East Indians in Maryland and Virginia


East Indians who completed indentures in Maryland counties:

Thomas Mayhew was free from his indenture in Prince George's County [Judgment Record 1728-9, 413].

Hayfield was free from his indenture in Prince George's County in March 1781 [Judgment Record 1777-82, 671, 712-3].

John Williams was free from his indenture in Charles County in January 1706/7 [Court Record 1704-10, 272, 288].

William Creek was free from his indenture in Anne Arundel County in March 1736/7 [Court Record 1736-8, 126].

Juba was free from his indenture in Anne Arundel County in 1763 [Judgment Record 1760-2, 166].

East Indians apparently blended into the free African American population. Peter, an East Indian who was one of the ancestors of the Fisher family, had a child by a white woman named Mary Molloyd about 1680 and "became a free Molato after serving some time to Major Beale of St. Mary's County" [Anne Arundel County Judgment Record 1734-6, 83; 1743-4, 11].

William Creek successfully petitioned the Anne Arundel County Court for his freedom from his master, Samuel Chew, on 8 March 1736/7. He testified that he was born in the East Indies and carried as a young boy to England where he was apprenticed to an apothecary. Chew's nephew testified that William played a prank by giving someone a love potion. This so offended the apothecary's wife and daughter that the apothecary consigned William to the captain of a ship headed to Maryland [Judgment Record 1736-8, 126].

Thomas1 Mayhew may have been identical to Thomas India who petitioned the Prince George's County, Maryland Court in March 1729 stating that he was free born, baptized in England, and imported with his mother into Maryland under indenture. However, he was detained as a slave by Madam Eleanor Addison [Court Record 1728-9, 413]. He was probably the father of

Thomas2 Mayhew, born say 1735, escaped from the Prince George's County jail according to the 29 May 1760 issue of the Maryland Gazette. He was described as "of a very dark Complexion, his Father being an East-India Indian ... formerly lived in lower Prince George's County" [Green, The Maryland Gazette, 1727-61, 246].


Maryland Prerogative Court (Inventories) Microfilm Roll 63, CD 1, ac 1238, Liber 2, 1676

 pp.177-178 (CD pp.208-9)

Inventory of Capt Edward Roe 3rd day of July 1676

1 boy servant named John Thorn at 5 years to serve - 2000 pounds tobacco

1 East India servant boy - 2500 pounds tobacco

(Talbot County)


Maryland Prerogative Court (Inventories) 1718-1720, SR 4328, filmed by Maryland State Archives

pp. 464-469, Inventory of Samuel Chew late of Anne Arundel County this 6 January 1718:

53 Negro men & woman at 30 pounds each 1590 pounds

29 children 580 pounds

2 East India Indians 30 pounds

1 Woman Servant 10 pounds


SR 4333, 1729-1730, Volume 14  

p.251, Inventory of Elizabeth Duhadway late of Ann Arundel County, 1 June 1729

To one East India Indian named Aron Johnson having two years and a half to serve 7 pounds, 10 shillings


1732-1734, Volume 18

 p.310, Mr John Stokes of Baltimore Co, 22 January 1732

1 Negro named Tom aged about 45 years 30 pounds

1 white servant about 14 mos to serve 6 pounds

1 East India Indian about 16 mos to serve 2 pounds



Windley, Runaway Slave Advertisements II:

p.36-7, Annapolis Maryland Gazette, July 17, 1760

Upper Marlborough, July 15, 1760

Ran away from Mr. Hepburn's Plantation, near Rock-Creek Bridge in Frederick County, on Saturday the 12th Instant, a Negro Man named Will, a little more than 5 feet high; he is of a yellow Complexion, being of a mix'd Breed, between an East-Indian and a Negro, has a large full Eyes, long Wool on his Head, and Lips.

J. Hepburn.

p.111, May 25, 1775

...living in Prince George's County, near Upper Marlborough, on Sunday the 26 the of March, a negro man, named Sam, but generally called and known by the name of Sam Locker; between thirty and forty years of age, has rather long hair, being of the East-Indian breed; he formerly belonged to Mr. Isaac Simmons near Pig Point, in Anne Arundel County; the said Simmons now lives near Calvert County court house, and I suppose the fellow may endeavor to get down to his old master's house.




Orders 1697-1703,

p.251, March 1699/1700, Henry Trent brings his servant Nick an East Indian adjudged 11 years old.



