Slavery in Mamaroneck Township:
Remembering Bet, Phelby, Candice, Jack, Hannibal, Telemaque...

by Ned Benton


John Peter Delancey, with his wife and two of his slaves. From the mural "The Marriage of James Fenimore Cooper to Susan DeLancey, 1811" painted in 1937 by Warre Chase Merritt for the Mamaroneck Public Library.

(January 13, 2005) In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Larchmont and Mamaroneck, the community reflects on freedom and human rights and recalls their antithesis, slavery. As we reflect this year, let's remember Bet, Phelby, Candice, Nelly, Charlot, Jack, Hannibal, Telemaque, George, Lewis and Dorathea.

Another of John Peter Delancey's slaves depicted in the Mamaroneck Library's mural.
They were slaves - not on a Southern plantation - but here in Mamaroneck Township, where slavery was practiced in the 1700s and did not recede until the 1820s.

We all recall slavery as taking place in the southern United States, or perhaps for a while in New York City, or even up in Hudson County at Philipsburg Manor.The Dutch West India Company had introduced the slave trade to the New York area in 1626, and it had spread north to places like the Philipsburg Manor. According to historian Edgar McManus in A History of Negro Slavery in New York, in the mid 1600s, there was such an acute shortage of agricultural labor in the Hudson Valley that planters advertised to buy "any suitable blacks available."

As early as 1698, slavery is officially recorded in Mamaroneck Township. Captain James Mott, William Palmer and Ann Richbell are all recorded as slaveholders. (See Census of Mamaroneck, Westchester Co. New York, 1698.)

By 1750, there were 11,014 slaves in the colony of New York -- almost one out of every six persons - including slaves residing here in Mamaroneck Township. (See: Establishing Slavery In Colonial New York.)

The 1790 Census Counts 57 Slaves in Mamaroneck Township

Who were the enslaved people? The United States Census for 1790, identifies 57 slaves among the 428 people living in Mamaroneck Township.

1790 Census of Mamaroneck Township
Free white males, 16 and over
100
Free white males under 16
90
Free white females
171
All other free persons
10
Slaves
57
Total
428

The census records include names of owners, but not of slaves. At the time, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, so it is not surprising that some of Mamaroneck's leading citizens were slave owners as well.

Slave Owners
1790 Slaves
1800 Slaves
1810 Slaves
Absolom Gidney
4
 
 
Bartholomew Hadden
3
 
 
Benjamin Griffin
5
 
 
Gilbert Budd, Jr.
12
9
8
Deborah Horton
7
5
 
Giles Simmons
1
 
 
Mary Sutton
2
 
 
Isaac Gidney
1
 
 
Mary Palmer
2
 
 
Peter Allaire
4
 
 
Oliver Belly
1
 
 
Edward Merritt
8
8
 
Charles Rowe
1
 
 
William Grey  
1
 
Nathaniel Sachet  
2
 
David Rogers  
1
3
John Sands  
2
 
Henry Disinborough, Jr.  
4
 
John Pinkney  
1
1
James Mott  
 
3
Henry Merritt  
 
1
Jane Merritt  
 
1
John Darby  
 
1

Gilbert Budd, who owned the most slaves between 1790 and 1810, had served with distinction in the Continental Army during the American Revolution and also served as the Clerk of Mamaroneck Township. Mary Palmer may have been a relative of Samuel Palmer, who purchased the area now known as Larchmont Manor. According to Larchmont Village Historian Judith Doolin Spikes, for a Palmer to be listed as a slave-holder is unexpected, because the Palmers were Quakers, who were opposed to slavery. The Allaires and their four slaves were neighbors of the Palmers.

There are two people - Peter Jay Munro and John Peter DeLancey - who do not appear in the census as slave owners in Mamaroneck, yet appear in Township records where they report about their slaves.

