John Pleasants, Sr., nearby landowner and Quaker, requested in his will that his slaves be freed when each became 30 years old. Pleasants died in 1771, but it was not until 1782 that some of his slaves gained freedom when the Virginia General Assembly approved private manumissions. His son, Robert Pleasants, and a few other heirs freed close to 100 slaves in multiple counties. Robert Pleasants attempted to get all of the family to honor the will's stipulations, which culminated in 1798 when the Virginia High Court of Chancery heard it as a legal case. Future U. S. Chief Justice John Marshall and John Warden represented Robert Pleasants on behalf of the slaves. In 1799, the court ruled in favor of freeing the slaves. Some of the freed slaves settled nearby on Robert Pleasant's land to form the Gravely Hill community.