Berkeley Plantation Sale 1847: We Have The Names

Several days ago, I located an 1846 newspaper advertisement for the scheduled sale of the estate of Benjamin Harrison VII.

December 11, 1846 The Richmond Whig newspaper clipping of Berkeley Sale

There are a number of clues to be gleaned in this article. The most helpful being the reference to this sale being related to a Decree of the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for Charles City County.

The Library of Virginia has graciously digitized a number of Virginia chancery court records, as I have shared before. It so happens that Charles City County is one of the many Virginia locations that is digitally available.

And so I searched. I searched the Chancery Records Index on the LVA website and set the relevant parameters.


Francis Howe McGuire & WIFE v. Bank of Virginia ETC -William A Harrison ETC

This voluminous chancery case, at 335 pages, and spanning a number of years, turned out to be the case from which the above advertisement of 1846 referred to.

With each turn of the page, my curiosity deepened as to who would be named within the pages of this history. Very soon, I was awestruck.

There, on page 162, was this:

BERKELEY SALE REPORT—1847 ((Enslaved))
BERKELEY SALE REPORT—1847 ((Enslaved))


The undersigned Nathaniel Nelson Trustee in a deed of trust from the late Benjamin Harrison of Berkeley and Henry Harrison appointed Trustee in the room of Thomas M Nelson one of the surviving Trustees in the said deed of trust, who declines acting, and both, commissioners appointed by a decree of the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of Charles City rendered the 19th November 1846 in the suit of McGuire and others against the President Directors and Company of The Bank of Virginia and others, and McGuire and others against Harrison and others, make the following report of their proceedings in execution of their powers and authorities as Trustees and Commissioners aforesaid.

They caused the time place and terms of the sale of the slaves and other personal property mentioned in said decree to be published in the Whig and Enquirer newspapers published in the City of Richmond. The Intelligencer published in Petersburg, and The Herald published in Norfolk. The evidence of these advertisements is furnished by copies thereof and affidavits of their publication aforesaid hereto around and marked ABC+D.

On the day and at the place appointed by the said advertisement the slaves and other personal property mentioned hereinafter more particularly were surrendered by the Executrix Mrs. Mary W Harrison to the undersigned and were disposed of as follows

Twenty four of them sold for Cash and produced the sum of $7565.00: one old and infirm slave was sold for his support and maintenance during life-and there now remain on the hands of the undersigned two old and infirm negroes for whom nothing could be obtained, and who are now at the disposal of the Court. It is respectfully suggested that some provisions be made out of the funds arising from the sales aforesaid for their future support. An expense of five dollars has been incurred by the Commissioners and charged to said fund for their maintenance up to May term of this Court 1847. The other personal property referenced by the said decree sold also for cash, and produced the sum of $395.25. Gross amount of all the sales &7962.25

The following is an account in detail of the sale of the slaves.

1847 Berkeley Sales Report

In searching for the names of those who were up for “sale,” I wondered if I would see her name. Louisa was my third great-grandmother, and according to her granddaughter, Jeanette, Louisa/Louise was born at Berkeley Plantation.

Sure enough, the name of a Louisa is listed in this sales report. Words fail to describe the feeling in seeing her name, in seeing all of their names. The trade of humans as chattel was bad enough, the selling and the trauma of breaking families apart had to have been more than horrific and crushing.

As powerfully poignant as it is to see Louisa’s name, it is not her story alone. She stood with over twenty others and now we remember, we say all of their names.

Mary Harris…Mary Junior…Louisa…Susan…Joe…Nat…Charles Harris…Zach Harris…Robert Perry…Ned…Ariana…George…Nella…Ned…Zack…Stephen…Lucy Quivers…Lucy Anne…William Perry…Tom Brown…Evelyn Hopper…Nancy…Robert…Harry…Charles Ashley

May they eternally rest in peace and power. They are not forgotten.

This is our situation…

The Genealogy Situation Room

2 thoughts on “Berkeley Plantation Sale 1847: We Have The Names

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s