Born about 1721, arrived in Virginia 1733
“Thomas Armson a servant boy belonging to Elias Newman is adjudged to be twelve years old, in order for the payment of levies.”
Essex, Virginia order book 9, page 95, 20 May 1733
“Servant”, was another way we see enslaved individuals referred to in court records. It is possible that Thomas was an indentured servant and not an enslaved individual. Plantation owners paid taxes on both indentured servants and enslaved individuals. However, this record does not give an end date to an indenture, so we take this to mean he was enslaved rather than indentured.
This record shows an age and the term “boy”, which helps us when considering possible ages of other enslaved male children simply recorded as “boy”. We currently estimate “boy” meant between the ages of nine and sixteen. This court record is from the Essex County, Virginia court proceedings 20 May 1733. This gives us a calculated birth year for Thomas in 1721. This record also means that Thomas had entered the Virginia colony within the three months prior to this court date. There is no record of Thomas entering from another colony, so he most likely arrived on a ship with other enslaved laborers between March and May 1733.
Thomas was not listed in Elias Newman’s will in 1747/8, nor in the accompanying inventory. Thomas would have been age twenty seven at the time of this will. Doll could not be the mother of Thomas because she was living in Virginia when Thomas was born somewhere outside of Virginia. There is no indication that Thomas Armson was related to Tamor who arrived in Virginia six years later in 1739.
There is no known record of Thomas being “gifted” to one of Elias Newman’s older children and there is no known record of death. This is the only record we have for Thomas.