Emancipation Event to Feature Descendants of Families Manumitted by 1791 Deed
A program this Saturday at 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Heathsville will commemorate the 225th anniversary of Robert Carter III’s 1791 Deed of Emancipation. Recorded at the Northumberland District Courthouse on September 5, 1791, the deed provided for the gradual manumission of more than 500 enslaved African-Americans living on plantations Carter owned in Virginia. It was likely the largest single emancipation in the United States before the Civil War.
Along with music from the First Baptist Church Choir and a historical reenactment featuring Robert Carter III and black Baptist minister Gowan Pamphlet, several descendants from those families manumitted by Carter’s deed will participate in the program, reported Historic Christ Church & Museum Education Director & Curator Robert Teagle. Thomas Duckenfield, a descendant of the Thompson and Newman families, will share his thoughts in an address entitled, “Intersecting Worlds: The Unique and Peculiar Zodiac Orbiting Robert Carter III’s Historic 1791 Manumission.” Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Mr. Duckenfield graduated cum laude from Princeton University and earned his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School. He served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Lieutenant and a reserve Captain in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Today he is a partner at the law firm Wong Fleming.
LaTonya Lawson-Jones, also a descendant of the Thompson and Newman families, will discuss her website, the Nomini Hall Slave Legacy project (nominihallslavelegacy.com). The site includes lists of all the individuals known to have been manumitted by Carter’s deed, and it seeks to connect descendants and preserve the spirit and legacy of their ancestors who forged a new world in freedom, said Teagle.
Following the program, Mrs. Lawson-Jones, as well as representatives from the Northern Neck of Virginia Historical Society, Mary Ball Washington Museum & Library and Historic Christ Church & Museum, will be on hand to share research materials and resources for persons interested in learning more about the history of the area and doing genealogical research.