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Wed, 12.04.1816

Hector Davis, Slave Trader, born.

Auction Flyer of Davis'

*Hector Davis was born on this date in 1816. He was a white-American slave trader.

He was the son of John S. Davis and Jane W. Matthews Davis, the second of his three wives. They resided in Goochland County; in the 1840s, Davis moved to Richmond, where city directories and newspaper advertisements identified him most often as an auctioneer. For more than a decade, he operated a slave jail, a place of confinement for enslaved Africans whose owners had consigned them to auctioneers for sale.

Davis became well known during the 1850s in Virginia and to chattel slave traders and planters in other states who sold him slaves or purchased slaves from him. He and the other large-scale traders in Virginia annually purchased and sold between 8,000 and 10,000 men, women, and children for transportation to markets in the southwestern states. They engaged in the largest commercial business in the state. In 1859, Davis’s Richmond auction house alone sold slaves with a market value of more than $2.67 million, more than the value of all the flour exported from Virginia that year, when Richmond had two of the largest mills in the country and almost equal to the value of all the tobacco exported from Virginia to other countries.

Davis never married, although, like traders, he had a long-term relationship with an enslaved woman who had four children in the 1850s, probably his. In his will, he left most of his money to his nieces and nephew but also ordered that his “servant woman Ann” and her children be freed and sent out of the state and that $20,000 be invested for her and her children. At his death, his estate was valued at $100,000. Hector Davis died on January 7, 1863.

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