Compensation claim of Dr. Noble Young, May 2, 1862

Dublin Core


Compensation claim of Dr. Noble Young, May 2, 1862


Slaves--Emancipation--Washington (D.C.)


In 1862, Dr. Noble Young, Professor of the Principles and Practice of Medicine in the Medical Department of Georgetown College, submitted a petition for compensation from the federal government for the emancipation of seven people whom he had owned, who were freed by the 1862 DC Emancipation Act. Young's petition identified the slaves as Lucy Lancaster and her children: Henry, Matthew, Rachel, Henny, Eliza, and John. Dr. Young valued the family at $8600, but he was only awarded $2,737.50 in compensation by the government.

Dr. Noble Young was one of four doctors credited with founding the Medical Department at Georgetown College in 1850. Two others, Flodoardo Howard and Johnson Elliot, are also listed as slaveowners in the 1860 census. Dr. Young also served as the physician at the U.S. Penitentiary in DC for many years.

A "Certificate of Slaves Manumitted" from the DC Emancipation records, included here, reveals that Lucy Lancaster's children had the surname Douglass rather than Lancaster (as Young had indicated in his petition), and they appear in later census and other records with the surname Douglass, not Lancaster. Lucy Lancaster appears in the 1870 census as a cook in Dr. Young's household, along with her daughters, identified as Rachel Wright and Eliza Douglass.

Additional research is ongoing to learn more about Lucy Lancaster and her family, and to investigage other links between the Medical Department and slavery. Anybody with information on either of these topics is encouraged to contact the Georgetown Slavery Archive

For more on Noble Young and the founding of the Georgetown's Medical Department, see Curran, Bicentennial History of Georgetown University, vol. 1, pp. 145-157.


Records of the Board of Commissioners for the Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia, 1862-1863, M520, National Archives. Available through See also Civil War Washington for a transcription of Young's petition.


Georgetown Slavery Archive.




Adam Rothman. Transcribed by Civil War Washington.









Text Item Type Metadata



To the Commissioners under the act of Congress approved the 16th of April, 1862, entitled "An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia."

Your Petitioner, Noble Young of Washington D.C. by this his petition in writing, represents and states, that he is a person loyal to the United States, who, at the time of the passage of the said act of Congress, held a claim to service or labor against Seven persons of African descent of the name of Lucy Lancaster, Henry Lancaster, Nathan Lancaster, Rachael Lancaster, Henny Lancaster, Eliza Lancaster and John Lancaster for and during the life of said lives of said persons and that by said act of Congress said seven persons were was discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioner to such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said persons were of the ages below stated and of the personal description following:(1) Lucy Lancaster aged about 46 years is the mother of the others, light brown, Stout, able bodied and healthy: Henry Lancaster is about 30 years, dark brown, robust and powerful. Matthew Lancaster about 22 years old, is dark brown, medium size able bodied and active: Rachel Lancaster about 20 years of age is light brown, good size, active & healthy: Henny is about 18 years old, light brown, good size or medium size, active and healthy: Eliza Lancaster is about 16 years old, light brown, well grown and tall for her age, active and healthy: John Lancaster is about 13 years old, light brown, well grown for his age, active and healthy: they are all likely and cheerful.

That your petitioner acquired his claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said seven persons in manner following:(2) they are all family servants born in my father's family and were acquired by me from him: and although my father made a bill of sale to me for them for a nominal consideration, recorded in Liber J.A.S. No. 17 folio 163 in the Land Records. They were in fact received & acquired by me as my share of my deceased father's personal estate.

That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said seven persons was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of $8600 dollars in money.(3) viz: Lucy $800: Henry $1600: Matthew $1300: Rachael $1300: Henny $1300: Eliza $1100: John $1000: These are moderate market values: to your petitioner they were invaluable. What peculiarly enhances their value is their strict & scrupulous honesty: cheerful and affectionate dispositions: willingness to cook, capacity to learn and fidelity. Lucy an excellent cook—the men perfect waiters and the girls know nursing, washing and cooking.

Your petitioner hereby declares that he bears true and faithful allegiance to the Government of the United States, and that he has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid or comfort thereto.

And your petitioner further states and alleges, that he has not brought said persons or any of them into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said persons were was held to service or labor therein under and by virtue of your petitioner's claim to such service or labor.

Your petitioner further states and alleges, that his said claim to the service or labor of said seven persons does not originate in or by virtue of any transfer heretofore made by any person who has in any manner aided or sustained the present rebellion against the Government of the United States.

And your petitioner prays the said Commissioners to investigate and determine the validity of his said claim to the service or labor of said seven persons herein above set forth; and if the same be found to be valid, that they appraise and apportion the value of said claim in money, and report the same to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, in conformity to the provisions of said act of Congress.

(Signed by)
Noble Young

[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]
District of Columbia,
Washington County, ss.
I, Noble Young M.D. being duly sworn, do depose and say, that all the several matters and things which are set forth and stated in the foregoing petition, as of my own knowledge, are true in substance and in fact; and that all the several other matters and things therein set forth and stated, as from the information of others, I believe to be true in substance and in fact.

(Signed by)
Noble Young
Sworn to and subscribed before me this Second day of May A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
H. Naylor J. Peace
No. 8
Petition of Noble Young
Filed May 2, 1862.
Witnesses Henry Naylor
Rich H. Clarke

Note (1.)-- Here describe the person, so as to identify him or her; and if there be more than one slave, describe each one separately.

Note (2.)-- Here state how the claim was acquired, when, from whom, and for what price or consideration; and, if held under any written evidence of title, make exhibit thereof, or refer to the public record where the same may be found.

Note (3.)-- Here state such facts, if any there be, touching the value of the petitioner's claim to the service or labor of the person, as may enhance the same, and also such facts, if any, touching the moral, mental, and bodily infirmities or defects of said person, as impair the value of the petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and conclude such statement with an averment that the petitioner knows of no other infirmities or defects of said person which impair the value of petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and that he believes none other to exist. If the petitioner specify no such infirmity or defect, then his statement touching the value of his claim should conclude with an averment that he has no knowledge of any such infirmity or defect.

Original Format




Civil War Washington, “Compensation claim of Dr. Noble Young, May 2, 1862,” Georgetown Slavery Archive, accessed June 17, 2024,