A Rose by any other name is a Cactus”

- defining mixed-blood Indians in colonial Virginia and the Carolinas


Augusta County, VA (Orders 1773-1779)

19 AUG 1777….Nat, an Indian boy in the custody of Mary Greenlee who detains him as a slave complains that he is held in unlawful slavery. Commission to take depositions in Carolina or elsewhere.

17 SEP 1777….On the complaint of Nat an Indian or Mustee Boy who says he is to be set free from service of Mary Greenlee…nothing appeared to this Court but a bill of sale for ten pounds from one Sherwood Harris of Granville County, NC that through several assignments was made over to James Greenlee deceased, late husband to the said Mary….said Mulattoe or Indian Boy is a free man and no slave.

( Nat was most likely half-Indian, so therefore Mulatto or Mustee could be used interchangeably, use of these terms were influenced by the status of his servitude)


Charles City County, VA (Orders 1687-95)

DEC 1690….Thomas Mayo an Indian belonging to Jno. Evans is adjudged 14 years old.


Chesterfield County, VA (Orders 1767-71)

6 APR 1770…On motion of Sibbell, an Indian woman held in slavery by Joseph Ashbrooke, have leave to prosecute for her freedom in forma pauperis.

-         Sibbell an Indian wench V. Joseph Ashbrooke, for pltf. To take deposition of Elizabeth Blankenship and Thomas Womack.

-         Sybill a Mulatto V. Joseph Ashbrooke – dismissed.

(Sibell was most likely less than full blooded Indian…she was described as Indian up to the point it was determined that she was legally a slave, then she was described as mulatto…use of the term is influenced by the status of her servitude)

  Dinwiddie County, VA

18 AUG 1794...registered free papers of “Nancy Coleman a dark brown, well made mulatto woman..freed by judgement of the Gen’l Court of John Hrdaway being a descendant of an Indian.”

10 FEB 1798…registered free papers of “Daniel Coleman a dark brown free Negro, or Indian…formerly held as a slave by Joseph Hardaway but obtained his freedom by a judgment of the Gen’l Court.”

14 AUG 1800…registered free papers of “Hagar Jumper a dark brown Mulatto or Indian woman short bushy hair, obtained her freedom from Stephen Dance as being a descendant of an Indian.”

27 MAY 1805…registered free papers of “Betty Coleman a dark brown Negro woman…formerly held as a slave by John Hardaway…liberated by judgment of the Gen’l Court as descended of an Indian.”




  Goochland County, VA

7 MAR 1756…Elizabeth, daughter of Ruth Matthews, a free mulattoe, baptized by the Rev. William Douglas of St. James Northam Parish.

26 SEP 1757….Cumberland County Court to bind out the children of Ruth Matthews, an Indian woman, to William Fleming.

(Ruth is described as ‘a free mulatto’ at one time, ‘an Indian’ at another.)

  Henrico County, VA

5 MAY 1712…..Thomas Chamberlayne brings before this Court his servant Mulatto man Robin and informed the Court that he hath several times run away. Ordered to serve one year from (release date).

-         Robin Indian (filed) against Major Chamberlayne…next Court.

FEB 1712….Robin Indian  ordered free from Thomas Chamberlayne’s service at end of year’s service.

MARCH 1713….Thomas Chamberlayne against his servant Robin Mulatto hath unlawfully absented himself for 16 weeks.

(Robin is described as Mulatto until he is determined to be illegally held as a slave, then he is described as Indian…use of the term is influenced by his servitude…his former master tactfully uses the term Mulatto to influence the Court to return him to slavery)

APR 1722…Peg an Indian woman servant belonging to Richard Ligon appeared…be adjudged free..he be summoned.

JUN 1722…Peg a Mulatto servant born in this County whose mother was an Indian intitled to freedom at the age of thirty years, having petitioned for her freedom against her master Richard Ligon.

(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

JAN 1737….petition of Tom a Mulatto or Mustee setting forth that he is the grandson of a white free woman and hast a just right to freedom but that his master Alexander Trent contrary to law or equity detains him in slavery.

(the terms Mulatto and Mustee are used here interchangeably)

JUL 1739…On the petition of Indian Jamey alias James Musttie is exempted from paying County Levyes.

NOV 1740…petition of Thomas Baugh it is ordered that the Church Wardens of Dale Parish do bind out Joe a Mulatto the son of Nan an Indian woman according to law.

