Runaway Servants

Virginia Gazette
(Parks), Williamsburg,
From August 7 to August 14, 1746.

RAN away from the Subscribers on the 31st of July last, Three Servants, viz. Daniel M'Craw, a Scots-Highlander, of a short Stature, speaks broken English, about 5 Feet 2 Inches high, of a swarthy Complexion, with short curl'd Hair: Had on when he went away, a coarse Bear-skin Coat, with Brass Buttons, a Pair of brown Linen Trowsers and Shirt. He belonged to Mr. Charles Dick, in Fredericksburg. John Ross, a Scots-Highland Boy, about 16 Years of age, of a ruddy Complexion, full-fac'd, speaks broken English, and has his Hair cut: He carried with him an Oznabrig Shirt, a Pair of Oznabrig Trowsers and Breeches, a Tartan Waistcoat without Sleeves, lin'd with green Shalloon, a brown Holland and a white Linen ditto, a Silk Handkerchief, a Felt Hat, and a Leather hunting Cap. He belonged to Mr. John Mitchell, in Fredericksburg. Thomas Haily, an Irishman, about 36 Years of Age, of a fair Complexion, about 5 Feet 8 Inches high; had on when he went away, a dark colour'd Broad-Coath Coat, double-breasted with Metal Buttons, a Pair of Trowsers, an Oznabrig Shirt, a white Linen ditto, and a fine Beaver Hat. He belonged to Doctor William Lynn, in Fredericksburg. Whoever apprehends the said Servants and brings them to their Masters aforesaid, shall receive a Pistole Reward for each, besides what the Law allows. Witness our Hands this 21st Day of July, 1746. Charles Dick. William Lynn. John Mitchell.


Virginia Gazette
(Purdie & Dixon), Williamsburg,
June 1, 1769.

THREE POUNDS REWARD WILL be given to any person who will apprehend and have conveyed home to the subscriber, living near Fredericksburg, a runaway convict servant named James Lee, of about 35 years of age, born near Manchester in Lancashire, the dialect of which county he speaks to great perfection. There is good reason to believe that he got on board a small eastern shore vessel that left Fredericksburg about the 22d of April, commanded by one Sterling, from Prince's creek, in Pocomoke. Any Gentleman who may happen to live in this man's neighborhood are requested to make inquiry of him. Lee is a tall stout fellow, and, until reduced by sickness, remarkabley strong and brawney; but, having been long afflicted with a cachexical complaint, he still has a dropsical appearance, his belly and legs being swollen, and his face sallow and bloated. He is very much pitted with smallpox, round shouldered, and has lost the first joint of the thumb of his right hand. He had on a blue short coat, or jacket, like a seaman's, but also took with him a drab coat, which he will probably put on, as making a better appearance, a double breasted swanskin waistcoat, blue breeches, and mottled yarn hose, though he had several other pair, both thread and worsted, sand shoes with uncommon thick soles. He is a very tolerable practical farmer, and in particular an excellent ploughman. Being a very clownish ignorant fellow, and neither able to read nor write, I can hardly suppose him to frame a very plausible account of himself, and that therefore any person who happens to question him must easily discover him to be a runaway. The above reward shall be faithfully paid to any person who will deliver him to Mr. Charles Yates, in Fredericksburg, or to JONATHAN BOUCHER.

Virginia Gazette
(Pinkney) Williamsburg,
October 20, 1774.

RUN away from the subscriber, in Fredericksburg, a servant man named TAOMAS OGLE, by trade a shoemaker, about 5 feet 6 inches high, of a pale complexion, speaks soft and low, says he is an Englishman, but by his make he appears to be an Irishman, his hair (if any on) is short, and of a brownish colour, has a scar in his face, or forehead, not larger than a straw, and, as well as I remember, about an inch long, he is very artful, and capable of imposing on most people; took with him a Virginia cloth coat of cotton, filled with red, a red jacket, leather breeches, and several other cloaths. He has a burn on his right leg, near his knee. The said fellow was formerly the property of Mr. Hugh Houston, of Fredericksburg. Whoever takes him up, if out of Spotsylvania county, shall receive a HALF JOE reward, on delivering him at my house; or if at a distance too far to convey him for that money, reasonable charges will be allowed. BENJAMIN JOHNSTON.

Virginia Gazette
(Dixon & Hunter), Williamsburg,
November 22, 1776.

THIRTY DOLLARS REWARD. FREDERICK County, VIRGINIA, Nov. 20, 1776. RUN away on the Night of the 17th of June last, from Marlborough Iron Works, CHARLES WHITE, an English Convict, born in Rutlandshire, by Trade a Stocking Weaver, had been both in the Land and Sea Service, is about 28 Years of age, 5 Feet 10 or 11 Inches high, a stout able Fellow, rather square built, has short dark brown Hair, a pug Nose, high Cheek Bones, and small Eyes; had on a narrow brimmed Felt Hat, a short Fearnought Coat, coarse Country Linen Shirt and Trousers, old Shoes, with pewter Buckles, but, being a notorious Villain, he may steal other Clothes, and change his Dress. The Mare it was supposed he had stolen, and advertised with him in June last, is recovered, and the Villain himself has been twice apprehended, the first Time at Fredericksburg, where he had entered on Board an armed Vessel by the Name of Johnson, from whence he made his Escape, and has since forged a Pass; afterwards taken at Manchester, in the County of Chesterfield, where he confessed the Theft of the Mare above-mentioned, and was committed to the Gaol of the County, but made his Escape, and is now at large. It is supposed he will endeavour to enter into the Service of some of the southern Governments, as there was a recruiting Party in the Neighbourhood from whence he last made his Escape; or, if possible, to the Enemy, as he had used the most diabolical Practices to corrupt the Minds of his fellow Servants before he first ran away. Should he be again taken, it is requested that he may be well secured; and whoever does so secure him, provided I get him, shall have the above Reward, and if brought Home, all reasonable Charges will be allowed by ISAAC ZANE [symbol]

Editor's note: These are but a few of the many advertisements for both slaves and indentured servants that are available to read online at the Virginia Runaways Web site. Most entries include an image of the original advertisement.

Related Resources in the Library
Click on each title for more information.

Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer

The Bristol Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654-1686

Colonial House: An Eight-part Series from PBS Affiliate KET

The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight For Freedom in Old New Orleans by John Bailey

For Younger Students

Colonists For Sale: The Story of Indentured Servants in America by Clifford Lindsey Alderman

Summer MacCleary, Virginia, 1749 by Kathleen Duey

On the Web

Indentured Servants and Transported Convicts

On the Misfortune of Indentured Servants (1754)

Slavery and Indentured Servants from the Law Library of Congress

Virtual Jamestown: Indentured Servants: Search the Registers