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'In the Night'
A Sailor Jumps Ship at Wilmington

With the conditions aboard ship, the fact that many sailors had been abducted and forced on board, and the high rate of desertion in port, it is no wonder that “jumping ship” has become, and still is an American idiom for abandoning a team or company.

September 3, 1761

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Wilmington, August 28, 1761.

RUN away, in the Night, between the 26th and 27th instant,

from on board the Sloop Speedwell, [1] John Lockhart Master, for Providence, lying at Wilmington, a certain John James, a Sailor, after receiving one Month Advance, born in Wales, but bred, as he says, in the North of Ireland; a well set Down looking Fellow, about 5 Feet 10 Inches high, wears a Wig, his other Clothes cannot be described. He has a Pearl over one of his Eyes, but not readily discerned. [2]

Whoever brings, or secures said Fellow in any gaol, so that he may be brought to Justice, shall have Five Pounds Reward, paid by THOMAS DOWDLE, in Wilmington.


1. There was a Speedwell Forge in southeastern Pennsylvania that “used” servants to operate.

2. If this is a term for a type of mole or tumor, or refers to an actual pearl set in a piercing, I have not been able to determine.

America in Chains

Add Comment
LynnFebruary 20, 2017 11:10 AM UTC

Could "pearl" mean a cataract?
responds:February 20, 2017 1:48 PM UTC

Thanks for the idea, Lynn. I know medical historian who might help.