William McKenna of Cockhill, Donegal, Ireland and Lancaster County, South Carolina died in 1859. He left the bulk of his estate to Patrick Lynch, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. The will was contested by McKenna's daughter Anna McKenna Mittag. An auction was held in Lancaster in 1861 which names the families enslaved by William McKenna.
Mandee Jones born in 1835 is the first person identified in this research post-Emancipation.
Further information will be added here later. If you are a descendant of the families listed above please contact me on twitter.com/saytheirnamesIr
Please note the map above does not indicate the specific locations of the families. It appears that the plantation was known as Malta Plantation.
Diocesan records and Episcopal Papers (1816-1993), Catholic Diocese of Charleston Archives, (U.S.A.): Will of William McKenna, CDA, 23R8, Printed copy.
Lancaster Ledger, 5 Dec. 1860.
Independent Press (Abbeville), 1 April 1859.
Heisser, David, ‘Bishop Lynch’s people: slaveholding by a South Carolina prelate’ in The South Carolina Historical Magazine, 102:3 (July 2001), pp 238-62.
Patrick Calhoun, born in Donegal, Ireland in 1727, died in Abbeville, South Carolina in 1796. Patrick Calhoun and his wife Martha Caldwell were the parents of politician John Caldwell Calhoun 1782-1850, Catherine Calhoun Waddel, William, James and Patrick Calhoun.
Enslaved people named in the Estate Inventory of Patrick Calhoun on 25 Jan. 1797:
Men & boys
Women & girls
Sources: South Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1670-1980 (ancestry.com) (accessed 17 Nov. 2020).
Camden Weekly Journal, 27 Mar. 1855.
Benjamin, born c1768, was living in Philadelphia in 1804, enslaved by Pierce Butler, of Co. Carlow, Ireland, South Carolina and Butler Island, Georgia (1744-1822). He had lived mostly in Philadelphia since 1793. In 1804, Benjamin appealed for help to the Abolition Society since Pierce Butler had decided to send him to his Georgia plantation. Benjamin did not want to leave his wife in Philadelphia because she was in poor health. Isaac T Hopper, was appointed to serve a Writ of habeas corpus on Pierce Butler at his house on Chestnut Street.
After two adjournments for further investigation, Judge Inskeep, found in favour of Benjamin and set him free. Benjamin, began work for Isaac W Morris (1770-1831) in Cedar Grove about three miles outside Philadelphia. Isaac W Morris was also a Quaker and in 1804 had been appointed to the care of the school for free children of colour.
However, Pierce Butler, did not relinquish his claim easily. While Benjamin was in Philadelphia, on business for his employer, he was arrested by a U.S. marshall on a Writ of De homine replegiando with bail set for $2,000. Isaac T Hopper and Thomas Harrison signed the bond and Benjamin was released once again. Judges Bushrod Washington and Richard Peters heard the Case in October 1806. Benjamin was discharged by the Circuit Court and 'enjoyed his liberty thenceforth without interruption.'
L. Maria Child, Isaac T. Hopper, A True Life, (1853).
(http://www.gutenberg.org) (7 Aug. 2019).
E-text prepared by Curtis Weyant and Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders.
Following is an extract from Child's book, Isaac T. Hopper, A True Life.
In August, 1804, a colored man about thirty-six years old waited upon the committee of the Abolition Society, and stated that he was born a slave to Pierce Butler, Esq., of South Carolina, and had always lived in his family. During the last eleven years, he had resided most of the time in Pennsylvania. Mr. Butler now proposed taking him to Georgia; but he was very unwilling to leave his wife, she being in delicate health and needing his support. After mature consideration of the case, the committee, believing Ben was legally entitled to freedom, agreed to apply to Judge Inskeep for a writ of habeas corpus; and Isaac T. Hopper was sent to serve it upon Pierce Butler, Esq., at his house in Chestnut-street.