New York State Law, Phasing Out Slavery

In 1788, New York State passed a law that banned the slave trade, declared that all current slaves were to be slaves for life, but authorized slave owners to free slaves under certain conditions. By 1799, according to historian Douglas Harper, New York State law went further with the passage of An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. Children born to enslaved mothers after July 4, 1799 remained slaves, but only during their most "productive years" - until age 28, if male, or age 25, if female. Those born earlier were not granted freedom by the act, though they did get a new classification - indentured servant. (See: Slavery in the North)

With this new act, it now became necessary to register the slaves born after July 1799 so it could be known when they were entitled to freedom. Mamaroneck Township records in 1799 duly started to include the newborn slaves' names in the traditional manner of slavery -- just the first names. Gilbert Budd, recorded the birth of Peg in 1800, daughter of his "black servant girl" Gin.


"This may Certify a Black Female Child born of Gin,
who is my black Servant Girl by the name of Peg was born
- March 29th, 1800 - Certified by me - Edward Merritt
Recorded this 29th day of October, 1800
by me Gilbert Budd, Township Clerk."

Below is the list of each child born to a slave after July 1, 1799 as reported in the official Mamaroneck Township records.

Registry of Children Born to Slaves
Mother Father Child Birth Date Owner
Bet   Pheby July 12, 1799 Gilbert Budd
Esther   Charlot November 18, 1799 Charles E. Duncan
Gin   Peg March 29, 1800 Edward Merritt
Phebe   Daniel July 8, 1799 Gilbert Budd
Hannah   Henry November 11, 1800 Gilbert Budd
Nelly   Sally April 15, 1800 William Thompson
Bet   Peter February 1, 1802 Gilbert Budd
Hannah Peter Sarah November 22, 1802 Gilbert Budd
Hester   William August 12, 1802 Charles E. Duncan
    Plato September 24, 1803 David Rogers
Bet   Charles September 10, 1805 Gilbert Budd
Nanny Pott Tom Pott Tom September 25, 1805 John P. D'Lancey
Lilly   Nanny December 18, 1806 David Rogers
Nanny Pott  Tom Pott Tamar April 21, 1808 John P. D'Lancey
Bet Jack Purdy Eliza October 26, 1809 Gilbert Budd
Dorathea Lewis George October 10, 1809 John P. D'Lancey
Grace   Benjamin February 28, 1808 Jane Merritt
Nelly   Charlot May 25, 1814 Peter Jay Munro
Harriot   Anne or Nancey October 12, 1814 John P. D'Lancey

Considering that freedom was at stake, the records are remarkably informal. How much trouble would "Henry" have had establishing in 1828, after serving as a slave for 28 years, that he was the "Henry" in this record and was now eligible for freedom? When John D'Lancey registered a slave child in 1814, he wasn't sure whether her name was Anne or Nancey. Twenty-five years later, when the child could have applied for her freedom, how would she have identified herself?

Leading Citizens

The names on the list include a number of leading citizens. "John D'Lancey", who was unsure of his slave's name, was John Peter DeLancey (1753-1828), a Revolutionary War soldier and the father of William Heathcote DeLancey (1797-1865), a well-known Protestant Episcopal clergyman and provost of the University of Pennsylvania.

DeLancey reported no slaves in his household in the 1810 census, but did report eleven "other free persons" - a category for non-white persons who are not slaves - sharing his home. This may be a recording error, or an intentional deception, since he regularly reported in Township records about his slaves.


Peter Jay Munro built Larchmont's Manor House in about 1797 and kept at least 3 slaves there. The image of Manor House in from a mural in Larchmont Library.

Peter Jay Munro, owner of Nelly who gave birth to Charlot, was the original resident of the Manor House in Larchmont and a nephew of John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Munro does not appear as a slaveholder in the Mamaroneck U.S. Census in 1790. While he maintained his legal residence in New York City, and reported his four slaves to the census there in 1790, he recorded the birth of a child to one of his slaves in Mamaroneck Township in 1814.

Freeing Slaves

Starting in 1799, the Township records also began to include Certificates of Manumission that officially declared particular slaves to be free.

