Name: Frances EVANS
Given Name: Frances
Birth: ABT 1685 in Lunenburg County, Virginia
Death: ABT 1771 in New Kent County, Virginia 1
FRANCES EVANS, the daughter of MORRIS EVANS & JANE GIBSON, was born a free woman of color, and she moved to New Kent County, Virginia, where she worked. She gave birth to several children, probably all of them illegitimate since there is no mention of a husband or the name of the children's father, but only 2 of the children are named in the petitions - TOM & FRANCES, a.k.a FRANKY, who were bound out as servants or apprentices to GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT of New Kent. Since FRANCES EVANS was a free woman, her children were entitled to the same freedom since the laws governed the children's status according to the circumstances of the mother. But TOM & FRANCES/FRANKY EVANS were illegally enslaved during the time when they were supposed to be free, and it set the stage for what happened to the family over the next 200 hundred years. All of FRANCES/FRANKY EVANS children were born into slavery, and most of her descendants spent many years trying to obtain their freedom through the Virginia and North Carolina court systems. TOM apparently ran away from LIGHTFOOT and was caught and hanged in Hanover County, VA, so since that County was formed in 1721, it had to have been sometime after that; perhaps he realized he was being treated as a slave and was not happy with his circumstances when he made his decision to run, nothing is said about his reasons, but it was said that he was a young man. FRANCES/FRANKY was sold to WILLIAM MERIWETHER upon the death of GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT, which occurred in 1738; FRANCES/FRANKY remained a slave of MERIWETHER for the rest of her life and died while in his possession; WILLIAM MERIWETHER died in 1756, so FRANCES/FRANKY EVANS had to have died prior to that. FRANCES/FRANKY EVANS had 3 children while enslaved: TOM, SARAH COLLEY, & THOMPSON. TOM was given to NICHOLAS MERIWETHER, son of WILLIAM; then after NICHOLAS' death in about 1740, his widow, MILDRED THORNTON, remarried in 1741 to DOCTOR THOMAS WALKER, and TOM went with her to her new home with WALKER; TOM ran away, and one report says he was hanged, while another just says that he was dead by 1791, not sure which is correct, but it is possible that his fate by hanging may have been confused with the earlier TOM, his mother's brother.
Change Date: 26 Jun 2017 at 14:31:09
THOMPSON died as a young man while still in WILLIAM MERIWETHER's possession, but another report said that he was living in North Carolina. SARAH COLLEY (surname was from her father, JAMES COLLEY, a white servant who worked for WILLIAM MERIWETHER) remained in MERIWETHER's possession until his death in 1756, at which time, she was given to RICHARD MERIWETHER (1719-1766) , son of WILLIAM. RICHARD MERIWETHER died in 1766 Albemarle Co., VA, and upon his death, SARAH was sold to COL. EDWARD CARTER of Albemarle County, VA, a MERIWETHER in-law, because SARAH had requested to be with a Slave of CARTER's, whom she had fallen in love with. By 1756, SARAH had already had 6 children, 2 of which were listed as "deformed", probably meaning they were stillbirths. The 4 named children of SARAH COLLEY were KATE, BECK, HANNAH & AMEY, the youngest of which was a newborn by the time of WILLIAM MERIWETHER's death in 1756; HANNAH & AMEY were both given to RICHARD MERIWETHER in 1756 along with their mother; KATE & BECK were given to WILLIAM HUDSON (wife: JANE MERIWETHER), whose family eventually moved to Georgia. In 1791, KATE was said to be last been a slave in Georgia, and that she had children. BECK was listed as in Richmond, and her 2 children were DAVID & TOBY. HANNAH's fate after becoming a slave of RICHARD MERIWETHER is not mentioned except that she was dead by 1791 since her name was not among those of her family who were freed at that time, but she did have 9 children: MILLEY, MINGO, SALLEY, HARRY, NANCY, AMEY, NELLY, RACHEL, & BEN. MINGO won his freedom and took the name of THOMAS GIBSON.
More recently found documents found in Brunswick County, Virginia, say that HANNAH was sold to DAVID ROSS by THOMAS MERIWETHER, who had received HANNAH after the death of his brother, RICHARD MERIWETHER, in 1766; at the time THOMAS lived in Halifax County, Virginia.
MILLEY, also had children: ARCHY, JIM, ROBERT & MELAH. SARAH COLLEY's daughter, AMEY, remained with RICHARD MERIWETHER, until his death in 1766, at which time she was given to his brother, THOMAS MERIWETHER (1718-1783), who moved to Halifax County, Virginia. AMEY had about 10 children (even though her chart says 9, the court records indicate 10 names): CHARLES, AMEY, SUKEY, SINAR, SOLOMON, FRANKEY, SALLY, MILLY, ADAM & HANNAH EVANS.
