," Force, ed., American Archives, 4:1236‑1252.
32Edward Hall, Philipse Manor Hall at Yonkers, N.Y.: The Site, The Building, And Its Occupants (New York: American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, 1912), chaps. 4 and 5.
33Miller, "Census of the Inhabitants of Fordham and Adjacent Places, 1698," p. 218. See pp. ‑ above on Philipse's importation of African slaves.
34Will of Frederick Philipse, October 26, 1700, Tom Paine Memorial House, New Rochelle, N.Y. An abstract of this will is published in Coll. NYHS, Abstracts of Wills, 1:369‑72.
35Kammen, Colonial New York, p. 174.
36Hall, Philipse Manor Hall, p. 108.
37Estate Inventory of Adolph Philipse, Manor of Philipsburgh, February 12, 1749, photocopy, Tom Paine Memorial House, New Rochelle, N.Y.
38Adolph Philipse, Inventory and Administration of Estate, 1749-1763, Manuscript Room, New York Public Library. See p. , n. on Bess.
39Will of Frederick Philipse, June 6, 1751, Tom Paine Memorial House, New Rochelle, N.Y.
40Harry Yoshpe, The Disposition of Loyalist Estates in the Southern District of the State of New York (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939; reprint ed., New York: AMS Press, 1967), pp. 51‑53.
41See pp. ‑ below.
42See app. 6 on the names of Philipsburgh Manor slaves.
43See tables 4 and 5 above.
44Bureau of Census, Heads of Families 1790. The twenty-eight holdings (and number of slaves per holding) were located in the following towns: South Hempstead (17), Morrisania (17), Yonkers (17), Brooklyn (17), Flatbush (two size 16 holdings), New Utrecht (15), Gravesend (14), New Utrecht (14), N.Y.C., Outward (14), Brookhaven (14), Oysterbay (two size 14 holdings), Newtown (13), North Hempstead (13), Brookhaven (13), N.Y.C., West Ward (13), Flatbush (13), Brooklyn (13), North Hempstead (12), Mamaroneck (12), Westchester (12), Smithtown (12), Westfield (12), N.Y.C., Harlem Division (12), N.Y.C., West Ward (12), Flatbush (12), and Brooklyn (12). Ten of the twenty-eight were in Kings County, where average slaveholdings were larger, and where the largest slaveholdings were concentrated.
451800 Census, Printed Population Schedules, NYGBR; 1800 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules. The twenty holdings (and number of slaves per holding) were distributed among the following towns: Flatbush (18), Flatbush (16), New Utrecht (16), Brookhaven (15), N.Y.C., Seventh Ward (14), Brookhaven (14), Hempstead (14), Harrison (13), Flatbush (13), Gravesend (13), Westfield (13), Smithtown (13), Newtown (12), Oysterbay (12), N.Y.C., Seventh Ward (12), New Utrecht (12), Gravesend (12), Flatbush (12), and Brooklyn (two size 12 holdings). Ten of these twenty large holdings were in Kings County, where slaveholding was most deeply entrenched.
46See table , p. below.
47See table , p. below.
48See table , p. below.
49See table , p. below.
50In New England slaves slept in the garret or cellar, or sometimes on the same floor as the master. Where slaveholdings were larger, as in the Narragansett region, slaves lived in separate out-buildings as on southern plantations. Greene, Negro in Colonial New England, p. 223.
51Lee Douglas Van Antwerp, "The Family Van Antwerp in America," NYGBR 72 (January 1941):19.
52"Reverend John Sharpe's Proposals," p. 350.
53Hall, Philipse Manor Hall, p. 227.
54William Stone, transl., Letters of Brunswick and Hessian Officers During the American Revolution (Albany: n.p., 1891), p. 142, in Zilversmit, The First Emancipation, p. 5.
55Will of Tunis Covert, Jamaica, March 19, 1778, Coll. NYHS, Abstracts of Wills, 12:1.