(Mulatto is used here to describe an Indian half-blood)

18 NOV 1747….will of Richard Randolph…to my son John the third part of my slaves, he taking my two Negroes, Indian John and Essex as a part of his third which two Negroes I propose he should have.

(an Indian is described here as a ‘Negro’…the term is influenced by his servitude)

2 DEC 1754….Church wardens of Henrico Parish do bind out Ezekiel Scott and Sarah Scott, children of John Scott, Tommy son of Indian Nan, Henry Cockran son of John Cockran, and Isham Roughton an Indian according to Law.

5 MAR 1759….Ordered that the Church Wardens of Henrico Parish bind out Ben Scott and Roger an Indian Boy according to Law.



  Lunenburg County, VA (Orders 1748-52)

JUL 1749…..Dublin an Indian of the Tugyebugg Nation came into Court and petitioned for her freedom, she being held in slavery.

  Louisa County, VA

10 APR 1764…will of Patrick Belches…”to my wife Judy Belches all my land in Louisa..also the following Negroes to wit Indian Ben and wife Beck Kinney and their son Thom.”

1798…..Kinney family released from slavery based on testimony on William Denton that they descended from an Indian woman named Joan Kenny who was an elderly woman in 1729 and she came from the Indian town on Pamunkey.

(Indian Ben and Beck Kinney described as “Negroes’, later released based on being Indians...the term is based on their servitude)

  Northumberland County, VA

OCT 1713…trial for examining George an Indian Mulatto criminal…inhabitant of Wiccomocoe Indian Town..for murdering Allen Dorrett…confesses he struck him with a stake…John Veazey carried him into the house of Indian John.

(use of the term Mulatto here to describe an Indian half-blood)


Stafford County, VA

Will Book Liber M, 1729-48….will of George Crosby…I bequeth unto George Crosby junior the son of my son George, one Indian mulatto woman Frank & her increase as also one Indian mulatto boy Jno Cooper.

(use of the term Mulatto here to describe an Indian half-blood)

  Surry County, VA

2 JUL 1659…I Kinge of the Waineoaks doe firmely bargaine and make sale unto Elith Short her heires a boy of my Nacon named Weetoppin…until the full term of his life in consideration (of) a younge horse foale aged one yeare.

(not only did Indians sell their war captives into slavery, but they even sold their own)

20 MAR 1712….will of Francis Maybury…to wife Elizabeth, one Indian man named Robin and one Indian boy Jack and a mulatto girl.

20 AUG 1712…inventory of estate of Francis Maybury….two Indian slaves and one Indian Mulatto.

(girl first described as a mulatto later described as an Indian mulatto)






1741-1745…..Robin a Negro Man now in possession of Thomas Cocke, Gent., petitioning for leave to sue for his freedom.

-         Robin, an Indian Plt. Against Thomas Cocke Genbt. Deft. In Trespass Assault and false imprisonment…We find that James Jones late of Prince George County in the year of our Lord 1693 was in the possession of an Indian girl named Sarah as a slave and that we did find the said girl in the year aforesaid was 4 years old. We find that the parents and Native Country of the sd. girl were Heathens and Idolators. We find that the aforesaid girl did live and die in the service of the aforesaid James Jones as a slave. We find that the Plt. Robin is the issue of the aforesaid Indian Sarah.

(Robin is described as a Negro until he proves his Indian descent, then he is described as Indian…use of the term is influenced by his servitude)

  Sussex County, VA

1818…..”James Hix, a free man of color, brown complexion 34 years old, born free of Indian mother per certificate from Sussex County.”

(non-white persons are held under suspicion of servitude, and thus Negro ancestry, until proven otherwise)


Westmoreland County, VA

29 JAN 1700…..James Loggin, an Indian Mulatto, bound to Henry Wharton until the age of 21 by the Court.

(use of the term Mulatto here to describe an Indian half-blood)

  Coastal North Carolina

“In 1761, The Rev. Alex Stewart baptized 7 Indians and mixed-blood children of the Attamusket, Hatteras, and Roanoke tribes and 2 years later he baptized 21 more.” – Swanton

  North Carolina

1857…..a William Chavers (Chavis) was arrested and charged as a “free person of color” with carrying a shotgun, a violation on NC state law. He was convicted, but promptly appealed, claiming that the law restricted free Negroes not persons of color. The appeals court reversed the lower Court finding that, “Free persons of color may be, then, for all we can see, persons colored by Indian blood, or persons descended from Negro ancestors beyond the fourth degree.”

