Guide to the Cordelia Jones free papers issued by the Loudoun County, Virginia court, March 12, 1829
Cordelia Jones free papers issued by the Loudoun County, Virginia court C0379
Published by George Mason University Libraries
Before the emancipation of enslaved people in the 1860s, Loudoun County, Virginia (like many parts of the United States, particularly states where slavery was legal) forced free Black residents to prove that they were not enslaved with documents provided by the county court. As noted by Bronwen Souders of the Loudoun County Heritage Commission, "Each individual was required to carry a 'freedom paper' as legal proof of his or her status at any time they were away from home" ("Enslavement, Freedom, and the Courthouse (1757-1861)," 19). Without these papers, white slavecatchers or government officials could have abducted Cordelia Jones and enslaved her (see Robert Hill, "Explore the Newly Discovered Papers"). In 1830, the year after the Loudoun County Court issued Cordelia Jones these free papers, there were 1079 free Black residents in Loudoun County, 5% of the population (Souders, 15).
Free papers for Cordelia Jones, a free Black woman, in Loudoun County, Virginia. The paper declares that she is "free born" and the daughter of Mary Jones, register no. 548. The paper gives a detailed physical description of Cordelia, including her height and scars. The papers are signed and sealed by Charles Binns, the Clerk of the Court.
This collection consists of a single item.
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There are no access restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use
Public domain. There are no known restrictions.
The Loudoun County Clerk of the Circuit Court maintains indexes of records naming free Black people before 1865, as well as indexes of records associated with enslaved people before 1865.
Binns, Charles, 1763-1837
Virginia. Circuit Court (Loudoun County)
Loudoun County (Va.)
African Americans -- Virginia
Free African Americans
Cordelia Jones free papers issued by the Loudoun County, Virginia, court, C0379, Special Collections Research Center, George Mason University
Purchased by Lynn Eaton from Jerry Showalter in August 2019.
Processed by Liz Beckman in December 2020. EAD markup by Liz Beckman in December 2020.
Souders, Bronwen, 'Enslavement, Freedom, and the Courthouse (1757-1861).' In 'The History of the Loudoun County Courthouse and Its Role in the Path to Freedom, Justice, and Racial Equality in Loudoun County,' 14-21. Loudoun County Heritage Commission, March 1, 2019.
Hill, Robert. 'Explore the Newly Discovered Papers.' In 'The Freedom Papers,' part of 'Free at Last? Slavery in Pittsburgh in the 18th and 19th Centuries.' University Library System, University of Pittsburgh, 2009, http://exhibit.library.pitt.edu/freeatlast/papers_listing.html, accessed December 11, 2020.