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Giovanni R. Ruffini

Egyptian landowner and Roman imperial official, is the best attested member of a family of large landholders prominent in Egypt from the fifth to the seventh centuries. The Apionic estates were one of the dominant forces in the Oxyrhynchite nome or sub-province of Egypt during the Byzantine period. Its surviving papyrological documentation details the activities of these estates, their financial managers, their farmers, and other related figures. This material makes the Apionic estates, so-called “the noble house,” one of the best documented economic institutions during Roman rule in Egypt. By recent count, the published material from the Apionic archive includes nearly 275 texts covering more than 180 years, from 436 to 620/1. The Apionic estates are likely to have been the largest in the Oxyrhynchite nome.

Procopius a sixth century Byzantine historian describes Apion s role during the Roman Empire s war with Persia during the reign of Anastasius in ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

was born in Charles City County, Virginia, the son of Abraham Brown, and his wife Sarah Brown. (The elder Abraham Brown called himself “Abraham Brown, Jr.” in a 1789 will, but Abraham Brown, Sr. was his uncle, not his father). The Browns were descended from William Brown, born around 1670, sometimes referenced in Virginia court records as “William Brown Negro.” Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, in History of the American Negro and his institutions, briefly refers to the family history being traceable back to England, but provides no details.

The Browns had been free for over a century, and many had owned enough property to be taxable, when Abraham Brown was born. Several had owned title to enslaved persons; Abraham owned three in 1810. His father at various times owned both slaves and indentured servants, including one John Bell, indentured in 1771 Abraham Brown Jr ...

Article

Joshunda Sanders

former slave and landowner in central Texas at a time when few southern blacks owned land, was born a slave in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1826. The literate son of a slave mother and an Irish slaveholder father, Collins was freed in Alabama and traveled to Manor, Texas, in the mid-1800s as a skilled carpenter.

At the time he left Alabama, Collins was likely one of an estimated 500,000 free blacks in the United States in the decade before the Civil War. Free blacks were never a large population in Texas; in the 1860 census they numbered fewer than 400, but may have been twice that many. Free blacks, nevertheless, made a significant contribution to the early history of Texas. When Collins arrived in Manor, Texas, in 1863, however, he was re-enslaved.

He may have married his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Harrington at a Methodist church in the Austin ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

teacher, landowner, and businessman, was born to Caroline Cox (sometimes recorded as Caroline Griffin) on the Griffin plantation near Ebenezer, in Holmes County, Mississippi, on the eastern edge of the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta. The name of Wayne's father is unknown, but several accounts suggest that his mother was widowed either shortly before or shortly after her son was born.

From an early age, perhaps as early as three or four, Cox worked in the cotton fields of the Griffith plantation alongside his mother. During the years of Reconstruction he benefited from the establishment of the first state-supported public schools for African American children in Mississippi. Though the school year was only a few weeks long, Cox displayed a precocious talent at the Holmes County School, and by age eleven he had completed all of the courses on offer in the school's rudimentary curriculum. In 1875 he won ...

Article

Caroline DeVoe

businessman, landowner, farmer, and lynching victim, was born into slavery in Abbeville, South Carolina, the youngest son of Thomas and Louisa, slaves on the plantation of Ben Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina. After Emancipation and Ben Crawford's death, his widow Rebecca may have bequeathed land to her former slave, Thomas, Anthony's father. Thomas continued to acquire land, and in 1873 he purchased 181 acres of fertile land from Samuel McGowan, a former Confederate general and South Carolina Supreme Court Justice. Thomas Crawford's “homeplace” was located in an alluvial valley, approximately seven miles west of the town of Abbeville. The rich land was flanked on the east by Little River and on the west by Penny Creek.

While Crawford's brothers worked the family farm Anthony was sent to school walking seven miles to and from school each day Seventeen year old Anthony was ...

Article

Felix Macharia Kiruthu

pioneer white settler in Kenya, settled in the country in 1903. At the time he first visited the country during a hunting expedition in 1897, he had inherited the family title, as Third Baron Delamere, and the family estate, bringing him a fortune at the age of seventeen. Using his family wealth, he traveled widely, visiting Corsica, New Zealand, Australia, India, and Somaliland before settling in Kenya. Benefitting from a land grant from the colonial government in Njoro, between the Mau escarpment in the west and the Aberdare Ranges in the east in 1903, he named his parcel of land the Equator Farm in 1904. In due course, he acquired additional land in the country’s Rift Valley Province, and subsequently relocated to the Soysambu Farm near Lake Elementeita in 1910 Together with the East African Syndicate Delamere owned one fifth of all the alienated land ...

