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African American woman sweeping
  • Date of birth unknown
  • Belonged to Peyton Randolph household
  • Date of death unknown

Highly-valued slave

Eve was one of 27 slaves who belonged to the Peyton Randolph household in 1775, the year of Peyton Randolph's death. Valued at 100 pounds, Eve was the highest-valued female slave and one of the most valuable of all the slaves, suggesting that she was of prime age and highly skilled. In his will, Randolph bequeathed "Eve and her children" to his wife, Betty Randolph.

Ran away from household

One month after Peyton Randolph's death, Williamsburg's governor, Lord Dunmore, issued a proclamation that offered "freedom to any slaves who desert rebellious masters and who serve in the king's forces." At that time, Eve may have given some thought to running away, but her son George was too young to run with her.

Six years later, when British General Cornwallis occupied Williamsburg in late June and early July 1781, George was a teenager, and he and his mother joined the large number of runaway slaves that followed Cornwallis’s army. But, when Cornwallis surrendered after the siege of Yorktown in October 1781, the runaway slaves were no longer under his protection. The slaves’ owners quickly reclaimed their slaves.

Evidence suggests Eve returned to the widow Betty Randolph, who later sold Eve due to "bad behavior." George’s fate is unknown. He may have been one of hundreds of slaves who died of smallpox during the siege.

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