Slave Manumissions, 1787-1844

RECORD GROUP: County Clerk
SERIES: Slave Manumissions
DATES: 1787-1844
VOLUME: 1 cubic foot (four books, 374 documents)


Instrument of Writing & Manumitting Paper
Negro Slave Sarah Johnson by owner Benjamin Meshue of Middletown
September 22, 1825 (title page only)


***Search/view the Slave Manumission document images***

***View Miscellaneous Book B***

The Manumission records are records of slaves being freed. This series is from books and loose papers.

Manumission is the voluntary act by a slave owner freeing his or her slaves. New Jersey was the last of the Northern states to end slavery. In 1804 the New Jersey Legislature passed a law for the gradual abolition of slavery. Slaves in New Jersey born before the 1804 Act took effect remained slaves unless manumitted by their owners. It was not until passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865 that the few remaining slaves in New Jersey were freed.

This record group consists of:
Deed of Manumissions, 1804-1844; 169 leaves, usually one slave per leave
Slave owner lists, 5, from 1771 & 1780 Shrewsbury, Stafford, Middletown, Freehold tax lists
Manumission Book C, 1815-1835, 185 manumissions
Manumission Book D, 1832-1850, 38 manumissions
Miscellaneous Book B, 1780-1816, 181 manumissions, (some repeated due to co-ownership)
Miscellaneous Book C, 1817-1833, 25 manumissions, (some repeated due to co-ownership)

Manumission Books C & D include both copies of the deeds of manumission and the certificates of examination by two overseers of the poor and two justices of the peace, attesting that the slave was of sound mind and body, and between the ages of twenty and forty.

At least one deed of manumission on file, that of Samuel Baily, a slave owned and freed by C. Hendrickson in 1835, was not recorded in either Manumission Book C or D.

Manumission records before 1791 are scattered in a variety of court records and other documents in the Monmouth County Archives and are not indexed with this series.

The Deeds of Manumission, Manumission Books C and D, and Miscellaneous Books B and C provide information concerning 429 manumissions, of which 428, excepting Baily, were published in Manumission Book of Monmouth County, New Jersey 1791-1844, compiled by Ellen Thorne Morris and edited by George H. Moss, Jr. This 75-page book was published in 1992 by the Jane G. Clayton, Monmouth County Clerk. Additional information regarding these records may be found in that publication.

This record series is open to researchers without restrictions.

Copies of the original deeds of manumission, covering the period 1808-1844, are available for use on microfilm. The documents are arranged in chronological order by date filed in the County Clerk’s Office. The original Manumission Books C & D and Miscellaneous Books B and C are also available for use on microfilm.

Manumission Books C & D consisting of 224 digitized records are available online on the county website at Open Public Records Search System (OPRS). They are searchable by slave first name, slave last name, owner first name, owner last name, and date of manumission.

Miscellaneous Book B is online. It is not electronically searchable but the book does include an index.

An Access database is available offline, which includes 431 records from Manumission Books C & D and Miscellaneous Books B & C.

A copy of Manumission Book of Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1791-1844, is on file in the Archives reading room.

Individual deeds of manumission are arranged by year recorded.

Miscellaneous Book B is arranged chronologically. Names of slave owners in the index in the front pages of the book are noted “Manumission.” The deeds of manumissions recorded in this 176-page book are interspersed with other records, such as the establishment of Baptist Church of Middletown; a report of the death of Patriot Abel Ivins mentioning that his wife Valeriah is now indigent; and other types. As there was no deadline for owners to file, the manumission dates are not in chronological order.

Manumission Books C & D are arranged chronologically as the clerk recorded the reports submitted by slave owners.

Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-308-3771

The Manumission records were transferred to the Archives prior to 1992 by the County Clerk Jane G. Clayton. Miscellaneous Book B was transferred to the Archives by the New Jersey State Archives in 2002, Accession No. 2002-05.

The finding aid was created June 1994; and revised February 2007 and June 2015. George Joynson completed the database on June 9, 2015. Manumission Book C was digitized July 28, 2012. Manumission Book D was digitized January 4, 2010. Miscellaneous Book B was digitized October 15, 2008.

Additional information regarding these records may be found in Manumission Book of Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1791-1844. Archives has information about slave births in the Slave Births finding aid, and digitized Slave Birth records are available through OPRS. Early Manumission records before 1808 can also be found in Wills, Road Returns, and court records. See also sales of slaves in Bills of Sale Collection.