Fugitive Slave Records, 1820-1839

This index, which covers the time period 1820 - 1839*, is to the evidence gathered in cases in which an African-American was claimed in Chester County as a fugitive slave. The records contain the information specified in “An act to prevent kidnapping,” which was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature on March 27, 1820.

This law made it the duty of any judge or recorder within the Commonwealth to “make a fair record of the case, in which he shall enter the name, age, sex, and a general description of the person of the negro or mulatto, for whom he shall grant such a certificate or warrant of removal, together with the evidence and the names of places of residence of the witnesses and the party claiming such negro or mulatto, and shall within 10 days thereafter, file a certified copy thereof in the office of the clerk of the Court of Quarter Sessions of the Peace, of the city or county, in which he may reside.”

* Two commitments to the goal are also found in this collection from 1805. These records contain the name of the slave, the slave’s master & residence, name of the individual(s) who captured the slave and the amount received as a reward for the capture.