Lucy: Freedom Suit, Petersburg City
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To the Hon'l John F May Judge of the C Spr Ct of law & Chancery for the town of Petersburg. The answer of Wm. M. Atkinson and Peter P Batte executors of Mary L. Parish dec'd. to a bill of injunction exhibited against them & others in the said Court by Lucy. These respondents saving &c for answer to as much of the said bill as they are advised that it is material for them to answer, say that the said Mary L Parish made & published her last will & testament a true copy of which is filed by the complainant, that they qualified as the executors of the said will in the Hustings Ct of the town of Petersburg, that the said testatrix made such provision in the said will with regard to the manumission of the said Lucy as showed that she claimed one half of her value and allowed to her brother Campbell and her sister Epes only one fourth each of the said Lucy, that this provision was that if the said Lucy would consent to go to the colony at Liberia and the said brother & sister would agree to receive each one fourth part of the valuation of the said Lucy that then your respondents should purchase their interest in the said Lucy at that price and send her to the said colony, that they finding the said Dr. Campbell and Mrs Epes claiming each an equal interest in the said Lucy with their testatrix that is one third part and not wishing to act on their own judgment in a matter in which the liberty of their fellow creatures was involved submitting the will of their testatrix to very eminent counsel who advised them that they had no authority to purchase the said Lucy and the other two slaves at more than the proportion provided for in the said will -- and that the legacy to Mr. Rice being a specific Legacy must be paid before the said slaves could be set free. That supposing from the will this testatrix was very little in Debt they paid the said legacy but upon the examination of the accounts of their testatrix as the executrix of her husband Talbott Parish they found that she was very largely indebted to his estate--that after the sale of all her property both real & personal except the slaves they found that the proceeds of the sale were entirely inadequate to pay the debts and have therefore hired out the slaves to this time to make up in part the deficiency--that they believe there will not be ample funds to pay the debts of the estate & that they will not be able to purchase the slaves or one of them to send to Liberia without selling the others--that the said Dr Campbell has agreed with your respondent P P Batte to take for his interest in the said Lucy and said he thought Mrs Epes would for hers the proportion which they claim which is one third each but that he has always refused & said his sister in his opinion would refuse to take the part provided in the said will to be paid which is one fourth each--that the said Lucy has always refused to go to Liberia although your respondent Peter P Batte has frequently endeavoured to persuade her to go and in order to induce her to as so promised to request Dr Campbell to accept the proportion provided to be paid in the said will but she said she had rather be sold to the negro buyers. that under these circumstances the said Campbell & Epes brought a suit in the county Ct of Nottoway praying that your respondents must be compelled to sell the said Lucy & pay them the amt claimed by them of the purchase money. that a decree was then obtained against them according to the prayer of the will under which decree the said Lucy was advertised to be sold by the commissioners appointed by that court