State Highway Marker

State Highway Marker

Monday, January 28, 2013

Papaw and Poison

From the Executive Journals of the Council April 29, 1729

Whereas upon consideration of the many extraordinary Cures perform’d by Papaw a Negro Slave belonging to M[istress] Frances Littlepage of the County of New Kent, it was resolved that means should be used to obtain from him a discovery of the secret whereby he performs the said cures; and the said Papaw having upon promise of his freedom now made an ample discovery of the several medicines made use of by him for that purpose to the satisfaction of the Governor and the Gentlemen appointed by him to inspect the application and operation of the said medicines, It is the opinion of this board and accordingly ordered that as a reward for useful a discovery, which may be of great benefit to mankind, and more particularly to the preservation of the lives of great numbers of the Slaves belonging to the Inhabitants of this Country frequently infected with the Yaws, and other venereal distempers, the said Papaw be set free; and that the sum of £50 current money be paid to the said M[istress] Frances Littlepage out of his Majesty’s Revenue of 2 shillings per hogshead, for his freedom; but that he remain still under the direction of the Government until he made a discovery of some other secrets he has for expelling poison, and the cure of other diseases.

-from  Executive Journals of the Council of Virginia Vol. IV (October 25, 1721- October 28, 1739)

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