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‘Mark'd on His Right Hand with Gunpowder’

RUN away July 19, from William Cox, of New Brunswick, a Servant Man named Stephen Parstow, an Englishman, a Blacksmith by Trade, about 22 Years of Age, of a swarthy Complexion, down Look, short black curl'd Hair,

wears a light natural Wig, gingham Coat and Breeches, new homepsun blue strip'd Trowsers; and, has taken with him a new strip'd calimanco Man's Gown [?] a leather Doublet, and a young black shock Dog with cu [?] Ears, and Tail dock'd short:

He may pretend by his Indentures that his Time is out. [1] He has the Letters S.P. mark'd on his right Hand with Gunpowder. [2]

Whoever secures him so that his Master may have him again; shall have Twenty Shillings Reward, and reasonable Charges, paid by William Cox.


1. Meaning his seven years was up, but he had additional time to serve of less than a year due to some infraction, probably the reason for his being marked.

2. Slave catchers were in the business of branding captives with initials traced in gunpowder and then set on fire. Habitual runaways would have an R burned on their cheek. This man had apparently tried to runaway with another’s indentures and was branded with his own initials to prevent this happening again. The reluctance of men to run off without paperwork indicated an active police state.

America in Chains

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