Sussex County, Virginia court records document the 1848 estate sale of one Benjamin F. Pretlow. This sale caught my eye because of the book titles listed:
Something else. There was an absence of “chattel” souls included in Pretlow’s estate. That is not to say that he did not hold people enslaved, he may have transferred “ownership” via the legal instrument of a last will and testament.
There is also the possibility that Benjamin F. Pretlow did not hold Black people enslaved. There are historical Quaker church records pertaining to his probable Pretlow relatives in Sussex County.
According to pbs.org: “In 1776, Quakers were prohibited from owning slaves, and 14 years later they petitioned the U.S. Congress for the abolition of slavery.”
From Bryn Mawr College: “The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) was the first corporate body in Britain and North America to fully condemn slavery as both ethically and religiously wrong in all circumstances. It is in Quaker records that we have some of the earliest manifestations of anti-slavery sentiment, dating from the 1600s. After the 1750s, Quakers actively engaged in attempting to sway public opinion in Britain and America against the slave trade and slavery in general. At the same time, Quakers became actively involved in the economic, educational and political well being of the formerly enslaved.”
In fact, according to AlabamaLaw, from the University of Alabama, a former Quaker by the name of Thomas Pretlow was a justice in the 1831 trials of Southampton County: “The judges were Jeremiah Cobb, James D. Massenburg, Alexander P. Peete, James Trezvant, Orris A. Browne, Robert Goodwyn, James W. Parker, Carr Bowers, Thomas Pretlow (formerly Quaker; opposed secession), Samuel Blow Hines, Dr. William B. Goodwyn (Democrat), B. Drewry, Benjamin Griffin, J. Claud, Alexander Myrick, J. Clayton, B. Drew, J. Barnes, J. Darden, and Richard Urquhart (a physician educated at Jefferson Medical College). See Southampton County Tax Records, supra note 74.”
Returning to the subject at hand, here is more information on those books listed for that 1848 Benjamin F. Pretlow estate book sale:
History of Modern Europe by William Russell
These were just some of the books listed in Pretlow’s estate sale! If you enjoy historic/rare books, you may be interested in adding these titles to your collection.
As someone who loves the printed word, the 1848 book sale provided a great
excuse opportunity for me to drill down and learn/share more bout these books.
If you are in the market for book hunting, be sure to check your local listings for estate sales, which frequently have lots of books. Also, remember consignment sales, thrift shops, and please support your local library’s book sales.
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