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‘Will Be Sold Out for Their Fees’
State-Sponsored Slave Trader MATTHIAS BUGH Caught Himself Some Boys

June 4, 1767

The Pennsylvania Gazette

Lancaster, May 27, 1767.

WAS committed to my custody, the 21st of last April, on suspicion of being runaway servants,

Richard Merryman, a low set fellow, about 5 feet 4 inches high, red hair, much freckled, and speaks much with the Irish accent;

says he served his time in George Town, on Potowmack, Maryland, with one James Divin, and has the counter part of his indenture with him.

And Thomas McVenny, about 5 feet 6 inches high, well built, dark brown hair, of a dark complexion, and says he came in here from Ireland last fall with Captain Davis, and that he paid him for his passage, but can produce no receipt for the same. [1]

Their masters, if any they have, are desired, in four weeks after the date hereof, to come, pay their charges, and take them away, or they will be sold out for their fees by MATTHIAS BUGH, Gaoler. [1]


1. If one did not have a document on his person that gave a receipt for having paid his passage, he will have been assumed of running away and sold, even if he was not owned, for the simple reason that traveling without a pass was a capital offense in Plantation America.

Not that such a document couldn't have been destroyed by the gaoler for personal gain.

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