Amariah Frost Deposition in the Case of “The Inhabitants of Milford, Massachusetts versus the Inhabitants of Bellingham, Massachusetts”

I Amariah Frost, formerly of Milford in the County of Worcester, but who, since the second Day of Nover Eighteen Hundred & Sixteen, have resided in Sanford in the County of York and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Esquire, of lawful age Testify and say That a Negro Woman, named Bess, who was a Slave to DoctJohn Corbett of Bellingham in the County of Norfolk and commonwealth aforesaid, deceased come to live with me and my wife, who was a grand daughter of said Corbett, some time near the last of the Year One Thousand Seven hundred and Seventy Eight, residing with us by consent of said Corbett as a maid to my Wife, we finding her clothing Provision &c The said Negro Bess remained with us only a few years, when hearing that the Negros in this State were freed. she left my House and Service, and went about the country, returning several Times, beging to be supplyed with clothing, which from compassion was sometimes granted

I further testify and say that neither I or my Wife, to my Knowledge ever had any writing from said Corbett respecting said  Bess, or any Bill of Sale of her, or any Gift of her Verbally or otherwise from said Corbett to my Knowledge, or from any other person whatever. She living with us merely upon the Permission of said Corbett, nor did I presume that my Wife and myself ever had any Right at any time to sell, or dispose of her as a Slave –

The said Bess was at times so troublesome, being of an unhappy Temper that, previous to the Report of the freedom of the Slaves, my wife and myself had frequently proposed to speak to Dr Corbett requesting him to take her away; But as he was very aged and my wife having expectations from his Estate, we were afraid it would give him uneasiness – that he would think we slighted that which he considered a favor to us – therefore, tho she was not that real Service to us, which we expected, yet we did not return her to him; altho I then supposed we had a Right to do it, at any Time previous to their Freedom.

The said Bess before she reside with me lived several years with Col. Samuel Craggin in Uxbridge, as a maid to his wife, who was also a Relative of said Corbett. –

I farther testify and say – That when I was at Worcester at the Term of the Supreme Court in September 1815 – I was in company with the said Craggin, who was summoned as well as myself to be a witness in the cause respecting the said Negro Bess, the cause not being then tried, Col Craggin then mentioned to me that he should testify that I told him about the Time of her coming to live with me, that Doctr Corbet had “given her to my Wife” –Col – Craggin must be mistaken if he supposed that I considered her given in such Matter as to make her a Slave to my Wife or to me, for I never considered her as such but only that her Services were given – Nor do I remember of ever using the Expression, nor do I believe I ever did, that she was “given to my Wife” either to Coll , or any other Person, for had I have said so to Col. Craggin or any other Person, it must have been contrary, as I think, to the Truth, or real statement of the Fact, and I believe that Col Craggin must have misapprehended my Meaning in any conversation I had with him respecting the said Bess at the Time of her coming to live with me –

            The Services of the said Bess were of so little Benefit to my Family that had I considered her as my Slave, I think I should have attempted to have sold her in the Time I supposed the Negros were held as Slaves. and it was 

some considerable Time after the Constitution of this State was adopted before it was known to me, and I believe to People in general, that they could not be held by their Master – And farther Saith not

                                                            Amariah Frost

York Ss, On the 13th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighteen, the aforesaid Deponent was examined and auctioned, and Sworn, agreeable to Law, to the Deposition aforesaid by him Subscribed, taken at the request of the Selectmen and overseers of the poor of the Town of Milford in the County of Worcester and Commonweath of Massachusetts, and to be used on an action or plea of the case, now pending between the Inhabitants of said Town of Milford Plaintiffs and the Town of Bellingham in the County of Norfolk and Commonwealth aforesaid Defendants at the Supreme Judicial Court next to be holden in said County of Worcester on the third Tuesday next following the fourth monday of March current — The adverse party living more than Twenty miles from the (place?) of (Casstion?) was not notified – The said Deponent living more than thirty miles from the place of Trial is the cause of Taking this Deposition 

Deponants Travel 33                          Elisha Allen, Just. Peace

Attendance —       75                     Worcester Ss. Sup. J. Court – April Term 

Justices        —  1””50                    1818 9th day. Opened & filed —

                           $2””58                    Attr (illegible) (Illegible)

SOURCE: Massachusetts Archives. Transcribed by Susan G. Elliott. 1 March 2022.

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