“The humble petition of Jane Webb” (August 16, 1722)

1725 Handwritten petition by Thomas Savage to the Northampton County Court

In this petition to the Northampton County Court on August 16, 1722, Jane Webb files a freedom suit for her three oldest children, who were in bondage to Thomas Savage. In 1703, Webb and Savage made a contract in which she indentured herself to Savage for seven years and indentured any children born through 1711 until the age of eighteen in return for her enslaved husband’s freedom. But when the time came, Savage refused to free Webb’s husband and five oldest children. Freedom suits are lawsuits initiated by enslaved people who were seeking to gain their freedom. Jane Webb makes this suit based on Savage flouting the contract and the fact that the children were born out of a legally recognized marriage.  Eventually, the court dismissed the petition.


Northampton Co. To his Majty. Justices of the peace for the county afors [aforesaid] in Court Sitting

The humble petition of Jane Webb


That whereas yo [your] pet. [petitioner] Jane Webb a free Mulatto formerly Jane Williams & baptized by the name Jane yo pet mother being a white woman and whereas at a Court held the 17th of April 1711 at the request of Tho: [Thomas] Savage by his letter, Diana, Webb, Daniel, Webb, & Francis Webb, a girl the said mulatto children together yo petit. were bound by the court to the sd [said] said Tho: Savage his heirs and assigns accord to law and yo pet having served seven years for the liberty to intermarry with one negro man named Left, manslave of the sd said Thos: Savage. Yo pet Therefore humbly prays you worp [worships] that the said children being born in lawfull wedlock may be not be adjudged to servitude; The said above mentd [mentioned] court as yo pet humbly presumes not intending to enslave yo pet’s children bound as aforesd. And yo petit humbly prayes [prays] an Order of Court in justice and favor to the said Children and yo pet.

shall ever pray

Jane Webb

APA Citation:
Webb, Jane. “The humble petition of Jane Webb” (August 16, 1722). (2022, April 21). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Webb, Jane. "“The humble petition of Jane Webb” (August 16, 1722)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (21 Apr. 2022). Web. 18 May. 2024
Last updated: 2023, September 11
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