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‘Pretends to Be a Schoolmaster’
A Fugitive Advertisement with an Excellent Description of a Horse

May 26, 1768

The Pennsylvania Gazette


ABSCONDED from his usual place of Abode, in East Bradford Township, Chester County, on the 6th of April last, a certain Dennis Salmon, born in Ireland, about 21 Years of Age, 5 Feet 7 or 8 Inches high, wears his own dark brown Hair, inclining to curl, has thick lips, long Nose, his Forehead wrinkled, ruddy dark Complexion, down Look, slim, but pretty fleshy:

Had on, when he went away, a fine half worn Hat, a fine Shirt, ruffled at the Bosom, a light Country made Cloth Coat, and Jacket, without Sleeves, made plain, with Mohair Buttons, good Buckskin Breeches, the Buttons covered with Leather, half worn Shoes, with Pinchbeck Buckles;

and took with him several fine Shirts, and several Pairs of fine Thread and Worsted Stockings, and two Silver Watches;

he pretends to be a Schoolmaster, and has been in that Employ: [1] It is supposed he is gone to Virginia or Carolina, and very probably will change his Name, and may likely pass for a Quaker.

He clandestinely took with him, a valuable large dark bay Mare, supposed to be with Foal, a natural Pacer, about 15 Hands high, in good Order, well built, shod before, has a switch Tail, and hanging Mane, curled. about ten Years old, goes fast and easy, and carries herself lofty, has two remarkable Curls, or Twists, in her Forehead, right between her Eyes, without Brand or Ear mark; likewise an old breasted Saddle, and Curb Bridle.

Whoever takes up and secures the said Man, and Mare, so that the Man may be brought to Justice, and the Owner of the Mare gets her again, shall receive the above Reward; or Three Pounds for the Man, and Ten Pounds for the Mare, with reasonable Charges, if brought home to the Subscriber, living in the Township and County aforesaid.


N.B. The said Dennis Salmon was advertised last Month in both the Pennsylvania Chronicle, and Gazette.


1. This is a fascinating statement, that he “pretends” to be a teacher and has been a teacher, which indicates, that although he was employed [which may mean being owned or paid as a free man as the terminology was dual-use and came from the French “to use”] as a teacher, he has recently been owned as slave in some other capacity [possibly to pay off a debt], is now free, and has stolen a horse. Whatever the story behind Dennis Salmon, if captured, he will be sold. It may be that he is a grifter, recently come from Ireland with an education, but no money. His youth and education suggest a middle to upper class parentage. The tone of the ad certainly paints him as a confidence man and criminal. However, based on many previous ads reviewed by this reader, it was common for a person who was owned in one employ, but who had previously been free in another employ, to be accused by their recent owner of “pretending” to be a person experienced in that pursuit—a classic method of invalidation.

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