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‘A Palavering Fellow’
Charles Maguire is Worth Two Pistoles [3]

September 18, 1755

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away from the Subscriber, on the 10th instant, an Irish servant man, named Charles Maguire, about 23 Years of age, 5 feet 9 inches high:

took with him a sorrel horse, with a blaze on his face, and a saddle about half wore, without housings.

Had on when he went away, a blue cloth coat, with metal

buttons, a new pair of leather breeches, a white shirt, fine

hat, new shoes, and worsted stockings;

he is a palavering [1] fellow, and is freckled on his face and hands; it is supposed he will endeavour to get a passage in some vessel to Ireland, or the West Indies. [2]

Any Person that will take up and secure said servant, so as the subscriber may have him again, shall have Two Pistoles [3] reward, paid by JOHN REILY, living in Frederick county, Maryland.


1. 1. pa•lav•er

[pəˈlavər, pəˈlävər]


1. prolonged and idle discussion:

 dated

a parley or improvised conference between two sides.


2. talk unnecessarily at length:

A common term among seamen, especially pirates


mid 18th cent. (in the sense ‘a talk between tribes people and traders’): from Portuguese palavra ‘word,’ from Latin parabola ‘comparison’ (see parable).


palaver (noun)

palaver (verb)

palavers (third person present)

palavered (past tense)

palavered (past participle)

palavering (present participle)

2. A wanted man bound for the West Indies would most likely have piracy in mind. Major pirate gangs had been wiped out a generation earlier, but pirates would continue to work in the Caribbean up through the 1830s, often involved in smuggling between Spanish Cuba and French New Orleans.

3. I had placed a citation here indicating that the reward for returning this man would be two pistols. Baruch corrected me as the spelling in the text was pistole and that was a type of coinage minted as late as 1710. I had come to the conclusion earlier, based on pistols being offered by Marylanders, particularly men with gun smithies on the Gunpowder River and not in the neighboring colonies. It is of interest that these coins only seem to be offered in Maryland. However, Baltimore was a major port. I will look into what type of trade might have brought this coin to be more common in Maryland than in Pennsylvania and Virginia and will add the note below.

America in Chains

Add Comment
BaruchKFebruary 1, 2017 3:10 PM UTC

Not a pistol. A pistole, i.e., a coin (two escudo, I guess):
responds:February 1, 2017 5:56 PM UTC

Thanks for the heads up, Baruch.