Guide to the Papers of John Dipper Freed Slave, Baptist Minister 1816-1838 MG 1127

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Descriptive Summary
Biographical Note
Scope and Content Note
Arrangement
Restrictions
Access Points
Related Material
Administrative Information

Series Descriptions and Container List

Series 1: Emancipation Documents, 1816-1818, 1830, 1835

Series 2: Correspondence, 1819-1836

Series 3: Financial and Legal Documents, 1821-1838

Series 4: Notes and Historical Documents


Guide to the Papers of John Dipper Freed Slave, Baptist Minister
1816-1838
MG 1127
The New Jersey Historical Society
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
library@jerseyhistory.org
http://www.jerseyhistory.org
© 2004 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Danielle Kovacs as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. March 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. March 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.


Descriptive Summary

Creator: John Dipper
Title: John Dipper Papers
Dates: 1816-1838
Abstract: Consists of the papers of John Dipper, documenting his manumission at age thirty-eight in Williamsburg, Virginia, his efforts to purchase and then free members of his family, and his migration north where he and his family ultimately settled in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Quantity: 0.13 linear feet (54 items)
Collection Number: MG 1127

Biographical Note

John Dipper was born a slave in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1778. On New Year’s Eve in 1816, he was manumitted at the age of thirty-eight. Two years later, he purchased the freedom of his wife, Edy, and twelve years later the freedom of his sons. Throughout the 1820s, Dipper was involved in considerable business transactions in which he clearly prospered. It is during this period of prosperity that he suffered the loss of his wife. In 1829, he became a minister in the Baptist Church of Christ in Williamsburg; around the same time he remarried.

Dipper and his second wife, Polly, relocated to New York City in 1832; one year later they moved again, this time to Red Bank, New Jersey. It is not clear whether Dipper’s children traveled with or preceded him north, but it is certain that his eldest son, John Jr., and his wife Becky moved to Canada, while his younger son, Thomas, found work in New York. By 1834, Dipper suffered another great personal loss: the deaths of both his wife and his son, John Jr.

Despite these losses, Dipper determined at last to return to Virginia in order to resolve the legal and financial matters that were still preoccupying him from 600 miles away. Because of Virginia law, however, it was unsafe for a free black man to enter the state. To avoid prosecution, Dipper signed up as a crewman on a schooner bound for Virginia in 1835. With a pass from the ship’s captain, he was able to avoid the penalties that might otherwise have befallen him. After a short stay in Virginia, Dipper returned to Red Bank, where he died in 1836.

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Scope and Content Note

The papers of John Dipper, Virginia slave and Baptist preacher, date from 1816-1838. The collection documents his manumission at age thirty-eight in Williamsburg, Virginia, his efforts to purchase and then free members of his family, and his migration north where he and his family ultimately settled in Red Bank, New Jersey.

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Arrangement

This collection is organized into four series:

Series 1: Emancipation Documents, 1816-1818, 1830, 1835

Series 2: Correspondence, 1819-1836

Series 3: Financial and Legal Documents, 1821-1838

Series 4: Notes and Historical Documents

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Use Restrictions

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.

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Access Points

The entries below represent persons, organizations, topics, forms, and occupations documented in this collection.
Subject Names:
Dipper, Edy.
Dipper, John, 1778-1836.
Dipper, John, Jr.
Dipper, Polly.
Dipper, Thomas.
Subject Organizations:
Baptist Church of Christ (Williamsburg, Va.)
Subject Topics:
Slavery–Emancipation.
Slaves–United States–History–Sources.
Subject Places:
New Jersey–History–1775-1865.
New York (N.Y.)–History.
Red Bank (N.J.)–History.
Williamsburg (Va.)–History.
Document Types:
Certificates.
Deeds.
Legal documents.
Letters (correspondence)
Wills.
Subject Occupations
Clergy.

