This document is quite interesting. William Eaton, an Indian trader, was well known in conjunction with the Saponi Indians who lived next to or on his plantation in Granville County, NC. His 1754 muster roll provides us with several of their names.
At that time, in North Carolina, unless one was an Indian living on a reservation as an Indian, all people of color were taxed. This placed an unfair burden on free families of color because unlike whites where the wife and children above the age of 12 were not taxed, they were in free colored families. As William Eaton says, below, this in effect taxed them into poverty.
William Eaton has an interest in this group of people. In addition to genuinely caring about his neighbors, it may well have been in his interest to keep them happy in North Carolina so they would not be tempted to move elsewhere. They were an important part of his trader business.
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Petition from inhabitants of Edgecombe, Granville, and Northampton Counties concerning the tax on free negroes
Eaton, William; Et Al.
Volume 06, Pages 982-983
——————– page 982 ——————–
[From MSS. Records in Office of Secretary of State.]
To the Worshipful the Speaker and Gentlemen of the Assembly.
The petition of Sundry of the Inhabitants of the Counties of Northampton Edgecombe and Granville.
That by one Act of Assembly passed in the year 1723, Intituled “An Act for an Additional Tax on all free Negroes, Mulattoes, Mustees and such Persons Male & Female, as now are or hereafter shall be intermarried with any such Persons resident in this Government.” Amongst other Things it was enacted That all free Negroes &c. that were or shou’d thereafter be Inhabitants of this Province Male & Female being of the Age of twelve Years & upwards shou’d be deemed Tythables and as such should yearly pay the same Levies and Taxes as other Tythable Inhabitants.
That many Inhabitants of the sd Counties who are Free Negroes & Mulattoes and persons of Probity & good Demeanor and chearfully contribute towards the Discharge of every public Duty injoined them by Law. But by reason of being obliged by the sd Act of Assembly to pay Levies for their Wives and Daughters as therein mentioned are greatly Impoverished and many of them rendered unable to support themselves and Families with the common Necessaries of Life.
Wherefore your Petitioners would humbly pray in behalf of the sd Free Negroes &c. That so much of the said recited Act as compels such of them as Intermarry with those of their own complection to pay Taxes for their Wives & Daughters may be repealed or that they may be otherwise relieved as to your Worships in your great Wisdom seem meet.
And your Petitioners as in Duty bound shall pray &c.
——————– page 983 ——————–
JOHN WILLIAMS Junr
JOs JNo ALSTON
Hat tip to Sharron for this document.