1794 Sale: Jef

Item

Title
1794 Sale: Jef
Identifier
NJS-EVE-00668
Source
Letter from Robert Finley to John Neilson regarding Jef
Letter from John Neilson to Robert Finley regarding Jef
Letter from Robert Finley to John Neilson regarding Jef, February 27, 1794. Neilson Family Papers, 1768-1908 (MC 933). Box 4, Folder 45: J & J Neilson - Papers relating to purchase of slaves. Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.
Letter from John Neilson to Robert Finley regarding Jef, February 25, 1794. Neilson Family Papers, 1768-1908 (MC 933). Box 4, Folder 45: J & J Neilson - Papers relating to purchase of slaves. Special Collections and University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries.
Event Description
Correspondence between Col. John Neilson of New Brunswick and the Rev. Robert Finley of Princeton in February 1794 discussed Neilson's plans to purchase Jef from Mr. Mattison of Princeton for the sum of 90 pounds. It is unclear whether this sale was ever finalized.

In a letter sent on February 25, 1794, Neilson asked his friend Finley to discreetly find out information about Jef's skills and character. Neilson sought information from someone other than Mr. Mattison and hoped to get an honest assessment of Jef's personality and habits. On February 27, 1794, Finley sent a reply saying that he had asked around and obtained information from Samuel Snowden, who had lived with Mattison and was well acquainted with Jef. The name Samuel Snowden mentioned by Finley in the letter likely refers to the Rev. Samuel Finley Snowden (1767-1845), a Presbyterian minister who was studying theology in Princeton at the time and would become the pastor of the Princeton church in 1795.

Finley's letter described Jef as a healthy and sober young man 21 years of age. Jef was skilled at tending a kitchen garden and had limited experience managing horses—an activity that he seemed to like. Finley also noted that Jef routinely left the household at night because he was lonely at Mattison's home. Most likely, this means that Jef was separated from his family at Mattison's and had to go outside of the household in order to see his loved ones. This was a common situation for enslaved young adults in New Jersey who often experienced isolation in white households and were at a considerable distance from their own family members.

For the full transcript of the two letters, see the linked source documents.
Event Type
Freedom status transaction: Sale
Date
February 1794
Related Event
1793 Sale: Jef
Primary Participant
Jef (b. 1773)
Enslaver
Mr. Mattison
Additional Participant
John Neilson (1745-1833)
Robert Finley (1772-1817)
Samuel Finley Snowden (1767-1845)
Participant Details
DETAILS FOR PRIMARY PARTICIPANTS:

*** Jef (b. 1773) ***
Role: Sold Person
Age: 21
Status: Enslaved
Enslaver(s) of this participant:
- Mr. Mattison
Verbatim description from source:
"negro boy belonging to Mr. Mattison; healthy & 21 years of age"

==========

DETAILS FOR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:

Mr. Mattison
Role: Enslaver - Seller

John Neilson (1745-1833)
Role: Buyer

Robert Finley (1772-1817)
Role: Witness

Samuel Finley Snowden (1767-1845)
Role: Witness
Record Contributor
Jesse Bayker

Linked resources

Items with "Related Event: 1794 Sale: Jef"
Title Class
1793 Sale: Jef Event
Items with "Event: 1794 Sale: Jef"
Title Class
Participant Details: Jef as Sold Person in 1794 Sale event NJS-EVE-00668 Event Participation