FRANCES EVANS was the mother of several children, but only two of them were actually named in the Chancery Records which were filed when it was stated that 2 of her children, TOM & FRANCES, were bonded out as apprentices in New Kent County, Virginia, but were illegally taken into slavery, and their many descendants filed suit over the ensuing decades to be freed. FRANCES apparently died long before any of her descendants saw the light of freedom.
There were actually a series of lawsuits for the various family members who were trying to win their freedom. I understand that there are even some records in various North Carolina Counties, although, at the moment, I don't know which Counties they were. I have transcribed some of the records received from the Library of Virginia by Joan Gibson, who sent me copies for which I am truly grateful for. One of the things I have realized though, is that some of the transcriptions in at least a couple of books about the case, including "The Southern Debate Over Slavery", are incorrect as I have greatly enlarged the documents and found some of the names were incorrect.
See the transcriptions and actual documents & charts on my website:
The "LIGHTFOOT" mentioned in the records was GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT. Following are notes from my research of the family:
The name LIGHTFOOT mentioned as being the person to whom FRANCES & TOM EVANS were bound has the following possibilities.
Source: Virginia Genealogies #2, Genealogies of Virginia Families, Vol. III, The Lightfoot Family
There were 2 brothers who arrived in Gloucester County, VA, JOHN & PHILIP LIGHTFOOT, sons of JOHN LIGHTFOOT, barrister-at-law, of Northampton Co., England. Apparently, one son was the more prominent in the New Kent records - JOHN LIGHTFOOT, who received the King?s grant on June 10, 1670, as auditor-general of Virginia in place of THOMAS STEGG, deceased. But on May 25, 1671, the commission was suspended because the King had supposedly previously promised it to someone else. It was mentioned in 1681 that JOHN had married ANNE GOODRICH, daughter of THOMAS GOODRICH, who was BACON?s Lt. General in 1675.
In 1687, there was mention of the birth of a Negro (slave) belonging to JOHN LIGHTFOOT in the St. Peter?s Parish register, New Kent Co. In 1699, he was collector for the country between James & York Rivers. He was commander in chief of King & Queen Co. He was listed in St. Peter?s Parish (New Kent) register as being deceased: COL. JOHN LIGHTFOOT, Anno Dom. 1707. Another record shows him deceased in June 1707. He had apparently remarried to a MARY ______ prior to his death since his children were GOODRICH, SHERWOOD, THOMAS, and ALICE LIGHTFOOT; there is a record in St. Peter?s Parish register as follows:
December 25, 1698, ALICE, daughter of JOHN LIGHTFOOT, Esq, and ANNE, his wife, was born and baptized.?
In 1711, slaves belonging to Madam MARY LIGHTFOOT in New Kent County, were baptized.
GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT was vestryman at St. George Parish; in Spotsylvania Co. in 1727, he was a lay reader at Germanna Church, and he was a member of St. Mark?s Parish; his death was announced on April 14, 1738 as having died in Orange Co., VA at his brother?s house. His children who?s births were included in St. Peter?s Parish register were ANNE, b. 1708, *JOHN, b. 1711/ d. 1735 Orange Co., VA, GOODRICH, b. 1713, MARY, b. 1717, plus other records show WILLIAM and ELIZABETH.
*The will of JOHN LIGHTFOOT, probated June 17, 1735 Orange Co., gives Negroes and land to his brother, WILLIAM, sisters MARY & ELIZABETH, father COL. GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT SR., and to MRS. MARTHA CHEW; executor was his father, witnesses THOMAS CHEW, JOHN HOWARD, ISAAC SMITH.
According to the narrative, MRS. MARTHA CHEW was MARTHA TAYLOR, wife of THOMAS CHEW (magistrate & vestryman of Orange Co. in 1734) , and sister of ERASMUS & GEORGE TAYLOR.
The LIGHTFOOT family seems to have moved to other locations after these years, so depending on the time frame of the actual ages of the EVANS family, it is possible that it was either JOHN Sr., who died in 1707 or GOODRICH, d. 1738, who was the owner of FRANCES & TOM EVANS. Since TOM was hanged in Hanover County, which wasn?t formed until 1721, however, it is more likely that it was GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT who was the owner who was just referred to as ?LIGHTFOOT? in the court petitions.
