Birth: 1712, near the Volta River in Ghana

Death: between 1793-1799 in Medford, MA

Historical Role/Pertinence: Belinda Sutton is best known for the petition she wrote to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1783.

Belinda Sutton was a slave to the Royall Family who resided in Massachusetts. She petitioned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that she should be paid from Isaac Royall’s estate for her work. In Belinda’s petition, she recounted her life experiences of being captured and enslaved while arguing for her right to compensation. Because Belinda could not read or write, it is speculated that either Prince Hall or Mum Bett penned the petition for her. The courts granted Belinda a pension of 15 pounds, 12 shillings. Belinda’s case is one of the first recorded accounts of reparations which may explain why the state repeatedly missed payments on Belinda’s pension in the years following her petition. However, Belinda continued to renew her claim every year in an effort to collect the money she was entitled to.  

Associated Exhibits

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Works Cited

“Belinda Sutton and Her Petitions.” Royall House & Slave Quarters. Accessed November 2023. https://royallhouse.org/slavery/belinda-sutton-and-her-petitions/.

“Belinda Sutton.” Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade. Enslaved, Accessed November 2023. https://enslaved.org/fullStory/16-23-106154/.

“The Petition of Belinda Sutton.” Medford Historical Society & Museum. 2023. https://www.medfordhistorical.org/medford-history/africa-to-medford/the-mark-of-belinda-sutton/.