National Archive Microfilm Publications Microcopy No. 434
Habeas Corpus Case Records of the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia 1820 – 1863


Roll 1 – 1820 – 1843

Petition of Mary Anne Gray for Habeas Corpus


To the Honorable the Judges of the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia for the County of Washington

The petition of Mary Anne Gray, a free mulatto woman, respectfully sheweth: That your petitioner, who is about seventy years of age, is now confined in the Penitentiary Department of the Washington Asylum, upon a commitment a copy of which is amended, and exhibited with this, her petition. That the Act of the Corporation of Washington of the 16th December 1812, upon which the said commitment purports to be founded, requires the information upon oath of a credible citizen to authorize a Justice of the Peace to commit to the work house for any of the offenses enumerated in the said Act. That Eliza Butler and Matilda Anne Butler, the negro women upon whose oaths your petitioner was committed, are not credible citizens. That the said Matilda Anne Butler is a notorious prostitute, that the said Eliza Butler is to say least of her, a drunken disorderly and worthless person. Your petitioner therefore prays your Honors to grant her the writ of Habeas Corpus, so that she may be brought before your Honors, to be dealt with according to law, and she will pray.
G. S. Gilenson
Atty. For Petitioner

District of Columbia
Washington County Pct.

To Lambert & Beck Constable of the second ward of the city of Washington & Richard Butler, Intendant of the Washington Asylum.

Whereas Mary Anne Gray stands charged before me the subscriber a Justice of the Peace for the County aforesaid on the oath of Elizabeth Butler & Matilda Ann Butler with being guilty of using profane language, of keeping a house of ill fame & disorderly conduct and having failed to give Security for her good, be (illegible) you are therefore hereby commanded to take the said Mary Anne Gray into your custody today & deliver her together with this warrant to the Intendant of the said Washington Asylum & you the said Intendant are hereby required and authorized to receive the said Mary Anne Gray & her safe keep at hard labour for the space of ninety days from & after the date hereof unless sooner discharged by due course of law.
Given under my hand & seal this 22nd day of October, 1835.
Felat Smith, Justice Peace

District of Columbia
Washington County, to wit:

On this twenty fourth day of November in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and thirty five before me, the subscriber, a Justice of the Peace in and for said County personally appeared Mary Anne Gray, the petitioner in the aforesaid petition named and made oath in due form of law, that the facts therein stated are true.

The United States of America
To Richard Butler, Intendant of the Washington Asylum.

You are hereby commanded that you have the body of Mary Anne Gray confined in the Penitentiary Department of the Washington Asylum, as it is said, by whatever name she was committed, together with the cause of her caption and detention, before the Circuit Court of the District of Columbia now sitting for the County of Washington immediately, to do receive and submit to what may be then and there considered in the premises.

Hereof fail not as you will the contrary at your peril.

Issued the 27th day of Nov. 1, 1835.

Issued by order of Court. W. Brent, Clk.

In obedience to the within writ, I have the body of the within named Mary Anne Gray as (illegible) within commanded, and hereby certify that she is detained in my custody on a commitment which is herewith transmitted and for no other cause.
Richd. Butler

Discharged by order of Court.