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'Apprehend the Body of the said John Woodward'
COPY of a Warrant issued by Lord Chief Justice Raymond, in England

published here to show that the Civil Power can take inlisted Apprentices out of his Majesty's Service. [1]

ANG. ss. WHEREAS Henry McCabe, of the Parish of St. James, Westminster, Baker, hath made Oath before me, that one John Woodward, by Indentures of Apprenticeship, duly executed, bearing Date the Fifth Day of January 1726, became bound to him as an Apprentice or the Space of seven Years. And that about the 28th Day of February last, the said John Woodward absconded from his Service without his Privity, Knowledge or Consent, and that he is informed and believes the sand John Woodward, has inlisted himself in his Majesty's Service. These are therefore to will and require, and in his Majesty's Name, strictly to charge and command you, and every one of you upon Sight hereof, to apprehend the Body [2] of the said John Woodward, and bring him before me (if taken in or near the City of London) and otherwise before the next Justice of the Peace where he shall be herewith taken, to the End he may be restored to his said Master Henry McCabe, to serve out the remaining Time of his Apprenticeship; and hereof fail not at your Perils. [3] Given under my Hand and Seal this 12th Day of March 1732. [4]

To Joseph Bennet, Esq; my Tipstaff, or his Deputy, and also to all chief Constables, Petty Constables, and all others whom these may Concern. RAYMOND.



1. Ships captains were often in need of a hand on deck, and according to the number of threats lodged against captains [not specifying military or commercial] at the bottom of runaway servant notices, it is clear that sea captains as a class were suspected of taking on runaways as crewmen—who would serve under undeniably harsh conditions, which begs the question, how badly must these men have been treated to runaway to a ships captain, when free men could rarely be induced to ship on a merchant or a man-of-war, which necessitated "press gangs" to drag men out of taverns and 'press' into naval service? The later American term was to be "Shanghai'd." As captains were veritable lords aboard their ships and the crews—even of merchant men—were more heavily armed than constables and slave catchers, it appears that by the reposting of this notice in 1742, that a number of sea captains had refused demands by constables that they board and search their ship, and that the local magistrates in Philadelphia had had enough.

2. One of the excuses for cruelty to and enslavement of human beings under many forms of protestant Christianity was the separation of the temporal and spiritual fields. A master or magistrate or judge—not even a king—could no nothing to your soul, but your body belonged to someone other than yourself according to the worldly order—and if they mistreated you they would have to answer for that sin before God!. If you were a soldier your body belonged to the king, if a servant, your master. This may be the root origin of the common African American parental saying, "Boy, your soul might belong to the Lord, but your ass is mine!"

3. This phrase, "at your Peril[s]" was the standard threat issued to all free people who did not aid in the capture of a runaway. By such threats the entire society became wedded to the forced labor system as deputy slave catchers.

4. When an apprentice serves six of seven years then chooses to runaway, one might take that as indication that the terms of service were becoming more harsh, which masters were often accused of doing as their investment in human servitude became greatly depreciated towards the end of the term. Indeed, it is likely that the John Woodward shipped for merely a year, particularly on a naval ship.

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