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South Carolina Archives
Series Description

Bills of Sale, 1843-1872


CALL NUMBER:        S 213050


CREATOR: Secretary of State. Recorded Instruments.

TITLE: Bills of sale

DATE: 1843-1872

VOLUME: 8.00 volumes and 3.00 microfilm reels

ARRANGEMENT: Series arranged chronologically in letter-designated volumes.

BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE: This series is an outgrowth of the Miscellaneous Records series established by the Secretary of the Province at the beginning of the South Carolina colony. S.C. Statute 1698(2)137, An Act to Prevent Deceits by Double Mortgages and Conveyances of Lands, Mortgages, and Chattels, &c., required recording sales and mortgages of "negroes, goods, or chattels" in the secretary's office and established the basic division between the recording of real property (land) by the register and the recording of personal property by the secretary. 

The Miscellaneous Records series contained a wide variety of documents, but in 1732 the secretary began to record mortgages, inventories, wills, and commissions and instructions in separate volumes by type. Most of these became separate series of volumes. In 1773 the secretary began to use separate volumes of printed forms for bills of sale, but these volumes continued to bear letter designations within the sequence of the Miscellaneous Records (Main Series) until 1843. After 1843 the Bills of Sale volumes were designated in a separate sequence (volumes 6A through 6F), the designations of which duplicate other volumes in the Miscellaneous Records (Main Series). The department's archivists have therefore considered these volumes a separate series.

SUMMARY SCOPE NOTE: This series consists of bills of sale recorded on printed forms in the Charleston office of the Secretary of State. The vast bulk of these prior to 1865 are bills of sale for slaves. The series is a continuation of the separate bills of sale volumes in the Miscellaneous Records (Main Series). The series also includes bills of sale for stocks in trade and furnishings of grocery stores, pharmacies, dry goods stores, newspapers, coffee houses, bar rooms, hotels, and sellers of tobacco, wines, and liquors. Other bills of sale are for ships and boats, livestock, farm equipment, flouring mills, houses and other buildings, and household furnishings. The last volume continued in use in Charleston County after the abolition of the Charleston office of the Secretary of State. 

The bills of sale for slaves include the names of the sellers, buyers, and slaves; the amount for which the slaves were sold; a witness statement; and the dates of the sale and of its recording. Some sales include descriptions of the skills, age, physical condition and family relationships of the slaves. Sales that were involved with mortgages contain endorsements as to the satisfaction of the mortgage. Sales of other types of property contain descriptions of the property and its location. The bulk of all documents seem to record sales in Charleston and the lowcountry.

INDEX/FINDING AID: Names of buyers and sellers and slave names in this series are included in the repository's On-line Combined Index to Multiple Record Series, 1675-1929. The topical terms "blacks, free" and "mulattoes" were used when persons were so identified. The term "slaves, skilled" was entered when such skills were mentioned and "estate disposition" was used for transactions involving estates. Names of boats and ships, hotels, theatres, and the like are indexed as topics, and topical terms like "stock in trade," "grocery stores," "household goods," "bars and taverns," "tobacco shops," and "restaurants" were also used. Street names where businesses were located were indexed as geographic locations. Plantation and barony names were indexed as topics, not as geographic locations. Names of witnesses were not indexed. 

These index terms are also in a three-reel computer output microfilm (COM) index produced by the repository in 1980 that includes this series and the separate bills of sale volumes in the main series of the Miscellaneous Records. They are also in the Combined Alphabetical Index produced by the repository on computer output microfilm in 1991. The numeric code 0002 026 was used to designate this series in the computer output  microfilm indexes. A nineteenth century manuscript index to bills of sale volumes 5A, 5D, 5G, 5K, 5O, 5T, and 5W in the Miscellaneous Records (Main Series) and to Volume 6A of this series is available in the repository. The individual volumes also contain internal indexes.

ADDITIONAL FORM: Entire series available on microfilm produced by the Genealogical Society of Utah. By agreement with the Genealogical Society, the repository has acquired reproduction duplicates of this film and the right to sell copies.

ASSOCIATED MATERIAL: Digital images of the entire series available on the free side of the subscription website Fold3.com in the category South Carolina Estate Inventories and Bills of Sale, 1732-1872. Earlier bills of sale can be found in the various series of Miscellaneous Records kept by the secretaries of the province and state. Separate volumes on printed forms in the Miscellaneous Records (Main Series) begin in 1773. Apparently no separate bills of sale volumes were kept by the Columbia Office of the Secretary of State but scattered sales can be found in the Miscellaneous Records (Columbia Series). Slave sales can also be found in the Conveyance Books series kept by the Registers of Mesne Conveyance throughout the state, but these sales are often not included in the indexes.

GENERAL NOTE: Volume 6D is now bound in two parts.

HIERARCHICAL NOTE: Forms part of the records of Recorded Instruments of the Secretary of State.