Below is is a baptism record for a child Samuel in the Virgin Islands. The columns are for parents' names, then occupation, then civil status, then day baptized and then where they live. Eve is free but "Andrew Donavan" is a slave. The date is 1826.

I've heard of this being the case the other way round, slave owning men having their way with their coloured slaves, but I'm researching my Potter ancestors, and this record lists an Eve Potter, free, having a child with a man who is a slave (S for slave on the register).

I don't know if Eve Potter was a free coloured woman or white, but this seems strange to me. What might the circumstances surrounding this relationship have been?

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  • 1
    What are the headings on those columns? Have you found a baptism record for Eve?
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 4, 2021 at 23:03
  • 1
    Please use the edit button beneath your question to revise it with any requested clarifications
    – PolyGeo
    Mar 5, 2021 at 0:54
  • 2
    What date is the record?
    – user6485
    Mar 5, 2021 at 8:28
  • 3
    Sometimes the status slave does not mean to be one, even more likely due to this record being made in the 19th century. I could well be in this particular case that legally speaking the woman (free) bought the men (slave) because they fell in love, she married him and was able to free him legally (afterwards). I know of a case like (around the same time) this in the US, although there the partner was freed before the marriage. If something like this could be possible you should check any slave records to clarify.
    – Til Hund
    Mar 5, 2021 at 14:22
  • 3
    @TilHund is correct, there is precedent for free people of color buying enslaved people in order to protect them and to keep families intact. Another thing to consider is that the status follow matrilineal lines, that is, children born to enslaved women were also enslaved. A child born to a free woman of color would be free.
    – Jan Murphy
    Mar 8, 2021 at 0:29


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