The Thompson and Newman African American families of Westmoreland and Richmond Counties, Virginia have enjoyed freedom since 1791. Their descendants survive today in Richmond County, Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland, Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington D.C. The pride that these families have exhibited from pre emancipation slavery days through post emancipation has provided a major inspiration for my chronicling their fascinating history.
Thompson and Newman ancestors find their origins in Westmoreland County, Virginia. Colonial records indicate that before becoming freedmen, they resided at several plantations owned by Robert Carter III, including Nomini Hall, which Robert Carter II built about 1732 on one tract of land containing over 25,000 acres.
After Robert Carter II’s death in 1734, his son Councillor Robert Carter III assumed the management of his large estate. Councillor Carter divided his lands into sixteen farms, twelve of which he named after the signs of the zodiac. Nomini Hall in Westmoreland County, Virginia was the showplace of its owner’s many accomplishments in music, literature, science and the arts.
In 1791, having concluded to free his slaves before his death, Councillor Carter executed an intricate legal document of manumission. It was through this act of conscience that the Thompson and Newman families gained their freedom. Interestingly, because Councillor Carter ordered each slave to register officially in court both a first and last name with which to start their new lives, it appears that the Newmans and Thompsons chose their respective surnames.
An 1801 List of Free Blacks in Westmoreland County, Virginia enumerates several of the Thompsons and Newmans whom Councillor Robert Carter III had manumitted.
More information about the 1791 Carter manumission can be found at www.nominihallslavelegacy.com