(desire of legal system to lump all non-whites into one category still exists in mid-1800’s)

1871……The North Carolina Joint Senate and House Committee interviewed Robeson County Judge Giles Leitch about the “free persons of color” residing within his county:

               Senate: Half of the colored population?

                  Leitch: Yes sir; half of the colored population of Robeson County were never slaves at all…

                  Senate: What are they; are they Negroes?

                  Leitch: Well sir, I desire to tell you the truth as near as I can; but I do not know what they are; I

                              think they are a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese and Indian….

                  Senate: You think they are mixed Negroes and Indians?

                  Leitch: I do not think that in that class of population there is much Negro blood at all: of that

                              half of the colored population that I have attempted to decribe all have always been

                              free…They are called ‘Mulattoes’ that is the name they are known by, as

                              contradistinguished from NegroesI think they are of Indian origin.

                  Senate: I understand you to say that these seven or eight hundred persons that you designate

                               as mulattoes are not Negroes but are a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish, white

                               blood and Indian blood; you think they are not generally Negroes?

                  Leitch: I do not think the Negro blood predominates.

                  Senate: the word ‘mulatto’ means a cross between the white and the Negro?

                  Leitch: Yes sir.

                  Senate: You do not mean the word to be understood in that sense when applied to these people?

                  Leitch: I really do not know how to describe those people.


(Even person not considered to bear Negro ancestry could be called Mulattoes as late as the 1870’s….the term ‘Portuguese’ used here to infer Spanish and Indian ancestry….’Portuguese’ also used by persons of North Carolina origin residing in South Carolina, Tennessee, etc. to describe mixed Indian-white persons from the NC?VA border area during this same time period.)                             

  Virginia Gazette

17 APR 1752…Run away from the subscriber, living in Hanover County, about the middle of March last, a young Indian fellow, named Ned, about 20 years of age, pretends to pass as a freeman.

(Ned’s identity as Indian influenced by his servitude)

14 APR 1768….Isaac an Indian Slave aged about 40 years, run away from my plantation on George’s Creek in Buckingham. He was born and lived many years on the Brook of Chickahominy, and has some connexions in Goochland, where he may probably be at present. He wore long curled hair before his elopement, but his countenance and disposition are altogether Indian.

2 AUG 1770…..Committed to the prison of York, a Negro Boy, who says he is free and was born in the Indian Town on Pamunkee River.

(York ’s identity as Indian influenced by his servitude)

23 NOV 1770….Prince George County…Runaway from the subscriber on Monday the 19th, a negro fellow named Frankof a yellow complexion..He has a wife among the Indians, at Indian Town on Pamunkey River.

24 SEP 1772….committed to the public jail, from James City prison, a runaway woman named Molly, she belongs to Charles Budd of Charles City County…about 40 years old, has a prominent nose and by her complexion would pass for one of the Indian Race.

26 NOV 1772…Runaway from the subscriber in Cumberland a Mulatto Man named Jim who is a slave but pretends to have a right to his freedom. His father was an Indian of the name of Cheshire, and very likely will call himself James Cheshire, or Chink. He is a short well set fellow, about twenty seven years of age, with long black hair resembling an Indians.

(Use of Mulatto to describe Indian half-blood….use of term influenced by his servitude)

3 DEC 1772…Committed to the jail of Surry County, a Negro Man who says his name is Tom, and that he belongs to Benjamin Clements of Sussex…appears to be of the Indian Breed.

(person of obvious Indian ancestry described as a Negro)

13 JUL 1773….Runaway from the subscriber a Mulatto Slave named David…says he is of the Indian Breed, and went down to the General Court, as I imagine to sue for his freedom, but has never returned.

(David’s identity as Indian influenced by his servitude)

11 NOV 1773…Run away from the subscriber, last month, a Negro Man of the name Tom…of a yellowish complexion, much the appearance of an Indian…His hair is a different kind from that of a Negro’s, rather more of an Indian’s, but partaking of both.

(person of obvious Indian ancestry described as a Negro)

11 MAR 1775….Run away from the subscriber…a very bright Mulatto Man named Stephen…his wife Phebe went away with him, a remarkable white Indian woman.

