Runaway Ad for the Queen Family, 1795
On May 1, 1795, John Ashton, the manager of White Marsh plantation posted a runaway slave advertisement for twelve members of the Queen family in the Maryland Gazette: two men named Billy, two men named Tom, Fanny, Isaac, Jack, Lewis, Matthew, Nick, Paul, and Simon.
In the ad, Ashton asserts that the Queen family "quitted [him] for no other reason but because they were not set free at the last court." He offered a reward of £12 for their return.
In 1794, members of the Queen family filed petitions for their freedom in the General Court of the Western Shore at Annapolis, Maryland. They based their petitions for freedom on the claim that they were descended from a free woman named Mary Queen.
Documents in the Queens' case against Ashton may be found at the O Say Can You See: Early Washington, D.C., Law & Family website.
Ashton had been a Jesuit priest (the Society was suppressed at this time) and a founder of Georgetown.
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ABSENTED themselves from my service since the Late Prince-George’s and Anne-Arundel county courts, the following twelve NEGROES, calling themselves QUEENS; Simon, Billy, Jack, Lewis, Isaac, Paul, Matthew, and Tom, very black negroes, and Tom, Billy, Nick, and Fanny, of a brown complexion; they are all young, hearty, and well made negroes, and quitted me for no other reason but because they were not set free at the last court. As I have recognized for the said negroes I conceive that I do not forfeit their services, nor lose any share of my authority over them, before trial; I do therefore promise the above reward to any person who will inform me where the aforesaid negroes may be found, and be witness against such persons as harbor or employ them, or TWENTY SHILLINGS for each one. I likewise forewarn all persons from harbouring or employing the said negroes at their peril, as I am determined to prosecute every such person agreeably to law.