Sabe and Rose
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  • Sabe and Rose

    The institution of slavery did not disappear but rather evolved in Massachusetts with the 1783 Quok Walker court decision.

    Formerly enslaved persons with family obligations may have been more likely to remain with their former enslavers. Their material conditions and daily lives would not change dramatically with the move from slavery to freedom. But in most cases, newly freed people would be offered financial compensation for their labor.

    Through various documents, Sabe and Rose Derby are referred to as “formerly belonging to Elias Hasket Derby.” Through the historical record, we can trace their connection with the Derby family for years following the legal end of slavery in Massachusetts. Sabe and Rose were unmarried at the time of the Walker court decision. They married the same year as their former enslaver’s death, in 1799. 

    Image Description

    1799 receipt for $500 paid to Elias Hasket Derby's daughter, Martha Derby, "for a legacy left to his Negro Servants Sabe & Rose."

    Documentation has not been found to show if or when Sabe and Rose received their full legacy.

    Derby Family Papers, MSS 37, Box 19, Folder 1, Philips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.