William Matthews, an East Indian, produced a warrant in Caroline County court on 13 February 1752 for taking up a runaway servant woman [Orders 1746-54, 296].



Richard1 Weaver, born say 1675, was called an East Indian by the Lancaster County court on 11 April 1711 when it granted him judgment against the estate of Andrew Jackson for 400 pounds of tobacco due by bill [Orders 1702-13, 262].

William1 Weaver, born say 1686, and Jack Weaver, "East Indy Indians," sued Thomas Pinkard for their freedom in Lancaster County court on 13 August 1707. The court allowed them five days time to produce evidence relating to their freedom but ordered them not to depart the county to some remote county without giving security to return to their master within the time allowed. Neither party appeared for the trial on 10 March 1707/8 [Orders 1702-13, 183, 176, 185].



Orders 1704-8,

p.111, 6 February 1705/6, Petition of Sembo, an East India Indian Servant to Jno. Lloyd, Esq., for his freedom.

p.156-9, Petition of Moota, an East India Indian, servant to Capt. Thomas Beale, surviving executor of Mr. William Colston, deced., for his freedom ... ordered and judged that said Moota be free ... ordered and adjudged that said Sembo be free.

Orders 1711-16,

p.479, 2 May 1716, Anthony an Indian v. Long, The Order made last March Court for the Sheriff to summon Henry Long to answer what should be offered against him by Anthony, an East India Indian, is hereby discontinued.



Orders 1735-38

p.440, Zachary Lewis, Churchwarden of St. George Parish, presents Ann Jones, a servant belonging to John West, who declared that Pompey an East Indian (slave) belonging to William Woodford, Gent., was the father of sd child which was adjudged of by the Court that she was not under the law having a Mullato child, that only relates to Negroes and Mullatoes and being Silent as to Indians, carry sd. Ann Jones to the whipping post.



Martha Gamby, born say 1675, was an (East) Indian woman living in England on 5 January 1701/2 when Henry Conyers made an agreement with her that she would serve him in Virginia on condition that he would pay her passage back to England if she wished to return within the following four years. The agreement was recorded in Stafford County court about 1704 [WB, Liber Z:194].



Orders 1705-21,

p.59a, 25 June 1707, Ordered Mr. Daniel Neale bee summoned to bee appear at the next Court held for the County aforesaid to answer the suit of William an East India Indian servant to the sd Neale relateing to his freedom.

p.83, 30 March 1708, Will an East India Indian late a supposed slave to Mr. Danll Neale by his Petition to this Court setting forth that some tyme in yeare 1689 being fraudulently trappand out of his Native Country in the East Indies and thence transported to England and soon after brought into this Country and sold as a slave to Mr. Christopher Neale deceased father of his sd present Master And that hee had ever since faithfully served the sd Christopher and Daniel Notwithstanding which the sd Daniel though often demanded denied him his freedome And the sd Daniel being summoned to answer the sd complaint appeared and both parties Submitted the whole matter of the complaint to the Court All which being maturely & fully heard It is considered by the Court that the sd Will ought not to have been sold as a slave and that he is a freeman And doe therefore discharge him from all service due to the sd Christopher or Danll Neale.



Orders, Wills, Etc. no 14, 1709-1716

p.288, 16 November 1713, Joseph Walker, Gent., in open Court acknowledged his release & acquittance to Moll an East India Indian.


p.291, whereas an East India Indian woman named Moll (imported into this Colony by Joseph Walker, Gent., ye year 1700 & by him sold to Jno. Tullett, being desirous of freedom ... acquit Moll from being a Slave. J. Walker


Orders, Wills, Etc. 15, 1716-20

p.82, 18 February 1716/7, Petition of Eliza Ives for service from her East Indian woman servt. for the trouble of her house in the time of her lying in is rejected.


Bruton Parish Church, York and James City County:

p. 115, 12 August 1738, burial of ____ny a East Indian belonging to Honble William Gooch, Esq.



15 April to 27 April 1737

Ran away from Col. John Lewis's in Gloucester ... Mulatto Fellow named George ... Ran away in Company with the above-mentioned was an East Indian, belonging to Mr. Heylin, Merchant, in Gloucester. John Lewis and John Heylyn.

