Ann Joice (1660-1735) was born in the West Indies and taken to England before she was brought, as a slave, to Prince George’s County, Maryland. Joice always adamantly maintained that she was actually an indentured servant. She had vociferously related her story to family and friends throughout her lifetime. This narrative was the inspiration to her great, great grandson, slave Charles Mahoney, to petition Maryland court in 1791 for his freedom, claiming that he was descended from a free woman.

In 1678, the document surfaced showing that Ann actually was an indentured servant. Her great, great grandson’s legal struggle to gain his freedom was important in the abolition movement. Ann Joice’s tenacity and vigorous objections to her imposed and incorrect social status were her legacy.

Submitted by: Maryland Women’s Heritage Center