AD: Sambo as a slave name

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Dec 19 20:19:34 UTC 2007

Here's a later ex. just to show that the name was not all that rare:

  1768 in Lathan A. Windley _Runaway Slave Advertisements_ (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press ) IV 29: Two NEGROE FELLOWS, one named CAROLINA, and the other SAMBO.

  "Carolina" seems an odd name for a "fellow," but cf. "Tex."


"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Joel S. Berson"
Subject: AD: Sambo as a slave name

OED2 has as its earliest citation for "Sambo" sense 2 ("A nickname
for a Negro") "1704 Boston News-Let. 2 Oct. 2/2 There is a Negro man
taken up supposed to be Runaway from his Master,..calls himself Sambo."

According to Newbell Niles Puckett, there is a slave named Sambo in a
Maryland record of 1692.

"Names of Negro Slaves", in _Mother Wit from the Laughing Barrell_
(University Press of Mississippi, 1990), p. 158, col. 2.

Puckett does not give a specific citation, but it is presumably one
of the sources cited in note 4, p. 158, the two most likely being
Caterall's _Judicial Cases Concerning American Slavery and the Negro_
(3 vols.) and Donnan's _Documents Illustrative of the History of the
Slave Trade in America_ (4 vols.). I don't intend to follow this up
myself, but perhaps 1692 and Maryland will be sufficient for someone
to locate the source in one of these seven volumes.


The American Dialect Society -

Looking for last minute shopping deals?  Find them fast with Yahoo! Search.

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list