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Related Material

For materials related to slavery and the abolition movement in the United States, see:

Manuscript Group 47, John P. Jackson Papers

Manuscript Group 49, Ship Logs Collection

Manuscript Group 187, Essex County Anti-Slavery Society (Newark, N.J.) Minute Book

Manuscript Group 282, Holmes Family (Middletown, N.J.) Papers

Manuscript Group 380, Frelinghuysen Family (Newark, N.J.) Papers

Manuscript Group 416, Munn Family (Essex County, N.J.) Papers

Manuscript Group 422, Crane-Pierson Family Papers

Manuscript Group 1411, Elias Boudinot Stockton Genealogy Collection

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Administrative Information

Custodial History

Donated to the New Jersey Historical Society in 1980 by Mrs. Jacob B. Rue III, the great-granddaughter of Edmund Thockmorton, executor of John Dipper’s estate. The collection remained closed until May 20, 1984 at the donor’s request.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 1127, John Dipper Papers, The New Jersey Historical Society.

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Series Descriptions and Container List

Series 1: Emancipation Documents, 1816-1818, 1830, 1835

Scope and Content:

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains documents relating to John Dipper’s manumission at age thirty-eight by Robert Scott, administrator of the estate of James Cocke. The records document how Dipper came into the possession of Cocke, how he was sold to William Browne following Cocke’s death, and how he was then emancipated the day following the purchase. After attaining his freedom, Dipper went on to purchase his wife Edy and a son. This series contains the records of these purchases, as well as the certificates of freedom he drew up for them. The records also include a register certifying the free status of a six-year-old African-American girl named Kezia; her relationship to John Dipper is not clear.

After gaining his freedom, Dipper left Williamsburg, Virginia and moved north, first to New York City, and ultimately to Red Bank, New Jersey. By the mid-1830s, with a growing concern for his financial arrangements in Williamsburg, Dipper traveled to Virginia. Clearly, he was concerned about returning to the south and traveling there as a free African-American. This series contains the documents that he procured to protect that freedom: a certificate from the state of New York certifying his status as a freeman and citizen of the United States and a certificate issued from Philip Morris, Captain of the Nautilus, granting him leave to travel in Virginia as a member of the vessel’s crew.

Box Folder Title Date
1 1 Deed of Emancipation: Robert Scott to John Dipper. Providing information concerning Dipper’s enslavement since 1787, including the way in which he came into the possession of James Cocke of Williamsburg, deceased, for whom Robert Scott was acting as administrator of estate. 1816 July 6
1 1 Bill of Sale: Robert Scott to William Browne. Selling John Dipper to William Brown, a Williamsburg attorney, for $450. 1816 Dec 30
1 1 Deed of Emancipation: William Brown to John Dipper. Manumitting Dipper for faithful service one day after purchasing him. 1816 Dec 31
1 1 Register: John Dipper. Granting him permission to remain in Williamsburg as a resident. 1817 Mar 24
1 1 Register: Kezia. Certifying the free status of a six-year-old African-American girl named Kezia. Her relationship to Dipper is unclear. 1817 Nov 1
1 1 Deed: Robert Scott to John Dipper. Transferring ownership of Edy Dipper from the estate of James Cocke to John Dipper, her husband, for the sum of $350. 1818 Apr 27
1 1 Deed of Emancipation: John Dipper to Edy Dipper. Granting freedom to Edy Dipper by her husband, John. 1818 May 15
1 1 Certificate of Freedom: Edy Dipper. Granting her permission to remain in Williamsburg as a resident. 1818 May 25
1 2 Bill of Sale: Robert Scott to John Dipper. Purchasing ownership of Thomas Dipper, age 13, by John Dipper, his father, for $300. 1830 Mar 25
1 2 Certificate, State of New York: Acknowledging Dipper as a “Freeman and Citizen of the United States,” providing his age and physical description, and listing his profession as “Mariner.” 1835 Apr 11
1 2 Pass issued by Philip Morris, Captain of the Schooner Nautilus: Stating that John Dipper is a part of his crew and that he should have the right to travel in Virginia until his vessel returns to New York. 1835 Apr 25

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Series 2: Correspondence, 1819-1836

Scope and Content:

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains the correspondence of John Dipper, including letters to his second wife, Polly, and letters from his sons, daughter-in-law, and sister-in-law. All of the letters, except two, are incoming, and many of them are from friends and former business colleagues in Williamsburg, where Dipper still had financial or business arrangements. These business letters describe the legal problems that were left unsettled when Dipper moved away from Virginia. One of the letters gives legal advice regarding the suit that was filed against Dipper preventing him from selling his property in Virginia. Another letter, received by Dipper in March 1835 a few weeks before he traveled south with the crew of the Nautilus, makes an unfavorable interpretation of the law governing the admittance of free African-Americans into Virginia.