4 August 1768. (Rind) Richmond County. Run away the 20th of May last, and East-India Indian, named Thomas Greenwich. William Colston.

7 March 1771. Run away from the sloop Betsy, Edward Massey commander, belonging to Mr. Thomas Hodge, out of Corotoman river, in Lancaster county, three servant men, viz., one named Samuel Tailer, and Englishman ... One Virginia born Negro, named Alexander Richardson about 21 years old ... The other an East Indian, upwards of 5 feet and a half high, about 22 years old, of a very dark complexion.

John Newton, sevt, c. 20, an Asiatic Indian by birth [or mulatto according to another edition of the gazette] has been in Va. about 2 mos. but claims to have lived in England 10 years in the service of Sir Charles Whitworth; ran away from William Brown of Prince William County Virginia Gazette 13 July 1776 Virginia Gazette Purdie edition 19 July 1776, p.249 Headley



Craven County

Minutes 1772-1778, 12 September 1777, p.58c-d Peter Charles vs John Egge Tomlinson This Case being Ruled for Trial this Day the Court provided to hear the Parties upon the Examination of Witnesses The court was Unanimous of the opinion that the said Peter Charles is an East India Indian and justly Intitled to his Freedom. Therefore Ordered that he be Immediately Discharged and Set Free and the Defendant John Edge Tomlinson pay all costs.


Mary Dove, born say 1710, was a "Negro woman" slave listed in the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, inventory of the estate of Eleazer Birkhead on 28 April 1744 [Prerogative Court (inventories) 1744-5, 43]. Birkhead's widow married Leonard Thomas, and Mary Dove sued him in Anne Arundel County court for her freedom in June 1746 [Judgment Record 1746-8, 118]. The outcome of the suit is not recorded, apparently because Thomas took her with him when he moved to Craven County, North Carolina. In September 1749 the Dove family was living in Craven County when William Smith complained to the court on their behalf that Leonard Thomas was detaining them as slaves:

Moll, Nell, Sue, Sall, & Will, Negroes Detained as Slaves by Leonard Thomas That they are free born Persons in the Province of Maryland and brought to this Province by the said Leonard Thomas

William Smith travelled to Maryland to prove their claim, and they were free by November 1756 when James Dove, a "Negro Servant," complained to the Craven County court that Smith was mistreating him, Nelly, Sue, Sarah, Moll, and William Dove [Haun, Craven County Court Minutes, IV:11-12, 366].

A grandson of Mary Dove named William Dowry was still held in slavery in Anne Arundel County in 1791 when he sued for his freedom in the General Court of Maryland. In October 1791 a fifty-seven or fifty-eight-year-old woman named Ann Ridgely (born about 1734), who was the daughter-in-law of Leonard Thomas, testified in Anne Arundel County that Mary Dove was a tall, spare woman of brown complexion and was the granddaughter of a woman imported into the country by the deponent's great grandfather. The deponent always understood that the grandmother of Mary Dove was a "Yellow Woman," had long black hair, was reputed to be an East Indian or a Madagascarian, and was called "Malaga Moll." Ridgely testified that Mary Dove had a daughter named Fanny who was the mother of William Dowry who petitioned for his freedom in the General Court of Maryland in 1791. She also testified that Mary Dove sued Leonard Thomas for freedom in Maryland, but before the suit was decided he moved with his family about twenty miles from Newbern, North Carolina, and took with him Mary, her three children, and her grandchildren Will and Sal. A certain Alexander Sands, commonly called Indian Sawony, was a witness for Mary Dove in her suit in Craven County, North Carolina, in 1749 and testified that her grandmother was an East Indian woman [Craven County Miscellaneous Records, C.R. 28.928.10, cited by Byrd, In Full Force and Virtue, 37-8].

Note, however, that claiming descent from an East Indian in order to minimize the African ancestry of a petitioner was not without precedent in Maryland. In August 1781 Rosamond Bentley brought suit in Prince George's County, Maryland court for her freedom based on descent from a white woman and an East Indian man [Judgment Record 1777-82, 731-5]. However, Rosamond's grandmother Rose Davis had already brought an unsuccessful suit for her freedom in Anne Arundel County in August 1715 based on a family bible which stated that Rose was the daughter of a white English woman who was married to "Negroe man Domingo," the slave of Joseph Tilley of Calvert County [Court Judgments 1715-7, 93, 178].