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Primus Shapley

Birthplace: Of, Kittery, York, Maine
Death: (Date and location unknown)
Managed by: Erica "the Disconnectrix" Howton
Last Updated:

About Primus Shapley

Before Cumberland County Maine gave up some of its land to help form Androscoggin County; it had at least three deeds recorded by Primus Shapley or Shapleigh. The deeds suggest that Primus owned some 50 acres by 1803 and sold some of the land in 1813 and appears to have sold the balance by 1815. Primus is called a "labourer" and a "man of colour" in at least one of the deeds. He had a wife co-sign a deed in 1813 and her name was Lorania. No wife's signature was on the 1815 deed. (Cumberland County Deeds: Book 42, page 151; Book 71, page 90; and Book 136, page 393 are sources).

There is pretty good reason to believe that Primus Shapleigh of Auburn may have ties with a Primus Shapleigh who was freed from slavery when Captain John Shapleigh of Kittery, Maine, died on October 7, 1759. Captain Shapleigh had several "Negro" persons listed in his inventory including a person called Primus. (Maine Probate Abstracts, Volume I, page 507, item 10/243). It is possible that Primus the 1759 freedom finder was the father of Primus of 1800 Auburn.

A Brunswick, Maine, marriage is found between Prime Chapley and Mareny Blake on February 13, 1793.


It is suspected that Mareny Blake was a descendant of Will Black or Black Will. Enter Captain John Shapleigh again who had freed Will Black or Black Will. The Blacks of the Kittery area had some children recorded there, but ultimately moved to what is now Bailey's Island and settled. Without good title to the land; they were soon displaced to Orr's Island. Some of the Black family in the area gradually changed their name to Blake.


There has been some evidence uncovered that Mareny and Lorania/Lorane/Lorene Blake were sisters. Perhaps Primus and Mareny were to have four children by the time of the 1800 census in order to have a household of six (although other relatives might have been included in the household to reduce the number of children). Perhaps Mareny died and Primus married her sister, Lorania by the time the 1813 deed was signed. Although there is a lot of conjecture here; a reasonable scenario could be developed to support the theory.

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Primus Shapley's Timeline

Kittery, York, Maine