Box Folder Title Date
1 3 Outgoing Letter: John Dipper to G. Ratcliff. Admitting that he has not been attending “meetings” but explaining that “I love the cause in which you are engaged but my situation prompts me to say that I must resign my license in your society.” The letter does not reveal the nature of the meetings nor the society that held them. 1819 Nov 27
1 3 Incoming Letter: William Emanuel to John Dipper. Discussing African colonization, apparently written by a free African-American in Norfolk, Virginia. 1825 Feb 15
1 3 Outgoing Letter: John Dipper, Lynchburg, Va., to Polly Dipper. Revealing that he has undertaken to preach the gospel in various places. The letter’s salutation indicates that Edy is no longer his wife, rather a woman named Polly is now his wife. 1829 Nov 24
1 4 Letter: Richard Vaughan to Henry Simmons, et al. Letter of reference recommending Dipper to various Baptist ministers in New York and Canada. 1832 Mar 2
1 4 Incoming Letter: Richard T. Booker to John Dipper, c/o John E. Rollinson, New York City. Informing him of affairs in Virginia pertinent to Dipper’s property and finances, and referring to slaves that he evidently owned. 1832 May 29
1 4 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Reporting on Dipper’s affairs in Williamsburg, including the disposition of two slaves that he owned. 1832 July 2
1 4 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper, New York City. Concerning affairs Dipper left unsettled in Virginia. 1832 July 17
1 4 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning affairs Dipper left unsettled in Virginia. 1832 Aug 8
1 5 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning affairs left unsettled by Dipper in Virginia, and concerning Polly Dipper’s family and mutual friends. 1832 Mar 2
1 5 Incoming Letter: Rice Hadsill, Red Bank, New Jersey, to John Dipper. Concerning the status of a house under construction for Dipper in Red Bank, and saying that it will be ready for occupancy, although not fully completed, by May 1, 1833. 1833 Apr 8
1 5 Incoming Letter: John Dipper, Jr., Upper Canada, to John Dipper. Asking his father if he plans to move northward and out of the United States, and expressing the view that he does not like Canada, at least not without his father there. 1833 May 6
1 5 Incoming Letter: John Andrews to John Dipper. Offering news of affairs in Williamsburg. 1833 May 8
1 6 Incoming Letter: Elizabeth Porter [i.e. John Dipper’s sister-in-law] to John and Polly Dipper. Reporting that her husband has died and hoping that John and Polly will be able to visit in order to bring her son to New York to learn a trade. 1833 July 27
1 6 Incoming Letter: William Griffin, New York, to John Dipper, Red Bank, New Jersey. Indicating that he has made an effort to visit Dipper but was unable to complete the trip. 1833 Sept 13
1 7 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning financial affairs left unsettled by Dipper in Williamsburg. 1834 Jan 22
1 7 Incoming Letter: Becky Dipper, Toronto, to John Dipper, her father-in-law. Reporting that her husband, John Dipper, Jr., has died, and that she and the baby want to leave Canada and live with John and Polly in the United States. 1834 Aug 4
1 8 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning financial affairs left unsettled by Dipper in Williamsburg. 1834 Sept 1
1 8 Incoming Letter: Richard Booker to John Dipper. Acknowledging receipt of various present from Dipper. 1834 Sept 9
1 8 Incoming Letter: Becky Dipper, Toronto, to John Dipper. Expressing regret at hearing about the death of Polly Dipper, explaining that she had to bury her husband herself, reporting that she is about to leave Canada for New York City, and asking her father-in-law to write letters of reference on her behalf to the places he lived while in New York. 1834 Sept 9
1 9 Incoming Letter: Thomas Dipper, New York, to John Dipper. Informing his father that he has secured an increase in wages and, if his father agrees, will remain at work in New York, and thanking his father for various items of clothing. 1834 Oct 4
1 9 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning financial affairs unsettled by Dipper in Williamsburg. 1834 Nov 19
1 10 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning financial affairs left unsettled by Dipper in Williamsburg. 1835 Mar 21
1 10 Incoming Letter: Robert Sanders, Jr., Williamsburg, to John Dipper. Making an unfavorable interpretation of the law governing the admittance of free African-Americans into the state, even for brief sojourns. 1835 Mar 27
1 10 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Concerning Dipper’s financial affairs in Virginia. 1835 June 25
1 11 Incoming Letter: Samuel J. Bowden [retained by Hanley Taylor to represent Dipper in a suit filed by R.J. Booker] to John Dipper. Reporting that Booker has successfully secured a court injunction preventing Dipper’s selling property in Virginia that had been left in trust for him, and giving legal advice. 1835 Aug 14
1 11 Incoming Letter: Samuel J. Bowden to John Dipper. Concerning legal problems in Virginia. 1835 Sept 7
1 11 Incoming Letter: Thomas Dipper to John Dipper. Informing his father of various employment difficulties he has been experiencing. 1835 Nov 13
1 12 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Describing the outcome of the recent suit against Dipper in Williamsburg. 1836 Jan 15
1 12 Incoming Letter: Hanley Taylor to John Dipper. Expressing the view that money he sent to Dipper was probably stolen in the mail, and describing recent robberies along the Richmond postal route. 1836 Feb 9
1 13 Incoming Letter: John Locust to John Dipper. Concerning accusations of irreligious conduct by a member of Dipper’s church. undated