Father: Morris EVANS b: ABT 1665
Mother: Jane GIBSON b: ABT 1660 in Charles City County, Virginia
- Tom EVANS b: ABT 1700 in New Kent County, Virginia
- Frances "Franky" EVANS b: ABT 1705 in New Kent County, Virginia
- Sarah EVANS b: ABT 1720 in New Kent County, Virginia
- Title: Other--
Page: GIBSON and EVANS FAMILY CHANCERY RECORDS:
Note: Testimony by ROBERT WILLS on July 9, 1791 in Henrico County District Court reads as follows:
Quest. About what year do you believe to the best of your recollection or judgment was Frances Evans the Grand daughter of old Jane Gibson born?
Answer She had children bound out when I first knew her, so that she must have been born long before I was, as I should suppose.
Quest. Then as you know so little about her how do you know she (Frances Evans) was the daughter of Jane Evans, and that Jane Evans was descended from Jane Gibson? Answer. I know nothing but common reputation they called each other by the name of Mother and daughter.
Quest. About what year did the said Frances Evans remove to New Kent?
Answer. I never knew her until she came on a visit to her mother, she then lived there as she reported; when she came there to live I knew nothing about it.
Quest. About what year did the said Frances Evans inform you she had bound two of her children Frances and Tom to Mr. Lightfoot of New Kent when she came on a visit to her friends in Charles City? Ans'r. I cannot recollect that with any certainty, I suppose fifty eight or fifty nine years ago or somewhere thereabouts.
Quest. Did you understand from her how old they were at that time, if not how old do you suppose they were, and how long had they been bound before she informed you of it? Answer. That I know nothing about.
Quest. If the said Frances Evans and her brother Tom who are said to have been bound to one LIGHTFOOT were now alive how old would they be to the best of your judgment? Ans'r. I do not know that; they were probably as old as myself; I never saw either of them nor asked any questions about their age.
Quests. by the plaintiff 1. Was not the mother of Sarah Redcross (now living in Charles City) alias Sarah Evans named Frances Evans, and was she not related as by common reputation believed to Frances Evans that was bound to LIGHTFOOT? Ans'r. About twenty four or twenty five years ago Frances Evans was about in Charles City County, and was claimed as a mother by Sarah Redcross, and Sarah Redcross said that her mother was the grand daughter of Jane Evans the daughter of Jane Gibson - she went away and I know not what became of her, but have been informed (I suppose twenty years ago) that she was dead.
See entire transcription of the file:
From this record, it was apparent that FRANCES EVANS was in Charles City County in about 1766, but that by 1771, the WILLS was informed that she had died.
- Title: Other--
Note: Gibson and Evans
Lynchburg City, Superior Court of Law and Chancery, Case #1821-033 (file #236), Charles Evans etc. vs. Lewis B. Allen. These two cases are representative of several in Virginia, in which slaves sued and won to regain their freedom, based on their ability to show descent from an Indian woman, which condition legally turned their enslavement into assault, battery, and unlawful detainment:
The Slaves Held by Lewis Allen to the Superior Court, Richmond, Virginia, 1805 To the honorable, the judge of the superior court of chancery directed by law to be holden in the city of Richmond Humbly complaining shew unto your honor your orators and oratrixes Charles Evans, Amey Evans, Sukey Evans, Siras Evans, Solomon Evans, Frankey Evans, Sally Evans, Milly Evans, Adam Evans and Hannah Evans holden in slavery by Lewis Allen and permitted by this court to sue together here in forma pauperum as well as in their own behalf as in behalf of others in their family whose names are unknown to your orators and oratrixes and in whose cases are he reinafter stated. That your orators and oratrixes are children of a free woman of colour named Amey; who was daughter of another free woman named Sarah Colley, who was daughter of another woman of free colour named Jane Gibson; that from the document, depositions, and copies from records hereto annexed, it will appear that Thomas Gibson, alias Mingo Jackson, who is a son of Hannah, a sister by the mother's side to the aforesaid Amey; recovered his freedom from David Ross as well as various other descendants from the said Francis Evans, by the name of Evans; that your orators and oratrixes have just reason to fear and do fear that the aforesaid Lewis Allen who holds them in slavery, will sell them, as slaves with out the limits of this commonwealth; as he has already sold several of the family aforesaid in North Carolina whose names are unknown to your orators and oratrixes ....
Edm: Randolph begs leaves to certify to the judge, that the complainant Charles Evans is now tied and confined to be sent from Richmond and probably out of the country by the order of Lewis Allen; who cannot be served with a subpoena, a prohibition is therefore prayed against Allen and all other persons.
