"I overvalue her:"Fr. McElroy disputes the price of slaves sold to Louisiana, February 18, 1840.

Dublin Core


"I overvalue her:" Fr. McElroy disputes the price of slaves sold to Louisiana, February 18, 1840.


Slave Trade; Slave Sale; Slavery


In this letter from 1840, Fr. John McElroy, acting as Procurator of the Maryland Jesuits, and Dr. Jesse Batey haggle over the price of three enslaved persons sold in 1838 to Louisiana. After the sale, Batey demanded a sum to be deducted for some of the enslaved persons he purchased from the Jesuits.

The dispute between Batey and the Jesuits focused on the valuation of Eliza, Simon, and Jones, for whom Batey expected "a just compensation." This remarkable document also offers additional information on the aftermath of the 1838 sale to Gov. Johnson. McElroy mentions how "some servants, who were to be sold to him, ran away," and that Johnson "sold to the Rev. J. Carbery, in St. Inigoes a servt. girl who had remained there." This was probably Louisa Mahoney.

This letter is part of the Addenda of the Maryland Province Archives, an addition to the existing records of the Province.


Maryland Province Archives


Georgetown Slavery Archive




Adam Rothman, Elsa Barraza Mendoza, Transcription by Hillary MacKinlay


Maryland Province Archives, Society of Jesus









Text Item Type Metadata


[Page 147]

[February 18, 1840, John McElroy at St. John’s College in Frederick, MD, to Jesse Batey in Thibodauxville, LA]

Respected sir,

Previously to the departure of the Rev Thos. F. Mulledy for Europe he assigned yr notes to the Revd. Wm. McSherry, and in the month of december last the latter gentleman departed this life, having previously executed his testamt. & last will whereby he bequeathed to me the whole of the property real, personal & mixed, at law & in equity, of which he died possessed, or was then entitled to. Being the sole heir & administrator of the Revd. Wm. McSherry, you will perceive my power and authority to receive, collect, and render acquittances as fully as he might have done.

In reply to yr. letter of Jany 23d. 1840, to the Revd. Wm. McSherry I would respectfully suggest that the interest on your notes, as the same shall accrue, is payable in G.T., D.C. & as I am but little acquainted with the form and mode of negotiating exchanges, I would greatly prefer you making the march paymt. according to the provisions of our agreemt. Yr friends in N.O. may easily and if not directly, at least by means of their correspondence in Bre. Philada. or N.Y. procure a check on any of the Banks in the D.C. for the interest due on the 31st. of march 1840, after the deduction of the sum agreed on for the servt. girl Eliza, & for yr claims about the Servt. men Simon & Jones.

In relation to the Servt. girl Eliza, yet in G.T. no ^ individual valuation of her, or of any of the 53 other servants sold with her was made in the sale, but after the enumeration of the 54 Servts. by their respective names & age, it was expressed that they were sold for the sum of $25000. To come therefore to a just valuation, at that time, of the said servt. girl, then 12 years of age, I beg leave to offer to yr. consideration the two following cases. Immediately after the sale of servants made to the Honble Hy Johnson on the 10. of Nov. 1838, some servants, who were to be sold to him, ran away & he obliged himself by an intrument [sic] in writing to take any of them, when consigned to him, at a determined price

[Page 148]
for each of them, their age being described. Among those was a girl of 12 years of age for whom was fixed $432, and she was larger & stronger than Eliza. In offering therefore for Eliza the same sum, & the interest on it from the 6
th of July 1838 to march 31st. 1840, I think really I overvalue her. Moreover the Honble Hy Johnson, last summer, sold to the Revd. Jh. Carbery, in St. Inigoes, a servt. girl, who had remained there, being then 20. years old, and of a healthy & robust constitution, for $648. If notwithstanding the consideration of these two cases, you think that $477 for the servt. girl Eliza, namely $432 & 45 interest from July 6th. 1838. to march 31st. 1840 are not enough, I would respectfully suggest, that you name any gentleman in Washington, or Georgetown, and that I appoint another one, to determine the sum to be deducted for her, from the interest due on march 31st. 1840., & their decision, on my part, I shall consider as final.

About the compensation you claim for the state of health of Simon and Jones  (some having been promised to you by the Revd. Thos. F. Mulledy in case that they should not be bettered in their health.), I leave it to yr. high sense of propriety, & willingly acquiesce to what you will consider to be a just compensation; taking in consideration the services those men may still render, & also the low price at which you had the whole of the servants. The sum thus fixed by yourself may be deducted from the title statement which I take the liability to join below for the interest due on the 31st. of march 1840.

The Revd. Francis Vespre of G.T. Coll., D.C, who acted as agent of the late Revd. Wm. McSherry, continuing to do the same for me, [in form of my - crossed out], in form of my letters of attorney, I request you would be pleased to correspond with him for any thing that has relation to yr. former transactions with the Revd. Thos. F. Mulledy, which, as I have above stated to you, are at present in my charges

[Page 149]
I send you therefore this letter through the said Rev
d Fr. Vespre to introduce him to yr. acquaintance.

Please to inform the Honble Hy Johnson, that I am the sole heir & administrator of the late Revd. Wm. McSherry, & that the Revd. Fr. Vespre of G.T., D.C. is my attorney.

I have the honour to remain, Respy. Sir, yr. bedt. Servt
John McElroy.

Interest due on $27057. from Nov. 10th. 1838 to the 31st. of march 1840.---$2254.74.

Deduction for the servt. girl Eliza, if agreed on, namely: for her valuation on July 6th 1838, being then 12. years old $432.

interest from July 6th. 1838. to march 31st. 1840. 45. 477. +


deduction for the state of health of the servants Simon & Jones   …………..

balance of interest due on the 31st. of march 1840. $

Original Format




Maryland Province Archives , “"I overvalue her:"Fr. McElroy disputes the price of slaves sold to Louisiana, February 18, 1840.,” Georgetown Slavery Archive, accessed July 14, 2024, https://slaveryarchive.georgetown.edu/items/show/381.