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‘He Speaks Erse’
Samuels Smith and Price Have Run Off from New Castle

April 30, 1767

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away from the subscriber, living at the Cross Roads, near New Castle, a servant man, named Samuel Smith, about 34 [1] years of age, about 5 feet 7 inches high, pock marked, short black hair, and a Roman nose;

he speaks Erse, [2] is much given to drink, swears much when in liquor, and came from Ireland last fall with Capt. McIlvaine; [3]

had on a brown cloth coat and jacket, buckskin breeches, and new shoes.

There is supposed to be with him a servant, named Samuel Price, a Woolcomber, and has been long in this country.

Whoever takes up said servants, and secures them, to that their masters may have them again, shall have Four Pounds for both, or Forty Shillings for each, with reasonable charges, paid by ANDI MCBAY, or JOHN SINGLETON. [4]


1. Samuel Smith is quite old to be a servant, if we are to believe the standard historical narrative that claims that all servants were voluntary indentures signing up for what amounted to an apprenticeship at age 18 and then given their freedom to build a farm and log cabin…

2. the Scottish or Irish Gaelic language

3. He was shipped as cargo by said captain, not served as a sailor. Such ships had tiny crews.

4. It seems that John Singleton could not afford to take out an ad for his servant. We should remember that many servant owners had purchased a man to double their own one-man work force, and would be in sorry straits should their labor investment escape, putting them one step from slavery themselves.

America in Chains

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