6 JAN 1776…Run way from the subcriber..Harry, Virginia Born, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high, 30 years of age, a dark Mulatto, with long bushy hair, he is of the Indian Breed.

(person of obvious Indian ancestry described as Mulatto)

2 DEC 1775…Bute County, NC…Run away from William Tabb, a slave named Charles, of the Indian Breed, about 23 years of age, with straight black hair, light complexion, raised in George County, VA.

  South Carolina

1731…Special meeting of  the South Carolina House of Commons after a member had announced that “Free colored men with their white wives have immigrated from Virginia with the intention of settling on the Santee River.”, report of Governor Robert Johnson: “I have had them before me in council and upon examination find that they are not Negroes nor slaves but free people, that the father of them here is named Gideon Gibson and his father was also free…”

1753….. Will of Alexander Wood, of St. James Goose Creek Parish, Planter, to his half-breed Indian Slaves named Dukey Cox and George Cox, born of his Indian slave named Jenny, and Minerva Watkins, born of his Indian Slave named Moll, manumission upon his death

1794….Issac Linagear, Isaac Mitchell, Joanthan Price, Spencer Bolton, William N. Swett, and 29 other “free persons of color seek to repeal the Act for imposing a poll tax on all Free negroes, Mustees, and Mulattoes. They wish to support the government, but the poll tax caused great hardship among free women of color, especially widows with large families. Tax collectors hunted them down and extorted payments.”

(desire of legal system to lump all non-whites into one category)

25 JUL 1795…A South Carolinian advertised in the North Carolina Central and Fayetteville Gazette….”$10 Reward to deliver to the subscriber in Georgetown, a Mustie servant woman named Nancy Oxendine, she is a stout wench, of a light complexion about 30 years old. It is supposed she has been travels away by her brother and sister, the latter lives in Fayetteville.”



  Tennessee 1832….Madison County….”free man of color, Richard Matthews, seeks permission to marry a white woman. Matthews says he is of the Portuguese blood.”

(see Goochland County, VA for the Matthews family.) 1843…..McMinn County…George Sherman arrived in the state in 1839 and now asks permission to remain. “A certificate signed by a notary public in New York states that he is of Mulatto complexion with wooly hair and is an Indian, one of the Narragansett tribe.

(an Indian described as having a Mulatto complexion)

1853 to 58 Claiborne County….suit pressed by school teacher Elijoh Goins, who alleged that his daughter’s husband “spoke false, malicious, scandalous and defamatory words saying the plaintiff was a mulatto, meaning a person of mixed blood one degree removed from a full blood Negro as reason of which several grievances the plaintiff hath been greatly damaged and subjected to the suspicion disgrace and insult to a  family of a person of mixed blood.”


Legal Systems:

26 NOV 1722…residents of Northampton County, VA, petitioned the Court complaining “That a great number of Free Negroes Inhabiting within this County are great Grievances most particularly because the Negro Women pay no Taxes.” Virginina passed a law in May 1723 “That all free negros, mulattos, or Indians except tributary Indians to this government male and female, above the age of sixteen, and all wives of such Negroes, mulattos, or Indians shall be accounted tithables.”

1738…North Carolina “AN ACT to Prevent the concealment of the Tithables in the Several Countys within this Province” defines tithables as “every white Person Male of the age sixteen Years and upwards all Negroes Mulattoes Mustees Male or female and all Persons of Mixt Blood to the fourth Generation Male and Female of the Age of Twelve years and upwards.”

1749….North Carolina tithable law is amended to include “all White Persons intermarrying with any Negro, mulatto, or mustee, or other Person of Mixt Blood.”

(desire of legal system to lump all non-whites into one category)

1802….In the North Carolina case Gobu v. Gobu, the judge stated “I acquiesce in the rule laid down by the defendant’s counsel, with respect to the presumption of every black person being a slave. It is so, because Negroes originally brought to this country were slaves, and their descendants must continue slaves until manumitted by proper authority. If therefore a person of that description claims his freedom, he must establish his right to it by such evidence as will destroy the force of the presumption arising from his color.”

(all dark skinned persons are presumed to be descended from Negroes)

Copyright ©2005 Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved.

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Copyright ©2005 Steven Pony Hill, all rights reserved, and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same without written permission of the author.  It may be used in your family history or genealogy, for which purpose it was intended.