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‘He Serv’d His Time’
A Black Slave Escapes with the Aid of a Former White Slave

Virginia Gazette (Rind),

Williamsburg, June 15, 1769.

Hobb's Hole, June 6, 1769. RUN away from the subscriber, on the second of May last, a Negro boy named BILLY, about 16 years old, a likely, stout, well made lad, and not very black: [1]

Had on, when he went away, a brown cloth coat, with red sleeves and collar, and green plains waistcoat and breeches. He was seen in Richmond county;

going upwards with one David Randolph, a cooper by trade, who ran away from this town about the same time. He is a stout well made fellow; and had on a blue lappell'd serge coat, with yellow buttons, a blue and white striped waistcoat, (which appear 'd to be country made) and leather breeches: He had other clothes with him, and some coopers tools:

He work 'd some time ago at Mr. James Hunter's; but I am inform 'd he serv'd his time in Philadelphia, [2] and am apprehensive he will carry the boy to Maryland, or Pennsylvania, and sell him.[3] Whoever takes up the said boy, and secures him, so that I may get him again, shall receive FIVE POUNDS, if taken in the colony; if out of the colony, TEN POUNDS. JOHN BROCKENBROUGH.


1. In other words, he’s a mixed-race person.

2. Randolph had worked off his sentence or indenture in Philadelphia and was now working as a wage laborer. Such men often helped slaves and servants escape and it was risky to have hired help around your servants and slaves.

3. The market for black slaves in Pennsylvania was never good. It is more rational suspect that David and Billy have teamed up.

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

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