Venus Bill of Sale

As mentioned in the latest post Slavery in Northampton, the town’s minister Jonathan Edwards went to Newport, Rhode Island and purchased an enslaved young girl. Historic Northampton generously shared a copy of the topmost part of the bill of sale for the “Negro Girle named Venus” dated June 7,1731. Edwards, years later, cut the receipt into three strips and used the back for notes for a sermon. Used here with the permission of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Transcription below the photo is by the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, New Haven CT.

KNOW ALL MEN by these presents That I Richard Perkins of Newport in the County of Newport & Colony of Rhode Island &c Marriner For & in Consideration of the Sum of Eighty pounds of lawful Current money of said Colony To me in hand well & truly paid at & before the ensealing & delivery hereof by Jonathan Edwards of Northampton in the County of Hampshire & Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England Clerk The receipt whereof I do hereby acknowledge and thereof & of every part & parcel thereof do exonerate aquit & discharge the said Jonathan Edwards his heirs Execrs Admrs & Assigns by these presents HAVE bargained sold & delivered And I the said Richard Perkins do hereby bargain sell & deliver unto the said Jonathan Edwards a Negro Girle named Venus aged Fourteen years or thereabout TO HAVE & TO HOLD the said Negro girl named Venus unto the said Jonathan Edwards his heirs Execrs & Assigns and to his & their own proper Use & behoof for Ever AND I the said Richard Perkins do hereby for my Self my heirs Execrs & Admrs covenant promise & agree to & with the said Jonathan Edwards his heirs Execrs Admrs & Assigns by these presents That I the said Richard Perkins at the ensealing & delivery hereof have in my own Name good Right, full Power & lawfull Authority to bargain sell & deliver the said Negro Girl named Venus unto the said Jonathan Edwards in manner & form aforesaid And shall & will warrant & defend the said Negro Girle named Venus unto the said Jonathan Edwards his heirs Execrs Admrs & Assigns against the lawfull Challenge & Demand of all manner of Persons whatsoever Claiming or to claim by from or under me or otherwise howsoever IN WITNESS whereof I the said Richard Perkins have hereunto set my hand & Seal the Seventh day of June in the Fourth Year of the Reign of our Soveraign Lord George the Second by the grace of God of Great Britain France & Ireland King Defender of the Faith &c

Anno Dm 1731

Richd Perkins

Sealed & Delivered in the presence of us

John Cranston

Jas Martin

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3 thoughts on “Venus Bill of Sale

    1. It was a racist joke to name those newly enslaved after mythological figures, mocking them with the greatness of gods n goddesses as they took peoples power from them, including their names and language. Prince and Caesar were also common names imposed on the enslaved. This was probably the Venus connection.

      Liked by 1 person

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