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‘An Irish Papist’
John Lee is Worth an Astonishing 20-Pounds Reward

Virginia Gazette (Parks),

Williamsburg, March 4 to March 11, 1736 [1737].

RAN away from the Subscriber's House in King George County, the latter End of April last, a white Irish Servant Man named John Lee, he is by Trade a Joyner, a short thick well-set Fellow, fresh Colour'd, pitted with the Small Pox, with a Scar in his Forehead, [1] speaks through the Nose, and has the Brogue in his Speech, and stoops forward as he walks:

He was pursued to Susquehannah Ferry, where he pawn'd his Rule for his Passage; [2]

The Horse he took with him, was seiz'd near the Ferry;

it is suppos'd he was harbour'd by some of the Irish Inhabitants in these Parts [3], and is since gone to New-York, or to Mr. Skeler's Works;

he chang'd his Name to George Falmouth.

Any Person that will apprehend the said Servant, and convey him to my house in King George County, in the Colony of Virginia, shall be paid by me the Subscriber, upon the Delivery of him, Twenty Pounds Current Money, or if they will apprehend and secure him in some Public Goal, and give me immediate Notice, they shall have Ten Pounds Current Money of Virginia Reward:

He is an Irish Papist. [4]

Also a Mulatto Fellow, named Watt, ran away some Time before Christmas last; he is middle-siz'd, with some dark Spots in his Face;

he was taken in Execution [5] by Mr. Henry Power, as part of the Estate of Matthew Anderson, of Hanover County, and bought on Account of the Subscriber, by Mr. Augustine Graham:

He is conceal'd by his late sister, [6] or some other ill designing Person in the said County.

I do hereby declare, if any Person entertains the said Slave, that I will prosecute them with the utmost Severity, unless they immediately deliver him up, to be sent from Constable to Constable, to me.

And whereas, some Time before Christmas, I wrote a Letter by my Servant, that I sent in Pursuit of the said Slave, to Matthew Anderson, wherein I did engage to pay Ten Pounds for a white Servant Man, to be bought [7] by the said Matthew Anderson, on my proper Account, and for the Use of the said Matthew Anderson, during the Time he continued to deserve the Favour at my Hands, provided he delivered up the said Slave Watt, to my Servant, which he refused to do, pretending that he knew nothing of him. I therefore give public Notice, that I will not pay the above said Sum, on the said Matthew Anderson's Account. Charles Carter.


1. Such scars were typically causes by a master or overseer striking downward with the butt if a whip. A face scar is evidence of a confrontational personality in the person of the slave or servant.

2. Lee fled through Maryland to the River that must be crossed to enter Eastern Pennsylvania. He sold the measuring tool used in his trade.

3. Pennsylvania held as many Irish slaves as the entire southland, with the number of Irish slaves in Pennsylvania at the drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 being over 200,000. By contrast, all of the Negroes in America numbered only 600.000, free and owned.

4. A catholic

5. Like a piece of furniture.

6. This is chilling, that a man’s blood kin is no longer considered his kin after they are parted by the condition of slavery. From the very beginning of the colonial era, one notices the increased brutality of Virginia masters over their northern counterparts. As Watt is a Mulatto, it is highly likely that his sister is white. One suspects she is close to Mathew Anderson, perhaps his wife.

7. The anonymous white man was to be bought like a horse or a dog and treated less well, for the men of Virginia were renowned for brutal treatment of their human property.

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

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