Molly Welsh Banneker

English Women and African Slaves

Banneker’s 1795 Almanac

In 1690, after working for seven years on a tobacco plantation in Maryland, Molly earned her freedom, and bought a 120-acre farm ten miles from Baltimore. In 1692, she bought two slaves from a ship in the Chesapeake Bay. One of the slaves was a man named Banneka, the son of an African chieftain. Banneka’s intelligence and dignity deeply impressed Mary Welsh.

In England, during the 17th century, people who were convicted of crimes were sometimes shipped to the American colonies to work on plantations. In 1683, Molly Welsh, an English dairy maid, was found guilty of stealing milk from a farmer. In fact, she had accidentally knocked over a pail of milk, but the mistake was costly. Molly was indentured to a Maryland tobacco farmer to pay for her crime.

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