Enslaved People as Collateral

The records of the Office of the Bursar contain a wide array of financial information dating back to the 18th century. Recently, these records have provided additional information about the College of William & Mary’s involvement in slavery and the slave trade. Many of the documents contain references to enslaved people who were held by the College, as well as payments to slaveholders for hiring enslaved people. These references show some of the ways that using enslaved people played an important role in the everyday functioning of the College.

Some documents, though, provide even broader insight into how enslaved people functioned in both the local and national economies. These documents show how slaves were used as collateral to secure mortgages and then could be seized for non-payment of the mortgage.

The documents pictured below are two of several relating to lawsuit against John Elliot whose mortgage was in arrears. These documents detail concern over a possible competing claim against Elliot for his enslaved people and the College’s later victory in the lawsuit, which resulted in the College taking possession of Elliot’s slaves.

Elliot 1Elliot 2

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