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‘Very Clumsily Built’
Another Jilted Slave Girl Owner Waxes Wroth

January 12, 1769

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Philadelphia, January 5, 1769.

TWENTY SHILLINGS Reward. RUN away on Tuesday morning, the 3d instant, from the subscriber, at the sign of the Blue Ball, in Chestnut street, Philadelphia, an Irish servant woman, named Mary Conner, about 23 or 24 years of age, fresh complexion, a little marked with the small pox, with brown hair, and very clumsely built: [1]

Had on, when she went away, a green camblet gown, a yellow stuff petticoat, white apron, leather shoes, and blue yarn stockings.

Has one of the fingers of her right hand remarkably sore. [2]

She took with her a pompadour stuff gown, a coarse straw hat, a blue quilted petticoat, an old red cloak, a pair of coarse white thread stockings, with other wearing apparel unknown, and many probably change her dress, as she has said she would dress herself in mens clothes. [3] She is very artful, speaks bad English, and was imported [4] in the sloop Halifax, Captain Smith, from Dingle, in Ireland.

Whoever takes up and secures said servant in any of his Majesty goals, so as her master may have her again, shall have the above reward, and reasonable charges, paid by MICHAEL CLARK.

N.B. It is supposed she has gone towards New York.


1. Though it may be the rage of a man whose sexual property has fled, the common pejorative descriptions of slave girls, compared to the less critical description of slave men, while in some instances represented the loss of sexual access in a society with far more men than women, but also that many of these women, not being pretty enough to be sold as wives [wives were bought and sold alongside servants from 1620] were not good to look upon.

2. This is probably a workhouse accident, not from punishment, but the owner’s knowledge of his servant’s health in such detail is indicative of their livestock status.

3. This information would have come from a traitor servant in the workhouse acting as a spy.

4. Imported people, or “the importation of such persons” is a clear indication of the increasingly detached and dehumanized status of the servant class. Early in the 18th century servants wore more neck irons and had more injuries, but were also described in more human terms. Also, a larger percentage of early servants were men, because those women who were brought over were eagerly bought up as wives by men whose wives died young and had few courting prospects among the largely bachelor nobility.

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