Brooks was born about 1817 in Chesterfield County, the son of Peggy Henderson, a slave. As a young man he was hired out to a tobacco manufacturer in Richmond, a pivotal event that introduced Brooks to a milieu in which slaves could earn money and a few earned enough to purchase their freedom. Hardworking, ambitious, and lucky, Brooks was among those few. He was permitted to hire his own time, a common though illegal practice whereby slaves negotiated paid employment, their owners received a fixed payment, and the slaves kept leftover earnings. Using money from his factory labors and a second job as a driver, A. R. Brooks, as his name usually appears, invested in an eating house and a hack and livery stable.
Brooks's real estate holdings were valued at $2,000 in 1870 and $1,700 in 1880. A successful businessman and deacon of the First African Baptist Church, Brooks supported his wife's philanthropic endeavors and his children's educational aspirations. Lucy Goode Brooks was a moving force behind the establishment of the Friends' Asylum for Colored Orphans in 1867. Brooks sent his youngest sons, Walter Henderson Brooks and Robert Peel Brooks, to high school, college, and professional school. The former became an outstanding Baptist minister in Washington, D.C., and the latter was one of the first black lawyers admitted to the bar in Richmond. The youngest daughters, Alberta Maria Brooks and Lucy Gertrude Brooks, were educated in Richmond public schools, a legacy of Reconstruction, and became teachers. Having lived to see his family free and prospering, Albert Royal Brooks died at his home on July 15, 1881, and was buried probably in Union Mechanics Cemetery, one of the Barton Heights cemeteries in Richmond.
ca. 1817 - Albert Royal Brooks is born in Chesterfield County, the son of Peggy Henderson, a slave.
February 2, 1839 - Albert Royal Brooks marries Lucy Goode. They will have at least five sons and four daughters, of whom four sons and three daughters will survive early childhood.
October 29, 1853 - Robert Peel Brooks is born into slavery in Richmond, the sixth of at least nine children of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode Brooks.
1858 - Lucy Goode Brooks's master dies. To ensure that the family is not dispersed, she finds local buyers for her four eldest children. Her husband, Albert Royal Brooks, successfully convinces a tobacco merchant to buy Lucy Goode Brooks and their remaining children.
October 21, 1862 - Following the receipt of $800 from Albert Brooks, Daniel Von Groning, a tobacco merchant and diplomat, frees Lucy Goode Brooks and her young children, including Robert Peel Brooks.
June 1865 - The police of Richmond's restored civilian government arrest Albert Royal Brooks for failing to procure a pass signed by a white person.
October 1867 - At a nominating meeting, Jefferson Ward Republicans unsuccessfully propose Albert Royal Brooks as a candidate for the state constitution convention.
July 15, 1881 - Albert Royal Brooks dies at his home. He is probably buried in Union Mechanics Cemetery in Richmond.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
O'Brien, J. T., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Albert Royal Brooks (c. 1817–1881). (2014, August 13). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Brooks_Albert_Royal_c_1817-1881.
- MLA Citation:
O'Brien, John T. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Albert Royal Brooks (c. 1817–1881)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: July 23, 2013 | Last modified: August 13, 2014