Being told that Mr. Butler was at dinner, he said he would wait in the hall until it suited his convenience to attend to him. Mr. Butler was a tall, lordly looking man, somewhat imperious in his manners, as slaveholders are wont to be. When he came into the hall after dinner, Friend Hopper gave him a nod of recognition, and said, "How art thou, Pierce Butler? I have here a writ of habeas corpus for thy Ben."
Mr. Butler glanced over the paper, and exclaimed, "Get out of my house, you scoundrel!"
Feigning not to hear him, Friend Hopper looked round at the pictures and rich furniture, and said with a smile, "Why, thou livest like a nabob here!"
"Get out of my house, I say!" repeated Mr. Butler, stamping violently.
"This paper on the walls is the handsomest I ever saw," continued Isaac. "Is it French, or English? It surely cannot have been manufactured in this country." Talking thus, and looking leisurely about him as he went, he moved deliberately toward the door; the slaveholder railing at him furiously all the while.
"I am a citizen of South Carolina," said he. "The laws of Pennsylvania have nothing to do with me. May the devil take all those who come between masters and their slaves; interfering with what is none of their business." Supposing that his troublesome guest was deaf, he put his head close to his ear, and roared out his maledictions in stentorian tones.
Friend Hopper appeared unconscious of all this. When he reached the threshold, he turned round and said, "Farewell. We shall expect to see thee at Judge Inskeep's."
This imperturbable manner irritated the hot-blooded slave-holder beyond endurance. He repeated more vociferously than ever, "Get out of my house, you scoundrel! If you don't, I'll kick you out." The Quaker walked quietly away, as if he didn't hear a word.
At the appointed time, Mr. Butler waited upon the Judge, where he found Friend Hopper in attendance. The sight of him renewed his wrath. He cursed those who interfered with his property; and taking up the Bible, said he was willing to swear upon that book that he would not take fifteen hundred dollars for Ben. Friend Hopper charged him with injustice in wishing to deprive the man of his legal right to freedom. Mr. Butler maintained that he was as benevolent as any other man.
"Thou benevolent!" exclaimed Friend Hopper. "Why, thou art not even just. Thou hast already sent back into bondage two men, who were legally entitled to freedom by staying in Philadelphia during the term prescribed by law. If thou hadst a proper sense of justice, thou wouldst bring those men back, and let them take the liberty that rightfully belongs to them."
"If you were in a different walk of life, I would treat your insult as it deserves," replied the haughty Southerner.
"What dost thou mean by that? asked Isaac. Wouldst thou shoot me, as Burr did Hamilton? I assure thee I should consider it no honor to be killed by a member of Congress; and surely there would be neither honor nor comfort in killing thee; for in thy present state of mind thou art not fit to die."
Mr. Butler told the judge he believed that man was either deaf or crazy when he served the writ of habeas corpus; for he did not take the slightest notice of anything that was said to him. Judge Inskeep smiled as he answered, "You don't know Mr. Hopper as well as we do."
A lawyer was procured for Ben; but Mr. Butler chose to manage his own cause. He maintained that he was only a sojourner in Pennsylvania; that Ben had never resided six months at any one time in that State, except while he was a member of Congress; and in that case, the law allowed him to keep his slave in Pennsylvania as long as he pleased. The case was deemed an important one, and was twice adjourned for further investigation. In the course of the argument, Mr. Butler admitted that he returned from Congress to Philadelphia, with Ben, on the second of January, 1804, and had remained there with him until the writ of habeas corpus was served, on the third of August, the same year. The lawyers gave it as their opinion that Ben's legal right to freedom was too plain to admit of any doubt. They said the law to which Mr. Butler had alluded was made for the convenience of Southern gentlemen, who might need the attendance of their personal slaves, when Congress met in Philadelphia; but since the seat of government was removed, it by no means authorized members to come into Pennsylvania with their slaves, and keep them there as long as they chose. After much debate, the judge gave an order discharging Ben from all restraint, and he walked off rejoicing.
His master was very indignant at the decision, and complained loudly that a Pennsylvania court should presume to discharge a Carolinian slave.
