1798 Sale: Tony

Item

Title
1798 Sale: Tony
Identifier
NJS-EVE-00675
Source
Indenture for Tony, sold by Thomas Read and Archibald Read to John Neilson
Certification of Tony’s consent to be sold to John Neilson
Indenture for Tony, sold by Thomas Read and Archibald Read to John Neilson, April 24, 1798. 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.
Certification of Tony’s consent to be sold to John Neilson, April 24, 1798. 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
On April 24, 1798, Thomas Read and Archibald Read sold a Black man named Tony to John Neilson of New Brunswick, NJ, for a term of 5 years. John Neilson paid 100 dollars for Tony (50 dollars to each of Tony's two sellers). Tony was an adult at this time, but his age was not recorded in the relevant documents.

The sellers were the sons of the late Rev. Israel Read (late long-time pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Bound Brook in Somerset County), and they had inherited Tony from their father when he passed away in 1793. Where exactly Tony lived between 1793 and this sale in 1798 is unclear. The Read brothers grew up in Bound Brook, but Dr. Thomas Read lived in Montgomery County in upstate New York in 1798. He personally came to New Brunswick to sign the sale documents. Archibald Read probably also lived outside of the area by 1798 because he did not personally appear at the sale. Archibald had the executor of his father's estate, Dr. Moses Scott, sign the documents and accept the payment on his behalf. As the result of this sale, Tony would go to live with John Neilson in New Brunswick.

Two archival documents pertaining to the sale were preserved in the Neilson Family Papers. Both documents were dated April 24, 1798. In the documents, the sellers' family name is variously spelled Read or Reed, and the name of the enslaved man is variously written as Tony or Tone.

The first document is an indenture for Tony, an agreement between the sellers Thomas Read and Archibald Read (signed by Moses Scott on Archibald's behalf) and the buyer John Neilson. This indenture was witnessed by Judge Elijah Phillips and Joseph W. Scott. The indenture stated that Tony was sold for a period of 5 years from the date of the sale. The indenture did not explicitly state what would happen to Tony after the 5-year term, but it said that Thomas and Archibald "divest themselves of all right & title in the said negro man Tony." This seems to imply that Tony was supposed to gain freedom at the expiration of the 5-year term in 1803 and would not return to the Read family.

The second document is a certification of Tony's consent to be sold to John Neilson for the 5-year term. This certification was signed by Elijah Phillips, Judge of the Common Pleas for Middlesex County, who noted that Tony personally appeared before him and agreed to the terms of the sale.

See the linked sources for the complete transcripts of the documents.
Event Type
Freedom status transaction: Sale
Date
24 April 1798
Primary Participant
Tony
Participant Details
DETAILS FOR PRIMARY PARTICIPANTS:

*** Tony ***
Role: Sold Person
Age category: Adult
Status: Enslaved
Enslaver(s) of this participant:
- Thomas Read
- Archibald Read
- John Neilson (1745-1833)
Verbatim description from source:
"negro man named Tony formerly belonging to the estate of the late Israel Reed decd"

==========

DETAILS FOR OTHER PARTICIPANTS:

Thomas Read
Role: Enslaver - Seller

Archibald Read
Role: Enslaver - Seller

John Neilson (1745-1833)
Role: Enslaver - Buyer

Moses Scott (1738-1821)
Role: Agent for Enslaver

Joseph Warren Scott (1778-1871)
Role: Witness

Elijah Phillips
Role: Judge

Israel Read (d. 1793)
Role: Deceased
Record Contributor
Jesse Bayker

Linked resources

Items with "Following Event: 1798 Sale: Tony"
Title Class
1785 Will (of Israel Read): Tony, Isabel, Jean Event
Items with "Event: 1798 Sale: Tony"
Title Class
Participant Details: Tony as Sold Person in 1798 Sale event NJS-EVE-00675 Event Participation