Edith Cumbo (born ca. 1735) was born to a free black woman in Charles City County, Va. across the Chickahominy River from Williamsburg. Because children inherited the status of their mother, Edith was also free. She grew up with five brothers.
ON HER OWN
In the mid-1750s, Cumbo lived in Halifax County, where her son Daniel was born. She remained unmarried, but was successfully found not guilty when she was accused of having a child out of wedlock. By the late 1770s, Cumbo was living in Williamsburg as one of only a handful of free blacks living within the city. Independent and resourceful, Cumbo headed her household and may have used her housewifery skills to earn a living, perhaps as a domestic servant, laundress or seamstress.
PROUD AND PROTECTIVE
In 1778, Cumbo took steps to protect her property and household when she took the initiative to sue Adam White for trespass, assault and battery. Her story illuminates the lives of free blacks during the American Revolution.
Meet a Nation Builder
Walk through History with a Nation Builder
On this walking tour experience the 18th century community of Williamsburg and its echoes through time with one of our Nation Builders.
Donor Visit with a Nation Builder
Museum members and donors who contribute $250 or more annually to the Colonial Williamsburg Fund are invited to visit with a Nation Builder. Reservations strongly recommended.
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Visit a Nation Builder- George Wythe
Step into the past with George Wythe, teacher, lawyer, judge, and revolutionary.