Manumission is the act of a slaveowner releasing an individual from slavery. This collection contains manumission records from multiple sources including the Middlesex County Book of Manumissions, Neilson Family Papers, and the records of the New York Manumission Society.

Several officers and benefactors of Queen’s College (later Rutgers College) manumitted black men and women in the early nineteenth century. Their manumission records have been digitized and transcribed here. For example, the college’s namesake Henry Rutgers manumitted a man named Thomas Boston. Andrew Kirkpatrick manumitted Sarah, Abraham Glasgow, and Samuel Lane. James Parker, who donated land for the college campus, manumitted John Annin, also known as Jack. John Neilson manumitted Ambo and Phillis.

According to New Jersey law, slaveholders had to present their certificates of manumission to the county clerk. William P. Deare served as the clerk for Middlesex County from 1801 to 1825 (and he also served as a trustee of Queen’s College). William P. Deare copied every certificate of manumission by hand into a large bound volume. This volume is known as the Book of Manumissions and is now held at the Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives. Sample pages from this volume have been digitized and transcribed here. Scarlet and Black researchers are now in the process of creating a complete dataset of manumissions for Middlesex County based on this book.

Collection Items

Bound manuscript volume containing copies of legal documents pertaining to slaves in Middlesex County for the period 1800–1825. Legal and historical records often refer to this volume as the "Book of Manumissions." However, only 75% of the records…

Manumission of Abraham Glasgow by slaveholder Andrew Kirkpatrick
Slaveholder Andrew Kirkpatrick manumitted a man named Abraham Glasgow on May 1, 1809. Kirkpatrick and Glasgow appeared in court on April 29, 1809. The county officials examined Abraham Glasgow’s certificate of baptism to confirm that he was between…

Manumission of Sarah by slaveholder Andrew Kirkpatrick
Slaveholder Andrew Kirkpatrick manumitted a woman named Sarah on July 3, 1802. Sarah was between 21 and 40 years old, and her exact age was not recorded by the court. The Middlesex County Book of Manumissions and Removals contains one record related…
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