James Ramsey

James Ramsey travels with his parents China Godfrey and Cato Ramsey and his younger sisters Betsey and Nelly Ramsey in the Book of Negroes. James, his mother China and his sisters were owned by Matthew Godfrey in Norfolk County. His father Cato was owned by Dr George Ramsey and later by his son John Ramsey. When Cato first appears in Dr Ramsey's tithables in 1757 it is in the same area of Norfolk (the South Side of Tanners Creek) as Mathew Godfrey when he first lists China in that same year. Cato, China and the children all run at the same time and travel together on the Providence. James is listed in Godfrey's tithables for the first and last time in 1778. In the Birchtown Muster James' occupation is listed as 'carpenter' and is listed by himself in a different Company to his family. It is interesting to note that China is called 'Jane' here and has taken the last name Ramsey. She is listed with her husband, Nelly and Betty (Betsey). James and his mother China are named in Godfrey's claim of losses to the British.





7/ Nov

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Lord Dunmore's Proclamation - Norfolk

  • John Murray, Lord Dunmore -

    John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (1732 – 25 February 1809), was the  colonial governor of Virginia at the outbreak of the American Revolution.

Source for this event: Lord Dunmore's Proclamation


British Invasion of Philadelphia - Chesapeake

  • The campaign for Philadelphia -

    On July 23 1777 the British fleet left from Sandy Hook, New York carrying more than 15,000 soldiers and headed into the Atlantic before turning south to enter the Chesapeake in August and sail up the bay to its northern extremity to set the troops ashore at the head of the Elk River on August 25.


Tithables for the South Side of Tanners Creek to Willie Care's -1778 - South Side of Tanners Creek to Willies Care

Source for this event: Norfolk County Virginia Tithables, Volume 3, 1766 - 1780
Name Owner
James Matthew Godfrey - Norfolk




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Treaty of Paris - Paris France

  • Treaty of Paris -

    In November 1782 a provisional peace treaty was hammered out between the British and the Americans in Paris.

Source for this event: Treaty of Paris


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Evacuation of New York - New York

  • Evacuation of New York -

    In April 1783 the first evacuation fleet left for Nova Scotia. A week later  the British Commander, Sir Guy Carleton, sailed up the Hudson River to Orangetown for a conference with General Washington to discuss the evacuation. As the victorious commander, Washington opened the meeting by reiterating the resolution of Congress regarding “the delivery of all Negroes and other property.”

Source for this event: The Book of Negroes
Vessel Names and their Commanders Where Bound Names Age Description Names of the Person in whose Possession they now are Remarks
Master: John Richee
Port Roseway James Ramsey 20 stout lad Formerly Slave to Matthew Godfrey, Norfolk. Left 5 years ago. Certificate from General Birch. 'On his own bottom'
Remarks:[In the Book of Negroes 'Murphy' Godfrey is the name recorded for James' former owner. This is a mistake for Matthew Godfrey. James says he ran 5 years ago, however it is highly likely that he in fact ran 4 years ago with his mother and siblings.]
James Ramsey's Relationships


Birchtown Muster - Birchtown

Source for this event: Birchtown Muster of Free Blacks
Name Age Occupation Families they lived with Companies they belong to Remarks Company They Are Now With
James Ramsey 20 Carpenter Stephen Shakespeare Shakespear's Company Lived with Shakespear to the 15 May 84 since which he has not received any provision Captain Levin Johnson
Remarks:[James is listed on his own in Johnson's Company. His parents and younger sisters are listed together as a family group in Coffin's Company.]
James Ramsey's Relationships


Patriot claims for losses to the British

Source for this event: Patriot claims for losses to the British
[We have assumed that Matthew Godfrey claimed James Ramsey]