Article

was born in Africa in either Guinea or Congo, and arrived in the New World by the Middle Passage. Where he disembarked is not known, but at some point he was brought to the northeast coast of Florida, and in 1772 was purchased by Francisco Xavier Sánchez (c.1736–1805), a Floridano planter and cattle baron with extensive holdings in Spanish-colonial Florida. Edimboro worked at Don Sánchez’s original homestead, a thousand-acre plantation-ranch called San Diego (now Guana Tolomata Matanzas National Research Reserve in Palm Valley) and distinguished himself by his valuable skills as a butcher (St. Augustine Record, 2002; Landers, 1991, p. 180). Over the next two decades he and his wife, Filis (1760–? a laundress also owned by Don Sánchez took on a variety of extra jobs and slowly amassed enough money to purchase their freedom According to historian Jane Landers in addition ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

was the first African American and perhaps the first of any color to become a millionaire in Texas. His life reflects substantial changes in the social and legal implications of skin color from the late eighteenth century to the mid-nineteeth century, distinct from, but closely related to, changes in the institution of slavery.

His father was a “free colored” man named William Goyens Sr. (or Goin), born in 1762, who enlisted in a company of the Tenth North Carolina Regiment May 1781–May 1782 for the Revolutionary War. After discharge from the militia, Goyens Sr. married an unknown woman referred to as “white,” who was the mother of the younger William Goyens. Goyens Sr. then remarried a colored woman named Elizabeth in 1793. Goyens Sr. received an invalid pension for North Carolina militia service in 1835, at the age of seventy-two (Research of Cindy Goins Hoelscher ...

Article

Nicole D. Price

Equatorial Guinean landowner, liberation activist of the Fang ethnic group, and hero of the independence movement, was born in Cameroon. Nothing is really known about his youth. Before his participation in the independence movement of Equatorial Guinea, Mañé Elá was known throughout the Río Muni region (the continental part of Equatorial Guinea) as a fairly wealthy landowner. Because of his status as an emancipado, or privileged African under Spanish colonial rule, Mañé Elá had very few restrictions placed upon him as far as travel and accumulation of wealth, both of which figured prominently in his role in the independence movement.

The independence movement in Spanish Guinea started to formally take shape in the late 1940s, when emancipados realized that even with their privileged status in colonial society, they would never have the same rights as the Spaniards. In 1947 a group of emanicipados, led by Marcos Ropo Uri ...

Article

Fiona J. L. Handley

slave, wealthy landowner, and community leader, was born Nicholas Augustin Metoyer in Natchitoches, in the Spanish colony of Louisiana. His mother was Marie-Thérèse Coincoin, a slave and later a free woman and successful agriculturalist, and his father was Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, a wealthy French merchant and planter with whom his mother had a nineteen-year liaison. Marie-Thérèse was enslaved when Augustin and his twin sister Marie Susanne were born, and he was subsequently bought by his father on 31 May 1776 from Madame de St Denis along with three of his siblings for 1 300 livres He grew up as the oldest male child in a wealthy household where in an unusual situation an enslaved woman and a white man cohabited almost completely openly Although Pierre Metoyer never explicitly acknowledged his children with Marie Thérèse as his own most of them took ...

Article

Fiona J. L. Handley

slave, wealthy landowner, and community leader was born in Natchitoches, in the Spanish colony of Louisiana. His mother was Marie-Thérèse Coincoin, a slave who became a free woman and a successful agriculturalist, and his father was Claude Thomas Pierre Metoyer, a wealthy French merchant and planter with whom his mother had a nineteen-year liaison. Marie-Thérèse was enslaved when Louis was born, and he was subsequently bought by his father on 31 May 1776 from Madame de St Denis along with three of his siblings for 1 300 livres Louis Metoyer s upbringing was unusual for its day His parents shared a household in a scarcely disguised fashion and unlike most other mixed race families in the Louisianan upper classes there was no white family to compete for the financial and emotional affection of the father Pierre Metoyer reunited his children with Marie Thérèse under one ...

Article

David Wheat

master mason, militia captain, and property owner in colonial Mobile, Alabama, was a prominent free black man whose last name meant “my friend” in Mobilian Jargon, a major Native American pidgin used throughout the region during his lifetime. His first name used the French spelling “Nicolas.”

