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‘Is Watry Eyed’
An Irish Servant Man named William Cough

The unhealthy picture of William Cough traces a life of miserable toil from far back in time. Such an owner of men as Samuel Butt must have had quite an eye for detail to describe his runaways accurately for the slave catchers, who again, must have been shrewd judges of men.


RUN away on the 27th of April past, at Night, from Samuel Butt of Plumsted Township, Bucks County, an Irish Servant Man, named William Cough [Cuugh], short of Stature, bow legged, flat footed, of a dark Complexion, round and full fac'd, much mark'd with the Small Pox, is watry eyed, and wears a Cap or light colour'd Wig:

Had a good Felt Hat, a blue Duroy Coat lin'd with Silk Crape, a pretty good white Dimmity Jacket, and new Breeches of the same, a new fine Shirt and two new homepsun ones, two new Muslin Stocks, white Cotton Stockings and a pair of grey yarn ones, old round toe'd Shoes with strings in them.

He has taken his own and another Man's Indentures with him. [1]

Whoever takes up and secures the said Servant, so that his Master may have him again, shall have Forty Shillings Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by SAMUEL BUTT.


1. Taking one’s own and another man’s indentures only adds up if A) it was done out of spite, B) if it was done to provide an indenture for a person he intended to join in escape or C) he planned on changing identities and ditching his own indentures. In any case, access to wherever the master kept his servant’s indentures was coveted knowledge. Also, it is clearly apparent that the masters kept both portions of the indenture, with a servant never being in possession of his own unsigned freedom receipt until after he had served his time in bondage. Falsifying indenture signatures must have been a great fear among masters.

America in Chains

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