56Dunkin H. Sill, "A Notable Example of Longevity, 1737-1852," NYGBR 56 (1925):67.
57Olive Gilbert, narrator, Narrative of Sojourner Truth, The American Negro: His History and Literature (Battle Creek, Mich.: By the Author, 1878; reprint ed., New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1968), pp. 14‑15. Also see Bernard, Journey Toward Freedom, pp. 6‑7, 33. John Dumont, Sojourner's later owner, housed his ten slaves "together in a single large room located directly behind the regular kitchen and called the slave kitchen."
58Where ages and adult or child status were not clearly specified in a will or estate inventory, it was assumed that "wench" or "woman" referred to an adult woman and that "man" or "negro" referred to an adult male. The expressions "boy" or "girl" were assumed to refer to children.
59For a list of sources used to compile the sample of wills and estate inventories, see the bibliographical essay. The sample of 2,523 slaves in 1,092 wills includes 2,451 black slaves in 1,078 regular wills and 72 slaves (50 black and 22 Indian) in 14 wills which listed both black and Indian slave property. The sample of 1,043 slaves in 349 estate inventories includes 980 black slaves in 327 regular estate inventories and 63 slaves (31 black and 32 Indian) in 22 estate inventories which listed both black and Indian slave property.
60Beateay and either John or Jeafrye could have been married, as could Manveall and Dan, forming the two hypothetical resident marriages in town. The five nuclear families could have contained Couffe or Pouledoer with wife Hannar and child Catren; Weallam, wife Hannar, and children Marye and Susan; Tom Pat with wife Catron and child Franseas; Charls, wife An, and children John and Peter; and Jacoab and Mary with children Tony, Jacoab, Tonye, Susan, Will, Andro, and Stoan. The two parent and child units could have been Gras with Marye and Nana with Agneas.
61Klingberg, Anglican Humanitarianism, pp. 156‑57.
62Journal of John Baxter of Flatlands, Long Island, 1790‑1826, vol. 2, LIHS.
63Josephine Frost, transcriber, St. Ann's Episcopal Church at Brooklyn--Births, Marriages, Deaths, 2 vols., New York Public Library (Typewritten.)
64See David Humphreys, An Account of the Endeavors Used by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts to Instruct the Negroe Slaves in New York, together with Two of Bishop Gibson's Letters on that Subject (London: n.p., 1730), p. 7. McManus, Negro Slavery, p. 65, also noted that "the typical slave family was divided among several owners."
65Katy had also given birth 2 1/2 years earlier to a girl Betty, whose father is unknown. Samuel Bayard, Registration of Slave Children Betty, b. Feb. 5, 1802 and Henry, b. August 1804, Tom Paine Memorial House, New Rochelle, N.Y.
66Horatio Ladd, The Origin and History of Grace (Episcopal) Church, Jamaica, N.Y. (New York: The Shakespeare Press, 1914), p. 332.
67Yoshpe, "Record of Slave Manumissions," pp. 81, 84, 85.
681810 Census, Manuscript Population Schedules, New York County, Ward Five, pp. 103, 111a; "Extract from the Minutes of a large and respectable Meeting of the People of Colour, held in the Mutual Relief Hall, April 23d, 1827," New York Freedom's Journal, 29 June 1827, p. 63.
69Register of manumissions of slaves, and of agreements respecting the liberation of slaves, given to the society for promoting the manumission of slaves and protecting such of them as have been or may be liberated, pp. 182, 183, MCNY. Whether this family proceeded to live under one roof after 1802 is unknown; one child had already been indentured out to service before Joseph Way gained his freedom. Joseph Way does not appear as a free black head of household in Newtown in the 1810 federal census. Many free blacks continued to live as dependent workers in white households, still separated from family members. Slaves like Joseph Way, however, who struggled to collect and free their families were probably more likely to also insist on and achieve the independence of their own households.
70Register of manumissions of slaves . . . , pp. 121, 122, 123, 139, MCNY.