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Series 3: Financial and Legal Documents, 1821-1838

Scope and Content:

Arranged alphabetically by topic or format.

This series contains bills and receipts, an inventory of John Dipper’s movable property, and licenses, one permitting Dipper to carry a gun in Williamsburg and the other to preach at the Baptist Church of Christ in Williamsburg and in the surrounding areas. The series also contains two bonds that reveal that Dipper agreed to hire slaves for a period of more than two years, as well as a certificate that grants him the right “to dispose of my woman Judy” in any manner he sees fit. Finally, the series contains photocopies of legal documents: a deed for land in Red Bank, New Jersey, John Dipper’s will, and the accounts of Edmund Throckmorton, the executor of his will.

Box Folder Title Date
1 14 Accounts (photocopy): Edmund Throckmorton, Executor of the Will and Testament of John Dipper. 1838 July 27
1 15 Bills and Receipts: Including bills for tailoring and mending work done for John Dipper. 1821, undated
1 16 Bonds: John Dipper, Williamsburg, to Jesse Cole. Agreeing to hire two slaves, Isaac and Salla. 1826, 1828
1 17 Certificate of Permission: John B. Peachy to John Dipper, Williamsburg. Granting Dipper the right “to dispose of my woman Judy” in any manner he sees fit. 1824 Apr 21
1 18 Deed (photocopy of typescript): Rice Handsell and his wife, Rebeckah, and John Dipper. For land in Red Bank, New Jersey. 1833 May 25
1 19 Inventory of Movable Property of John Dipper undated
1 20 Licenses: Permitting John Dipper to carry a gun in Williamsburg, and authorizing him to preach both at the Baptist Church of Christ in Williamsburg and in the surrounding area. 1825, 1829
1 21 Will (photocopy of transcript): John Dipper 1835 Mar 27

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Series 4: Notes and Historical Documents

Scope and Content:

Arranged alphabetically by topic or format.

This series includes fragments of a note from one of John Dipper’s sons, a home cure for a disease, a spiritual song beginning “Come all around that wants to see,” and the conclusion of Frelinghuysen’s argument concerning democratic majorities. The dates of the items are not known.

Box Folder Title Date
1 22 Conclusion of Frelinghuysen’s Argument: manuscript excerpt concerning democratic majorities. undated
1 23 Home cure for a disease (fragment): manuscript recipe for a home cure. undated
1 24 Note (fragment): beginning “Father don’t you consent to it ….” undated
1 25 Spiritual Song: “Come all around that wants to see.” undated

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