Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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THIS DAY IN VIRGINIA HISTORY

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May 23, 1791

Manumission of Francis Drake, dated 23 May 1791, Norfolk City Deed Book 1, 1784–1791, Local Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Thomas Newton Freed Francis Drake

By this deed of manumission Thomas Newton, of the Borough of Norfolk, freed his slave Francis Drake. The deed mentions "An Act to Authorize the Manumission of Slaves," which was passed by the General Assembly in 1782. The act allowed slaveholders to free slaves that they owned by writing a document and declaring it in county court. Prior to this act, slaveholders wishing to emancipate a slave were required to obtain a special act of assembly.