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‘RUN Away from his Bail’
James Douglass

February 6, 1753

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away from his bail, [1] in the township of Salisbury,

Lancaster County, in the province of Pennsylvania, A man named James Douglass, between 30 and 40 years of age, of middle stature, pale complexion:

Had on when he went away, An old felt hat, worsted cap, an old brown coat, piecin several places, two blue jackets, one of a lighter blue than the other, two check shirts, the neck and sleeves of one of the shirts is different from the body, sheepskin breeches, flower about the button holes, sky blue stockings, pretty good shoes, without buckles;

has a wart under his left ear; and is a great snuff taker: He took a pocket pistol with him. He came from Ireland last year, and has a receipt that he got from Mr. Knox, in Londonderry, when he paid his passage; and supposed he will pass by it. [2]

Whoever takes up and secures the said James Douglass, so as the subscriber may have him again, shall have Three Pounds as a reward, paid by me WILLIAM McCANANT.



Middle English: from Old French, literally ‘custody, jurisdiction,’ from Old French bailler ‘take charge of,’ from Latin bajulare ‘bear a burden.’


Middle English (denoting the outer wall of a castle): from Old French baile ‘palisade, enclosure,’ baillier ‘enclose,’ perhaps from Latin baculum ‘rod, stick.’ Compare with bailey.

a. abandon a commitment, obligation, or responsibility:

i. N. AMER.

Informal (bail on) let (someone) down by failing to fulfill a commitment, obligation, or responsibility:


early 17th cent.: from obsolete bail ‘bucket,’ from French baille, based on Latin bajulus ‘carrier.’

Jailing, goaling and bail all seem to be related terms endemic to the condition of forced labor in early America.

2. Douglass has a receipt for payment across the Atlantic, indicating that he may have become bond to Mister McCanant by selling himself on arival or by falling into debt.

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