Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Ancient Combat
‘Served his Time’
A Discharged Soldier on the Run

November 19, 1761

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Lancaster, November 9, 1761.

RUN away last Night, from the Farm of George Ross, [1] near the Borough of Lancaster, a Servant Man, named Thomas Fowler, he is about 5 Feet 2 Inches high, black Hair, and dark Complexion;

had on, when he went away, an old grey cloth Coat, a black Waistcoat, old Buckskin Breeches, and white woolen Stockings; [2]

he was born in the West of Ireland; and served his Time with one Ingram, in Bucks County; he was a Soldier in the Provincial Service, and has been, for a considerable Time past, in Lancaster Goal in Irons, which occasions a Hobble in his Walk; he talks smart and sensible, and it is probable he is gone towards Philadelphia, as he said he had an Ant living there.

Whoever apprehends the said Servant, and secures him, so that his Master may have him again, shall receive Three Pounds Reward and reasonable Charges, paid by GEORGE ROSS.


1. According to this ad Thomas served [most probably] seven years for Ingram, then served in the French and Indian War, then did enough time in irons to deform his leg, and is now, based on the price offered, a year or two into another seven year term of service for Ross. As C. Ashley Ellefson points out in Seven Hangmen and The Private Punishment of Servants and Slaves, and as cited by other historians, the servant system was meant to keep the people subjected to it in a state of ownership for life, or at least the healthy years.

2. This man ran away in November wearing stockings only, with no shoes. Notice how poorly he is dressed overall.

Stillbirth of a Nation: Caucasian Slavery in Plantation America: Part One

Add Comment
Nero The PictFebruary 21, 2017 6:00 PM UTC

George Ross was one of three Pennsylvania signatories of The Declaration of Independence. The irony of Fowler's situation would be lost on most Americans currently gulping Bud Light and singing along with Lee Greenwood. Ameri-cuh!!!!