Barnett the Slave: His Documented Life

He was born in 1778 and died after 1828. He attended a biracial church. These primary, old, handwritten documents say he lived a remarkable life and deserves our honor. Church history is more than just famous people.

Let’s go in chronological order.

1790 Taxes

Mecklenburg County, VA, May 10, 1790, Personal Tax List: William Hudson Sr. and Burnet / Barnet appear in 5th “box” from bottom. He is 12 years old.

1799 Taxes

Mecklenburg County, VA March 20 (or 28), 1799, Personal Tax list: William Hudson Sr. and Barnett appear in the 7th box from the bottom (about in center). Note Phoebe, Bart and Jane, too.

1809 Deed of Gift

Edgefield District, SC, November 28, 1809: Deed of gift, from William Hudson to son-in-law and daughter Jeremiah and Polly Hudson. Barnett appears on 1st line after page break.

Here’s a transcription:

William Hudson to J. Wilborn & Wife, Deed Gift

South Carolina

Edgefield District

Know all men by these presents that I William Hudson of the district and state aforesaid for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which I have and do bear toward, my beloved Son in Law Jeremiah Wilborn and Polly Wilborn, them and their heirs forever the following Property, to wit: one negroe [sic] fellow named Barnett one negroe [sic] boy named Emmanuel, Two mares and a colt and one Cow and Yearling and Sundry other Articles of household furniture, all of which property is herewith delivered To have and to hold to their proper behest [?] and behoof. And I do hereby bind my Self and my Heirs to warrant and defend the right and title to the said property from the claim of all and every person or persons whomoever. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this twenty-eighth day of November 1809.

Signed, sealed and delivered in the presents [sic] of in Anderson Crawford [sic, read Crowder?], Jo’ Fields

William (X) Hudson

South Carolina,

Edgefield District

Personally appeared Anderson Crawford who being duly sworn made oath that he did see William Hudson sign seal and as his act and Deed deliver the written Instrument of writing to and for the uses and purposes within mentioned and did also see Joseph Fields with himself subscribe his name as a witness to the due execution thereof.

Sworn to before me the 28th day of November 1809, Anderson Crawford [sic, read Crowder?]

John Lyon, Q.U.

Recorded 8th February 1810

1810 Baptism in Biracial Church

Edgefield District, SC, Bethany Baptist Church records: Barnett appears 13th line from bottom (1st col). He belongs to Jeremiah Wilbourn (2nd col). He was baptized (B = Baptized) Sept. 23, 1810 (3rd col). He was excommunicated April 25, 1812 (4th col). (A Side Note: see the slave belonging to our Wm Wilburn, 3rd line from bottom). Yes, black and white Christians practiced church integration up to a point, back then.

Why was Barnett excommunicated? See the next page for the church minutes.

1812 Disorderly Conduct and Excommunication

Here is a transcription of the church minutes:

March the 21st 1812

The church met and after sermon proceeded to business. Information being given to the church that Barnet a Black member had acted disorderly they proceeded to nominate Brethren Jo’n Longmire [neighbor of our William Wilbourn] George Wilborn [our William Wilbourn’s brother] to examine the circumstance and report to the next church meeting.

April 25 – the church [carted in:] met and [careted in:] after the usual Services were performed a door for the reception [of] members were [sic] opened One Received by Experience. 2nd the case of Barnet a Black Member was taken into consideration and from the report of our Brethren Jn’ Longmire and George Wilborn he is undoubtedly guilty of the charge (which was Adultery) for which we have Excluded him from our Society . . . .

Transcription ends.

1830 Jeremiah Wilbourn Is No Longer His Owner

Taliaferro County, GA, January 1, 1830: Jeremiah Wilbourn moved from Edgefield, across the Savannah River to Taliaferro Co. This is a page from his Inventory and Appraisement. His slaves are named and valued in top left section. Note that Barnett is missing. Where is he? (Account Book A, p. 245)

Jeremiah Wilbourn’s slaves and their monetary value are as follows:

Tom, a man $400.00

Edmond, a man $350.00

Clary (?) a woman and child $300.00

Mary, a girl $125.00

Seal (?), a woman $250.00 (her name may be Sela)

Hall, a boy $300.00

Mariah, a woman $250.00

Selina, a girl $275.00

Ned, a boy, $231.25

Lettey, a Woman $250.00

Lucy, a woman $206.25

Rener (sic), a woman, 56.25

Where did Barnet go?

The answer is next.

1828 Inventory and Appraisement

Edgefield District, SC, Dec. 15, 1828, For some strange reason, William Wilbourn ordered in his will that all his estate should be sold. Barnett is bought back by Cary Wilbourn, widow, for $5.00. They appear 3rd line from bottom. Therefore, Jeremiah Wilbourn had sold or gave away Barnett to his brother (our) William, at an unknown time before William died, March 24, 1828. (Source: Equity #397).

For Documents that include Barnett, go here and do a word search on Barne.

William Wilbourn and Cairy Hudson

To find out how Cairy lived the rest of her life, please see her own post:

Cairy Hudson Wilbourn

Here is a transcription of the table:

Do = Ditto

An Inventory of the property of the Estate of] William Wilbourn dec’d Sold on the 15th day of Dec 1828
Purchaser names Articles Sold $ C
Edmund B Hibbler 2 [pen] Shucks 80
The Same 2  do     do 3 00
Cary Wilbourn 1  do     do 3 00
Thomas J Hibbler 1 Lot     do “ 1 75
James Morris 1 Negro fellow Bart 206 00
Peter H. Wilbourn 1 Negro fellow Charles 310 00
William Webb 1 Negro Girl Winny 370 00
Katharine Wilbourn 1 Negro girl Frances 300 00
Elizabeth A Wilbourn 1 Negro Girl Eliza 336 00
Cary Wilbourn 1 Negro Woman Betty & 3 children 560 00
The Same 1 Negro Woman Ginny & child 221 00
The Same 1 Girl Barbra 207 00
The Same 1 boy Philip 188 00
James Jones 1 Girl Kizar[b] 300 00
Cary Wilbourn 1 Girl Iris 75 00
The Same 1 Negro fellow Barnett 5 00
Joshua Harris 1 Negro fellow Bob & Wife Sally 51 00
John Lyon 1 Negro fellow Ned & Wife Ester 150 00
3287 25

Note Bart, who also appears, above, in William Hudson’s 1799 Personal Tax List, Mecklenburg County, VA. Jane in that 1799 tax list and Jinny, here, may be the same person, too. So it looks like Barnett was purchased by Cary Wilbourn, Jeremiah Wilbourn’s sister-in-law (William Wilbourn’s wife and Jeremiah’s brother).


It is difficult to discuss the price for humans, but it must be done, for history’s sake. Why was Barnet’s price so small? Maybe it was his age. Barnet was twelve years old in 1790, so he was born in 1778. In 1828, he was fifty. But this age would not necessarily demand such a low price. So more than likely, he had a disability.

Clearly, then, Barnet wanted to stay in Edgefield District, while his master Jeremiah moved away to Taliferro County, Georgia. Apparently, Barnet’s low price and possible disability allowed him to remain in South Carolina.

Thus, at some time before Jeremiah’s move and William’s death, Barnet belonged to William and Cairy (Hudson) Wilbourn.


Slaves and Owners Attend Same Pre-Civil War Church

Wilbourn Slaves

Slaves of Wilbourn-Related Family Lines

My Ancestors Owned Slaves

Slavery and Freedom in the Bible

Should I Wash a Black Guy’s Feet to Atone for Historic Racism?


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