top of page
NEXT PUBLIC MEETING: May 1 , 7:30 p.m. at Pohick Regional Library. All are welcome.

Silas separates mother from “slave for life” son


Silas Burke gave a deposition on June 3, 1845 in a lawsuit filed by three enslaved people against Anna Fitzhugh, who employed Silas to oversee the mammoth Ravensworth plantation after her husband died. A lawyer for two adults and a 12-year-old child named Alfred argued that they were entitled to freedom because their owner, who rented land at Ravensworth, wrote a will that freed them upon the day his sisters were all dead or married.


The two adults won their case, but the child was declared a “slave for life” — untouchable by the will — because his mother was a slave when he was born.


In his deposition, Silas described how he auctioned off Alfred to recover overdue rent on the rented land, separating him permanently from his mother who remained behind as a cook and housekeeper. A transcription of Silas Burke’s hand-written affidavit follows.

Take me back to the document library.

Chancery case 1847-002, John Bell etc. vs. Anna M. Fitzhugh and Robert Hall. Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery of Fairfax County, Virginia.

bottom of page