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  • Alex Colvin

Joseph "Joel" Fore marriage bond January 13, 1840 in Craven County, North Carolina to Susan Chesnutt

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

Joseph "Joel" Fore is typically found in census and other records as a free person of color and Susan and a white female. However, this is the marriage which would eventually be annulled by the North Carolina Supreme Court during its June term in 1841, just a year later.1 The bond raises intriguing questions. Who was Fore’s bondsman? Was he any relation or a neighbor? Bonds were typically 19th century sureties required by the state for couples intending to marry. It was the groom's duty to take out the bond in the county where the bride resided, per North Carolina law. The bond rate was set at $1000.00.2. However, North Carolina’s anti-miscegenation statute was enacted in 1839, making such marriages illegal.3 This raises the question: why would a Craven County clerk issue a bond for what was, essentially a criminal act, one for which he could be fined or imprisoned, "at the discretion of the court." ?4.





1. "S. v. Fore” in North Carolina Reports: Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, Volume 23, 389-291, North Carolina State Archives. (NCSA)

2. "NC Revised Statutes 1836", Vol. 1, Chapt 71, Sec. 2 p 386, NCSA.

3. "North Carolina State Assembly Session Statutes, 1839, Chapt. 24, p. 33, NCSA Archives.

4. "NC Revised Statutes 1836" Vol. 1 Chapt 34 Sec. 72 p 208-9. NCSA