Born in roughly 1720 according to his burial record, the exact place and date of Mongoula's birth are unknown. Nor is much certain about his parentage. He was possibly one of two children named “Nicolas” born the same year to enslaved black mothers in Mobile, which is now a port city of Alabama but which in the colonial era changed hands among France, Great Britain, and Spain. Just as little is known of Nicolas Mongoula's early life; how he came to be identified—and to identify himself—with Mobilian Jargon remains unresolved.

This pidgin also known as the Mobilian Trade Language was used ...

Article

Ngonyo  

Thomas Spear

was one of a number of Mijikenda who took advantage of increasing trade and the disruptions of slavery during the nineteenth century in eastern Kenya to attract large numbers of followers and develop their own polities. Prior to the nineteenth century, most Mijikenda had lived in central kayas (villages) surrounding Mombasa, where they farmed and participated in local trade, exchanging livestock, foodstuffs, honey, medicines, and craftwork among themselves. They also traded grain, ivory, copal (used in varnish), orchilla dye, and rubber for cloth, beads, and other trade goods with coastal Swahili.

One of the Mijikenda groups the Giriama had been the leading ivory traders in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries acquiring tusks locally from Waata and Oromo hunters and trade partners but with increasing demand for ivory in India China and Europe during the eighteenth century elephants became more scarce and ambitious young men began to organize caravans across the ...

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Nicole S. Ribianszky

free woman of color, property-holder, and trader in Natchez, Mississippi, was most likely born in the mid-eighteenth century. Very little is known about the early life of Eleanor, or Nelly, as she was often called. She testified in a court document in 1786 that she had been in America for twenty years, although her country of origin is unclear. In the same petition, she was identified as an “English mulatto woman,” suggesting perhaps she was born in the British-held West Indies or in the American colonies. As the Natchez District was under British rule from 1763 until 1779, it is possible that she was the daughter of an enslaved woman and a British man who subsequently manumitted his daughter and furnished her with property.

Most of the biographical details concerning her life surface in court documents from the Natchez District which was controlled by the Spanish ...

Article

Rosemary Elizabeth Galli

nineteenth-century Mozambican warlord, was born on 10 November 1835 in Mapusa, Goa (Portuguese India). His parents were Felix de Sousa, a landowner, and Doroteia Tomásia de Mascarenhas. He went to Mozambique in the early 1850s to manage his maternal uncle’s estate and married his cousin, Maria Anastásia de Mascarenhas. He became a rich and powerful ivory trader in the Sena region, gathering together a private army of elephant hunters and slaves with which he raided surrounding territories. He built a heavily fortified base camp in the Gorongosa Mountains in the 1850s from which he built an empire. He helped Portugal gain control over central Mozambique, challenged first by the Nguni and powerful estate holders and later the British. Locally he acquired the name of Gouveia, said to be a corruption of the term meaning “Goan.”

Sousa found his opportunity to extend his landholdings in the 1860s when Nguni armies ...

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Article

Jeremy Rich

African-born conquistador, was probably born in West Africa around 1505. Sometime before 1533, he arrived in the Americas and became the slave of Alonso Valiente, a notable figure among the Spanish settler community of the Mexican town of Puebla.

Alonso Valiente wrote to his nephew Pedro Mexía on 3 October 1541 about Juan s exploits According to this report Alonso had decided to take Juan to the notary of Veracruz to grant Juan the right to fight in Spanish expeditions to Guatemala and Peru Juan could then earn a salary like any other free soldier and thus could earn the money needed to buy his own freedom Juan Valiente would have to send all of his earnings for four years back to Alonso in order to officially become free However Juan chose not to send money back to his owner Alonso asked his nephew to collect the ...

Article

John Evans

Son of a slave and a wealthy planter on St Kitts, Wells became a major landowner in Monmouthshire, South Wales, and Britain's first black sheriff. He was probably the wealthiest black person in the country at the time.

His father, William Wells (1730–94), left Cardiff with his brother Nathaniel for St Kitts to make his fortune in the sugar and slave trade in about 1749. He married a wealthy widow in 1753, Elizabeth Taylor née Fenton. She bore William two children, who died in infancy, before she herself died in 1759. Subsequently William fathered at least six children with various slaves, one of whom, Nathaniel, was born on 10 September 1779, the son of Juggy, his African house slave. He was baptized on 3 March 1783 at Trinity Church Palmetto Point By the age of 9 wells was living in London with ...