Surry was a West African slave in the Thirteen Colonies. Around 1765, she was given as a wedding present to Samuel Adams and his second wife, Elizabeth Wells. However, Adams insisted that she be freed before she came to live and work with them, to which she was. Surry worked for the Adams family for nearly fifty years.

The Kanien'kehá:ka Assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton knew about Surry and questioned Adams over her presence in his household. He admitted she was only a freed slave in the legal sense, but argued that the rights of men like him against the British government came first. Later, in 1778, Ratonhnhaké:ton's thoughts turned to Surry again when he began to realize that the Patriots were only fighting for the freedom of land-owning white citizens, and not for people like him or her.