When Ben was set at liberty, he let himself to Isaac W. Morris, then living at his country seat called Cedar Grove, three miles from Philadelphia. Being sent to the city soon after, on some business for his employer, he was attached by the marshall of the United States, on a writ De homine replegiando, at the suit of Mr. Butler, and two thousand dollars were demanded for bail. The idea was probably entertained that so large an amount could not be procured, and thus Ben would again come into his master's possession. But Isaac T. Hopper and Thomas Harrison signed the bail-bond, and Ben was again set at liberty, to await his trial before the Circuit Court of the United States. Bushrod Washington, himself a slaveholder, presided in that court, and Mr. Butler was sanguine that he should succeed in having Judge Inskeep's decision reversed. The case was brought in October, 1806, before Judges Bushrod Washington and Richard Peters. It was ably argued by counsel on both sides. The court discharged Ben, and he enjoyed his liberty thenceforth without interruption.
For further information about African Americans in Pierce Butler's records and those of his extended family contact Brian Sheffey on Twitter twitter.com/genealogadvent
Bell, Malcolm, Major Butler’s Legacy: Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family (University of Georgia Press) 1987.
Bailey, Anne, The Weeping Time: Memory and the largest slave auction in American history (Cambridge University Press) 2017.
Kemble, Fanny, Journal of a residence on a Georgian plantation 1838-39 (www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/12422) free download.
Affra Harleston of Dublin was one of the first Irish migrants to the Carolina Colony in 1670. She married John Coming who captained ships to the Carolina Colony. They built a plantation at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper rivers called the Commingtee. In her will of 1698, Affra Harleston Coming made her nephew John Harleston of Dublin co-heir with her husband's nephew Elias Ball (1675-1757). Her niece Elizabeth Harleston, also of Dublin became the first wife of Elias Ball.
Less than a year after their arrival in the Carolina Colony, John Coming sailed the Carolina back to England and returned with six indentured servants, John Chambers, Rachel Franck, George Gantlett, Samuel Lucas, Michael Lovering and Philip O' Neill. John Coming was granted nine hundred acres for this group of servants. John Coming went on to captain many ships and did not retire until 1682.
In 1672, Affra Coming, while her husband was at sea, brought charges against three of her indentured servants including the Irishman, Philip O'Neill in particular for his 'gross abuses.' The court ordered that O'Neill receive twenty one lashes. In Feb. 1678 John and Affra Coming laid claim to further land at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper, (previously named Etiwan), rivers. This became known as the Coming's T and later CommingTee. In the period 1678 to 1695, the Comings began to purchase enslaved people to clear their land and plant crops.
John Coming died 1 November 1695 and in his Will left Coming's T and all his 'chattles' to his wife Affra. In 1698, after the death of her husband Affra Harleston Coming endowed St. Philip's Church, Charleston with seventeen acres, the first Anglican Church in South Carolina. Affra Coming made her Will on 28 December 1698. Since the Comings were childless, she instructed that all her land and enslaved people be given to her nephew John Harleston of Dublin, Ireland and her husband's nephew Elias Ball, of Devon, England. Elias Ball and John Harleston came to Coming's T in c.1698 to claim their inheritance. In 1698, Elias Ball married Elizabeth Harleston of Dublin, the niece of Affra Harleston Coming and sister of John Harleston. In 1702, Elias Ball bought one hundred and fifty acres called Silk Hope, neighbouring his existing property and over the next two years bought a further seven hundred acres. In 1708, John Harleston, his co-legatee, moved out of Coming's T to Fish Pond and married Elizabeth Willis.
Copy of original Land Warrant (https://ancstry.me/2UZ5Ff7) (28 April 2019).
Copy of original Will of John Coming (https://ancstry.me/2GDlo9I) (28 April 2019).
Will of Affra Harleston Coming 1698 (https://ancstry.me/2W9o1Xe) (28 April 2019).
