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‘Saints and Strangers’
The First Unfree New Englanders

Of 102 passengers onboard the storied Mayflower, 18 were servants, 13 to “saints” and 5 [by this writer’s count 6] to adventurers of the type that made up the majority of Virginia servant owners, and were known collectively as “Strangers.” Four of these servants were small children, whose unmarried parents had been trying to ship them off to the sewer of Virginia to avoid scandal. The following people were almost entirely English, bought as children or youths and expected to serve for variable terms. The nearly 20% ratio of free to servant would increase to 30-35% over the coming decades, as it was discovered that such malnourished child servants died easily under the rough conditions of their servitude [doing the heavy work and most often sleeping on the floor or in a barn with other livestock.] A dozen of these servants were “duty boys” enslaved for the crimes of being, poor, homeless, penniless or orphaned and walked in neck chains to the ships where they were sold. The mortality among servants was higher than among the crew, the Saints or among the Strangers. An apprentice was no different than a servant, with that designation simply indicating that he was to follow his master in terms of his trade. An indentured servant is only different in that his half of his master’s half of “indented” document will be returned to him signed upon his freedom, and would later by known as freedom papers.

Although my sources say 18 servants, there are 19 in these two lists.

Servants of the Leiden of the Puritan Congregationalists or “Saints”

The servants assigned to the Saints were “under the care of” their owners. This may seem like politically correct semantics, but did reflect the puritan ideal that owning a person was the burden of the owner and the salvation of the owned, in that the owner might impart Christianity and its attendant good values to his child property. If the child converted and accepted Jesus as his lord and savior he would then be held under the strict guidelines laid down in the book of Leviticus, which instructed Jews that owned other Jews to treat them like hired men instead of like chattel. William Bradford, leader of the saints was puzzled that their youthful slaves sometimes refused to convert to the faith of their owners even on their deathbeds. These children would be indentured until age 21, and then, possibly, as had been the fate of those who served the Strangers, be sold out for a seven year term, either by their previous master or by themselves, for there was no job market to speak of, only opportunities for freedom and poverty among savages or pirates or servitude on a plantation.

William Butten, age: "a youth", indentured servant of Samuel Fuller, died during the voyage. He was the first passenger to die - on November 16, three days before Cape Cod was sighted.

Dorothy, teenager, maidservant of John Carver.

John Hooke, age 13, apprenticed to Isaac Allerton, died during the first winter.

John Howland, about 21, manservant and executive assistant for Governor John Carver.

William Latham, age 11, servant/apprentice to the John Carver family.

Desire Minter a servant of John Carver whose parents died in Leiden.

Elinor More, age 8, assigned as a servant of Edward Winslow. She died from illness sometime in November 1620 soon after the arrival of Mayflower in Cape Cod harbor and likely was buried ashore there in an unmarked grave.

Jasper More, age 7, indentured to John Carver. He died from illness on board Mayflower on December 6, 1620 and likely was buried ashore on Cape Cod in an unmarked grave.

Richard More, age 6, indentured to William Brewster. This servant boy made good, which was not uncommon among New England servants, as opposed to the massive fatality rate among Virginia and Maryland servants and the permanent cycle of servitude that would become common in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Mary More, age 6, assigned as a servant of William Brewster. She died sometime in the winter of 1620/1621.

George Soule, 21-25, servant of Edward Winslow.

Elias Story, age under 21, in the care of Edward Winslow.

Roger Wilder, age under 21, servant in the John Carver family.

Servants of the “Strangers” or Merchant-Adventurer Passengers

The servants of secular passengers seem to have been purchased from parents, based on their relatively advanced age.

Robert Carter, Teenager, servant or apprentice to William Mullins, shoemaker.

Edward Doty, age about 21, servant to Stephen Hopkins.

William Holbeck, age likely under 21, servant to William White.

John Langemore, age under 21, servant to the Christopher Martin.

Edward Lesiter, aged over 21, servant to Stephen Hopkins.

Edward Thomas, age under 21, in the care of the William White family, first passenger to die after the Mayflower reached Cape Cod.

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

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