Title: Petition of Martha Isherwood, 1 July 1862

Date: July 1, 1862

Source Text: A microfilm reproduction of the original document held at the National Archives and Records Administration, Microcopy 520, Reel 6. The original document is held in the Records of the Accounting Officers of the Department of the Treasury, 1775–1978, National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 217.6.5. Within the National Archives' Archival Description Catalog, see ARC Identifier 4644616 / MLR Number A1 347 (http://arcweb.archives.gov).

Civil War Washington ID: cww.00823

TEI/XML: cww.00823.xml



To the Commissioners under the act of Congress approved the 16th of April, 1862, entitled "An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia."

Your Petitioner, Martha Isherwood of the City of Washington by this her petition in writing, represents and states, that she is a person loyal to the United States, who, at the time of the passage of the said act of Congress, held a claim to service or labor against Richard Ross, Caddy Foreman, and Saml Brooks persons of African descent of the name of for and during the life of said Richard, Caddy, and Samuel respectively and that by said act of Congress said Richard, Caddy, and Samuel were discharged and freed of and from all claim of your petitioner to such service or labor; that at the time of said discharge said Richard, Caddy, & Samuel were of the ages of and of the personal description following:(1)

  • Richard Ross is about twenty six or twenty seven years of age; black; stout; healthy, and able bodied man; farm hand; take care of horses and drive a carriage, cart: or wagon: & good house servant.
  • Caddy Foreman, twenty four or five years old; has been much afflicted with inflamatory​ rheumatism by which her hands, and legs are distorted: when she is well she can cook very well, but can neither wash nor iron—black:
  • Samuel Brooks about 11, or 12, (probably 11 last December) black; good sized; bright active boy—can wait in the house very well, and do almost any thing a boy of his age can do


That your petitioner acquired her claim to the aforesaid service or labor of said servants in manner following:(2) to Richard Brooks/Ross and Caddy Foreman by the will of [Robert?] Isherwood late of said county deceased who was, her husband, and of which she files herewith a true copy: to Samuel Brooks by gift from her Father, Mr Aden Darby of Montgomery County Md when the said boy was an infant & she files the original bill of sale

That your petitioner's claim to the service or labor of said servants was, at the time of said discharge therefrom, of the value of Two thousand dollars in money.(3)She knows nothing to add to or detract from the fair market value of the said servants beyond what she has already stated

Your petitioner hereby declares that she bears true and faithful allegiance to the Government of the United States, and that she has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid or comfort thereto.

And your petitioner further states and alleges, that she has not brought said servants into the District of Columbia since the passage of said act of Congress; and that, at the time of the passage thereof, said servants wasere held to service or labor therein under and by virtue of your petitioner's claim to such service or labor.

Your petitioner further states and alleges, that her said claim to the service or labor of said servants does not originate in or by virtue of any transfer heretofore made by any person who has in any manner aided or sustained the present rebellion against the Government of the United States.

And your petitioner prays the said Commissioners to investigate and determine the validity of her said claim to the service or labor of said servants herein above set forth; and if the same be found to be valid, that they appraise and apportion the value of said claim in money, and report the same to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, in conformity to the provisions of said act of Congress.

(Signed by)
Martha Isherwood
Paid $—31
Aden Darby
B of Sale
Martha Isherwood
Recd​ 22d March 1853
to be Recorded & Same day was recorded in Liber J. A. S. No. 53 folios 435 & 436 one of the Land Records of Washington County District of Columbia And Examined by

John A. Smith

Know all men by these Presents that I Aden Darby of Montgomery County and State of Maryland for the Consideration of one Dollar Current Money to me in hand paid by Martha Isherwood of Washington County D. of Columbia the Receipt Whereof I do hereby Acknowledge have Granted Bargained and sold and Delivered unto the said Martha Isherwood my two negro slaves namely Johnson Brooks 4 years old and Samuel Brooks about 8 months old Which said Slaves I will Warrant and Defend to the said Martha Isherwood her Executors Administrators and Assigns Against me my Executors Administrators or Assigns and Agents and every other person or persons Whomsoever I Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this, 27th day of August 1851—

Aden Darby seal
Annie E. Dawes;

In the name of God, Amen. I, Robert Isherwood, of the City of Washington in the District of Columbia, being sick in body but of sound and disposing mind, memory and understanding considering the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the time thereof, and being desirous to settle my worldly affairs, and thereby be the better prepared to leave the world when it shall please God to call me hence, do therefore make and publish this my last will and Testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:

First and principally, I commit my soul into the hands of Almighty God, and my body to the earth, to be decently buried at the discretion of my Executrix hereinafter named, and after my debts and funeral charges are paid, I devise and bequeath to my dearly beloved wife, Martha Isherwood all my property and estate of every description, Real personal and mixed, and all my goods, Chattles​, moneys rights and credits that I may die seized or possessed of or in any way or manner entitled to, to be held and enjoyed by her during her life and widowhood in common with my dear children Frances Ann Isherwood and Robert James Isherwood and Margaret E. Isherwood, and if my said wife shall marry again, then from the period of such marriage, said devise and bequest so far as concerns her, shall cease to operate and in lieu thereof, she shall take absolutely one third of all my personal estate, of every description, and her dower in my Real estate.—

Item—I give, devise and bequeath at the death or marriage of my said wife all the residue of my property  and Estate, then remaining to my said dearly beloved children, Francis Ann Isherwood Robert James Isherwood and Margaret E. Isherwood Equally to be divided between them, their respective heirs Executors, administrators and assigns, share and share alike.—

Item—I authorize and empower by dear wife to fulfil and complete all existing contracts at the time of my death, by which I am bound in any event to sell and convey, any of my property, by executing all necessary conveyance to the parties entitled.

Item—I also empower my said wife, at any time during her widowhood and when it shall appear to her and my highly esteemed friend Thomas Blagden Esqr.​ to be for the common interest and benefit of herself and my said children to make sale and conveyance of all or any part of my property and estate & the purchaser or purchasers whereof, shall by virtue of such conveyance or conveyances, be exonerated from all responsibility for the application of the purchase money and the proceeds reinvested in other property to be held in the like manner, or expend the same, in the necessary current maintenance and support of herself and my said children.—

And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my dear wife Marsha Isherwood to be sole executrix of this my last will and Testament, revoking and annulling all former wills by me heretofore  made, ratifying and confirming this, and none other, to be my last will and Testament, and as I owe little or no debts, request that no security be required of her and exonerate her from all responsibility for losses happening otherwise than from wilful and corrupt misconduct.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my seal, this fifteenth day of, December 1847.

Robert Isherwood seal

Signed, sealed, published and declared by Robert Isherwood the above names Testator, as and for his last will and Testament, in the presence of us who at his request, in his presence, and in the presence of each other, have subscribed our names as witnesses thereto.

Thos. Blagden
J. P. Fugitt
H. Naylor

This day appeared, Thomas Blagden and Henry Naylor two of the subscribing witnesses to the aforegoing last will & testament of Robert Isherwood, late of Washington County aforesaid, deceased, & seasonally made oath on the Holy Evangels of Almighty God, that they did see the Testator therein named sign and seal this will, that he published pronounced and declared the same to be his last will & testament, that at the time of so  doing, he was to the best of their apprehensions of sound & disposing mind, memory and understanding, and that they together with J. P. Fugitt, the other subscribing witness, respectively subscribed their names as witnesses to this will, in the presence & at the request of the Testator, and in the presence of Each other.

Test. Ed. N. Roach
Regr.​ Wills.

I hereby certify that the aforegoing is a true copy from the last will and testament of Robert Isherwood, deceased, filed and recorded in the Office of Registers of Wills for Washington County aforesaid.

Witness my hand and seal of Office this 13th day of June A.D. 1862.

Moses Kelly
Register of Wills.

[Form of the Oath for the Verification of the Petition.]

I, Martha Isherwood being duly sworn, do depose and say, that all the several matters and things which are set forth and stated in the foregoing petition, as of my own knowledge, are true in substance and in fact; and that all the several other matters and things therein set forth and stated, as from the information of others, I believe to be true in substance and in fact.

(Signed by)
Martha Isherwood

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 30th day of June A. D. 1862.

(Signed by)
H. Naylor J Peace
Martha Isherwood
Petition for 3 Slaves
Copy of Will & original Bill of sale
Filed July 1, 1862
[B & B?]
[Ann Dawes?]
Rebecca R Darby

 Note (1.)-- Here describe the person, so as to identify him or her; and if there be more than one slave, describe each one separately.

 Note (2.)-- Here state how the claim was acquired, when, from whom, and for what price or consideration; and, if held under any written evidence of title, make exhibit thereof, or refer to the public record where the same may be found.

 Note (3.)-- Here state such facts, if any there be, touching the value of the petitioner's claim to the service or labor of the person, as may enhance the same, and also such facts, if any, touching the moral, mental, and bodily infirmities or defects of said person, as impair the value of the petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and conclude such statement with an averment that the petitioner knows of no other infirmities or defects of said person which impair the value of petitioner's claim to such service or labor, and that he believes none other to exist. If the petitioner specify no such infirmity or defect, then his statement touching the value of his claim should conclude with an averment that he has no knowledge of any such infirmity or defect.

Transcription and encoding: Janel Cayer, Nima Najafi Kianfar, and Kenneth M. Price.