Anne Simons Deas, Recollections of the Ball Family of South Carolina and the Comingtee Plantation (Charleston, 1909),
St. Julien Childs, 'The First South Carolinians' in The South Carolina Historical Magazine, 71:2 (April 1970), pp 101-8.
Edward Ball, Slaves in the Family (2nd ed., New York, 2014).
Elias Ball added a further eight hundred acres to his property in 1716 and in 1719, twelve hundred acres. Elizabeth Harleston died in 1721 and Elias remarried in the same year. He then separated his holdings from those of John Harleston and began a ledger which was maintained for fifty eight years. In 1727, Elias Ball reported property of 4,328 acres and forty-three enslaved people. By 1750 the family of Elias Ball owned five plantations: Commingtee, Hyde Park, Kensington, St. James and Strawberry. In his will dated 1757, Elias Ball named his sons-in-law Henry Laurens, and Henry's business partner George Austin, and William Brown as executors of his will. Henry Laurens and George Austin were men of significant wealth. They were merchants and slave traders.
John Harleston, Affra Coming's nephew acted as attorney to the Hon. John Colleton and served as Justice of the Peace in 1734 and again in 1737. He also served as Trustee to the Childsburry School. In the will of John Harleston, son of John Harleston Senior, 1768, John Junior refers to his father's purchase of two lots of five hundred acres each purchased from Peter Manigault. Both Elias Ball and John Harleston continued to build on their inherited wealth.
This study identifies several features of Irish migration to the Carolina Colony. Chain migration was a factor even at this early stage of the Colony. Affra Harleston Coming, the pioneer, was followed by her niece Elizabeth and her nephew John. She had maintained correspondence with her sister-in-law Elizabeth and her sister, Ann Bulkeley in Dublin. In spite of being childless, she maintained her wealth within her family: her nephew John, by inheritance and her niece Elizabeth by her marriage to Elias Ball, John Coming's nephew and John Harleston's co-legatee. Affra Harleston Coming was however unusual in some aspects. She received land in her own right as a free settler. She appears to have run the plantation herself during her husband's long absence at sea until 1682 though she may well have had support from her neighbour Joseph Dalton, who travelled with her on the voyage to the Colony. She petitioned the Court in her own right to deal with her fellow Irishman and indentured servant, Philip O'Neill in 1672.
Will of Elias Ball 1757 (https://ancstry.me/2GSv8gz) (28 April 2019).
Will of John Harleston Junior 1768 (https://ancstry.me/2LaBbSR) (28 April 2019).
Theodore Jervey, 'The Harlestons' in The South Carolina Historical Magazine, 3:3 (Jul., 1902), p. 155.
The socio-economic impact of Affra Harleston's migration was substantial. As late as 1934, a letter to the editor of the State newspaper gave recognition to her gift of 1698 which supported the building of schools and educated 'the Pinckneys, Ralph Izzard and the Laurens ... and so were fitted to become the foremost citizens of a new country and to help win its independence and shape its constitution.' The letter went on to state that her gift had benefited hundreds and thousands of people over the three hundred years since her death. Her participation in the institution of slavery however, paved the way for a devastating impact on approximately 100,000 people living in the United States today who are descendants of the people enslaved by her Ball descendants. In this she was not alone. Clearing land and growing crops was labour intensive. The assumption of all the early colonists was that the only way to build their farms into plantations was by the use of enslaved people. Affra Harleston, her nephew John and niece Elizabeth integrated seamlessly into this mindset.
State, 10 Sept. 1934.
Edward Ball, Slaves in the Family (2nd ed., New York, 2014).
St. Julien Childs, 'The First South Carolinians' in The South Carolina Historical Magazine, 71:2 (April 1970), pp 102-4. With the exception of W. Sayles’ 'Negro servants' John Senior, Elizabeth and John Junior, no other enslaved people are named.
If you are researching families enslaved by the Ball family, Edward Ball's book Slaves in the family gives information from the records kept from 1721.
Martine Brennan (Curator)
Enslavement to citizenship: African Americans in Irish Slaveholder records by Martine Brennan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.