Location: Prince George, Maryland, United States
Surnames/tags: Beall, Dent Black Heritage, Enslaved Family, Maryland
The purpose of this page is to identify and document the slaves owned by Mary (Dent) Beall (abt.1731-abt.1806)
The John Beall (b. 1728) and Mary Dent Beall (b. 1731) family included 6 children, 17 grandchildren and 9 Negro slaves. Mary Dent Beall died in 1806, six years after the death of her husband. She left a detailed Will created on March 21, 1806 in Georgetown, Washington County, District of Columbia. All of her property and the intended recipients are documented. At the time the Will was created, Mary Beall owned seven slaves, two beds and some furniture. The Will also states that Mary Beall had been living with her son William Dent Beall for three or four years prior to her death. So it is likely that the remainder of her personal property had already been given away to various children or grandchildren, between 1800 when her husband died and 1806 when she died.
Mary Beall did not own sufficient property to include all of her children and grandchildren in her Will, so she bequeathed her property to a limited number of heirs. At the time of the Wil in 1806, three of her five living children were included, and 5 of her 17 grandchildren were included.
Mary Beall’s 1st child and oldest daughter, Sarah Beall (b. ca 1754) died in 1800, and John Turnbull her husband and their 4 grandchildren were left out of the Will (Elizabeth John, Margaret and Mary).
Her 2nd child and oldest son William Dent Beall (b. ca 1757) was included in the Will, and one of his four children Mary was also included. Theophilus, Isaac and Elizabeth were excluded from the Will. Mary was bequeathed one bed and some furniture. William Dent Beall, in exchange for debts paid and yet to be paid on his mother’s behalf, was given two adult slaves named Simon and Ally his wife, and one Negro boy named Luke. Simon and Ally were to be set free 5 years from the date of the Will, and Luke was to be set free after 18 more years as a slave. Also named in the Will are the old Negro man Tom and Sarah his wife, both of whom were under the care of William Dent Beall, presumably from an earlier arrangement of some type involving slave ownership and maintenance. I am speculating that this was a 3-generation family. Tom and Sarah' may well have been the parents of Simon and Ally and the grandparents of the Negro boy and 4 Negro girls.
Her 3rd child Leven “Leve” Beall (b. ca 1758) never married and was left $50 (subject to approval of his brother William Dent Beall).
Her 4th child Theodore Beall (b. ca 1760) was not included in the Will, but one of his three children Mary Dent Beall (b. 1798) was included. She was bequeathed a four year old Negro girl named Anna, to be set free at age 25.
Her 5th child Ariana Beall (b. ca 1762) was included in the Will, as well as two of her 5 children, Mary Ann (b. ca 1788) and Eleanor (b. ca 1801). Ariana Beall received one bed and some furniture from her mother. Her daughter Mary Ann, 18 years old at the time, was bequeathed a one month old Negro girl named Sarah, to be set free at age 25. Eleanor, only five years old at the time, was bequeathed a seven year old Negro girl named Suckey, to be set free at age 25. Three male children were excluded – Edmund Beall (b. ca 1791, William Brooke Beall (b. ca 1795) and John Beall, Sr. (b. ca 1797).
Her 6th child, Nancy Dent Beall (b. ca 1768) was not given any property, but her daughter Sarah Ann Hewitt (b. 1790) was included in the Will. Sarah Ann was only 16 at the time of her grandmother’s death, and her gift was a two year old Negro girl named Kitty, to be set free at age 25. Sarah Ann Hewitt died in 1809, three years after her grandmother’s death. Her slave Kitty was then only five years old, and it is not known what became of her.
Possible Parents and Grandparents
The Will specifies that the 5 young Negro children were to be bequeathed separately to her eldest son and 4 of the Beall granddaughters, thus splitting up the 5 children born into the bondage of slavery. In addition to the children, there were 2 adult slaves, presumably their parents, referred to in the Will as Simon and his wife Ally. They were given to Mary Beall’s eldest son William Dent Beall, in exchange for payment of and assumption of debts.
In addition to the five children and two parents, there were two additional names mentioned, whom I presume to be the grandparents of this extended slave family. “And whereas my son William Dent Beall, with whom I have been living for three or four years just past, has to maintain old Negro man Tom and Sarah his wife during their life …”
It should be noted that Mary Dent Beall specifically stated that the Negro children were to be “free, liberated and released from Slavery” when they reached the age of 25. So while she understood the eventual need to provide freedom to the slaves, she bequeathed the burden of owning a slave to 5 of her grandchildren for a period of 18-25 years.
Last Name at Birth (LNAB) for Enslaved Family
The Will did not specify any last name or surname for this enslaved family. In general, the Beall side of the family did not own large plantations or slaves. The slaves more likely came from the Dent side of the family, who were known to own a large plantation ‘’’Whitehaven’’’ and numerous slaves. If the slaves assumed the last name of their owner or the plantation name, the most likely choice for LNAB for the grandparents would be either Dent or Whitehaven.