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'Mostly Plays with His Fingers’
A Quirky Fellow Escapes William Young

February 25, 1762

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away, the 10th of this Instant,

from William Young, a Servant Man, named John McGlaughlon, about 30 Years of Age, of small Stature, has an effeminate way of talking, stoops as he walks, and when spoke to mostly plays with his Fingers: [1]

Had on when he went away, a double breasted half worn Coat, two Jackets, one of red Flannel, without Sleeves, and tyed with white Tape, white Cloth Breeches, with a Pair of grey Yarn Stockings, half worn Pumps, with white Metal Buckles, Ozenbrigs Shirt, old Felt Hat:

He has black Hair, with a Scar near one of his Eyes, got by a Fall; [2] born in Ireland, and brought up to waiting on Gentlemen.

Whoever takes up said Servant, and secures him, so that his Master may have him again, shall have Twenty Shillings Reward, if in Town, and if not, Thirty Shillings, and all reasonable Charges, paid by WILLIAM YOUNG.

N. B. He served some Time with Mr. Thomas Mullen, in Water street. All Masters of Vessels, and others, are forewarned not to harbour or carry him off, at their Peril [3]


1. John sounds like a broken man.

2. I remember, growing up in the 1970s, when every woman with a black eye blamed it on a fall. However, this statement does indicate that judgments had been made against cruel masters, and/or that people were more likely to harbor abused servants.

3. The repetition of this threat—and it was backed by law—seems to indicate that men escaped aboard a shorthanded vessel regularly.

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

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