Indentured servants

We Were Always Free by T.O. Madden, Jr.

Cover to We Were Always Free

Fiction authors sometimes begin historical narratives by announcing the discovery of a long-forgotten strong box in a dusty attic containing purportedly true accounts of times passed handily preserved for the modern reader’s enjoyment.  T.O. Madden, Jr.'s  We Were Always Free starts with just such a scenario, but unlike historical fiction, this is no ploy.  The history unearthed is real and traces back to colonial Virginia when Mary Madden, an Irish woman, gave birth to a child of mixed race on August 4, 1758 in Spotsylvania County.

Because of the laws of the time, just as the mother was free so would Mary’s child, Sarah, be considered free, as would all of Sarah’s descendents.  Mary and her newborn were first tended at the Collins farm in Spotsylvania, and the church vestry paid the Collins for their year of upkeep with 600 pounds of tobacco taken in tithes from the parishioners.  In 1759, still being paupers, Mary was sent along with her baby, to the local workhouse where the poor labored to support themselves. 

Accommodating Revolutions: Virginia’s Northern Neck in an Era of Transformations, 1760-1810

By Albert H. Tillson, Jr.

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The Northern Neck runs from Falmouth in Stafford County all the way down to Windmill Point in Lancaster County, bounded by the Rappahannock River to the south and the Potomac River to the north.  Now it’s a sleepy section of Virginia but it was once called the Athens of the New World.

What a foreign world it seems to us today—the antebellum Northern Neck--where wealthy white plantation owners bought and sold slaves with ease along with the services of bound whites for years at a time. How could such a system that relied on keeping people in their places and maintaining the established order bring forth some of the greatest leaders of the Revolutionary period? History is complicated, and Accommodating Revolutions digs into court documents and newspaper accounts to flesh out what was going on with those who served the gentry as the winds of political and religious upheaval shook Virginia.
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Shadows in the Glasshouse

By Megan McDonald

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While working as an indentured servant for a Jamestown glassmaker in 1621, twelve-year-old Merry uncovers a case of sabotage.

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Molly Bannaky

By Alice McGill

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Relates how Benjamin Banneker's grandmother journeyed from England to Maryland in the late seventeenth century, worked as an indentured servant, began a farm of her own, and married a freed slave.

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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.