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‘He Pretends to be a Dancer’
Another Runaway White Boy

Below is an ad that is typical in all ways except for how well James was dressed. In the absence of portrait posters or photos, bounty hunters of the day looking to apprehend someone they had never laid eyes on would need to know as much about their behavior as possible, and, most importantly their vocation and avocation, especially if said avocation represented an ambition, like wanting to be a dancer.

December 4, 1760

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away, on the 25th of last Month, from the Subscriber, living near Christiana Creek, in Chester County, a Servant Man, lately from Ireland, [1] named James McFilie, about 20 Years of Age, has short black Hair, dark Complexion, slender, about 5 Feet 8 Inches high, grey Eyes; had on a Castor Hat, an old blue Cloth Coat, patched at the Elbows, an old Velvet Waistcoat, old Cloth Breeches, Check Shirt, a Pair of white Stockings, and another Pair of grey, and a pair of Shoes; he pretends to be a Dancer. Whoever [1] takes up and secures said Servant, so as his Master [3] gets him again, shall have Three Pounds Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by ANDREW McDOWELL.


1. It was important to note if someone had just shipped over from Ireland as it would tell in their dialect. This was also an indication that the servant retained most of his value, having escaped in the year of his sale.

2. Notice that anyone may act as a bounty hunter in Plantation America, including servants.

3. Is there any greater requirement to being a slave than having a master?

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