Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Frederick (last name unknown)
MSA SC 3520-18344


On September 26, 1861, a young enslaved person named Frederick was lynched by a mob in Cecil County, Maryland. Frederick's last name is not known, and no information about his family background can be located. While his precise age is not known, he was described as being a young man in newspaper coverage. Frederick was the enslaved property of Matthew C. Pearce and Eliza J. Pearce. [1]

Frederick was lynched after being accused of attempting to rape Ann E. Price, the fourteen-year-old daughter of John V. and Mary A. Price, who lived in the vicinity of Cecilton. According to newspaper accounts, Ann Price was riding on horseback when she came to a place where the road was blocked. She asked Frederick, who was at the scene, to clear the way. Purportedly, he then dragged her off the horse and attempted to rape her. Price escaped, and local white residents soon seized Frederick. Soon after, he was taken to the spot where the assault was said to have occurred and hanged from a nearby tree. The exact location is not known, but it was likely near Cecilton. [2]

Matthew C. Pearce and his family had left Maryland in 1858, selling their land holdings and moving to Jersey City, New Jersey. Because New Jersey prohibited slavery--though people continued to be held in bondage there--Pearce could have been barred from bringing enslaved people with him, making it possible that Frederick had been rented to someone else in Maryland. No investigation into the lynching ever occurred. In 1862, Pearce petitioned the Maryland General Assembly for compensation for Frederick's death, but the state did not act on that request. [3]


1. "Attempt by a Negro to Commit a Rape on a White Girl--The Negro Hung by the Citizens," Cecil Whig, 28 September 1861; "Rape," Cecil Democrat, 28 September 1861; "Lynch Law at Cecilton," Philadelphia Inquirer, 30 September 1861.

2. U.S. Federal Census, 1860, Cecil County, Maryland, District 1; Cecil Whig, 28 September 1861; Cecil Democrat, 28 September 1861.

3. "Vendue," Cecil Whig, 1 May 1858; Deed, Matthew C. Pearce and Eliza J. Pearce to John C. Groome, 1859, Cecil County Circuit Court, Land Records, WHR 2, p. 179 [MSA CE55-12]; Deed, Matthew C. Pearce and Eliza J. Pearce to John Rosbold, 1859, WHR 2, p. 188 [MSA CE55-12]; Cecil Whig, 24 May 1862. Pearce and his family cannot be located in the census for 1850 or 1860 in Maryland or New Jersey. New Jersey law is ambiguous about the importation of enslaved people from out of state in this time period. However, Pearce manumitted an enslaved man named Bill Dumpson just before leaving the state. Cecil County Circuit Court, Land Records, WHR 1, p. 251 [MSA CE55-11].

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