Slave Owner Date of Manumission
Jane William Sutton July 8, 1786
Susannah Gilbert Budd January 26, 1799
Harry Edward Merritt March 27, 1799
Charley Deborah Horton March 27, 1799
Peg Benjamin Griffen March 27, 1799
Jack Gilbert Budd March 27, 1799
Charles Johnson Deborah Horton April 4, 1801
Candice Peter Jay Munro November 19, 1803
Jack John Peter Delancey November 15, 1808
Jack Christopher Hubbs November 15, 1808
Hannibal Gilbert Budd August 20, 1808
Rose James Gray December 12, 1810
Telemaque James Gray December 12, 1810
Catherine John Pinkney April 2, 1811
Andrew James Mott May 17, 1811
Mary Jack Jack Budd December 12, 1812
Harry Rogers David Rogers May 25, 1813
Harry Joseph Haight March 20, 1817
Andrew Deborah Horton January 17, 1822

In Mamaroneck, several slaves who were recorded in Township records as being set free, appear in subsequent census records. There is a Charles Johnson who appears in the "other free persons" category in New York City in 1810. Similarly, "Hannibal Lemmore" in Middletown, Connecticut is identifed as an "other free person" in 1810. He may be the "Hannibal" freed by Gilbert Budd in 1808.

In her book, Images of America: Larchmont, Judith Doolin Spikes describes two former slaves named "Jinny" and "Banjo Billy" who had been owned by the Mott family and who continued to live at the Mott's residence - the Mill House overlooking Red Bridge on Pryer Manor Road.



"Banjo Billy" and "Ginny," and the notations in the Census of 1810 indicating that James Mott owned three slaves - the "3" on the right of the table. These images, from Adam and Anne Mott by Thomas Cornell, may be the only surviving images of slaves in Larchmont.

Banjo Bill and Ginny appear as characters in Mary McGahan's storybook Raid at Red Mill, which tells the story of the Mott family living through the Revolutionary War. The two slaves also appear in the memoirs of Richard Mott, the grandson of James Watt. As Quakers, they were opposed to slavery. Yet, the Census record reveals that James Mott maintained three slaves as late as 1810. The "3" in the far right column above is in the category for "slaves."

However, James Mott made his opposition to slavery clear in another way. In 1811, the Township record states: "I having purchased of Joshua Purdy a negro man named Andrew who is about 26 years of age, he has the promise of the person I bought him of that he should be free at 28 years of age, and as one object I had in view in the purchase was to secure his freedom, I do hereby declare the said Andrew to be a free man from the date hereof Mamaroneck 15th of May 1811."

Slavery Ends in Westchester County and Mamaroneck Township

In 1817, New York State took another step and granted freedom to all slaves born before July 4, 1799, which was to take effect on July 4, 1827. As explained by Douglas Harper in Emancipation in New York, the law had several huge loopholes. For example, it permitted part-time residents to maintain slaves for up to nine months of each year.

Another loophole involved the children born of slaves after 1799. Consider the case of Peter Jay Munro's slave Charlot born in 1814. She would be entitled to freedom under the 1817 law, but, according to the 1799 law, was not entitled to freedom until she completed 25 years of servitude, in 1839.

Across the state, a more horrible problem was also taking place. Soon-to-be-freed slaves were being sold or kidnapped, and then taken to states where slavery continued to be legal.

In any case, by 1820, the number of slaves in Westchester had declined to 205, and none were listed as living in Mamaroneck Township. The numbers in New York continued to dwindle: by 1830, of the 75 slaves in New York, none was from Westchester. By 1850, only 4 slaves were reported in all of the state.


Author's Notes

Appreciation is due to the Larchmont and Mamaroneck Public Libraries that provided assistance with research.

Local slavery records are from Mary O'Connor English: Early Town Records of Mamaroneck, 1697-1881. (Town of Mamaroneck, 1979)

According to Village Historian Judith Doolin Spikes, some of the names in the census records may have been recorded incorrectly. "Gidney" is probably an incorrect spelling of "Gedney." Similarly, "Belly" is probably actually "Besley."

An excellent source for further reading, which I relied on for explanations of New York State law, is Edward McManus: A History of Negro Slavery in New York. (Syracuse, Syracuse University Press, 1966.)

The story of Ginny and Banjo Billy - the Mott's slaves - is further explained in Thomas C. Cornell: Adam and Anne Mott, Their Ancestors and Their Descendants. (Poughkeepsie, NY, 1890)

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