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Guide to the Richard Wharton Slave Trade Contract, 1671 May 20

Summary

Richard Wharton was a prominent Boston merchant, land proprietor, attorney, and political figure. Collection comprises a 1671 slave trade contract committing Boston merchant Richard Wharton to acquire slaves for Jonathan Sybury of Maryland in return for tobacco. This contract specifies that prior to the last day of July, 1671, Wharton will "Send forth and Imploy A vessel to Some one or more Islands of America where Negroes are ordinarily to be Sold wch sd vessell shall bee loadon wth a sufficient Cargoe for obtayning and purchasing ten or more healthy & sound Negroes halfe Males and halfe females none exceeding ye age of forty years and not more than two the age of thirty five years" and that the vessel "shall...Carry and Transport to Wye River in Maryland The sd Negroes..." The contract further stipulates that within seven days after the arrival of the vessel in the Wye River, Sybury "will show present and Deliver at some [?] convenient shipping place...the quantity of Three Thousand six hundred and Eighty pounds of bright and large Tobacco without ground leaves or seconds." Failing such payment, Sybury is required to pay with bills of exchange redeemable in London. Much of the contract reckons with various circumstances that might arise and the terms specific to these. The document is signed by Wharton on the lower right and by witnesses John Walley and Georg Young on the lower left.

Collection Details

Collection Number
RL.11497
Title
Richard Wharton slave trade contract
Creator
Wharton, Richard, -1689
Extent
1.5 Linear Feet, 1 item
Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Language
Materials in English

Collection Overview

Collection comprises a 1671 slave trade contract committing Boston merchant Richard Wharton to acquire slaves for Jonathan Sybury of Maryland in return for tobacco. This contract specifies that prior to the last day of July, 1671, Wharton will "Send forth and Imploy A vessel to Some one or more Islands of America where Negroes are ordinarily to be Sold wch sd vessell shall bee loadon wth a sufficient Cargoe for obtayning and purchasing ten or more healthy & sound Negroes halfe Males and halfe females none exceeding ye age of forty years and not more than two the age of thirty five years" and that the vessel "shall...Carry and Transport to Wye River in Maryland The sd Negroes..." The contract further stipulates that within seven days after the arrival of the vessel in the Wye River, Sybury "will show present and Deliver at some [?] convenient shipping place...the quantity of Three Thousand six hundred and Eighty pounds of bright and large Tobacco without ground leaves or seconds." Failing such payment, Sybury is required to pay with bills of exchange redeemable in London. Much of the contract reckons with various circumstances that might arise and the terms specific to these. The document is signed by Wharton on the lower right and by witnesses John Walley and Georg Young on the lower left. Acquired as part of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

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How to Cite

Richard Wharton Slave Trade Contract, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Contract
Box 1
 

Historical Note

Richard Wharton was a prominent Boston merchant, land proprietor, attorney, and political figure, whose vigor and numerous activities frequently led him into controversy. Well-connected in England, he emigrated to America to seek his fortune, settling in Boston, where he improved his connections by marriage. An Anglican, Wharton nevertheless married into Puritan families with ease. His first wife, Bethia Tyng, was the daughter of wealthy merchant William Tyng; his second, Sarah, was the daughter of Rev. John Higginson of Salem, and his last, Martha, was a daughter of Governor John Winthrop of Connecticut. Wharton acquired a large tract of land in Narragansett country, and subsequently purchased the Pejepscot Patent in Maine (including the town of Brunswick) from the heirs of Thomas Purchase and John Way. In addition to his land investments, Wharton engaged in the production of salt used in the preservation of the "refuse fish" that were shipped to the West Indies to feed slaves, produced lumber and masts, and founded a New England mining company. He is said to have engaged periodically in the West Indies slave trade.

Related Material

Sybury's copy of this contract and the record of a legal suit he initiated because of Wharton's failure to fulfill the contract may be found in the Archives of Maryland Online, Proceedings of the County Courts of Kent (1648-1676), Talbot (1662-1674), and Somerset (1665-1668), Vol. 24, Preface 25, pp. xv, 519-522; also Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 5, Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1667-75, p. 72.


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Provenance

The Richard Wharton Slave Trade Contract was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2017.

Processing Information

Processed by Alice Poffinberger, July, 2017

Accessions described in this collection guide: 2017-0084