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‘Says She Served Her Time’
Four Persons Abducted by the Quaker State's Manhunters

January 11, 1770

The Pennsylvania Gazette

New Castle county, December 28, 1769.

NOW in the goal of said county,

a certain Elizabeth Berry, about 20 years of age, born in Ireland, a low thick set woman, fair complexion, brown hair, and speaks much like an English woman; she says she served her time with Jacob Philimon, in Frederick county, Maryland; had on, when committed, a linsey coat, and coarse homespun shift, without shoes or stockings. [1]

Also Thomas Bolton, born in England, about 30 years of age, 5 feet 2 or 3 inches high, brown hair, and red beard, by trade a taylor; had on, and with him, when committed, two suits of cloaths, one of a light cloth colour, and one blue, the waistcoat of the latter, full trimmed, with yellow gilt buttons. [2]

Likewise Mary Watson, born in Ireland, 25 years of age, fair complexion, sandy hair, and a little pock marked; had on, when committed, a striped stuff gown, a purple calicoe ditto, high heeled leather shoes, white metal buckles, and worsted stockings; says she came into this country with Captain Burn, about two years ago, and belongs to John Doyle, of the city of Philadelphia. [3]

Likewise a Negroe man, named Cuff, about 25 years of age; he says he was born in Barbados, and lived with Jonathan Smith, of Philadelphia; had on, when committed, a blue waistcoat, with a short swanskin ditto, long trowsers, and brown great coat; his cloathes much worn. Since his confinement, says he belongs to Thomas Saven, in Maryland. [4]

Their masters, if any they have, are desired to come and pay their charges, in six weeks from the date, and take them away, or they will be sold for the same, by THOMAS PUSEY, Goaler.


1. Mary says she served her time, however, must have no freedom papers, or no pass to leave Maryland and will be sold. It is that simple.

2. Note that despite being beyond the age of the typical term of indenture [at this point running from 3-7 years, with convicts still receiving 14], Thomas Bolton is to be sold, even if he has no estranged owner.

3. Mary admits to “belonging” to John Doyle. She would have had time added to her term for running away, with such measures intended to recoup the loss sustained by the owner for paying gaoling fees, capture rewards and transport charges.

4. Cuff, blessed with but one nick name, claims to have an owner in Maryland, yet also to have “lived with a man” named Jonathan Smith in Philadelphia. This researcher will attempt to find out if “lived with” had a servile connotation in this period.

A Bright Shining Lie at Dusk

A Partial Exhumation of the American Dream

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