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Prince George's County Court Record

Provided by the Maryland State Archives, 31 Aug 2001

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Prince George's County (Court Record) S, pp. 333-334 petition of Richard Brightwell, 1733 [MSA CM 780; CR 34,712] 4pp. {Actually two court actions related to placement of children - separated by another court action…} (transcription follows)

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The Court takes other action, then,

This is the June Session of the Court in 1733:

"Richard Brightwell profours to the Court here the following Petition: 'Voz' To the Worshipful Justices of the PGCo The Humble petition of Richard Brightwell of the said County. Humbly Sheweth, That a bout twelve years Since A Certain Jesper Kennick desired the Petitioner to take under his Care a Son of his the said Jesper then about the age of Two years and that he would Satisfie your petitioner for his Trouble if able if not the Child to Continue with your Petitioner till he arrives to the age of Twenty One years. That your Petitioner has had the Trouble & Care of his Support during the time also used his utmost Endeavor to give him what Schooling he Could Take by Sending him to Two Different Schoolmasters and Liv'd as his own Children without any"

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"Difference made as can be Attested. Yet notwithstanding his yrs Petitioner pains and care in the Support & Maintenance of the said Child A Certain John Brightwell of the County aforesaid keeps and detains of said Child.

Therefore your Petitioner humbly Prays your Worships Summons to the said Brightwell to Shew Cause why he detains and keeps the said Child and your Petitioner shall pray that Upon Reading which Petition and Consideration thereof had Its Ordered by the Court here that the same be Rejected."

After the break, imagine the parties milling in the back of the room...

The Justices act on another case, then resume our case of interest...

"William Kennick aged (as tis said on Courts horo) fifteen years next April in his proper person prays the Justices thereof that he may be Admitted to Choose his Guardian which is granted him. Whereupon he makes Choice of John Brightwell who upon his Declaring in Court how his Willingness to accept the same is admitted accordingly and the said John Brighwell in his proper person in Court now obliges himself to give his said Ward Two years Schooling or to Learn him to Read and Write and afterwards to Bind him to Some handy Craft Trade until he arrives to the age of Twenty one years."

What do we have here, then? From other records we know that this Richard Brightwell is the older brother of John Brightwell and a brother-in-law of Jasper Kennick (married to Elizabeth Brightwell, their sister). The child in question is William Kennick, born April 1719 (will be fifteen in April 1734, per above). At about two years of age, about 1721, Jasper asked Richard Brightwell to assume care of his two year old son, William, until the reach the age of 21. Jasper indicated he would pay Richard in some way, if able. It seems reasonable to assume that the mother, Elizabeth, sister of Richard and wife of Jasper, has probably died, and Jasper feels incapable of providing for his son, William. Richard inherited the property from his father, Capt. Richard Brightwell, consisting of a number of plantations, where they all lived and worked. It would also seem that Jasper has probably passed away (or gone away), as he is not a party to this action. Further, it seems Richard has not been satisfied, financially, in his care of William for these past 12 years. He comes to the Court to complain that, although he has made "his utmost endeavor" to satisfy his obligation, the young William has been something of a problem. Specifically, at an age when he should be providing labor to Richard as "pay back" for his care over the years of his youth, the young man, William, is living (and probably working) with John Brightwell, who is enjoying the fruits of the young man's labor. Richard wants him back, from his brother!

William Kennick appears in court, in person. He asks to be allowed to choose his guardian. He is granted that opportunity. He makes the choice of his youngest uncle, John Brightwell, with whom he has been living and working. John Brightwell, also before the Court, in person, then declares his willingness to accept this official responsibility. He obliges himself to provide his ward, William, two years of schooling, so that he might learn to read and write, then to apprentice him to a "handy craft trade" until he reaches the age of 21 years.



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