Corotoman Slave Histories

PHOTO CAPTION: The image above is the beginning of a 1775 list of slaves owned by Charles Carter of Corotoman and Shirley.

Thanks to the dedication of Patrick Heffernan, Ph.D., a Historic Christ Church & Museum researcher, we are very pleased to present this rich record of the enslaved persons whose work and lives on the Corotoman plantation might otherwise have remained largely hidden. Corotoman is the Carter family estate on the Rappahannock River upon which historic Christ Church was built in the 1730s.

The Corotoman Slave Histories are a detailed analysis and database of over 4,000 references to slaves who lived and worked at Corotoman during its long history. The references were extracted from over two hundred original documents spanning 1656 to 1862. These written references occurred so often, so evenly, and for so long that they made it possible to identify over 1,200 Corotoman slaves as individuals.

For most of these enslaved persons, we have gained a good idea of their lifespans. For many, we have learned of family relationships or events from their lives. Set against the complete silence surrounding the lives of most slaves, these findings are remarkable. Special attention is given to the division of the Corotoman slaves between two owners in 1813, to the flight of sixty-nine Corotoman slaves to the British in the War of 1812, and to the later appearance of those refugees as free persons living in British territories.

Not only did the Corotoman slaves labor and reside on the same plantation as Christ Church, but some also participated in its very construction. It is fitting that their lives be remembered here.

Go to The Corotoman Slave Histories website now.