May 7, 1805
Deposition of Robert Wills in the suit Thomas Gibson alias Mingo Jackson plt. against David Ross deft. taken in presence of the plt & Mr. Vannerson agent for Mr. Ross by consent, at the house of the said Wills this 25th day of June 1791, who being first duly sworn deposeth and saith; That about seventy years ago (1721) he was well acquainted with JANE GIBSON and GEORGE GIBSON her brother who were dark mulattoes who lived in the County of Charles City and were free people; that the said JANE GIBSON had two children named JANE and GEORGE GIBSON and they were also free; That the said JANE GIBSON the younger intermarried with a certain ---- EVANS of the said county, by whom she had several children on of whom named FRANCIS EVANS granddaughter of the JANE GIBSON above named, that the said FRANCIS EVANS removed to New Kent county, where she lived and had several children, two of whom, as FRANCIS EVANS informed this deponent were named TOM and FRANCIS EVANS who were bound to one LIGHTFOOT of New Kent. This information was made to this Depont. by the said FRANCIS EVANS the elder when she was on a visit to her friends in this County, who were neighbours to this deponent. This deponent further saith that after the great grandchildren viz; TOM and FRANCIS were bound to the said LIGHTFOOT he never heard anything more relative to them. That many of the descendants of the said GIBSONs and EVANS now in this deponents knowledge are alive, and enjoying their freedom unmolested and have remained so since this deponents first acquaintance with the first JANE GIBSON the elder; that some of them are black, some nearly white, and others dark mulattoes which this deponent supposes proceeded from a promiscuous intercourse with different colours. ....
- Title: Other--
This Chart gives a more complete description of the family members and what happened to them, however, since I now have copies of the actual records from the Library of Virginia, it is apparent that there are several transcription errors in the chart in this book. See the actual records at the link to my website at the top of this file:
The Chart from "The Southern Debate Over Slavery" shows:
The Genealogy of the Family of Slaves Claiming their Freedom:
JANE GIBSON, the ancestor, an Indian woman
Children: GEO. GIBSON, died without issue; JANE GIBSON, the younger, married MORRIS EVANS.
MORRIS EVANS & JANE GIBSON's child:
FRANCES EVANS, who went to New Kent.
Her children: TOM EVANS, bound to LIGHTFOOT, hanged in Hanover and left no child. ------ after 1721 when Hanover was formed.
FRANCES (FRANK) EVANS, bound to LIGHTFOOT of New Kent County; purchased by Colonel WILLIAM MEREWETHER. --------- abt 1738, after death of GOODRICH LIGHTFOOT.
1) TOM EVANS, given to NICHOLAS MEREWETHER by WILLIAM MEREWETHER, became property of DOCTOR (THOMAS) WALKER; ran away, hanged in Hanover County, died without issue. --------- Nicholas W. was son of William W.; Nicholas later died abt 1740, and his wife, Mildred Thornton, remarried on June 22, 1741 to Dr. Thomas Walker (d. Nov. 1778 Albemarle Co., VA) probably inheriting some of the Meriwether property, including Tom Evans. Tom must have run away sometime during that marriage.
2) SARAH COLEY, lived with her master until his death; a slave ED CARTER.
There was an Edward Carter of Albemarle Co, VA, who was a brother-in-law of William Meriwether, grandson of Col. Nicholas Meriwether.
3) THOMPSON, died a young man in WILLIAM MEREWETHER's family. -before 1756.
SARAH COLEY's children:
1) KATE - Allotted WILLIAM HUDSON at division of WILLIAM MEREWETHER's estate; sent to Georgia to MORRIS***, then had children. ------ given to HUDSON abt 1756
(***This transcription is incorrect, actually reads: Kate -in Georgia -a slave to Meriwether has children)
2) BECK - Allotted WILLIAM HUDSON at division of WILLIAM MEREWETHER's estate; in Richmond.----- given abt 1756.
Children listed under KATE & BECK: DAVID & TOBY, no indication which mother.
(Update: Chart actually reads: BECK- in Richmond; children DAVID & TOBY)
3) HANNAH - Alotted to RICHARD MEREWETHER at division of WILLIAM MEREWETHER's estate; dead. ---- given abt 1756; died before 1805.
4) AMEY - A suckling child, allotted to RICHARD MEREWETHER with SARAH COLEY and after RICHARD's death to THOMAS MEREWETHER by RICHARD MEREWETHER will; had nine children, two children deformed. ---- b. abt 1756; then given to Richard?s brother, Thomas after 1766.
MILLY (plaintiff), MINGO*, SALLEY, HARRY, NANCY, AMEY, NELLY, RICHARD** (epeliptic, died Jan. 7, 1793), BEN.
ARCHY, JIM, ROBERT, MELAH.
*Note: HANNAH?s son MINGO, was MINGO JACKSON, alias THOMAS GIBSON, apparently the name that he took after he won his freedom.
**Note: Chart actually clearly reads RACHEL, not RICHARD
See original charts: http://freepages.family.rootsweb.com/~genealogyfriend/evans/evans_gib_cht.htm.