Edward Tilghman Jr

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Edward Tilghman Jr. was born on the eastern shore of Maryland in Wye. His side of the family had extensive land holdings in Delaware since Edward Tilghman Sr. had married Benjamin Chew’s niece. Included in the family landholdings was the Whitehall Plantation.

Whitehall Plantation

In 1748, Whitehall Plantation was passed down to his daughter, Elizabeth, and her husband, Edward Tilghman Sr. Edward Tilghman Sr. held the property until he bequeathed the property to Edward Tilghman Jr. in 1772. However, part or all of the land that was passed down to Edward Tilghman Jr. was sold to Benjamin Chew in 1772. The document is difficult to read, but it appears that the number of acres assigned to Edward Tilghman and his heirs roughly correspond to the number of acres Benjamin Chew purchased from Edward Tilghman.

Whitehall kept detailed records of their slaveholding. Among the records kept include name, age, birth-year, status (died, sold, working somewhere else, working at Whitehall, etc.), the cost of their clothing and shoe size, and keeping track of the slave's parents and children on the plantation for the end of the 18th Century. 


Enslaved Man: Juba

In two letters to his father, one from January 1775 and another undated, Edward Tilghman Jr. discussed an enslaved man named Juba. In the 1775 letter, Tilghman Jr. wrote, “Juba will never do for me, he is too sensible and too lazy — needs eternal whipping — I must send him down to you if you chuse to exchange Bill for him, if not, to the Forest.” Presumably, the Forest plantation was where Tilghman slaves were sent as punishment, based on the textual evidence. The offhand comment, “needs eternal whipping,” underscored the foundations of slavery in physical coercion and the disregard for those enslaved. This letter can be contrasted with the other letter about Juba, in which Edward Jr. wrote that it was imperative to inoculate Juba from “small pox,” which shows some care in his well-being, perhaps due to their financial investment in him. Edward was also bequeathed at least one enslaved person by his father at some point in the late 1770s. (Letters from the Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore.)


Enslaved People: Rick and his family

In a letter to William Tilghman in 1786, Tilghman Jr. asked that the children of the enslaved man given to him, Rick, be added to his legal petition. Rick’s children in 1786 were Henny, about 7 years old; Aminta, 6; Phill, 5; and Percy, 15 months. The petition to which Edward Jr. referred to is possibly his petition to the Maryland legislature that enslaved people Edward Jr. held in Delaware be allowed passage into Maryland. In a letter to William Tilghman, James Lloyd, Tilghman’s friend and a future US Senator from Maryland, wrote that a bill that passed both houses of the Maryland legislature on Edward Jr.’s behalf “saves the rights of any persons to their said slaves.” Edward Jr. and William Tilghman also appear to have spearheaded the passage of a law allowing Edward Jr. to transport enslaved people across state lines. 


Manumission: Nanny, Hagar, and Jacob

Further evidence of Edward Tilghman’s personal ties to slavery can be seen in two manumission papers held at HSP. In the first, Edward Jr. brought two enslaved people, Nanny and her daughter Hagar, to Pennsylvania in June 1785 with the intention of freeing them after six consecutive months of their residing in the state. After six months, the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 decrees that all enslaved people held for more than six consecutive months in Pennsylvania are to be freed. His other manumission record at HSP freed an enslaved man named Jacob after he finished a seven-year term as a servant. (Manumission Documents from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia)