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‘Whoever Takes Up Said Boy’
An Injured Sixteen Year-Old Slave Boys Hobbles Off in Search of Liberty

March 31, 1768

The Pennsylvania Gazette

RUN away from the subscriber, living in Leacock township, Lancaster county, on Wednesday the 23d of March, an Irish servant boy, named Francis Davenport, or Divers, about 5 feet 3 inches high, about 16 years of age, a thick fellow, with short brown hair, dark complexion, with a down look, full faced;

had on, when he went away, a blue coat, with black buttons, a white double breasted jacket, made of an Indian blanket, with metal buttons on the one side of it, a pair of leather breeches, one pair of white woollen stockings, a pair of shoes, tied with strings, and an old wool hat;

he has his right ancle strained, so that he walks lame, and the broad side of his foot foremost; [1]

he has a cut on said leg, below his knee, 3 inches cross; [1]

he pretends to have had the palsey on said side, he has travelled most parts in Ireland, and pretends to be a hemp heckler [2] by trade.

Whoever takes up said boy, and secures him in any of his Majesty goals, shall receive FORTY SHILLINGS reward, and reasonable charges, paid by me BENJAMIN VERNOR.

N.B. All masters of Vessels, and others, are forbid to harbour or carry him off at their peril.


1. Very possibly a land clearance injury, as such “boys” were used primarily to clear land to be worked by more valuable human property.

2. The traditional definition of a heckler, as someone who badgers a public speaker, does not seem congruent with hemp, unless it is a euphemism for being a rope-seller or rope-maker.

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

Add Comment
LynnAugust 11, 2017 4:34 PM UTC

Second definition fits here: heck·le




interrupt (a public speaker) with derisive or aggressive comments or abuse:

"he was booed and heckled when he tried to address the demonstrators" · [more]

synonyms: jeer · taunt · jibe at · shout down · boo · hiss · harass · [more]


dress (flax or hemp) to split and straighten the fibers for spinning.