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‘Heavy and Ill Looking about His Brows’
James Blair's Servant Ship Lost Some Two-Legged Cargo
© 2017 James LaFond
September 4, 1760
The Pennsylvania Gazette
RUN away on the 27th ult. from on board the Ship Harvey, James Blair Commander, just then arrived from Newry, in Ireland, Two Servant Men, viz.
Arthur Kelly, about five Feet eight Inches high, about 35 Years of Age, a stout strong build Fellow, of a fresh Complexion, pretty round faced, and something heavy and ill looking about his Brows:
Had on when he went away, an old light coloured Coat, much patched and darned, a short green Waistcoat, much wore, dirty Sheep skin Breeches, Yarn Stockings, Shoes better than half wore, and wears a brown cut Wig, and an old Hat.
The other, James Richardson, by Trade a Weaver, about five Feet three Inches high, 27 or 28 Years of Age:
Had on when he went away, an old Orange coloured Coat and Waistcoat, old Sheep skin Breeches, much broke, without Shoes or Stockings, wears a Cap, and says he has a Brother somewhere in the Country.
Whoever apprehends said Servants, and secures them in any Goal, so that their Master may have them again, or brings them to the Subscriber, in Philadelphia, shall receive Four Pounds Reward, or Forty Shillings for each, and all reasonable Charges, paid by WILLIAM BLAIR.
1. James Richardson’s brother would be a problem that vexed authorities from the 1670s onward, the number of freed or runaway servants living in the back country, which Benjamin Franklin called “runagates.” The servant exploitation business largely diminished in favor of African slavery for this reason, that the runaways had hope that sympathies would be with them among the free poor and relatives. The reasoning for bringing blacks from Africa, rather than English speaking blacks from Barbados, which proved disastrous, because they revolted with the whites, was to have a person in bondage who had no free relatives. For this reason the provinces and later states increasingly legislated that blacks must be held for life, even when the guilt-ridden master, getting on in years, wanted to increase his chances at the pearly gates by freeing his human chattel.
2. Four pounds was the standard payment for a captured servant with most or all of his time remaining un-worked, who sold from between 7-20 pounds, with 13-15 the norm. The capture fee was tacked on as time laboring, depending on the laws of each province.
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