James Tilghman grew up at the Tilghman family estate on the eastern shore of Maryland before moving to Annapolis and later Philadelphia to pursue a law career. The family tobacco plantation, the Hermitage, was the residence of dozens of slaves living there in the late 18th-century, though no data exists for how many slaves were on the property during Tilghman’s youth. However, he continued to own slaves throughout his life.
After moving to Philadelphia in 1760 to serve in the Pennsylvania land office, his tax records indicate that he owned four slaves up until 1776.
The tax records listing his taxable property past 1776 are not listed on Ancestry Library, so it is not clear what happened to those four slaves after the Gradual Abolition Law was passed in 1780.
Pennsylvania Tax & Exoneration records serve as further proof that James Tilghman owned 4 enslaved people in the years 1769 and 1776: