Bill of sale for 7-year-old Peter from Martha Avery to Luther Smith

  • Image for Bill of sale for 7-year-old Peter from Martha Avery to Luther Smith
  • Image for Bill of sale for 7-year-old Peter from Martha Avery to Luther Smith
2 images
Written by
Avery, Martha, American, 1751 - unknown
Subject of
Smith, Luther, American, 1755 - 1839
Smith, Isaac, American, 1744 - 1817
Smith, Mary, American, 1753 - 1832
Avery, Solomon, American, 1729 - 1798
Medium
ink on paper, with wax
Dimensions
H x W: 6 3/4 × 8 1/16 in. (17.1 × 20.5 cm)
Type
bills of sale
Place made
Gilmanton, Belknap, New Hampshire, United States, North and Central America
Date
February 20, 1782; reworked 1869
Description
A bill of sale for Peter, a seven-year old enslaved boy identified as a servant. The child was sold by Martha Avery of Gilmanton, New Hampshire to Luther Smith of Plainfield, Connecticut. Avery states that she purchased Peter from "Sollon Avery of Norwich" and that the boy is to remain enslaved until Peter is twenty-six years old and then he should be emancipated. The document is handwritten in black ink and reads:
[Know all Men by Those Presents that I Martha Avery of Gilmanton in the State of New Hampshire in the Consideration of Ten pounds Lawfull [sic] Money to me paid by Luther Smith of Plainfield in the State of Connecticut have bargained and Sold and Do hereby Give grant and Assign to him the Said Luther Smith my Negro boy a Servant Called Peter of About Seven years of Age which I Purchased of Sollon Avery of Norwich to have and to hold the Said Negro boy with his Apperal [sic] Until he is Twenty Six Years of Age, and I covenant and Engage to and with the Said Luther Smith and his heirs and Assigns that the said Negro Shall be a Slave till he is Twenty Six years of Age and then to be free and I will warrant and Defend the Said Negro Against the Claims of all Persons.]
The bill of sale is signed and given a seal by Martha Avery on February 20, 1782. The original date states the thirteenth but has been crossed out multiple times and the [twentieth] written above. On the bottom left, the document is witnessed by Isaac Smith and Mary Smith. In a different hand and darker ink, underneath Martha Avery's signature and seal, is written [My / Grandmother / Martha Smith]. The same writing can be seen on the left edge of the paper, written perpendicular [When Peter was 21 years he bought his / Free]. On the back of the document, written in the center in the original hand is [A Bill of Sail / of Peter]. Underneath written in the second hand, [had only one / Name in that Day.] Written above this, upside down, in the second hand, [A Relic of / Olden Time, / it is now, / 1869.] The document has two distinct crease marks vertically, and an additional crease line horizontally, showing the paper had been folded in thirds and then in half.
Topic
African American
Children
Domestic slave trade
Emancipation
Reconstruction (United States History, 1865-1877)
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Frederick L. and Lauren M. Burton
Object number
2017.38
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification
Slavery and Freedom Objects
Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture